Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Book Review & Extract - Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: Just For The Holidays
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 18th May 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting - perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Just For the Holidays really hits the spot, it has everything I love in a book, a gorgeous summery location, a family going through issues, a gorgeous guy, some amusing teenagers, and some brilliant professions. How much cooler can you get when you have a helicopter pilot and a chocolatier in the same book! 

In fact the helicopter pilot is called Ronan, and with his son Curtis they are staying next door to the holiday home that Leah and her family are staying in this summer in Alsace, France. 

Leah loves her own space but has been persuaded onto the trip to support her sister Michele, who is trying to separate from her husband. Let's just say that the plans for the holiday fall apart in quite spectacular fashion, leaving Leah to try her best for her niece and nephew. 

I just loved the character of Leah, not only does she taste and test chocolate for a living, but she is also a speed demon, drives a Porsche and is a huge F1 fan. It's such a great combination of traits, especially given she is single and when in charge of teenagers, she is terrified and  I love the decisions she makes. 

Some of my favourite moments in this book involved Leah, and chocolate. I'm a chocoholic, so it may not be surprising that I was salivating over a lot of the content - pain au chocolat being created from scratch, mug cakes, chocolate tastings, chocolate baskets and more. I just wish I had known in advance to have my own chocolate supplies on me. I had been reading on a train, and when I got to the bar I was aiming for, I just couldn't resist ordering a chocolate based cocktail, just to try and curb the cravings I was getting from this book. 

In fairness it wasn't all chocolate, and the story takes in themes such as broken families and how it affects teenagers, Ronan's interesting work situation, and a young romance.  I loved the days out in the surrounding area, and getting to know Leah's family.  Natasha and Jordan are good teens just going through a tricky time with their family and hormones. 

Just For the Holidays is aptly titled in time for the summer season. its a fabulous summery read, that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was completely absorbed in the story, and just found it so entertaining. 

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

Here is a short extract from Just For The Holidays:

Leah loved her sunglasses, and not just because they made her look cool or made driving her Porsche in the mellow sunshine of France more pleasurable. No. Those sunglasses were currently allowing her to pretend to leaf through a magazine in the sunshine outside La Petite Annexe while actually watching the first-floor balcony of the house next door where a workman had bared his tanned back to the morning sun.

His sure and easy brushstrokes were transforming the walls of the house from dirty grey to the gold of unclar­ified honey but Leah’s anxious gaze was trained on the youth behind him. Everything the youth wore was black and decorated with studs or chains. Having perched himself on the wooden balcony rail and hooked his feet around the uprights, he was now arching backwards into scarily thin air. Flexing his spine, he swung gently, chains dangling and winking in the sun.
Leah bit her lip against an urge to shout a warning, scared of startling the youngster into falling.

Then, as if possessing a sixth sense, the man turned. Demonstrating commendable reflexes, he dumped his paint pot and made a grab for the gangly figure. 

Bellowing with laughter, the youth allowed himself to be hauled to safety. Leah let out the breath she’d been holding and grinned at the man’s obvious exasperation as he gave the youth a tiny shake before dragging him into his arms for a hard hug. Finally, the man managed a laugh as he loosened his embrace, his dark hair lifting in the breeze.

Then his gaze snagged on Leah and, after a moment’s contemplation, he raised his voice. ‘Bonjour!’

Unnerved at being spotted through the leafy trees, Leah lifted her head as if she hadn’t been spying on them. ‘Oh! Bonjour.’

‘Vous êtes en vacances? Restez-vous ici en Kirchhoffen?’ The man settled his forearms on the balcony rail as his voice rolled over the sunny air. His front view was as pleasing as the back had been.

Leah smiled. Her French was just about equal to the conversation so far. ‘Oui.’
But then, ‘Enchantés’ launched him into a speech of fascinating undulating rhythm punctuated with urrrr and airrr, of which Leah caught about ten per cent. She did at least understand that when he paused it was to invite her to respond to a question.

Both oui and non carrying equal risk, she prepared to offer a shrug and her stock phrases, ‘Désolée, mon français est très mauvais. Parlez-vous anglais?’
But then Natasha bounded out through the door of the main gîte. ‘Dad says, aren’t you coming in for breakfast? We want to go kayaking.’ Both man and boy swung their heads to gaze Natasha’s way as, message delivered, she dashed back inside again.

Thus saved from confessing to her rubbish command of the native language of her host country, Leah put her shrug to good use and called ‘Excusez-moi!’ to the occu­pants of the balcony and went to join the family.

Don't forget to check out the rest of this blog tour, for more Sue Moorcroft goodness! 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Rachel Reads Randomly Book #64 - An Apology

Thank you to everyone that took the time to vote on last weeks Rachel Reads Randomly feature.

I honestly do love this feature, but will admit my heart dropped slightly when I spotted what was in the lead and was eventually won.

I am shocked that the first time a non fiction book wins, is one that I had a feeling I may struggle with.

Now to be fair, I have got to 130 pages, but I can't read on, I am sorry.

It is not particularly the fault of the author, nor the subject, and it definitely lies with me.

My copy of the winning book is in hardback. Anyone that knows me I am not a huge fan of hardbacks, and I'm surprised I have got this far in some respects.  They are heavy, and given half the time I seem to struggle with my motivation towards reading paperbacks, hardbacks are a step too far most of the time. That being said had it been fiction, I may have been able to continue.

My other main concern was that the book was a biography. I much prefer autobiographies, as I like hearing things from the person's point of view, instead of how someone else has chosen to portray the subject.

Now the subject of this book definitely has had an interesting life, but in the 8 or chapters I have read, I can't seem to even keep the keen players straight in my head. There are mentions of things happening out of order, and for someone who is struggling to concentrate due to external factors, I am finding myself either skimming sections, or re-reading the same bit 2-3 times over.

I received a copy of this book from a giveaway run by the publisher, and it wasn't until it arrived that I twigged I had made an error of judgment entering, due to my preference for autobiographies and paperbacks, and it has taken until this week for me to even give it a go, thanks to popular opinion.

I suspect if you are a fan of the subject of the book then you would thoroughly enjoy it, but at the point I am at in the story, I can't keep track of the information. I did contemplate skipping ahead to the chapters involving films that I have seen, but I doubt it would increase my enjoyment of the overall book that much.

If it had been purely a hardback problem, then I would have probably paid and got the book onto kindle to complete, but with my other issues, I'm sorry to say I'm giving up. Life is too short to continue struggling, even for the sake of anyone that picked the book this week.

And the name of the book that I am apologising for that I have been unable to complete, for the first time since I first started this feature is - Maggie Smith: A Biography by Michael Coveney.

Just as a reminder the next new vote is on 12th June, so hopefully it will be better luck next time! 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Book Review - Annie's Lovely Choir by the Sea by Liz Eeles - Blog Tour - Fab Firsts

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

This is Liz Eeles debut novel. 

Amazon UK
Title: Annie's Lovely Choir by the Sea
Author: Liz Eeles
Format reviewed: Ebook 
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 18th May 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

When twenty-nine-year-old Annie Trebarwith receives an unexpected letter from a great-aunt she’s never known, she leaves her shoebox-sized flat in London and catches a train to the rugged Cornish coast.

Salt Bay is beautiful and Annie begins to kindle a bond with her great-aunt Alice. Even though there is zero phone signal and the locals – including the gorgeous but brooding Josh Pasco – can be decidedly grumpy at times, Annie starts to feel at home in Salt Bay.

Soon Annie’s love of music leads her to relaunch the Salt Bay Choral Society, and she’s surprised to see how just much the choir means to the community – and she even starts to break through Josh’s surly exterior…

But London is calling Annie back, and she has to make a decision. Give up her old life completely, or leave Salt Bay, her new-found family – and the choir – behind?

Annie’s Lovely Choir by the Sea is a heart-warming story about family, belonging and the healing power of music, perfect for fans of Jo Thomas, Holly Martin and Carole Matthews.

If you are looking for a story including long lost relatives, deep family secrets, a lovely older woman,  one villainous man, one gorgeous guy, an Aussie barmaid, a lovely Cornish coastal location, and a choir, then you have come to the right place, as Annie's Lovely Choir by the Sea has all that and more. 

Long lost relatives - Annie recieves a letter out of the blue from her Great Aunt Alice who she didnt even know existed, inviting her down to Cornwall, to spend some time with her. Since Alice's mum died she ha had no family and until now has lived a nomadic life in London, temping and moving from flat to flat.  She really isn't sure how to deal with unexpected family but curiosity trumps nervousness. 

Deep family secrets - ah well if I told you about these in any detail, I would spoil elements of the book. However by virtue of the fact that Alice herself was a surprise to Annie, anything Alice says about the big family rift will be a revelation. 

A lovely older woman - great aunt Alice is exactly that, she is in frail health and is determined to have Annie live in Salt Bay with her on a more permanent basis, whereas Annie isn't as sure. 

One villainous man - within the first few mentions of this character, my hackles were well and truly raised and it turns out with good reason.  There is just something about the way he acts and his attitude in general towards Salt Bay that really annoyed me. 

Whereas my one gorgeous guy - well he is a typical Cornish hunk, quite moody and is determined to hate Annie due to the family she is a part of. He and Annie don't get off the smoothest of starts, and I loved seeing their dynamic. He also seems to be an arch rival of the villainous man! 

An Aussie barmaid - Kayla who takes Annie under her wing to show her the sights of Salt Bay. She is a breath of fresh air, and I  loved any scene she was part of. 

A lovely Cornish coastal location - welcome to Salt Bay, where is seems to rain a lot, but on the nice days it has stunning views, and beaches, a cream tea shop, the local pub and a whole group of inhabitants that would be best described as salt of the earth people.  I love reading books set in Cornwall, and this definitely matched in with my previous fictional trips to the county. 

And last but not least there is the Choral Society, which Kayla and Annie decide to resurrect. Although you don't really see much in the way of the practices, you can't help but get a good feel for just what it is doing for the community in Salt Bay, and how it will continue to affect people's lives. 

Ultimately Annie's Lovely Choir by the Sea is an all around entertaining story with various threads running through it. I loved the reasoning behind the Choral Society's reformation, and found the whole book to be a pleasurable reading experience.  Brilliant debut and I'm already looking forward to the next installment in the series. 

Thanks you so much to Netgalley and Bookouture for this copy which I have reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

About the author

Liz began her writing career as a journalist for newspapers and magazines before moving into the health sector as a communications manager and press officer. The low point of her career was abandoning an interview with Cliff Richard after two questions because she was about to faint – her excuse is that she was newly pregnant at the time.
Liz is from Gloucestershire but now lives by the sea in West Sussex with her husband and grown-up daughter. She spends a lot of time meaning to meditate, avoiding exercise, and missing her son who lives in London.

Follow along with the rest of the blog tour for more about Annie's Lovely Choir by the Sea

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Kate Field

Congratulations to Kate Field on winning the RNA Joan Hessayon Award at the RNA Summer Party on Thursday evening. It is an honour to have her on Rachel's Random Reads this week. 

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

I'm Kate Field, an author of women's fiction.

1) Can you tell us a bit about your first book?

My first book, The Magic of Ramblings, is a contemporary romance and it was published by Accent Press in September 2016.

It's about a Victorian Gothic mansion in Lancashire and the three people who live there – Cassie, Barney and Frances, who are all hiding from their pasts. Through friendship, love and the magic of Ramblings, can they help each other find a happy ending?

2) What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

My first attempt at writing a full length novel was inspired by my love of Georgette Heyer’s Regency books. When I ran out of books to read, I tried writing one myself. The Regency era wasn't as popular then as it is now, and I was advised to try contemporary romance instead.

I haven't forgotten my first love, though: in The Magic of Ramblings, Cassie goes to work as a companion to Frances, which was often a popular job for heroines in Regency romances!

3) How long did it take you to write your first book?

The Magic of Ramblings is the fifth complete book I’ve written, although the first to be published, and it took about 8 months to write the first draft and three or four more to edit it. I have a day job so writing has to fit around that. The very first book took years to finish!

4) If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about your debut, or how you went about writing it?

I wish I'd had more confidence in myself and my book. I never really believed I would be published, so when it came out I didn't have much presence on social media – and I still don't! – which made promotion more difficult. I’ve met some lovely bloggers online and in real life since publication and I wish I had been braver and contacted them in advance.

5) Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

It was traditionally published by Accent Press. It was an easy decision to make as I didn't have the confidence to believe the book was good enough to be published until someone else told me it was.

6) Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Start preparing for publication day as early as possible! And the advice I've had to take on board recently – stop worrying about sales and reviews, and remember the joy of writing.

Tell us about your first…

7) Book you bought

It would have been one of the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. I remember touring round bookshops on holiday so I could find the latest one. Looking back, I can't believe how generous my parents were, agreeing to spend so much holiday time in bookshops when they weren't keen readers themselves.

8) Person you fell in love with

I can't provide a better answer than Jane Eyre. ‘Reader, I married him.’ We’ll celebrate our 22nd anniversary in 2017, touch wood!

9) Holiday you went on

The earliest holiday I remember was spent in Harlech, North Wales, not too far away from our Lancashire home. The only things that stick in my mind are that we had to open a gate to drive across a field to the house we stayed in, and that I slept in a bunk bed for the first time, both of which seemed hugely exciting at the time!

10) Album you purchased

Hunting High and Low by a-ha – on a cassette tape. That ages me, doesn't it!

11) Embarrassing moment you can remember

I’ve always been a shy person and easily embarrassed, so over the years there have been far too many moments to remember, but one stands out. I attended an all girls school, but a few lessons in the Sixth Form were mixed, including a course of lessons on American Studies. The teacher asked everyone to prepare a talk on a famous American we admired, and picked a few people to deliver it to the class. After impressive talks about Martin Luther King and the poet EE Cummings, my name was called. I stood up, scarlet faced, and said, ‘My favourite American is Jon Bon Jovi because he oozes pure sex from every pore.’ I’d been dared to say it by a friend and the memory still mortifies me now!

12) Pet

It was a Yorkshire Terrier dog called Lucy. She was left to my Dad in the will of a former colleague. 

13) ..choice of alternative career if you weren’t an author

I wanted to be a pathologist, probably because I’ve always loved reading crime novels. I realised in the nick of time that I was too squeamish to pursue that career!

14) Dish you cooked

I was brought up in a traditional ‘meat and two veg’ household, so although it sounds odd nowadays, when I went to university and a friend showed me how to cook pasta it was a revelation!

15) …toy that you recall loving

My first love wasn't a toy, it was an old pyjama top called Sniffy.  I used to sniff one particular corner of it - no other spot would do - and couldn't get to sleep without it. My Mum would sometimes sneak Sniffy away for a wash when I was at school, and it took ages for him to smell right again!

Thanks for featuring me on your blog, Rachel.

You are very welcome Kate, its been a pleasure to host you, and thank you for answering my questions.

Kate Field – bio

Kate writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire,  where she lives with her husband, daughter and hyperactive cat. 

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
The Magic of Ramblings is her first published novel.

Social media links:

Twitter: @katehaswords
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateFieldAuthor/

Buying links:


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Book Review - The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle - Back Catalogue Books - #AroundTheUKIn144Books #Surrey

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, going to aim to read books that have been out for at least 6 months, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

Given I downloaded this in July of last year, I can't help but think its definitely valid for this feature, and about time I read it!  

Amazon UK
Title: The Hope Family Calendar
Author: Mike Gayle
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 16th June 2016
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Tom Hope is broken. Ever since his wife Laura died he hasn't been the same man, and definitely not the same father. Luckily for Tom his mother-in-law Linda is around to pick up the pieces and look after his two struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.

But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife's death is the last straw for Linda.

In a last bid attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters she takes drastic action and leaves for Australia. With two fast-maturing daughters Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly discovered world of single fatherhood - starting immediately.

With only himself to rely on, will Tom fall back into grief or finally step up and be the father his girls need?

Far more serious in places than the average Mike Gayle novel, this is one family's journey to come to terms with the death of Laura, husband to Tom, and daughter to Linda, and mother to Evie and Lola. One year on from her death, and Linda is at her wits end, as Tom is still deep in grief but turning into a workaholic and barely spends any time with his daughters, while she has moved in and taken over Laura's role. 

Linda realises there is only one thing she can do to force Tom to take control of his own actions, and make him step up to the world of single parenthood, and she flies off to Australia for 6 months, despite it hurting her to be separated from her grandchildren. 

The book is told from both Tom and Linda's perspectives and on the whole it is an uplifting story, there are moments that will make you smile, and Mike Gayle's normal wit is definitely there to shine through in places, such as Clive, Tom's new friend. 

I loved reading about what Linda was getting up to Australia, and how she was coping. She has her ups and downs but its lovely to read about. Tom on the other hand struggles big time at first, and slowly learns and remembers how to be a parent. He is scared of doing the wrong thing, but his daughters are generally great girls and I especially loved Lola the youngest. 

Tom over the course of the book experiences a real rollercoaster of emotion, as he tries to get life back on track for him and the girls. Sometimes he is a typical non thinking man, others he is a compassionate father and goes to great lengths to make sure he can fulfill promises to his daughters. 

The Hope Family Calendar is a pleasureable story that I think would give griefing people some hope at the end of the tunnel. Tom and Linda both do a lot of growing in the novel, and after part 1 was finished, and the story was moving in the right direction, I found it very hard to put down, as I was enamoured in their story, while crossing my fingers that things would work out well. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Hodder for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Jan Ruth

Back Catalogue Books is my new regular Saturday feature, focusing on books that are not the latest releases. There is going to be a mix of Q&As and also reviews, depending on what I have the space for. 

If you are an author wanting to take part in Back Catalogue Books then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you. 

I hope everyone enjoys this weekly look back at some of the slightly older books that are about but still great, going to aim to read books that have been out for at least 6 months, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

I’m Jan Ruth and I write contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic with a generous helping of humour, horses and dogs. My books blend the serenities of rural life (Welsh, Snowdonia) with the headaches of city business, exploring the endless complexities of relationships. 

1) Please tell me about your first book, and what started you writing in the first place

The real story began at school, with prizes for short stories and poetry. I failed all things 
mathematical and scientific, and to this day struggle to make sense of anything numerical! 

My first novel - written in 1986 - attracted the attention of an agent who was trying to set up her own company, Love Stories Ltd. It was a project aiming to champion those books of substance which contained a romantic element but were perhaps directed towards the more mature reader and consistently fell through the net in traditional publishing. Sadly, the project failed to get the right financial backing. Many years later my second novel, Wild Water, was taken on by Jane Judd, literary agent. Judd was a huge inspiration, but the book failed to find the right niche with a publisher. It didn't fall into a specific category and, narrated mostly from the male viewpoint, it was considered out of genre for most publishers and too much of a risk. Amazon changed the face of the industry with the advent of self-publishing; opening up the market for readers to decide the fate of those previously spurned novels. From there I went on to successfully publish several works of fiction and short story collections and after a brief partnership with Accent Press in 2015, I’ve happily returned to the freedom of independent publishing.

2) How many books have you written and what are they?

My Wild Water series consists of three full length novels, also available as a box-set in a single complete download. This series was developed from my first book and grew into a gritty read with some crime in the background. The Midnight Sky Series is an equine based read, also consisting of three novels and the final in this series and the box-set is out soon. Silver Rain and White Horizon are both stand-a-lone novels. Not forgetting three collections of short stories with another Christmas novella planned for this year!

3) Which book are you most proud of writing?

Dark Water. The introduction of a crime thread and some of the chapters written from the point of view of a truly nasty individual meant I had to get into his head. It was challenging but I enjoyed it, and I think it enriched the story. 

4) Which book was your favourite to write?

This is a difficult one! I think I’d have to sway towards the equine series, being a horsey girl at heart. The research into horse-whispering (training) techniques was incredibly interesting and this series develops into

5) Who are your favourite characters from your books and why?

I do love Jack Redman (Wild Water). He’s the ultimate hapless male, something of an anti-hero in that he’s an estate-agent and in that respect, he was pretty challenging to create and appeal to the reader. He remains my most popular character so I must have got something right!

6) If you could go back and change anything from any of your books, what would it be, and why?

No, nothing! 

7) Which of your covers if your favourite and why?

I have a truly fabulous cover designer whom I’ve worked with for several years now. I love them all, but if I had to choose one I think it would be Silver Rain. The front cover is actually Llandudno Pier and it’s especially accurate and evocative of the novel, which is set in North Wales.

8) Have you ever thought about changing genres, if so what else would you like to write?

Yes! I’m poised to write a non-fiction book about local walks.

9) Looking forward can you let us know what you are working on next?

I’ve just started my Christmas novella which is tentatively titled ‘Away for Christmas.’ Seems natural since my previous Christmas offering was Home for Christmas.

10) I dare not ask for a favourite author, but is there any author’s back catalogue you admire and why?

Oh, so many. Clare Chambers, David Nicholls, Jojo Moyes, Mark Haddon, Mary Fitzgerald. To name but a few!

Catch up with Jan Ruth on the following Links

Thank you so much Jan for taking the time to answer my questions. 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Book Review - Summer at the Little Wedding Shop by Jane Linfoot

Amazon UK
Title: Summer at the Little Wedding Shop
Author: Jane Linfoot
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 18th May 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

The third book in the bestselling series, ‘The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’.

When the owner of Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, offers Lily a job as their new wedding stylist, her first thought is – can she possibly pull it off?

Before she’s even sourced a fairy light or tasted a cupcake, Kip Penryn hires her services – but he’s opened an exclusive wedding venue in direct competition to her friend Poppy!

Lily feels like a traitor working for Kip, only everyone knows Penryn men are gorgeous but unreliable. All she has to do is sit back and watch him mess it up…doesn’t she?

Love is in the Cornish sea breeze this summer as the girls tackle their busiest wedding season yet. There’s plenty of bunting, bubbly and baking – but who is going to catch the bouquet?

What a joy it is to be back at The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, with its wonderful cast of characters, both the regulars and the new ones. It has felt like I was returning to an old friend, warm and comforting, while on some occasions making me smile and laugh a lot. 

If you haven't read the other books in this series, you are missing out on some great stories, but in terms of Summer at the Little Wedding Shop, it can be read as a standalone book. The main focal character is Lily, and the previous books featured others associated with the shop. However if you have read the others, you will be glad to know that Poppy, Sera, Jess, Rafe are all back, and we a thrown into a very busy wedding season, in Cornwall. 

Kip Penryn is in town and comes from a family of men not to be trusted. He is setting up his own wedding business in a family manor house, despite knowing nothing about Weddings. Poppy is worried this could severely affect her own wedding venue, and enlists the ladies at The Little Wedding Shop to do some spying, and one upmanship. 

Lily who is the shops newest wedding stylist, is persuaded to play double agent and report back her findings while styling any of Kip's bookings. Or at least that was the initial plan! 

There are three main weddings to look forward to in this book, Immie to Chas, Natalie to Miles and then Lily's mother Barbara to Dave.  Of course nothing is simple, as Natalie and Chas were meant to be getting married to each other in book 1 of the series, and there is a great rivalry between Immie and Natalie, on instagram as they both organise their weddings.  Natalie is a real bridezilla, as is Barabara, and Lily is meant to be styling all three of these wedding. 

Add in acts of sabotage so that Kip stands less chance of competing with Poppy and you have a lot of things going on, in a well pace, highly enjoyable story. I seem to love this author more and more every time I read her books, especially this series, and Summer at the Little Wedding Shop will certainly make you think of summer, and equally have you reaching for the bridal mags to plan your own wedding! 

Thank you so much to Jane Linfoot for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Book Review & Giveaway - The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon

Amazon UK
Title:  The Last Piece of My Heart
Author: Paige Toon
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Supplied by publisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 18th May 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it's the small pieces that make up the bigger picture... Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

A successful travel journalist, Bridget has ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog about the missing pieces of her heart into a book. But after a spate of rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition.

Nicole Dupré died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel. Tasked with finishing the book, Bridget is thankful to have her foot in the publishing door, even if it means relocating to Cornwall for the summer and answering to Nicole's grieving husband, Charlie...

Easily one of my favourite Paige Toon books of all time, I just couldn't get enough of it, and found myself whizzing through the pages, hungrily taking each one in, while also wishing against all hope that the book would last longer than it did, so I could enjoy it for longer. 

There are multiple levels of story in this book, all of which overlap and added to my general enjoyment of the book.  We have the story of travel writer Bridget, who is hoping to track down all of her ex-boyfriends to regain the pieces of her heart that they carried with them when they split up. She is writing these up on a relationship blog that she is hoping to turn into a novel. 

There is the story of her current relationship with Elliot, which is long distance, but he has encouraged this quest of old boyfriends and isn't jealous.  There is the story of Bridget who has been co-erced to ghost write the sequel to a best selling novel as her writing style is similar to the author of the first book, who unfortunately passed away shortly after publication. 

We have the story of Bridget and Charlie, the grieving husband, and his very young daughter April. He insists that Bridget works from their office in Cornwall, and seeing how Bridget interacts with them was interesting, especially while she was reading the diaries of the departed author, to try and get inside her head properly. 

And finally we have the story of Kit, Morris and Timo the main characters in the book that Bridget is needing to write. They aren't her characters originally and she has to make the tough decisions on what direction the book needs to go in. 

These form the main elements of the book, along with a stunning back drop of Cornwall. There are some research day trips out in Cornwall that really conjured up the feel of the place in my mind. However for me the star of the book is April. She is an absolutely adorable baby that really makes Bridget reassess whether she likes children. April may be too young to talk but her actions really did count for a thousand words! 

The Last Piece of My Heart is a beautifully told story, that I don't think I could have enjoyed any more than I did. I absolutely loved it! 

Thank you so much to SJV at Simon & Schuster for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Giveaway to Win The Last Piece of My Heart (Europe Only)

I happen to have a spare copy of this fantastic book, which I am willing to giveaway to one lucky winner. 

Giveaway open to Europe Only, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 1/06/2017. Winner will be announced on twitter and emailed, and they will need to reply within 7 days, or forfeit the prize, and I will re-draw for a new winner.  Good luck everyone.

Win The Last Piece of My Heart (Europe Only)

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Guest Post - Why we can’t resist enemies falling in love by Hollie Moat

My debut novel, Other People’s Business, is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Naturally, people keep asking me why I did it – why go to all the trouble of updating that particular play? The answer is an easy one, and it’s that I knew it would make a beautiful modern love story and felt compelled to tell it. The central characters, Benedick and Beatrice (Ben and Bee in my book) are sharp, funny and clever – and crucially, they start off hating each other. I say crucially because hate is not the opposite of love (that would be indifference) and their explosive emotions keep things exciting right from the off. Much Ado made its debut around 1599, and in the 400 or so years since, I believe a rather large number of literature’s best ever couples have gone through the same love/hate predicament as Benedick and Beatrice. Which led me to start wondering why we just can’t get enough of those heroes and heroines who fight their way to falling for each other…

It does make the journey more enjoyable

Shakespeare himself once wrote ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’, but it might have been more accurate to add’ if you want to keep your reader interested’. In real life I’m sure most of us would rather a happy, no-drama relationship, but let’s face it, a conflict-free transition from meet-cute to wedded bliss does not make for a very exciting story. Of course there’s always the option of throwing obstacles like infidelity, illness or even death at our heroes, but since I don’t especially enjoy crying on the bus, this route doesn’t really do it for me. Watching 2 people who originally (or at least at some point in the story) hate each other makes for a suitably bumpy journey, and the destination is nearly always ‘Happy Ever After’. Which I like. 

A war of words makes for wittier reading

There’s a reason that the screwball comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Age are always the highest rated rom-coms on Best Film lists (think It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday…) and that is the whip smart dialogue. Look – I love a big declaration of love as much as anyone, but a whole book of them? One after the other? It’s going to be dull at best and nauseating at worst. Far more enjoyable is watching the sexual tension mount as they hurl insults at each other. Take Ben and Bee in Other People’s Business during this dancefloor exchange, 
‘Darling, can you stop getting your hand caught up in my hair? I appreciate that given yours is thinning it must be hard to resist touching mine but it feels like you’re pulling it. And not in a good way.’ 

‘My apologies Bee. It’s just it’s a little hot in here and my hands are getting clammy so I needed something dry to wipe them on.’

Yes they’re fighting – but it’s so obvious they’re going to fall in love…

You can expect more well-rounded characters

Nobody is nice all of the time. Except when we first get together with someone we adore and then it’s all smiling and skipping about like we’re living in a Disney film. It happens to even the most sardonic of us. But if I’m going to get on board with a protagonist, going to identify with or feel like I understand them, I need more than sighs and swoons. When your potential couple are at war you get to see them at their worst as well as their best, see all the shades of pettiness, vulnerability, frustration and elation. It makes them seem so much more real.

Of course, the main thing that a love/hate dynamic excels at is highlighting a couple’s chemistry – I thought I’d finish with 5 of the most iconic examples of this….I hope you agree!

1. Benedick and Beatrice
I may be biased but it had to be done. When they finally get together it makes me want to cry with happiness every time. 
2. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy
This celebrated duo are less into bickering than they are making snide comments and smoldering at each other. Just compare them to Jane and Mr Bingley, who are sweet but insipid by comparison.
3. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler
The couple at the heart of Gone With The Wind really mine the full depths of love and hate. Intense isn’t the word for this (delightful) pair of drama queens. 
4. Harry Burns and Sally Allbright 
Granted, an iconic movie rather than literary pairing, but an unforgettable one all the same. Harry and Sally take the scenic route in getting together – hate turns to irritation turns to friendship turns to sex and finally, true love. 
5. Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy
A bit of a cheat since they are a modern reinterpretation of Number 2 on this list, but lord knows I can’t resist a modern reinterpretation! When they finally get together it is so beautifully understated, and so very English. 

Thank you so much Hollie for that fascinating insight. 

About the author: HJ Moat (long version)

‘For me, the idea of writing a novel has been much like dating that guy you’ve always had a thing for, but you never seem to be single at the same time as. As a pre-teen I wrote short, fantasy stories for no real reason other than my mother thought I was good at them. The lack of passion, I think, stems from a personal disinterest in the genre – even Lord of the Rings I appreciate only as an aid for insomnia (yes, I know many people think it’s nothing short of a masterpiece, don’t shout at me).

Then suddenly, at the age of 16 I felt compelled to start a YA novel about all the things that 16 years olds are interested in – boys, friends, feuding and getting drunk at festivals. I wrote the first few chapters obsessively, furiously – and my own teenage naivety and arrogance encouraged me to send it off to some agents I looked up in a copy of the Writer and Artist’s Yearbook. In a shocking twist – one of them actually called me saying he liked it and wanted to see more. To my eternal regret (and if this was a film I would be watching this bit through the cracks in my fingers) my attentions wandered back to all the things that 16 years olds are interested in – boys, friends, feuding and getting drunk at festivals. So I never got around to writing, or submitting those new chapters – the flirtation was over. Shortly afterwards I got into a pretty serious relationship with fashion, and by the time I exited my teens I was doing a degree in Fashion Journalism at the London College of Fashion. Creative writing and I were not destined to meet for some time – I went straight from graduation to a job as Editorial Assistant at Arena magazine. 

I embraced the indie music boom of the 2000s and eventually became Music Editor, and when Arena folded in the recession I went freelance, writing entertainment and style stories for the likes of Q, Empire and Glamour. About 7 years ago I went in-house at a sweet little shopping website, a start-up that has since become one of the world’s biggest luxury fashion companies. I still work there  (I’m the Editor) and my life revolves around catwalk trends and celebrity interviews and style advice and fashion shoots. Which sounds pretty amazing and for the most part is, but in the winter of 2014 something unexpected happened. I started thinking about writing a novel – thinking about it all the time. The stories I dreamed up in my head when I was on the treadmill, or trying not to fall asleep in a boring meeting, were getting too crowded in there and I need to tell them before I went quite mad. So I suppose you could say that I was 28 when I finally got together with the love of my life. By which I mean, writing Other People’s Business.

Twitter @HJMoat (I’m very new to Twitter and still getting to grips with it)

Book blurb

Some cupid kills with arrows, some with traps...

Bee and Ben haven't always hated each other, but they certainly hate each other now. They hate each other so much that it threatens to derail the wedding of their best friends, Imogen and Will. 

But then something unthinkable happens and turns everything on its head. Within the wedding party, some hearts swell and others are broken, but will anyone work out that relationships are rarely quite what they seem?
This modern retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing explores the idea of whether we're ever really in control of our own romantic destiny and if true love really can conquer all.

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