Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Book Review & Extract - Nothing That Money Can't Buy from Champagne & Lemonade by John Hickling - Blog Tour

As part of the pre-publication blog tour for Champagne & Lemonade, a short story collection, I have chosen to review the ninth story in the compilation - Nothing That Money Can't Buy


Amazon UK
Title: Champagne & Lemonade
Author: John Hickling
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Publisher supplied review copy
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: 5th July 2016
Rating for Nothing That Money Can't Buy: 4 Stars


Champagne & Lemonade is a delightful collection of eclectic short stories, taking readers on a journey to different times and places, meeting a sparkling cast of well-drawn characters. Nibble the fish is desperate to escape his boring old pond. A new breed of super hero has been born and his name is Bob Cheesecake. Dumpton Hospital's staff have a somewhat unconventional approach to looking after their patients. Robert Hood is on a mission to save modern England. And just who is the vampire terrorising the neighbourhood from his home at 113A Greenstone Street? From the quixotic to the poignant, John A. D. Hickling's wild and whimsical tales fizz with fun and are sure to entertain almost everyone! www.johnchewyhickling.com

Larry Breen is a self-made multi-millionaire, and believe's that his wealth will solve any problem he encounters in life.

This is the second story I have read from the Champagne and Lemonade compilation and shows yet another aspect to the author's writing.  Tim is a biographer and is interviewing multi millionaire Larry about his life. Larry has a very money centric view of the world, as well as a loving wife and grown up children. 

In listening to the answers you get a peek at a self obsessed man, who prides himself on his ability to make money and how it can buy everything in the world. He is passionate about his subject and I couldn't help but warm to him over the pages, even if he may have a slightly over the top point of view. 

Something then occurs that I can't say for spoiling the story that almost winded me, and was a good surprise twist that came from nowhere. Based on my reaction to it, I can say that John Hickling over the course of a few short pages, produced a character I was definitely interested in, and was enjoying hearing about his life.  Another great story in this widely varied collection. 

Thank you to Clink Street Publishing for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Please see below for a short extract from Nothing That Money Can't Buy. 

"No, Tim, my life will be forever happy because of my money.”

About John Hickling

Proud father and grandfather, and jack of all trades John A.D. Hickling currently lives with his family in Nottingham. A lover of music, especially 60’s rock, John has previously recorded two independent albums, appeared in comedy band Space Cadets on Britain’s Got Talent and is an active member of Masque Productions amateur theatre group. His debut book, Champagne & Lemonade (published by Clink Street Publishing June 5th 2016 RRP £6.99 paperback, RRP £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.johnchewyhickling.com



Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Blog Tour - The Vault by Karen Long

THE VAULT
BY KAREN LONG


Genre: Mystery / thriller / crime
Eleanor Raven Series: 2

VAULT: A large room or chamber used for storage of valuables, especially an underground one…

In the unrelenting heat of the Toronto summer, a fire at a land-fill site uncovers the remains of a local prostitute. But the post-mortem reveals disturbing details –the body has been preserved and is not who or what it seems.

DI Eleanor Raven is back on duty six months after barely surviving being kidnapped and tortured by a depraved serial killer. Work is her sanctuary but she’s carrying deep scars – mental as well as physical. Where do you go when the place you feel safest is also the place where you are most at risk?
As Eleanor battles her own demons, it looks as though a killer in the city is making a gruesome human collection. And Eleanor’s fight to save the last victim of the Collector becomes a battle to save herself.


Praise for the first novel in the Eleanor Raven series:
Most fictional detectives these days have to have a ‘thing’ to set them apart from the others, and Raven’s is one of the most original for a long time. The plot moves in some unexpected directions, and builds to a genuinely exciting climax. The Safe Word is an impressive, confident debut. Convincing characters and some nice twists make for a compelling, satisfying thriller, and I look forward to seeing what’s next for Eleanor Raven. Killing Time

BUY LINKS

ABOUT KAREN LONG


Karen Long was born and raised in the English midlands, educated at Bangor University and taught English and Drama for fifteen years. During her teaching years she studied biology and neurology with the Open University and this interest in medicine, forensics and forensic psychology is reflected in her writing. She is an enthusiastic traveller and has spent time in Toronto, which became the backdrop and inspiration for The Safe Word.  
She is a keen amateur naturalist with a deep and abiding love for the crow family. She has dedicated time, love and several fingers in an effort to rehabilitate crows, magpies, rooks and ravens.   

Karen is happy to correspond with readers and can be contacted through her website KarenLongWriter.com, where she posts regular blogs. 

The Safe Word is Karen's first novel and was an Amazon bestseller, later joined by the second in the Eleanor Raven series, The Vault. Karen is working on the third novel in the series.
AUTHOR LINKS
All author or review enquires please contact Karen Long’s Personal Assistant J.B. Johnston – brookbooks@hotmail.co.uk

Did you know that Eleanor Raven is also online?

check out THE SAFE WORD!



GIVEAWAY

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Blog Holiday - Back in Two Weeks!

You might have seen me mention recently, and I do feel I have managed to fit it into most conversations I've had, that I'm going on holiday! Tomorrow I jet off to Barcelona to get onboard the Norwegian Spirit for a 12 night Grand Mediterranean Cruise. 

I will be cruising to Toulon, where I will be doing a wine tour, Livorno - my current plans involve staying on board and making the most of the quiet ship, Civitavecchia - may just potter about the town, Naples, where I am heading over to Capri for the day, Athens, Mykonos, Dubrovnik, Kotor and an overnight in Venice. I generally will potter about most of the ports, as I'm not huge on the big sightseeing things, and definitely don't want to spend my holiday wandering around ancient ruins, and museums, no matter what everyone on the cruise forum I keep looking at is suggesting!

As normal I won't be reading any of my massive stack of specific review books, and with my Booklympics reading starting almost as soon as I get back, there is going to be a delay on just about everyone's reviews at the moment, unless I have you scheduled or I've committed to a blog tour. 

Speaking of blog tours, although I'm not blogging while I'm away, I do have posts on 28th and 29th June, so if you happen to spot then please do share them as I just won't be able to. 

Onto far more interesting things...what books am I going to read while I'm away in that case? 

Well I have a kindle that seems to be overflowing with books, which I will be mainly reading but I am taking some paperbacks just because I do need to read some.

So these are my books 7-12 that I will be reading for the #20BooksofSummer challenge that I am taking part in:


I'm really looking forward to reading these, and given I was only planning on taking 4 paperbacks, I appear to have a pile of 6 that is going into my case!

Hopefully I will write up mini reviews of these plus the other books once I am home. I'm not promising a trip write up as I never manage those, but Facebook friends will be able to see my pics! 

Anyway I'm back properly posting on the blog on 8th July, with Truth or Lie and also a review of Weekend Wives by Christina Hopkinson. I hope to see you all in a couple of weeks... 

and since I'll be missing plenty of sport while I'm away C'mon England in the Euro 2016 championship and also c'mon Andy Murray for Wimbledon!

See you all in a fortnight, and all I need to do now is work out what I want to read first! 


Book Review - A Village Romance by Lynda Renham

Amazon UK
Title: A Village Romance (The Little Perren Romances Book 2)
Author: Lynda Renham writing as Amy Perfect
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Review copy from author
Publisher: Raucous Publishing
Publication Date: 25th June 2016
Rating: 3.5 Stars


As a heatwave rolls into Little Perran, so does love. Billy Baxter, the has-been rock star, and Rafe Wylde, the hunky farm worker arrive, both destined to cause havoc as they touch the lives of the villagers. Milly finds a new job and things start to look up for her, but she is unaware that a ghost from her past is looking for her. 

Funny, Compassionate and Sizzling Sexy, a Village Romance is a page-turning summer read. A Village Romance is the second book in The Little Perran Romance series by Lynda Renham writing as Amy Perfect. 

A Village Romance is the second book in The Little Perran Romance series, and can definitely be read as a standalone novella from A Christmas Romance. However my gut feeling is you will want to read this and move straight onto book 3 in the series, based on it not feeling like this had wrapped up loose ends. 

The ending has unsettled me, I knew the book was short, but it just felt incomplete, as though the whole aim of this book is to get you to buy book 3 to get the answers. It's a good amount of set up and some story progression and I am curious to where this series is going. 

Now that I have got the niggle out of the way, I should mention just how enjoyable this story was. Billy Baxter is an ageing rock star, and in his first chapter when he was being persuaded a move to the country would be good for his image, the amount of things he came out with that had me giggling was impressive. He is politically incorrect and he doesn't exactly fit smoothly into life in Little Perran. 

There is another newcomer to the village too, Ashley, but we don't know much about him yet apart from that he is a kind natured person who suffered a horrible accident and he is re-adjusting to life, in a new village where he isn't pestered continually by well-wishers. 

Some of the characters from the first book were back and it was great to catch up with them all, there are new romances simmering all over the village and I suspect that the next book is going to be full of drama. 

A Village Romance is full of Lynda Renham's trademark humour and is an enjoyable story on the whole. I am eagerly awaiting starting on A Summer Romance to see whether any of my suspicions are correct and to hopefully gain closure on some of the plots that felt started but not completed.

Overall its lovely to be back in Little Perran, I love the village and its cast of characters, but my irritation at how this book has finished, has slightly marred my perspective. 


Thank you to Lynda Renham and Raucous Publishing for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Book Review - Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

Amazon UK
Title: Baby Doll
Author: Hollie Overton
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Cornerstone Digital 
Publication Date: 30th June 2016
Rating: 5 Stars


She kept moving forward. She didn't stop. She didn't look back.

Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she's been locked away from the outside world. During that time she's changed from a girl into a woman. She's had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know - to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend - and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Lily's perfect life as a teenager doesn't exist any more. Since she's been gone, her family's lives have changed too, in ways she never could have imagined.

Her return, and the revelation of who took her, will send shockwaves through the whole community.

Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade.

I'm going to dispute the sentence at the end of the blurb about it being impossible not to read in one sitting, as it took me about 3 sittings, but they were all very close together on account of having to go out, so I continued to read on the tube etc... However while I was reading, I was completely oblivious to everything that was going around me, as I raced through this highly addictive sheer book of brilliance. 

How would you feel if you finally after 8 years escaped from the person who has been keeping you captive, and made your way home, to your mother and twin sister? As that is what Lily manages to do at the start, and the story from there takes you through her adapting to life again, and the fight for justice. 

We are treated to chapters from not only Lily's point of view, but twin sister's Abbie, her mother and also her abductor. It is her abductors chapters that really chilled me, as the man shows no remorse what so ever, and feels that he has outsmarted everyone. Although his story is the most shocking in a way, it is also really enjoyable for reasons I can't quite explain. 

Obviously a lot has happened in the 8 years, and in ways that Lily was never expecting, But then showing up out of the blue after all the time, with a child in tow, is a huge adjustment for her family too. 

I'm reluctant to say anything else about the story itself, but I would either give away spoilers, and there are some massive shocks to come your way, or wouldn't be able to do it justice properly. What I will say is that the story seeped under my skin from the start, and anytime I did have to stop reading for real life reasons, I was thinking about the story continually. I just couldn't switch off from it, and I suspect it may also be the sort of book that you shouldn't start too late in the evening, unless you are prepared for no sleep!

As the story progressed I couldn't help but wonder what how I would feel if any part of this was happening to me, and the answer is I probably wouldn't cope anywhere near as well as the characters in the story. They all have hidden strengths of character, that is admirable and made me like them even more (with the exception of the obvious bad guy). 

For a brand new debut author I am incredibly impressed, at this different take on a psychological thriller. I knew from the second I saw the book on Netgalley, that it would appeal to me, and I am so glad I have devoured it, as its pure class. If you like a book that gets under your skin and that is very addictive to read, then I would recommend giving Baby Doll a try. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Random House, Cornerstone for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Book Review - Learning to Speak American by Colette Dartford

Amazon UK
Title: Learning to Speak American
Author: Colette Dartford
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: twenty7
Publication Date: 5th November 2015
Rating: 3 Stars


Having suffered in silence since the tragic death of their young daughter, Lola and Duncan Drummond's last chance to rediscover their love for one another lies in an anniversary holiday to the gorgeous Napa Valley.

Unable to talk about what happened, Duncan reaches out to his wife the only way he knows how - he buys her a derelict house, the restoration of which might just restore their relationship. 

As Lola works on the house she begins to realise the liberating power of letting go. But just as she begins to open up, Duncan's life begins to fall apart. 

After all the heartbreak, can Lola and Duncan learn to love again?

When I started this book, I had been putting off reading it for ages, but yet the first few chapters hooked me in, got under my skin and I was left with a very good feeling about the rest of the book. However although even from the beginning I could tell that there would be a great deal of emotion involved, I found the book started to drain me as it went on. I was finding it harder and harder to go back to it and read it, and felt that a story that had tremendous promise just went flat. 

My favourite sections of the book were the initial trip to San Francisco and then onto the Napa Valley, and seeing Lola and Duncan slowly reconnect with each other, and for Lola to come out of herself for the first time properly in two years, since the death of their child. 

Due to Duncan not being able to talk about Clarissa, Lola has felt very alone, and their marriage is slowly fracturing. When Lola is shown a derelict house, though she feels a bit of hope and Duncan purchases it for her, just so he can see his wife smile and have a project to get on with. 

However once the couple were back in the UK, it soon became apparent what a despicable and cowardly man Duncan really is and I really couldn't stomach reading about him that much, he has a personal habit that could get him into a lot of trouble, as well as many other secrets that he is keeping from his wife, made a lot easier by having a job that demands a lot of trouble. 

Any section where Lola was in California, I really enjoyed, and seeing her point out the differences between the American and English language was amusing, but ultimately she is a woman who is still grieving, and had a relatively absent husband. 

I just found the pace of the book was slow, and that I didn't really connect on any level to the characters. Although we know their daughter died, it takes until well over half way through the book to have the actions of that fatal day fully revealed to the reader, which had made me feel there should be far more of a mystery to it than there was. 

Ultimately although I do read deeper, and emotional women's fiction, I have read far better than this book, and although other will probably enjoy it, as it isn't bad book, it just didn't work for me as much as I would perhaps have liked. 

Thank you to Bonnier Publishing and Netgalley for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Book Review & Extract - A Golden Tail from Champagne & Lemonade by John Hickling - Blog Tour

As part of the pre-publication blog tour for Champagne & Lemonade, a short story collection, I have chosen to review the first story in the compilation - A Golden Tail. 


Amazon UK
Title: Champagne & Lemonade
Author: John Hickling
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Publisher supplied review copy
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: 5th July 2016
Rating for A Golden Tail: 4 Stars


Champagne & Lemonade is a delightful collection of eclectic short stories, taking readers on a journey to different times and places, meeting a sparkling cast of well-drawn characters. Nibble the fish is desperate to escape his boring old pond. A new breed of super hero has been born and his name is Bob Cheesecake. Dumpton Hospital's staff have a somewhat unconventional approach to looking after their patients. Robert Hood is on a mission to save modern England. And just who is the vampire terrorising the neighbourhood from his home at 113A Greenstone Street? From the quixotic to the poignant, John A. D. Hickling's wild and whimsical tales fizz with fun and are sure to entertain almost everyone! www.johnchewyhickling.com

Nibble the fish want's to escape his boring pond and go on an adventure that might just have him wishing he had never left the pond in the first place.

Nibbles the fish, lives in a pond and is eager for adventure, and more excitement than just trying to fight the other fish in the pond for food. This is a short tale of his exciting adventure, and I believe its aimed more at children, or a family sitting around enjoying a book together. 


As the first book in a short story compilation, it is an excellent way to start to show John Hickling's writing ability, and it gave me a good insight into what life as a fish must be like. You really get to feel as though you are alongside Nibbles as his life becomes more exhilarating. 

From an adult's perspective I would say that this is a 5-10 minute piece of pure escapism, and a good way to while away a coffee break, or short journey somewhere. I think that children aged perhaps 7 upwards would enjoy listening to the story, and really be able to get a good picture of Nibbles and his friends. 

Thank you to Clink Street Publishing for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Please see below for a short extract from A Golden Tail. 

“Bored, bored, bored — mmm just bored.”

“I take it you are bored, Nibble?” Lucky snapped. 



“There must be more to life than swimming round in circles all day with you boring old lot.”


About John Hickling

Proud father and grandfather, and jack of all trades John A.D. Hickling currently lives with his family in Nottingham. A lover of music, especially 60’s rock, John has previously recorded two independent albums, appeared in comedy band Space Cadets on Britain’s Got Talent and is an active member of Masque Productions amateur theatre group. His debut book, Champagne & Lemonade (published by Clink Street Publishing June 5th 2016 RRP £6.99 paperback, RRP £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.johnchewyhickling.com



Book Review - Don't You Forget About Me by Liz Tipping

Amazon UK
Title: Don't You Forget About Me
Author: Liz Tipping
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Carina
Publication Date: 6th June
Rating: 3.5 Stars


An athlete, a princess, a brain, a criminal, a basket case...Cara Dunham is definitely one of them. But stuck in her small hometown, with no prospects of escape, she's struggling to find her thing. Her life is more book club than Breakfast Club and there is no Judd Nelson in sight!
So when Cara is invited to a school reunion she knows this is her chance to channel her inner Molly Ringwald and grab her John Hughes moment, once and for all. Because her teenage love, Daniel Rose will be there, the coolest boy at school and the one that got away.
But transforming into an 80's icon isn't easy and Cara enlists the help of her oldest friend, Stubbs, to teach her all she needs to know about being cool and quirky - a la Ringwald.
Except Stubbs thinks she's perfect, just as she is and takes it upon himself to show Cara that her life might not be 'movie perfect', but there is always another take to get things right...

I found Don't You Forget About Me to be an enjoyably predictable book, by that I mean I guessed who would end up with who, and vaguely what the overall outcomes would be, but due to a couple of unexpected moments, I did really enjoy the story too. 

However I found that main character, Cara just grated on my nerves a lot, with her perception of how she was at high school, and her continued attempts to find her "thing". She is a big Molly Ringwald fan, and wants to be just like her, including an epic amount of bidding on ebay for her cardigan, and wanting to work out if she really is an athlete, a princess, a criminal, a brain or a basket case, as per The Breakfast Club, in the lead up to her high school reunion. 

When she was at school, Cara, Verity, Stubbs and Divvy were all a group of, well I don't want to say outcasts, but the poorer children in the school and they missed out on lots of trips and experiences as a result. School though left its mark on Cara a lot more than everyone else, and she is determined to reinvent herself for the reunion, and ideally get the man she fancied back then. 

In the mean time she enlists Stubbs to help her out, and in exchange will help him get a date with the girl he fancied. This leads to the best friends spending a lot of time together, as they discover new things about each other and about themselves. 

This was a reasonably easy and fast book to read, which was easy to follow, even if I wasn't Cara's fan. I will admit though that I much preferred the author's first book Five Go Glamping, and hope future releases may be closer to that and less predictable to the average romantic comedy fan. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Carina for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Guest Post - Top Things To Do in Antigua by Bella Osborne - Blog Tour

Hi Rachel and thank you for having me on your blog and for being part of my first ever blog tour! 

The holiday that features in my latest novel ‘A Family Holiday’ is on the beautiful Caribbean island paradise of Antigua and here are my top five things to see and do whilst you're there.

Top things to do in Antigua


No 1 - Swim with Stingrays - Forget swimming with dolphins this beats it hands down! These are wild animals that come and interact of their own free will and they are quite safe too. An amazing experience.
  
No 2 - A boat trip - Antigua is beautiful inside and out but a chance to see it from the sea, just as the first explorers would have done, is inspiring. There is also something special about chasing across the water in a fast boat!

No 3 - Nelsons Dockyard – A trip full of history, this area has been beautifully restored and tells the story of a time when Antigua was the ‘Gateway to the Caribbean’ and a thriving stop on the trade routes of the British Empire.



No 4 - Zipwire – This is a chance to see Antigua from a very different viewpoint! Get an adrenalin hit whilst whizzing high above the ground in the rainforest canopy.

No 5 - Shirley Heights - There are two sides to Shirley Heights: there is the quiet restaurant and bar that boasts lovely views across English Harbour to Nelsons Dockyard and holds some history as in it’s previous life it was a military complex responsible for conveying messages back to St Johns. But on a Sunday night Shirley Heights is transformed into the must go to party and barbecue. An opportunity to watch a stunning Antigua sunset whilst sipping a cool drink is not to be missed.

But to be honest wherever you go in Antigua you will have an amazing time because the locals will see to it that you do. Have a fun summer!

Thank you so much for sharing Bella, I loved my trip to Antigua about 10 years ago and I loved re-visiting the country both with this post and also in A Family Holiday.  My review of A Family Holiday will be on the blog on 12th July.

A Family Holiday


‘Heartwarming and funny from an exciting new talent’ – Katie Fforde

She’ll do whatever it takes to keep this family together…

As the nanny to four quirky but loveable children, Charlie French has learnt that if there was ever a cement shortage Weetabix would be a viable substitute and that YouTube videos can go viral in seconds, much to her horror. But, most importantly, she's learnt that whatever happens you stick together as a family.

When tragedy strikes, Charlie is forced to decide whether it’s time to move on or fight to keep the children she loves. With the distraction of the children's gorgeous Uncle Felix and the chance of a holiday in stunning Antigua, she’s left wondering if turquoise seas can wash away their present troubles. Is the pull of white sand beaches too tempting to resist or will paradise fail to keep them all together?

A gorgeous summery beach read, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell.






About Bella Osborne

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel.

In 2016, her debut novel, 'It Started At Sunset Cottage', was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award.

Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

Website – www.bellaosborne.com
Twitter - @osborne_bella


Book Review - Geek Girl by Holly Smale- Rachel Reads Randomly Book #30 - #20BooksOfSummer Book 2

Amazon UK
Title:  Geek Girl (Book #1)
Author: Holly Smale
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Harper Collins Childrens Books
Publication Date: 28th February 2013
Rating: 5 Stars


“My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.”

Harriet Manners knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. She knows that bats always turn left when exiting a cave and that peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

But she doesn’t know why nobody at school seems to like her.

So when Harriet is spotted by a top model agent, she grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her best friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of impossibly handsome model Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

Veering from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, Harriet begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

As her old life starts to fall apart, will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

I was aware there was a lot of hype about the Geek Girl series even before I bought the first few books, but what I didn't fully appreciate until I started reading Geek Girl was just how enjoyable it would be for an adult in her mid 30s. 

I think this is the most absorbed I have been in a book, and unaware of everything going on around me, for ages, and I didn't think I could achieve this level of absorption still. I found myself sitting and just turning the pages, as the writing is so easy to read, and such a pleasure. I know I used to get this deep into books when I was a teenager, I just didn't realise books aimed at the same market would still have that affect. 

I really identified with Harriet Manners, a self confessed geek, who knows shes not popular, but can't quite put her finger on why so many people don't seem to like her. Academically she is brilliant at school but socially she is slightly inept, and its easy to see Harriet's in just about any school you go to. 

However when Harriet is spotted by a model agent, at an event she didn't even want to be at, she realises that this could be her ugly duckling transformation moment, but of course like real life nothing ever goes smoothly. 

At times I was almost cringing with Harriet at things go wrong, and the descriptions of her in high heels for the first time are hilarious, although given my own inability to walk in a heel, I maybe shouldn't have laughed as much as I did. 

I'm not really going to say much about the story, there must be plenty of other reviews around to do just that, I do want to say that this book is brilliant. I loved the characters, I loved the parents, the school dynamics (I was a sucker for a school story when I was younger) and realistically the only thing going through my mind  is what on earth happens in book 2! 

There was an overwhelming majority of you that voted for Geek Girl to win this week, and I can't thank you from the bottom of my heart enough for categorically demanding me to read this book in some cases. Clearly I have been missing out over the past few years, just because I don't tend to read YA, and do feel a bit weird reading so called kids books. In fact mum has told me that I shouldn't take the others of this series on holiday with me because I'll be laughed at!

Rachel Reads Randomly will be back on 11th July with a new vote. I hope you will all join me then! 


Sunday, 19 June 2016

Guest Post - Around the World with Nigel May - Blog Tour

To celebrate the launch of his latest blockbusting novel, Lovers And Liars, which of course takes us all off to some fabulously glamour-packed locations, we asked Nigel May about some of his favourite sexy destination hot spots from around the globe.

"A lot of the action in Lovers And Liars is set in Barbados and it was a place I knew I had to write about after being there on holiday last year. It was so tropically hot and just dripping in intrigue, excitement and colour. I knew it would be the ideal destination for the murderous goings on at the six-star Velvet Hotel featured in the novel. We stayed at a place called Brighton Beach which was amazing as turtles nested outside our front door and we could see where the baby ones had been born, which was a truly magical experience. That was why I created Heather, the animal-loving carefree sister in Lovers And Liars as I wanted to reflect the beauty of the nature in Barbados. But I had to include some very rich and decadent places too like The Cliff restaurant which is where Nikki has her showdown with Julian in the book. The food there was incredible and eating there was one of the best nights of my life. I am sure there were secret liaisons going on at every table! Celebrities go there all the time. 

Another of my favourite destinations is Agra in India, which was featured a lot in Scandalous Lies, my novel from Summer 2015. It's where the Taj Mahal is situated and a place that just simply takes your breath away with its beauty. The monument itself is smothered in tales of love and heart-wrenching tragedy and just touched me in a way that no other place I've ever visited has. I loved the romance and the heartache of it all - two very important ingredients in all of my novels. I had to send Nova, Jacob, Charlie, Georgia and Victoria there in Scandalous Lies to sample its delights. 

Muscat was another place I adored, in the exotic country of Oman. I stayed at this incredible hotel called The Chedi which had an infinity pool which looked out across the sun-soaked horizon and was surrounded by swanky couples topping up their tans. I used it as a location in my first novel, Trinity, as it seemed to have an air of intense sexiness about it. Lots of couples staring deeply into each others' eyes as they sipped on their cocktails. It was the perfect girly getaway for Evie and Nush to talk about their woes with men.

One of the other places that features heavily in my new book Lovers And Liars is Crete. I read about this celebrity-favoured sleepy fishing village called Elounda and how Lady Gaga and Leonardo DiCaprio both loved it there so I thought that I had to see it for myself. It was fabulous and the perfect romantic destination for Heather and her husband, Max. They also went to Knossos, the ancient city nearby steeped in mythology and tales of the famous minotaur. It was another place I had to experience and write about. I love a dramatic historical legend. They are always so over the top. Just like my characters.

 My next book is set in lots of equally sexy, luxurious places too. My passport is always to hand. I hope you enjoy! 

 Love Nigel xx" 

To read more about the destinations in Nigel's novels head to www.nigelmay.net and sign up to his mailing list. 

Just reading this has taken me back to each of your previous novels. I do love a book with an exotic destination, and yours are some of the best, with the luxurious feel to the places too. Thank you so much Nigel for taking the time to join me on Rachel's Random Reads.

About Nigel May

Nigel May is a TV presenter and journalist. As a writer he has written for many of the UK’s most successful magazines and newspapers, specialising in showbiz and celebrity, as well as writing on subjects ranging from relationships through to travel. His first novels Trinity, Addicted, Scandalous Lies and Deadly Obsession were instant bestsellers.

www.nigelmay.net

@Nigel_May 




My review is also on the blog today, and please do follow along with the rest of the blog tour too. 



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