Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Book Review - An American in Cornwall by Laura Briggs

Amazon UK
Title: An American in Cornwall
Author: Laura Briggs
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 25th April 2018
Rating: 4 Stars

Taking a break in North Cornwall to soak up the summer sun, Julianne is spending her holiday with her best friend Aimee from Seattle — who's taking a holiday herself in Cornwall as a 'shop sitter' in a small village. Eager to introduce Julianne to her new friends and show off the quirky secondhand shop she's minding for the next few months, Aimee sweeps her off to quaint St. Petroc, only a few miles from the sea. 

Just when everything looks perfect for a week of historical haunts and lazy afternoons in the sun, a scheming local businessman makes a disastrous announcement that changes everything — and Julianne rallies to help Aimee not only defend the future of the shop in her care, but all the rest of the village's high street as well.

From an oily businessmen to a chatty bookshop owner, to a kindhearted solicitor and a crazy hen night planner, Julianne's latest adventure in Book Eleven is as impossible, impulsive, and charming as any she's experienced before. 

Well this was the 11th and penultimate book in this long running series, that I have been enjoying.  So for this story we are transported to a different part of Cornwall, where Julianne's friend is staying and looking after a shop on an exchange sort of programme. 

The story had a save our village high street sort of feel to it, which is a common theme in books at the moment, at least the ones I read. However being a novella suddenly being thrown into a new location with loads of new characters I found a bit discombobulating, but once I was getting into the swing of things  it was great. 

Although given the way book 10 ended, it took until around 70% of the way through, for the story that I I thought the timeline was wrong on to be explained,  which may have added to my unsettled feeling reading this book. 

Despite all that there are some fabulous scenes in this and the hen party planner character whose name escapes me for the moment provided some great comedy gold moments on a night out with Julianne and Aimee. 

More so than a lot of the other books this one can definitely be read as a standalone novella without any problems at all I believe.  

Not the best book in the series, but still an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.  Can't wait to start the last book in this series to see how it all turns out. 

Thank you to Laura Briggs for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Book Review - Dying Truth by Angela Marsons - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: Dying Truth
Author: Angela Marsons
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 18th May 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

How far would you go to protect your darkest secrets?

When teenager Sadie Winter jumps from the roof of her school, her death is ruled as suicide – a final devastating act from a troubled girl. But then the broken body of a young boy is discovered at the same school and it’s clear to Detective Kim Stone that these deaths are not tragic accidents.

As Kim and her team begin to unravel a dark web of secrets, one of the teachers could hold the key to the truth. Yet just as she is about to break her silence, she is found dead. 

With more children’s lives at risk, Kim has to consider the unthinkable - whether a fellow pupil could be responsible for the murders. Investigating the psychology of children that kill brings the detective into contact with her former adversary, Dr Alex Thorne – the sociopath who has made it her life’s work to destroy Kim. 

Desperate to catch the killer, Kim finds a link between the recent murders and an initiation prank that happened at the school decades earlier. But saving these innocent lives comes at a cost – and one of Kim’s own might pay the ultimate price.

The utterly addictive new crime thriller from the Number One bestselling author – you will be gripped until the final shocking twist.

How on earth am I meant to review this?  I mean lets make this quick, if you are a fan of thrillers, heart stopping action, Angela Marsons, Kim Stone, Bookouture books, and want to be as opened mouthed as I am at the end of the book - then just make it a priority to read this one. 

Easily the best book in the series, some of it may work better if you have read the previous books in the series but at the heart of it is a fascinating set of circumstances leading to multiple deaths. 

I didn't have a clue who had done it,well I had one but I was so wrong, thankfully, and just wow.  This is police procedural at its best.  

Most of the book is focused on solving what is going on a a prestigious boarding school, after the first girl that dies is made to look like a suicide.  But if I say anything else about the plot I will spoil things completely, just trust me its a cracker. 

The writing is definitely the best yet, and the storyline well you can tell from this that I'm very impressed.  It is complex, intriguing, and the writing hooked me in completely.   I read the majority of this book in a few short hours not pausing for breathe.  

What I am though is very curious as to what the next book in the series will bring and I know I will be first in line to read it when its available. 

And if you didn't get the message at the top of this review, here is is put simply - Amazing book, best in the series and just wow! 

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

Friday, 18 May 2018

Guest Post about The Development by Jackie Kabler - Blog Tour

As a writer you’re often asked about where the inspiration for your books comes from. My answer is generally very simple – from driving! I live in Gloucestershire and work in London, which is a four- to five-hour round trip, and I do that four times a week. That’s a lot of driving, and a lot of thinking time. I love listening to true crime podcasts as I drive, and the inspiration for my last book, The Deadline, came from listening to a podcast about an alleged miscarriage of justice – a man locked up for a crime he always maintained he didn’t commit. It got me thinking – what if that happened to somebody I know? What if a close friend of mine was charged with murder, and she said she was innocent? Would I believe her, if all the evidence was against her? How far would I go to help her clear her name? That became the plot for a book, when TV reporter Cora Baxter has to try to prove that one of her best friends is innocent of murder.

I also get inspired by the scenery and buildings I see as I drive, and that was very much the case with my new book, The Development. I live north of Bristol, and so when friends and family come to visit, Bristol airport is the most convenient. I was driving there to pick someone up one day, and suddenly started forming the plot of a novel in my head as I drove under the beautiful Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s a stunning construction, but sadly is also a well-known suicide spot, so I started thinking “what if some poor person was up there right now, planning to jump? What if I saw it happen? What if they landed right in front of my car?”. (I’m not sure if everyone’s mind works like this – maybe it’s just the mind of a crime writer!)

And then, I pushed the idea a little further. What if the death turned out to be suspicious? What if somebody else was up there on the bridge too? What if there were odd circumstances leading up to all this? What if it wasn’t actually suicide at all, but murder, made to look like suicide? Those musings became the beginnings of The Development, which starts with Cora Baxter driving home from work and witnessing the horrible death of a young woman. I suppose a lot of writers work like this, irrespective of genre – what if this happened? What if that happened? What if somebody did this? What would the outcome be? “What ifs” definitely help pass the time on a long, tedious drive!
After three Cora Baxter books, I’ve now started work on something a little different, more of a psychological suspense novel, and that too was inspired by something I was listening to as I was driving to work. A two-hundred-and-twenty-mile commute may not be for everyone but for me it provides plot lines for my books, so long may it last! 

Thank you Jackie for this great post. I can't wait to read The Development and see what happens next with Cora Baxter. 

After a stressful week, TV reporter Cora Baxter is ready for a quiet weekend. But what she hadn’t counted on was witnessing the shocking death of a young woman on her way home. She discovers seventeen-year-old Leanne had been protesting against a new housing development, angering the powerful establishment. Leanne’s death is ruled a suicide, but when puzzling information comes to light, Cora decides to investigate further.

She doesn’t know what an unscrupulous businessman, a suspended police officer and hate-mail sending neighbours have to do with the case – but she knows there is a news story there.

With her eccentric camera crew on hand to help, can Cora tie the strands of Leanne’s case together – or will other forces interfere?

The Development is the third in the Cora Baxter Mysteries series.


Author bio: Jackie Kabler is a journalist, TV presenter and author. She spent twenty years as a TV news reporter for GMTV, ITV and BBC news, and now works as a presenter for shopping channel QVC and is author of the Cora Baxter Mysteries, a series of  murder mysteries set in a television newsroom. The Development is her third novel. Jackie lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, who is a GP. 

Twitter @jackiekabler

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Book Review - Five Years From Now by Paige Toon

Amazon UK
Title: Five Years From Now
Author: Paige Toon
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Goody bag
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 17th May 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

What if you met the right person at the wrong time?

Nell and Van meet as children when their parents fall in love, but soon they are forced worlds apart.

Five years later, they find each other.  Their bond is rekindled and new feelings take hold, but once again they must separate.

For the next two decades, fate brings Nell and Van together every five years, as life and circumstance continue to divide them. Will they ever find true happiness? And will it be together?

‘One day, maybe five years from now, you’ll look back and understand why this happened…’

What a beautiful story, so easy to read, and it tugged on the heart strings, but at the same time I suspect will have me later think back over my own life in 5 year chunks to see how things have changed, or what may have been the effect of something else. 

This is the story of Nell and Van, and how their lives intersect at 5 yearly intervals.  We meet them aged five when Nell's dad is living with Van's mum.  In a rollercoaster of emotion and life changing moments you are drawn  into their lives and over the few hours it took for me to devour this this book , I feel as though I have grown up alongside them. 

I loved getting to know both Nell and Van, along with their friends and the other locals in Cornwall that they grew up with.  There are plenty of unexpected turns in this book which just added to the one more page syndrome that I had while reading this. 

Read the book in two sittings, the majority of it sitting out in the garden, refusing to move or do more work until well I ran out of pages.   I was hooked on this story, although if you are a slower reader, the book is split into 5 year snapshots, so you could read a chapter and come back to the next knowing that the characters have grown a bit older in your absence. 

I totally love Paige Toon's books and her writing is as wonderful as ever before I have always found her books to be exceptionally quick to read and this was no exception,  it was a fabulous book to read on a hot spring day,  while mentally being in Cornwall with Nell and Van. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Book Review - One Summer In Italy by Sue Moorcroft

Amazon UK
Title: One Summer In Italy
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 17th May 2018
Rating: 4 Stars

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

This is one summer in Italy that you won't forget in a hurry, at least if you are Sofia, Levi or Amy who are  the main characters in this rather lovely book. 

If you want a book that features two women moving to Umbria for the summer, to work as waitresses, while trying to get their heads around big family news, then this is definitely the book for you.  The two women in question are Sofia and Amy. Sofia has family she has never met in this Umbrian town, and it was her father's last wish that she meet her uncle.  

Whereas Amy is 18, and a young 18 at that, who is struggling with her decision to run off from her family, and try to work in Italy for the summer and latches onto Sofia as a guiding figure.  The two girls come from different places but find common ground, and its lovely to see how the bond between them  comes into play, as they deal with a boss who has far too many rules and a tendency to try to fire people regularly. 

Levi is the kind stranger that steps in to help save Amy's job in her first week, and seems to have an eye on both women, the reasons for which became clear quite early on. 

There are certainly secrets to be discovered, some of which came as less of a surprise to me than others, but all really good and kept the interest levels up as you wanted to find out various bits of information. 

This is an enjoyable book that transported me to a warmer place than I was reading it,  and I really enjoyed all the characters, even the ones you weren't meant to like, kept me entertained.    

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

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Book Review - One Summer In Rome by Samantha Tonge

Amazon UK
Title: One Summer In Rome
Author: Samantha Tonge
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 9th May 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

To Rome…with love?
Mary Smith is turning her very ordinary life upside-down! She’s bought herself a one-way ticket to Rome and is ready for a summer she’ll never forget.

Men might be off the cards for waitress Mary, but within hours of arriving at the utterly charming family-run La Dolce Vita pizzeria, she’s already fallen in love with the bustling capital!

Only Dante Rossi, the mysterious (and drop-dead gorgeous) chef seems displeased with her arrival. And in the heat of the kitchen, it doesn’t take long for long-buried secrets to surface and sparks to fly…

What a perfect book to have read over the first signs of Spring in April that we have have had this year.  Reading about a summer spent in Italy as the weather is just warming up in England, felt like fabulous timing, and made me absorb the brilliance of the book even more. 

This a a fantastic summer read, and if you like pizza then you will be in heaven with the book as its predominately set in La Dolce Vita pizzeria, with the Rossi family. 

Featuring one hot pizza chef, Dante its no wonder that Mary has bought a one way ticket to Rome and is hoping to make a new life for herself!  Dante I fell in love with very early on, and absolutely loved every scene that he was in.  He like the rest of his family have gone through a nightmarish previous two years for a variety of reasons, which I can't reveal to you, rest assured once you learn the back story you will have admiration for the whole family at how they are coping with everything. 

And the food all the varieties of pizza, and the associated scents and tastes are all present in this book that features far more of the life in Rome, than the tourist areas.  There is a rivalry with another pizzerie, there are dance classes there are assorted tougher subjects tackled incredibly well and sensitively.  

This is just a book that packs so much into its page, there is never a dull moment, and I just wish I could have stayed in this fictional Rome for a lot longer.  This book is without a doubt Samantha Tonge at her best, it has comedy, romance, family, delicious food, exotic location and a great level of depth to the characters too.   All I want to know is when is the next one out?!

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

Monday, 14 May 2018

Book Review - You, Me Everything by Catherine Isaac - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #98

Amazon UK
Title: You Me Everything
Author: Catherine Isaac
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 19th April 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

Set in the French countryside over one hot summer, You Me Everything is a tender novel about finding joy and love even in the most unexpected places. 

Jess and her ten-year-old son William set off to spend the summer at Ch√Ęteau de Roussignol, deep in the rich, sunlit hills of the Dordogne. There, Jess’s ex-boyfriend and William’s father, Adam, runs a beautiful hotel in a restored castle. Jess is bowled over by what Adam has accomplished, but she’s in France for a much more urgent reason: to make Adam connect with his own son. Jess can’t allow Adam to let their son down because she is tormented by a secret of her own, one that nobody - especially William - must discover.

By turns life-affirming, heart-wrenching and joyful, You Me Everything is a novel about one woman's fierce determination to grab hold of the family she has and never let go, and a romantic story as heady as a crisp Sancerre on a summer day.

I had been looking forward to starting this book for ages, but equally slightly apprehensive as I know the author is Jane Costello writing under a new name, Being a huge fan of Jane Costello, I had no idea what to expect from this new change of direction, and was scared it may not be for me.  

Well I need not have worried as the book was fabulous, and I completely understand the need for a new identity!   This is story written with a lot of love, heart and knowledge.  It is eye opening, it is charming, it will make you think and above all its amazing.  Easily one of the best books I've read this year. 

Depending on how emotion affects you, having a box of tissues on hand at some points may be advisable, and there was one section I was reading on the tube where I had to pause for breathe, for fear of turning into a crying mess on public transport, the writing was getting to me that much. 

Yet I found the first 100 pages or so a bit tricky to get into, I wasn't really sure where the book was going or why I had heart such hype about it, and then I got to the chapter which changed everything.  From that moment I was hooked and everything made sense.  So if you are feeling the same as me as you start this, just continue, and you will be rewarded! 

This is a story of relationships and love.  The love between Jess and her 10 year old son William who is a gifted child.  The relationship or lack of one between William and his dad Adam, whose Chateau they are stay at in France for a few weeks.  The relationship between Jes and her mother, who is rather key to the whole book, despite being a woman of very few words.  The friendship between Jess and her best friends  and the potential new romances that appear over their long stay in France. 

You Me Everything is a book that will give you the feels, the writing is fabulous, its a great story and so many hidden depths to it, that are slowly revealed throughout which keeps you completely hooked. 

This is  a a very special book and its been a pleasure to have been able to read it. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and 

Thank you to everyone that voted for this book this week. 

The Rachel Reads Randomly vote feature is now on a few months break, due to my currently not having time to read anything longer than a few pages at a time.  Followed by a holiday, and then my big Bookish World Cup feature.    I currently have this feature to return on 16th July, fingers crossed. 

Friday, 11 May 2018

Book Review - The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson

Amazon UK
Title:  The Brighton Mermaid
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Cornerstone Digital
Publication Date: 17th May 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

Brighton Beach, 1993

Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell is forced to quit her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

Fast-paced and thrilling, The Brighton Mermaid explores the deadly secrets of those closest to you.

I've been left reeling from this book that packs a humongous punch. The story builds steadily at first but when I sat down for the last 30% this evening, I didn't expect anything like what I read. 

It had been building to a fast paced, action packed, adrenalin fuelled finale where all those burning questions that you will have from reading the rest of the book get some answers.  I couldn't believe what I was reading and I can't tell you any more than that as it would be a huge spoiler. 

This is a book told from two viewpoints, Nell and her sister Macy.  Both of their lives changed massively in 1993, when Nell and her best friend Jude find a dead body on the beach, who is unidentified but definitely murdered. 

Shortly after that Jude disappeared and was never heard from again, and the sisters have to continue with their life, despite the directions the police investigation was going in. 

The story is told in a mix of past and present as we are brought up to date with Nell's life and why 25 years on she is obsessed with discovering the identity of the Brighton Mermaid. 

The writing is fabulous, I was drawn completely into the story and had my own thoughts as to how it would pan out and  I was wrong. I am utterly convinced that Dorothy Koomson gets better and better with every single book, and this is no exception.  My only regret is that I read it so soon after getting it so that I now probably have another years wait for another book from this superb author. 

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

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Book Review - Desperately Seeking Summer by Mandy Baggot

Amazon UK
Title: Desperately Seeking Summer
Author: Mandy Baggot
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Ebury Press
Publication Date: 1st May 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

Abby Dolan is having a very bad day...

In twenty-four hours, she's lost her job and her boyfriend. Single and with nothing left to lose, she's headed for a Corfu escape to spend time with her family while she heals her broken heart.

Only her mum and sister's estate agency 'Desperately Seeking' is just that, desperate! Instead of the relaxing, sunshine holiday she'd hoped for, Abby finds herself spending her break helping get the business back on its feet. Determined to attract new clients and give her family a second chance at success, she finds the perfect property to sell in Villa Pappas complete with gorgeous gardener, Theo.

Perhaps working this summer could be a welcome distraction after all. But Theo has his own secrets and Abby isn't the only thing he wants to take off the market...

I'm utterly bereft that I have come to the end of such a fabulous book it had everything you could want from your perfect summery read and more. 

There was Theo who I fell in love with, Abby and her mad family's vision for a pink estate agency in Corfu,  there is greek food, beautiful scenery, high drama, sizzling chemistry, plenty of smiles and laughs,  and so much more.  This is escapism at its best. 

I could wax lyrical all day about this book, but I fear I would bore you, so instead I will try and keep this short, and just tell you, especially if you are already a fan of Mandy Baggot to just go and buy this and read it for yourself.  It won't disappoint. 

If you have never read a book by this author before, well frankly you are missing out, but she has a fabulous back catalogue to catch up on too.  

This is a story of Abby who manages to lose her job, boyfriend and her cat all in the same day decided to spend some time with her family in Corfu, only to arrive and discover their estate agency isn't doing too well. 

So while Abby is trying to help save the family business, she comes into contact with Theo, who is using Corfu as a summer escape for himself too.  Of course there is more to Theo than there first appears, and thanks to the way the book is written we often get sections focusing on him, and thus can see beneath his amazing good looks quite early on. 

There is romance in the air in Corfu this summer and not just for Abby, and the villagers of San Sebastian are all colourful characters and I enjoyed meeting a lot of those too.  There are business rivalries, interesting ways of trying to keep the Dolan family afloat and older relationships revitalised. 

I even think I learnt a bit of Greek in this book, as occasional words are used, most of the time you could guess the meaning  from the context, and if you can't then there was a handy glossary at the back too. 

I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed spending time in Corfu with Abby, Theo and their friends and family.  This is a fantastic book to while away a hot summers day, or a cold winters one when you are wishing you are somewhere warmer!  

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

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Book Review - The Wish by Alex Brown

Amazon UK
Title: The Wish
Author: Alex Brown
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 17th May 2018
Rating: 5 Stars

Sam Morgan knows he messed up with his wife Chrissie and daughter Holly – he wasn’t there when they needed him most, but now he’ll do anything to put his family back together again. Until then, he's back living in the picture-postcard village of Tindledale.

Jude Darling is coming home for good this time. She's taking over the antique shop in Tindledale, the place where she grew up and she's going to make sure she's there for her friend, Chrissie, and Goddaughter, Holly. They certainly need her right now.

As for Holly, there's only one thing she wants and it's not the sort of thing you can buy in a shop. She might be thirteen years old, but Holly still believes in wishes, and perhaps if she wishes hard enough, this one might come true…

It is always a moment of pure pleasure as you sit down to open a brand new Alex Brown book, and The Wish was no exception. If anything my anticipation had been heightened waiting two years for a new release from one of my favourite authors. 

Thankfully it soon became apparent that this was a book that was worth the wait, with its heart warming story taking in multiple generations of two families, and a brave 13 year old who just wants her parents back together by her next birthday. 

Holly was easily one my favourite characters, she is young but is coming to terms with her medical condition, which for a teenager must be tough.  Her parents Chrissie and Sam seem to argue whenever they get together, which is more frequent now that Sam has returned from working abroad.  

Sam also wants nothing more than to put his family back together again, and is determined to be a better husband and father if he is given a chance. 

Jude has also returned to Tindledale, and she is Chrissie's best friend, Holly's godmother, and  also wants her friends marriage fixed.  However Jude also ends up working for a larger than life ex-rock star who turned out to me another of my favourite characters. 

Although this is a new book set in Tindledale it can easily be read as a standalone, as all the others can too, there are some familiar faces but the heart of this book is a focus on all new characters, so there is nothing you need to catch up on. 

With moments of hilarity, some of high drama, and others tugging at your heartstrings, The Wish has everything and a is w wonderfully written book that I would have liked to keep reading for even longer. 

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