Monday, 20 February 2017

Book Review - The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #53

Amazon UK
Title:  The Queen of Wishful Thinking
Author: Milly Johnson
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Goody bag from blogging event
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 9th March 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

When Lewis Harley has a health scare in his early forties, he takes it as a wake-up call. So he and his  wife Charlotte leave behind life in the fast lane and Lewis opens the antique shop he has dreamed of. Bonnie Brookland was brought up in the antiques trade and now works for the man who bought out her father’s business, but she isn’t happy there. So when she walks into Lew’s shop, she knows this is the place for her.

As Bonnie and Lew start to work together, they soon realise that there is more to their relationship than either thought. But Bonnie is trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Lew and Charlotte have more problems than they care to admit. Each has secrets in their past which are about to be uncovered. Can they find the happiness they both deserve?

Simply indescribable just how much I enjoyed this book, and how brilliant it is. This is Milly Johnson at her very best, weaving a story that will want you wanting more. I was hooked from the beginning, in this heartwarming story of friendship, family, doing the right thing, a  couple of very different marriages and the most colourful cast of antique dealers you can imagine. 

The first thing I want to say is that I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit during the book, not necessarily at what Lew and Bonnie are up to, but more the short articles that crop up from time to time from the local Daily Trumpet newspaper, how have a great habit of misspelling vital words radically changing the meaning of what is being said. These just really matched my sense of humour and I have to believe that Milly Johnson probably enjoyed coming up with them. 

Bonnie is trapped in a loveless marriage, where every day is exactly the same. It is like she has become old before her time and she is desperate for escape. Her life starts to change when she loses her job with a hideous boss, and somehow gets a new one elsewhere in the same sort of field, in a much nicer shop. 

Pot of Gold is an antiques shop, that Lewis opened after is life changing heart attack two years ago. Before that he had a high powered job, but his wife still thinks he earns that level of money. He believes it is fate that brought Bonnie into his shop and she really does change the fortunes of the place. 

I thought the whole community of antique dealers was incredibly colourful and they all had brilliant nicknames, that usually described the sort of thing they were interested in. They have all known Bonnie for many years and will do anything for her, and there are a few touching moments when they prove it. 

Stephen is a character I had nothing but disdain for, he is Bonnie's husband, and is a cold hearted controlling sort of man. He managed to blackmail Bonnie into staying with him once before, and is convinced it will work again. He is an incredibly nasty piece of work, and I was just shocked how much I disliked him. 

Both Lew and Bonnie go on a rollercoaster ride of emotion in their personal lives . There are some elements that mirror in each of them, but on the whole they are quite different. 

I felt incredibly sorry for Bonnie for most of the second half of the book, and can't believe the amount of years she stayed with her manipulative husband. I loved the way she decided to earn herself some extra money, while feeling gutted at the nature of her biggest secret, which as a result of it being revealed, causes her to have an awful time. 

The Queen of Wishful Thinking is vintage Milly Johnson, it is incredibly comforting to read, I felt right at home with the writing style and characters, I love how the story was weaved together, and built from the start. There weren't any particularly slow bits and I felt that everything in the book had been well honed to become the gripping story that it was. 

Rachel Reads Randomly - Vote #54


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

0 Votes - Trusting Jake by Lauren Giordano
2 Votes -  Hopeful - an autobiography by Omid Djalil
2 Votes - Mickey Take by Steven Hayward
2 Votes -  The Anniversary by Various
10 Votes -  The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson

Huge thanks to everyone that picked the new Milly Johnson for me, I am so glad it has meant I could fit in reading it, and its superb. Go check out my review later today! Also think this was the first time a non fiction book has picked up more than 1 vote in one of these features, so that was interesting, for the autobiography. 

On Friday I have my Rome Week starting, so in the spirit of all things Italian, and to add a bit of flavour to this weeks vote, we have a selection of books that as far I can tell from the blurbs should all be set, or have a section in Italy! 

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

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

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

This week's random numbers are...



And the books these numbers correspond to are...


So the 5 choices with my gut feeling responses are:



1 - Save The Date by Allie Spencer - I have really enjoyed books I've read by this author in the past, and I know Italy features in it somewhere! 
4 - Head Over Heel: Seduced by Southern Italy by Chris Harrison - I believe this is travel writing book, and I love reading about Southern Italy. 
6 - Finding You by Danielle Ryan - A new author for me, however the tag line on Amazon says its a feel good love story set in Milan, so sounds like the sort of book I should enjoy
8 - Gardens of Delight by Erica James - Thanks to this feature only read a book by Erica James a couple of weeks ago, just hope if this wins that I enjoy it more. I also know this is set in Lake Como. 
12 - The Little Theatre By The Sea by Rosanna Ley - Set in Sardinia, this is a book that is out in a couple of weeks time. I have only read one book by the author before, but this one has intrigued me since I saw the cover and title. 

I think this could be a potentially interesting and very close vote this week. I know the books are all set in Italy, as that was kind of the point, I have read some of the authors before, and the others interest me. I am very much looking forward to seeing everyones thoughts on these books. 

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

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

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


How is this going to work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Book Review - One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis - 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!

One Little Mistake is Emma Curtis' first psychological suspense novel, and given it had been staring at me since I won it from Dead Good, I figured I should probably read it!

Amazon UK
Title: One Little Mistake
Author: Emma Curtis
Format reviewed: Paperback 
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Publication Date: 23rd February 2017
Rating: 4 Stars


Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there's only person she trusts enough to turn to.

But Vicky is about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that if you're careless with those you love, you don't deserve to keep them . . . 

I'm still reeling from the finale of this book, especially having been convinced very early on how I was expecting everything to turn out, but the reality was far more dramatic and a lot more gripping than my imagination was ever going to think! 

The story is all about how one quick minor absences of common sense or judgment can affect your life in ways far outside of your control. With the mistake that Vicky makes, as she was making it I was cursing myself for picking up another of a certain subset of psychological thriller, so soon after reading others with similar themes, thankfully I couldn't have been more wrong if I tried, although there are elements present. 

The story is told both from Vicky's point of view, but also of a girl 18 years ago, who is going through a tough time. Unfortunately due to what I believe to be an error in my proof copy very early on, I pretty much knew how the stories were connected, but even with that info it still wasn't enough to prepare me for the details of the way they converge. 

As a warning - I'm not sure how related it is but the night after I read the first 200 pages of this book, I had a horrifically disturbing dream, and when I came to from it, I had the books name in my mind over and over. Perhaps don't read this too close to bed time. 

I found the story quite easy to follow and I liked the way that Emma Curtis portrayed the characters and the way the action ramped up throughout the book. The more I read the more involved I was, and the more I was thinking about the book, when I wasn't reading.  If it hadn't been for my commute I probably wouldn't have put down the last 100 pages or so! 

One Little Mistake will make you question your friendships, and just what you would do if you make a very small spur of the moment decision, knowing that it could haunt you forever. 

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Denise Deegan


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!

Denise Deegan is an Irish author of eight novels. Her latest, Through the Barricades, is her first work of historical fiction. Prior to that Denise wrote a popular Young Adult trilogy called The Butterfly Novels. She also writes contemporary women’s fiction under the pen name Aimee Alexander. She has been published by Penguin, Hachette, Random House and Lake Union Publishing. Her latest Aimee Alexander novel, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar, has become an international bestseller. 
1) Can you tell us a bit about your first book?

My first novel was called Turning Turtle. It is the story of a woman who gives up work to follow her dream of writing fiction while spending more time with her two young children. It all goes terribly wrong when the balance of power shifts in her relationship with her husband. 

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

I was doing a literature review for a Masters in PR. I realised that a book didn’t exist that should. So I wrote that book of non-fiction. As soon as it was published I experienced an overwhelming urge to write a novel. I had no agent, no publisher and no idea for a novel but I gave up my PR business and went ahead anyway.

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

Six months for the first draft.

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

I sent the manuscript out without ever going over it, which was incredibly naïve. Luckily, an agent saw something in it and gave me editing advice.

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

It was traditionally published. Back then it was the only option. However, when it went out of print and the rights reverted to me, self-publishing had become an option. Attracted by that adventure, I relaunched myself. I chose a pen name, Aimee Alexander (the names of my children combined). I edited the novel afresh and renamed it All We Have Lost. Self-publishing has been an amazing adventure. One of my novels, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar, was spotted by Amazon imprint, Lake Union Publishing. They republished it under their imprint. It became an international bestseller. 
6) Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Love writing. Keep loving writing, no matter how many rejections you get. Remind yourself that you are doing this because you love it, because you can’t not do it. Keep going. Consider self-publishing. It is a legitimate option where you have full control. Still Alice was initially self-published, as was The Martian. If you decide on self-publishing, get your book as good as it can be; hire a professional editor and cover designer and get your stories out to the world. And: GOOD LUCK.

Tell us about your first…

7) Book you bought

Pride and Prejudice. I had a massive Jane Austen obsession in my teens. I read – and reread – all her novels. Incredibly shy, I experienced romance vicariously through the characters. There was a lot of sighing!

8) Memory

I remember falling off my tricycle, smashing my mouth, my lips becoming hugely swollen, being fed a scone and hating scones for years afterwards. 

9) Person you fell in love with

Joe. My husband. First love. Massive love. Recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by renewing our vows in Rome. It was where we wanted to marry all those years ago but succumbed to family pressure to marry at home. Which turned out to be lovely too. 

10) Holiday you went on

Family holiday in Benidorm, I think. 

11) Prize you won

I got some award or other for coming first in my PR class. 

12) Album you purchased

The Very Best of Leo Sayer. 

13) Sport you enjoyed participating in

Hockey. Tennis. Swimming. 

14) Embarrassing moment you can remember

As a teenager, to make small talk, I asked a friend of a friend if she’d washed her hair. (It looked wet.) She hadn’t. It was greasy. 

15) Pet

My Golden Retriever, Bashful. OK, he wasn’t mine per se. He was the family pet. But he loved me the most! Just don’t ask my brothers or sister! 

16) Time you were in trouble

As a teenager, I was caught sneaking out of school at lunch hour, which was against the rules. I’m sure I was in trouble with my parents many times before that but this is the memory that sticks.

17) Choice of alternative career if you weren’t an author

I’ve been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a checkout girl, a public relations consultant and entrepreneur and a college lecturer. 

18) Time you had any independence

At seventeen, I began training to be a nurse. I earned an income. And grew up fast. My independence has always been hugely important to me. 

19) Toy that you recall loving

An old teddy given to me by my grandfather. It had been his. Still have him. Even have a picture of him on my desk. 

20) Time you felt like an adult

When I started nurse training. 

21) Time you realised you were good at something

At school, I realised I could draw. This was a relief as my older brother was a bit of a genius. 

22) Dish you cooked

My friend and I cooked a stir-fry (of sorts) for our parents. Then the six of us sat down together. It’s a very happy memory.  

23) Time you were really scared

As a child, I was getting off a bus with my family. They weren’t quick enough and the bus took off with them still clambering down the stairs. I was left alone at the bus stop in a strange city. It was my first time on a bus and it never occurred to me that they would just get off at the next stop and walk back.  

Thank you to Denise Deegan for this enjoyable interview and congratulations on your best seller, I must say I'm impressed that you can fall off a tricycle, I thought those were very stable and very hard to fall from, and I say that as someone with no balance! 

Author Bio:

Denise Deegan lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. 

Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story…

Denise writes for both adults and teenagers. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise's contemporary family dramas have become international best-sellers on Kindle.

Links:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2htdtAm




Saturday, 18 February 2017

Book Review & Giveaway - The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands - Back Catalogue Books



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, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

The Promise of Provence is the first of the Love in Provence series by Patricia Sands, and I suspect you will be seeing more of this series on my blog in the future! 

Amazon UK
Title:  The Promise of Provence
Author: Patricia Sands
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: 6th October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars


On the evening of her twenty-second wedding anniversary, Katherine Price can’t wait to celebrate. But instead of receiving an anniversary card from her husband, she finds a note asking for a divorce.

Fifty-five and suddenly alone, Katherine begins the daunting task of starting over. She has her friends, her aging mother, and her career to occupy her, but the future seems to hold little promise—until, after a winter of heartbreak, Katherine is persuaded to try a home exchange holiday in the South of France.

In Provence, bright fields of flowers bloom below medieval hilltop villages with winding cobblestone streets. Charmed by the picturesque countryside, the breathtaking Côte d’Azur, and the enchantment-filled boulevards of Paris, Katherine feels life opening up once again. Lavender perfumes the air, and chance encounters hint at romance and passion. But memories of heartbreak and betrayal linger—and her former life waits for her back home. Can she find the courage to begin again?

The Promise of Provence is the perfect mix of women's fiction but also travel writing, with a fair amount of delicious food descriptions too.  This is a story that starts with some reasonably heavy topics for the first 20% and then after that once Katherine is in France, I found myself enjoying the book even more. 

Katherine is going through a large amount of change in this story, her husband divorces her very early into the book, and she moves back in with her aging mother. We soon learn just what happened to her mother, in her childhood and it was an experience that no one should ever have to endure, but yet its not unique either, unfortunately.  That whole chapter rang so true with me, with my own knowledge of a certain period of history, and doesn't make for the most comfortable of reading, but its written rather matter of fact so, I was able to cope with it. 

Katherine's cousin encourages her to register with a house exchange website, and given Katherine is recovering from a rather controlling marriage, where she has barely left Canada for many years, she is nervous but also excited about the possibilities of  international travel, especially when enquiries come in from France, as she is a keen Francophile. 

Over the course of the book, you are treated in great detail to the history and region of Provence and also the Cote D'Azur, as Katherine explores, and is shown various little towns and villages. She befriends assorted men, so there is always the hint of romance on the scene, but on the whole it is more a journey of discovering its good to spend time with yourself, and how empowering solo travel really is. 

Travelling around the Cote D'Azur with the descriptions of the coastal train, took me back to my own day trip to the South of France, and being on that train. The details are so accurate its breathtaking, as are the views from windows! 

We meet a Goat farmer, and learn all about different cheeses, Katherine takes part in a wine harvest, she cycles, she explores and generally over the course of her home exchanges immerses herself in French culture and life. 

It is incredibly clear from the writing, how much Patricia Sands must love France, as the book in places reads as almost a love letter to Provence and the French way of life. 

I enjoyed Katherine's friendships with her cousin and best friend, and loved it when Molly (best friend) was away with Katherine, as the extended exposure to each other, really altered the dynamics of the book for a bit. 

The Promise of Provence I found to be a steady paced read, that I really enjoyed dipping in an out of. It took me a few days to read this, which is slow for me, but whenever I was reading, I was entertained by what I was reading. I am already eager to see what happens in the next book of this series. 

Thank you much to Patricia Sands for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 


Giveaway to Win Love In Provence Trilogy (Ebooks) (Open Internationally)

The lovely Patricia Sands is giving away a full Love In Provence trilogy in ebook. The books are The Promise of Provence (reviewed above), Promises to Keep and finally I Promise You This. 


Giveaway is open Internationally, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 25/2/2017. 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 Love In Provence Trilogy (Ebooks) (Open Internationally)

Back Catalogue Books - Q&A with Chantelle Atkins



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, and that I eventually make a dent in my TBRs as a result of it!

Hi, my name is Chantelle and I'm a mum of four from Christchurch, Dorset. I write in both the adult and YA genres and would describe my work as gritty and contemporary, covering other genres such as suspense, psychological, mystery and coming of age. For me though, everything is about the character!

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

The first book I published is not the first book I wrote, but The Mess Of Me was ready first, and was published in 2013. I started writing when I was a child, inspired by the many books I became obsessed with. I used to write little stories about animals, which I would also illustrate and write back cover blurbs for! I wrote my first novel when I was twelve, and this book was developed and rewritten many times over my life, and was eventually released as my second novel The Boy With The Thorn In His Side in 2014. I think for me, writing was always a way to escape into my own mind, create characters I would have loved to know and see what adventures I could throw at them. 

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

I've written and published four novels and one short story collection, but also have two other novels written but not yet released, and I am nearing the end of another. The published books are The Mess Of Me, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, This Is The Day (sequel to The Boy...) and This is Nowhere. The short story collection is called Bird People and Other Stories and contains short stories and character snapshots related to my novels, published, and otherwise. The two unreleased novels are The Tree Of Rebels and Elliot Pie's Guide To Human Nature.

3) Which book are you most proud of writing?

I think The Boy With The Thorn In His Side because I wrote it when I was twelve, or at least had the main story and characters all in place. I went back to it so many times throughout my life and just couldn't shake it out of my head. I had a long break from writing in my life when I worked and raised children, but finally got back to it with a vengeance in 2011, and it was because of this book, which was still keeping me awake at night. It's a huge book. It was originally released in two parts, but is now all in one. I also wrote a sequel, This Is The Day, and have started work on a screenplay, as my ultimate dream would be to see it made into a TV series. I'm proud of it because I got there in the end!

4) Which book was your favourite to write?

Probably The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, because it never felt like work. I'd had these people and stories in my head for so long, it was just an utter pleasure to finally play around with them and get it all out. Elliot Pie's Guide To Human Nature would be a close second though. It's nearly ready for release and I enjoyed every second of writing it, mainly because I so fell in love the main character, twelve year old Elliot

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

Definitely Danny from The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, because he's quite a complex young man and goes on such a journey in the two books. I know him so well, having had him in my head for so much of my life. I would also say Lou from The Mess Of Me, as she became a feistier naughtier version of me, which was really fun to write! And definitely Elliot Pie from the unreleased book. He's just adorable and I sort of feel like his mother!

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

I would probably make some of the earlier ones shorter. They were cut down a lot, but are still very long books. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as it all needs to be there, but when it comes to editing, proofreading, formatting and so on, having a shorter book is far less of a headache! 

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



I think it would have to be This Is Nowhere, as my friend Justine painted it, and the dog on the front cover is my lurcher Tink. Lurchers feature in the book, as does the location on the cover, which is a real place, my favourite place in the world, Sopley Common. I love being there, as it's sort of eerie and wild and silent, and I do all my best thinking there, so to see it on a cover is very cool.

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

I don't really stick to one genre anyway. I find it very hard describing my genre when people ask! The Mess Of Me is a YA coming of age drama, and The Boy With The Thorn In His Side also is, but as it is told from both the antagonist's and the protagonist's point of view, it steps into psychological thriller territory, and also horror to a certain extent. This Is Nowhere is a family mystery, but also a coming of age story. This Is The Day, the sequel to The Boy...is best described as a crime thriller. I have no idea how to explain what genre Elliot Pie's Guide To Human Nature is! Adult, with a child narrator is as far as I have got at the moment! 

The Tree Of Rebels was a change of territory as it's the first book I've set in the future, so it's a speculative fiction piece as well as a YA dystopian. One of the books I have planned for the future is post apocalyptic and this will be the first time I've strayed into that genre. I just go where the ideas take me! The only thing I wouldn't have a stab at is romance. It's just not me!

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

Yes, the next two books ready for release will be The Tree of Rebels and Elliot Pie's Guide To Human Nature. Elliot will be first. It's about a twelve year old boy who decides to help his agoraphobic mother by attempting to prove to her that humans are not all bad, and he does this by befriending perfect strangers. It's about his resilience and positivity, versus her defeatism and cynicism. We see things from his point of view, as well as hers, to try to understand what's brought them to this point. Elliot has a lovely time making new friends, until it all inevitably goes wrong at the end, and he goes missing. The Tree Of Rebels is set in the future where barely any humans are left after endless wars. 

The survivors now exist in a seemingly perfect society, with everything provided for them. Food, for example, is all grown under massive domes and nature is controlled and owned. The main character one day strays too far from her community and discovers an apple tree growing all by itself, not in the domes. This discovery, along with the strange things her great-grandmother tries to tell her about the old world they no longer talk about, lead the girl, Lissie, into an uncertain and dangerous time. 

Both these books are finished but need polishing up! I am also nearly at the end of a work in progress called A Song For Bill Robinson, which is another book I wrote at a young age, sixteen, and have recently gone back to. It's a gritty YA drama about a teenage alcoholic who dreams of being a singer. When all of these books are finished and released I will be diving into a four book series I have planned and made notes and character bios for. I've also written some short stories for it. It's another YA drama, and involves nature turning on us and a human cull leaving only the young to inherit the angry earth.

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

I very much admire the author Kate Rigby, who I am now lucky enough to know personally. I followed her on social media and thought her books seemed similar in content to mine. She has a huge back catalogue which I am slowly working my way through, and I think she is amazing. Her books cover lots of social issues such as suicide, mental illness, domestic abuse, runaways and addiction. Down The Tubes is my favourite. It's just stunning.

11) Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your back catalogue of books?

Just that they are all really about the characters, as it is always them that come to me first. They're the most important part of it all, for me. They need a lot of time and attention, and I hope readers feel that when they read the books and get to meet them! 

Thank you so much Chantelle for coming onto Rachel's Random Reads and telling everyone about your back catalogue.

About Chantelle Atkins

Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to both reading and music, and is on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life. She is also a reviewer for Underground Book Reviews and has written several articles about writing for Author's Publish Magazine.

Social Media links; 
blog ; https://chantelleatkins.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chantelleatkinswriter
Pinterest; https://uk.pinterest.com/chantelleatkins/
Twitter; https://twitter.com/Chanatkins

Buy Links;

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chantelle-Atkins/e/B00J7ACVCY/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Friday, 17 February 2017

Book Review - My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella - #AroundTheUKIn144Books #Somerset

Amazon UK
Title: My Not So Perfect Life
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Transworld Books
Publication Date: 9th February 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

OK, so the truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers. 

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so-perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business. 

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams - or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman who has everything – actually have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems. 

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

Tons of fun, in one easy to read package! My Not So Perfect Life, has the sort of heroine that Sophie Kinsella writes so well, young girl with big ideas but could do with a bit of guidance in her life. Katie is determined that she should be a Londoner, and works for a nightmarish boss Demeter. 

Demeter has to Katie's eyes a perfect life, whereas Katie has a horrific commute, the descriptions of which I fully recognised and sympathise with, lives in a tiny apartment and has not the best flatmates.  Katie though posts pictures to instagram on a regular basis showing off the best of London and portraying her own perfect life. 

So when she loses her job she can't bring herself to tell her family, but pretends to be on a sabbatical while she moves back to Somerset to help her dad set up his new glamping business. I loved the details of the glamping business, they had some wonderful ideas, and I could really picture all the different activities on offer. 

The book steps up a further gear when Katie's ex boss and her family come and stay at the glamping resort. For a book that had been really enjoyable and entertaining up to that point, it suddenly becomes hilarious and gains a few more dimensions to the plot too. 

For Katie its a journey of self discovery, just what sort of person she really is, and working out if there is any way that she could be happy anywhere outside of London. She also needs to learn about the realities of instagram. 

There are many comic scenes in the book, and I spent a large amount of time reading it, with a huge smile on my face. My Not So Perfect Life is one of my favourite Sophie Kinsella standalone novels, just behind Wedding Night. I loved how half the book was set in London and half in Somerset. 

Everything to do with Katie's family and the glamping I really enjoyed including the images of Farmer Mick, the various methods Katie thinks up for revenge, the whole setting was just lovely. Whether in Somerset or London I always had a clear idea picture in my mind of Katie's surroundings, which is down to the authors wonderful writing skills. 

My Not So Perfect Life was an easy to read story, that is a brilliant way to brighten up a boring day. Whether you have ever read anything by Sophie Kinsella or not, so long as you enjoy reading books with a fabulous set of characters, that will make you laugh and with some absolutely fantastic scenes, then this could be the book for you! 

Thank you so much to Becky Short at Transworld Books for this copy of the book that I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Guest Post - All About The Chalet Girls by Lorraine Wilson - Blog Tour


Those of you familiar with the Chalet Girl series will be pleased to hear that 'Chalet Girls' isn't a compilation of previously published material but actually a brand new, full length addition to the series.

In 'Chalet Girls' some of the characters already created in previous novellas do feature but this doesn't stop it being read as a standalone novel. 

Originally I was asked to write a series of novellas. Finally writing a full length novel that gave me the opportunity to dig deeper into the characters' stories was very satisfying and I hope will also satisfy all those who left reviews on the novellas saying they wished they were longer!

'Chalet Girls' features the stories of three characters - Sophie, Lucy and Beth. Sophie's story started in 'Secret Crush of a Chalet Girl' but I felt there was more to tell and a full length novel gave me the space to explore what really happens after 'happy ever after'. 

Lucy has been a secondary character in some of the novellas and the inspiration for her story started when I read the real life story of Jenny Jones - a chalet girl who became an Olympic medal winner:
http://bbc.in/2kAttD5

From there my research lead me into the world of extreme skiing. Watching videos of pro snowboarder Xavier de le Rue being dropped by helicopter onto the ridge of an alpine mountain gave me the inspiration for the character of Seb. You can watch one of Xavier's jaw dropping mountain descents here: https://youtu.be/VpBkI4etfQI

With Beth's story the inspiration was more personal.  I like to write escapist, fun stories but I also try to tackle some of the hard, painful things a lot of us carry around but rarely talk about. In a way hers is a story of perseverance and hope.

Maybe this theme is of especial importance to me because a neurosurgeon told me eight years ago, after a severe brain injury, that I'd never be able to write a book. This was following an accident that left me with lasting disabilities. Finishing my first novella (Confessions of a Chalet Girl -http://amzn.to/2kC7FH5 ) using speech to text technology felt like a real triumph but as 'Chalet Girls' is my first full length novel its publication is yet another milestone in my own story.

On a lighter note, animal-loving readers might like to know that the dog called Pip featured both in the book and on the book cover is actually one of my own rescue dogs. He has his own story of perseverance and you can read about how he made his way from my lap into the book on the Harper Impulse blog - http://bit.ly/2kAnY7k
     
Thank you so much for sharing all that with us Lorraine. I am so glad that you didn't let the accident stop you from writing books, as I loved all the Chalet Girls novellas and reallly looking forward to starting this full length trip to Verbier!


What happens when life in Verbier suddenly goes off-piste?
Lucy’s been bowled over by the sexy extreme skier who’s hurtled into her life. But can she accept Seb’s commitment to his adrenaline-filled career?

Trusting any man is out of the question after what’s happened to Beth. So why is she so drawn to twinkly-eyed Dan when he’s leaving at the end of the season?

Sophie’s madly in love with her gorgeous fiancé, Luc. Only instead of gleefully planning the winter wedding of her dreams, all she wants is to run and hide…

Three Chalet Girls are about to strap on their skis and find out!


CHALET GIRLS COMPETITION - enter to win this unique Indian patchwork handbag & signed paperback copies of 'Confessions of a Chalet Girl' and 'Secret Crush of a Chalet Girl' http://bit.ly/2kvcz82

To keep up to date with new releases follow my author page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LorraineWilsonWriter or find me on twitter @Romanceminx
Also you can check out my website www.lorraine-wilson.com 
or my story boards on Pinterest to see the inspiration behind my books – http://pinterest.com/lorrainecwilson/


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