Friday, 30 June 2017

Guest Post - “A Day in the Life of a Sea-Plane Pilot” by Paul W.J. Harding - Blog Tour

Flying a seaplane is as unique as entering space. Flying, in all its forms, is an art form that professional pilots thrive on perfecting. Piloting regular land planes is forever a marvel for those of us who ‘sit up front’ in the cockpit. Flying on and off water offers an enthralling dimension that is different on every experience, for our runway moves! We can never take for granted the expected. We are taught to ‘fly the machine, do not allow it to fly you’! Seaplanes have a mind of their own and for some strange reasoning always seem hell-bent on destroying themselves if chance allows, even with the engine silent and sitting serenely at anchor in some shallow water! There are tides and wind and adverse weather to take into consideration. Our craft in the wide open can be dauntingly vulnerable.

I have been maybe more fortunate than most commercial seaplane pilots where my ‘office’ was located in the islands of the Bahamas. Those lucky enough to fly in some of the worlds’ most stunning environments such as Alaska and the Rocky Mountains often pay the price of winter. Days of low ceilings and adverse weather plague those aviators let alone the bitter cold. They are subject to wearing thermal underwear and heavy boots - they even have to wear socks! My islands however allowed a uniform of T-shirt and shorts with flip-flops on my feet to greet my guests. The shoes were quickly discarded and stored in a pontoon compartment, giving rise to the title ‘barefoot pilot’! My runway was the crystal clear ocean water of the Bahama Islands, never cooler than 75F during the ‘height of winter’!

Today would start as most do, very early morning, to ride an aging Honda 700 motorcycle along our pristine coastal road to work. The ocean is flat calm and radiating its brilliant turquoises. I am ramped on a lake in the center of New Providence, for this seaplane has no wheels. There is a ritual of pre-flight where we study all our control surfaces for ease of movement; we check oil levels and fuel onboard. The aircraft is turned about in the shallow water to heel obediently facing the open water. There are no brakes on a straight-float seaplane. When that engine comes to life you are instantly underway. I taxi into the middle of the fresh water lake and with permission from air traffic controllers at the neighbouring airfield I rotate off the flat surface heading to our Out-Islands southeast some forty miles away. Climbing above the small cotton wool clouds I find calm cool air. The scene below is surreal; miles of clear-ocean that Columbus named ‘shallow sea’. The islands I fly over the Exuma Cays, a pearl necklace of islands that stretch 120 miles, an island for every day of the year.

I have been summoned by friend and client superstar Johnny Depp to collect him from his private island to meet a charted jet in Nassau, in order to fulfill an award ceremony in Los Angeles. ‘Good Morning Brother’! He always greets while climbing aboard to sit in the co-pilot seat, obediently adhering to the ritual of drying his feet after paddling through the salty shallows to climb aboard the seaplane. We chat through headsets all the way back to Nassau. I am contacted from my home with a message of urgency for a second flight to another island where a fisherman and long time client has impaled his foot with a large fishhook. The man is in agony as I gently assist him to climb aboard the pontoon and into the cabin. The hook is buried deep within his flesh, making the ordeal of clambering into a small space a painful experience. Help soon followed at the other end. Finally, as I was about to wash the plane after a wet salty day, believing my work was over my phone came alive with yet another plea for help. The Captain of a cruise liner had passengers on board that had received an emergency call from home informing their daughter had been kidnapped in America! Naturally they needed to get home. Refueled, I flew 85 miles to the cruise ship destination island, only accessible by seaplane. Stories so often bombard us as commercial floatplane pilots. The last light fades in the west as I wash the salt from the airframe. Some days are so much longer than others but they are never dull. Yesterday I had found a shipwreck survivor drifting alone in the open ocean clutching a small piece of floatation - just another day in ‘Paradise’!

Thank you so much Paul for sharing that wish us, your life sounds fascinating, and if I ever get a suitable break in my TBR I'd love to read Sharks in the Runway. 

Sharks in the Runway: A Seaplane Pilot's Fifty-Year Journey Through Bahamian Times!

Captain Paul Harding moved with his family to the Bahamas when he was just twelve. He fell in love with his exotic new home immediately and this epic memoir pays tribute to his passion for island life, his ecclectic friends and family, and the extraordinary career he has forged from the sea and the skies.
Paul became a qualified Charter Boaat Captain and Open Water Scuba Instructor, founding the award winning day-trip diving company Diving Safaris, Ltd in 1976. In 1989 he followed this success by ordering a seaplane and learning how to fly; Safari Seaplanes has since become the stuff of Bahamian legend, flying people from all walks of life to sundrenched locations, including politicians and even superstars like Johnny Depp, who Paul counts as a close friend. 
A diver, pilot, captain, husband, father and friend; Paul Harding is a superb storyteller whose tales of island adventures are sure to capture the imagination.

About the author

After being raised and educated in the United Kingdom, Paul Harding relocated to the Bahamas where he became a certified scuba instructor and opened his own business. After a lifelong interest in flying, he earned his commercial pilot’s license and started Safari Seaplanes in 1990, the first charter seaplane business in the country, which he ran for over twenty years. Now retired, Harding currently resides in Nassau, Bahamas and still flies privately.
He has previously written for Water Flying Magazine and this is his first book

Take a look at the rest of the blog tour for Sharks in the Runway. 

Guest Post - How Rowan Coleman writes about Time Travel - Blog Tour

Since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated by the idea of time travel. The idea that I could somehow go back into the past, and see for myself the biggest events in history and know for sure exactly how they played out intrigued and thrilled me.

But when it came to creating the transatlantic time travelling adventure that is ‘The Summer of Impossible Things’ it wasn’t the those big historical moments that concerned me, but instead the small and intimate choices ordinary people make, that have the power to shape lives for generations to come. Because its true that the actions of our parents and grandparents shape out lives and our children’s lives, and so on, in ways that we can hardly imagine,

So, how to tackle time travel? That was the question.

I knew I didn’t want a time machine, as beguiling as the idea is, (and who doesn’t love a TARDIS) it didn’t feel right for what I wanted to achieve, so instead of looking outward at technology that doesn’t exist, I decided to look inwards, and wonder what it would be like if the potential for travelling through time and alternate dimensions exists within.

While the claim that we only use 10% of our brains is actually an urban myth (humans use pretty much all of their brains) there is still much to discovered in our understanding of neuroscience. And when I see gaps in understanding in science I like to fill those gaps with stories. What if, I asked myself, all of us have an ability to move within space and time hidden deep inside out brains, it just that it hasn’t evolved yet? And what if my heroine, Luna, is the first to uncover this hidden potential.

Then I set out to find out more about what we do know about space and time, reading all the books I could on how science understands the concept of Time, and the Universe and I was pretty pleased to discover that we know for certain so very little of our observable universe, and that even our understanding of time breaks down around certain anomalies like black holes and dark matter. More gaps for me to fill with stories, I thought cheerfully.

Out of these childhood passions, ideas and research I conjured up ‘The Summer of Impossible Things.’ It is a time travel story, and I hope you will find that as beguiling and exciting as I did while I was writing it. But it’s also, at its heart, a love story, not just between a woman or a man (although there is a swooney romance in this book) but between a woman and her mother and her sister.

Because there is one universal force that science so far isn’t studying; Love.
And I believe that Love has the power to change to the world, if we are brave enough to let it.

So tell me, how brave are you?

Well Rowan I'm not very brave, but I did love the book, as you can tell from my review last week. Thank you so much for sharing your interest in time travel with us. 

How far would you go to save the person you love?
Luna is about to do everything she can to save her mother's life.
Even if it means sacrificing her own.

Please follow along with the rest of the blog tour, to hear more about Impossible Things! 

Book Review - Summer at Buttercup Beach by Holly Martin

Amazon UK
Title: Summer at Buttercup Beach
Author: Holly Martin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture 
Publication Date: 30th June 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Pull up a deck chair and bask in the beautiful sunshine on Buttercup Beach. The sand is warm, the sea is sparkling blue and romance is sizzling in the air…

For two years Freya Greene has hidden the fact that she’s totally and utterly in love with her best friend Rome Lancaster. It’s not been easy – they work together in his glasswork business, she lives above his workshop and, he’s completely gorgeous. But Rome has never shown any sign of returning those feelings. Until now…

Lately they’ve shared affectionate touches and words heavy with meaning. Yet Freya knows Rome has a damaged heart. After losing his fiancĂ© in a tragic accident, he’s not allowed himself to fall in love. 

Freya has already had her heart broken by a man who couldn’t let go of a past love. Can she risk it happening again? Rome and Freya have a friendship that could blossom into something more. Are they both brave enough to take that chance?

Everything you could want from a Holly Martin book, and more. It features an incredibly romantic man and a woman who knows what she wants, but isn't sure whether she will get it. There is plenty of advice from friends of the main characters, and just about everyone, other people on Hope Island, and the reader can see what Freya and Rome are meant to be together...however whether they will realise it before you run out of pages is another thing! 

It really didn't take too long for my to start falling for Rome myself, he is gorgeous, unsure of what his feelings really mean but just seems to want to make Freya happy. He has had issues in the past, but is finally ready for something more meaningful than a one night stand. 

What I really loved about Rome was his creativity, especially with Stained Glass, which he has taught Freya how to do too. I enjoyed reading about the various projects they were woking on, as well as Rome's inner geek! 

I really enjoyed reading about Freya and Rome's friendship too, as well as catching up with Eden and Bella who we first meet in Spring at Blueberry Bay. This book can be read as a standalone as the main focal characters are different. I'm already looking forward to the third book in this series, as I am eager to find out what happens to Eden. 

The writing style is like coming home to a good friend, warm and know you are going to enjoy it, and it doesn't let you down. This is such a pleasurable story to read with plenty of will they-won't they moments, in addition to some lovely romantic gestures. 

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

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Book Review - Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

Amazon UK
Title: Last Seen
Author: Lucy Clarke
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 29th June 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.

Unputdownable and enthralling, I can't really ask for more than that from a book, and Last Seen offers that and even more. 

On the surface its a reasonably easy story to understand. Jacob and Marley were inseparable best friends. 7 years ago unfortunately Marley drowned on Jacob's birthday when they were 10 years old. Now on the night of his 17th birthday Jacob is last seen in The Sandbank area and no one knows what happened to him or where he is. 

The story is told from the points of view of Isla and Sarah. Sarah is Jacob's mother and Isla was Marleys. Between them we discover just what happened this summer, and also the hidden details of what happened 7 years before, as well as developments in between. 

I found it really hard to like Sarah as a character and I wasn't overly keen on Isla either, but as the book progressed the writing had be so absorbed, and I was very interested to see just what happened to Jacob that I was able to see past my dislike of them and just not stop thinking about the book. 

The timeline of the book is easy to follow, and the pacing was great. Although I didn't think too much happened in the first bit of the book, it was really laying the foundation for the rest of the story. 

There are so many secrets and half truths in the book, that every time you thought you knew what would happen, or had just about grasped the current theory, then something else occurred that had you thinking in a different direction. 

Originally I was slightly upset that Lucy Clarke hadn't featured another exotic location for this book's setting, like some of her previous ones, but that was forgotten just a few pages into the book, when the writing grasped me regardless and wouldn't let me go. Regardless The Sandbank was in fact an excellent setting for a book, being a sandbank that is only generally accessed by boat when the tides are right, and that it contains a row of beach huts, and not too much else. Which gave the book a really atmospheric setting, while still coming across as summery but in a slightly sinister way! 

Unfortunately I had no choice but to put Last Seen down a few times, but given half a choice I would have read this in one sitting. Even when I wasn't reading it my mind was on the book, as it really is compelling storytelling. 

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

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Q&A with Cressida McLaughlin - #BlueMoonGuesthouse Blog Tour

1. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse?

I spent many of my childhood holidays in a seaside town in Dorset called Burton Bradstock. It had the sandy beach and ice cream kiosk, and the towering cliffs.  I have happy memories of long days on that beach, or in the teashop in the village, visiting Lyme Regis and Corfe Castle.  Then, several years ago, I went to Hastings for a few days with my husband.  We found a beautiful hotel right on the seafront, in one of those impressive, grand old houses. Each of the rooms was themed around a different country, and we stayed in Japan, with a futon and a square spa bath - it was such a unique place. Over time, the memories from my childhood holidays and the hotel in Hastings came together, and I had the idea of a guesthouse where each of the rooms was themed around something that had meaning for my central character, a place that was her business, but also symbolic of her friendships, her past - the things that made her who she was. The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse developed from that one idea. 

2. What do you find hardest about writing in general?

Believing in yourself.  It’s so easy to think that everything you’re writing is a load of rubbish, and hard to fight the urge to hold your finger down on the delete key.  Like everything, there are good days and bad days, but sometimes it’s tough to push through the doubts (that only you create), and get the words on the page.  First drafts will never be any good, second and third drafts improve things marginally.  As with so many things, you have to keep working at it, be patient, carve out your story over time – and squash the doubts!  

3. Has any other writer influenced the way you write?

There are lots of other writers that I admire, and who have probably influenced the way I write somewhere along the line.  I love Harriet Evans’ writing style, her way of striking a balance between wholly believable characters and dramatic, emotional storylines.  Jill Mansell and Miranda Dickinson are two other writers I love reading and really look up to, and I try to emulate their humour and romance, and the magical quality of their books, though I’m sure I don’t come close. 

4. Please could you tell us something that isn’t commonly known about you?

I had – and possibly still have – a massive crush on the Disney Robin Hood fox. 

5. Could you describe your perfect day?

It would involve some writing in the morning, followed by a nice lunch and spending the afternoon walking somewhere picturesque with my husband, or reading outside in the sun.  I love being close to water, a river or the sea, and I’d end the day with an al fresco dinner as the sun went down.  Food will always feature heavily, but the setting is important too – I love the Lake District, Cornwall and Edinburgh, as well as Norfolk, and would be happy doing those things in any of those places. 

Thank you so much Cressida for answering my questions. I loved Once In A Blue Moon Guesthouse. Check out my mini review from when I read it on my recent holiday here.

Robin Brennan has come home to Campion Bay. Now her parents have retired, she’s set to become the new landlady of The Campion Bay Guesthouse.

Bookings have been as thin as the hand towels, and it doesn’t take long for Robin to realise that the place needs a serious makeover. Perhaps throwing herself into the task will help to heal her sadness at the tragic end to her dreams in London.

As she gives the guesthouse a new lease of life, Robin encounters old friends and new, including old flame Tim, who’d clearly like to reboot their romance. But what about Will, the new arrival at No. 4, who’s rocked up with the cutest dog ever?

Caught up in a flurry of full-English breakfasts and cream teas, Robin’s never sure what, or who, the next check-in will bring…

Purchase from Amazon UK

Follow along with the rest of the blog tour. 

Book Review - Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice-Cream by Sue Watson

Amazon UK
Title: Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice-Cream
Author: Sue Watson
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 27th June 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Dani’s on a mission to get her life back on track by the end of the Summer. Running, rowing, aerobics and more, but perhaps all she needs are sweet treats and a second chance? 

Twenty years ago, Dani fled Appledore with a broken-heart and a suitcase full of shattered dreams. Only now is she brave enough to put her past behind her and return for a summer selling homemade ice-cream and getting fit by doing sit-ups by the sea. 

But the new-look cafe is filled with old memories of Jude, her teenage sweetheart-turned-sour. She thinks of him every time she swirls warm sauce onto a “chocolate-bockaglory” and even with the help of Chris, her gorgeous personal trainer, the urge to break her diet is everywhere she turns. 

When Jude makes an appearance at the cafe on the eve of Dani’s birthday party, history threatens to repeat itself. Is Dani strong enough to say no? And is the love she’s been longing for much closer than she thinks? 

Without a doubt, my new favourite book by Sue Watson - its fabulous, its funny, its full of ice-cream, its full of all around goodness, wrapped into one fantabulous story! 

I spent so much of the first part of the book laughing and smiling, and also seeing myself in the main character of Dani. Dani is on the larger size, works in an ice-cream shop, and consistently wishes she was thinner, but she also loves to binge eat and isn't too keen on exercise. She is full of good intentions, and has a really bubbly personality, although often she perhaps talks a bit too much. 

The first couple of times Dani goes into the gym are hilarious, her mouth runs away from her induction interview, then the treadmill runs away from her in another session, and then there is another injury too. Needless to say that Dani and gyms don't necessarily go together, but then she gels with Chris, and things begin to change!

The descriptions of ice-cream in this book are mouth watering, I was finding I could only really read this book while I was eating, or else I would have been binge eating like Dani, to cope with the hunger being generated by the salivating descriptions of ice-cream flavours. 

This is of course the ice-cream shop that featured in the first Appledore book, but they can both be read as standalones. It is of course great to catch up with the gang from the shop, and I was especially pleased to see that Sue makes a reappearance.  I can't believe how many more malapropisms she has, but they made me laugh, or at least roll an eye with each one! 

At the start of each chapter there is one of Dani's previous failed diets, plus the reasoning for being on the diet in the first place. If you are on the lookout for a new diet, I wouldn't recommend any of the ones Dani's tried as they clearly don't work that well, or have horrible side effects, but the do make for amusing reading! 

I  can't express how satisfying and enjoyable I found every second of this wonderfully entertaining story. 

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

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Book Review - The A-Z of Everything by Debbie Johnson - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: The A-Z of Everything
Author: Debbie Johnson
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 20th April 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

P is for Paris where it all began. J is for Jealousy where it all came undone. But the most important letter is F. F is for Forgiveness, the hardest of all.

Sisters Poppy and Rose used to be as close as two sisters could be, but it’s been over a decade since they last spoke. Until they both receive a call that tells them their mother has gone – without ever having the chance to see her daughters reunited.

Andrea, though, wasn’t the kind of woman to let a little thing like death stand in the way of her plans. Knowing her daughters better than they know themselves, she has left behind one very special last gift – the A-Z of Everything.

A is for Andrea, who in her last few weeks on earth has created a A-Z of everything that she hopes will bring her two estranged daughters closer together, so that they can move on together as a family, and support each other in their grief. 

L is for Lewis, who is Andrea's best friend and has helped put together the A to Z of everything for the girls. He doesn't appear much but from the small appearances he makes, it is clear he was a very kind man but also quite opinionated. 

P is for Poppy the younger of the two sisters and whose actions ultimately caused the initial rift between the sisters.  

R is for Rose is the older of the two sisters who has a 16 year old son, and just seems generally unhappy with her life from first appearances. 

J is for Joe, Rose's son, and he appears in quite a few chapters, seems to have a good head on his shoulders and has never met his long lost aunt Poppy. 

E is for Emotion - there is plenty of emotion in this book, as Andrea has set up this whole quest as such for her daughters and in doing so has left them videos and tapes to be read/listened to after she has died, and some of them almost had me reaching for the tissues. 

G is for grief as the Poppy and Rose are grieving for the majority of the story, while undergoing all the various tasks. Grief is also touched on as Andrea recalls how she felt when her own mother died.  At times you can just feel their distress radiating off the page.

F is for flashbacks, during part 1 of the book, we are treated to some flashbacks of how the sisters we towards each other, as children, and I loved seeing their loving and protective relationship until things went wrong. 

S is for the storyline, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading about. It is the sort of story that will get under your skin and keep you thinking, possibly long after you finish reading. 

B is for brilliance, which is just one of many adjective that I would love to use to describe this amazing book. The pacing of the story is just right and I loved learning what all of the various letters would be, and their significance. 

D is for Debbie Johnson who has managed to craft such a superb story. It clearly took a lot of thought to put this together simply wonderful story. It made me laugh and will make those with hearts less frozen than mine cry too, and is a book that will keep having you turn the pages to see how the sisters are now getting on, and also to see what Andrea was going to reveal with her next task. 

Well that is my own partial A to Z for the A to Z of Everything! I am so happy that I had a chance to read this book, and think it could easily be the authors best work by far (which is something I'm sure I've said about her past couple of books too!). 

Thank you so much to Charlotte Ledger at Harper for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Please follow along with the rest of the blog tour. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

Book Review - The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry - Book #66

Amazon UK
Title:  The Apple Orchard
Author: Veronica Henry
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: 13th April 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

In the charming town of Peasebrook, there's a place for everyone. War vet Joe has made new friends and a new home for himself here, overlooking a beautiful apple orchard. But when tragedy strikes and Joe is left out in the cold, it will bring them all together in entirely unexpected ways . . .

A delightful but incredibly short story, set in Peasebrook. It is a small heart warming tale about a man's life who is a bit down on his luck and how the community feel about him. 

I loved even this short visit to Peasebrook, as it was the setting for the authors two most recent full length novels, and I loved seeing characters that I have met before in this. 

The Apple Orchard is the sort of book that is ideal as a quick read in a lunch fact I didn't even finish eating before I had hit the end of the story!  

Often short stories can feel rushed or you don't get too much sense of any depth on characters, but that is definitely not the case here. This a  rounded look at one person's life and feels like the perfect length for this piece of writing. 

Thank you to everyone that voted for Veronica Henry this week, it was a very close contest, and given how little I've been reading in the heatwave, it was a relief that you picked the nice quick book for me! However I wonder what will win this week! 

Rachel Reads Randomly - Vote #67

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

0 Votes - Amber Green Takes Manhattan by Rosie Nixon
3 Votes - Almost a Bride by Jo Watson
7 Votes - Practice Makes Perfect by Penny Parkes
7 Votes -  Breaking All The Rules by Rachael Richey
8 Votes - The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry

This was one of the most interesting votes to watch pan out for ages, for most of the week I had no idea which book would win, but what did strike me was I was most likely going to either be reading the longest book of the selection or the shortest. Given the heatwave last week I'm very glad it was the short story that won, as that was about my level of concentration. 

Since we haven't done this for a few weeks this week its the turn of the fact I think I've only read one paperback all month which seems like not enough for someone trying to reduce the piles, so lets see what comes up this time. 

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:

23 - The Waiting Game by Jessica Thompson - I've had this book for a while, and it definitely look like the sort of book I want to read. 
29 - The Bum Magnet by K L Brady -  I won this book and it looks and sounds like it could be really funny. 
44 - The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain - I've been looking forward to reading this book since I won it,  have a feeling it could be fascinating. 
51 - The Memory Box by Sarah Webb - This is the sequel to something I read years ago by the author. However since its been so long I have  a feeling it would be like a new book to me. 
61 - One Kiss in Rio... by Various - 3 Books in 1 from Mills and Boon, should be 3 hot and steamy romances with a Brazilian twist.  

This is an interesting selection this week, I won all of these books in giveaways, so on the whole don't know too much about them, but know I would quite like to read all 5 eventually. I will be very intrigued to see what you all pick! 

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. 

And authors, if its your book up on this feature, feel free to take part, vote for yourself, or stir up excitement amongst your fans! 

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 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, 25 June 2017

Book Review - Meet Me at the Lighthouse by Mary Jayne Baker - 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!

Although not the first book by Mary Jane Baker, this is the first one that I have read.

Amazon UK
Title: Meet Me at the Lighthouse
Author: Mary Jane Baker
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 30th June 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

The day I turned 28, I bought a lighthouse and met the love of my life’

Bobbie Hannigan’s life in a cottage by the sea with her dog and her twin sister is perfectly fine … until she decides the logical thing is to buy a lighthouse and open a music venue with Ross Mason, the first boy she ever kissed.

Bobbie tries to be professional with Ross, but the happily-ever-after they’re working toward is too good to resist. That is until someone from his past crawls back to cause trouble. Can Bobbie look past the secrets Ross has been keeping from her? Or will the boy, the lighthouse, and the dream all slip away?

Escape to the Yorkshire coast this summer with this laugh out loud romantic comedy from Mary Jayne Baker!

Well its not often that you start a book with an impulse purchase of a lighthouse! And its the small act of marginal madness that not only sets off a chain of events for Bobbie and old friend Ross, but also sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the book. 

For this is lovely light hearted story, with a lighthouse and some interlinked love stories at the heart of it. The lighthouse itself is the focal point, and Bobbie and Ross do have a master plan for it, which involves fundraising initially and then music.

There is just a fun and pleasant story that made me smile throughout it. It's the first book I have read by the author, and I loved her writing style, and general sense of humour. It is just such a quirky story and I loved everything to do with the Lighthouse itself.  

The book is easy to follow and there are a few small surprises along the way. What really helped make the book so great were some of the characters. There is Bobbie's mother who gives potential new boyfriends a Spanish Inquisition style grilling, there is an old thespian who is just OTT, there is a bar owner who does a great line in bad chat up lines, and bizarre dress sense, there is an ex wife that seemingly has her own agenda, and an ex boyfriend who I really didn't like at all, for reasons that will become apparent as you read the book. 

Meet Me at the Lighthouse is a lovely story to read on a relaxed and sunny weekend, or at any other time really, and was a great introduction for me to a new author who I definitely will be interested in reading more from. 

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

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Kate Fitzroy

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!

Today I'd like to welcome to Rachel's Random Reads, Kate Fitzroy.

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

My first book was never published… understandably as the main protagonist fell down a rabbit hole and I was only eight at the time 

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

I think it’s a natural progression to move from loving to read to becoming a writer. My original inspiration was a monthly competition in a long-lost magazine called the Elizabethan. I won prize money twice and it was a most welcome addition to my spasmodic pocket money.

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

I wrote Perfume of Provence in five months but then I lived in a remote corner of the Loire Valley and have a most understanding husband.

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

I am smugly content with my debut. Carina published my first two books and I enjoyed working with them, although I never liked their covers. I jumped from that platform into Indie publishing with KDP and Create Space. I enjoy the autonomy… and higher royalties.

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

I am sure everyone has their own method of working to their best potential. I like to write from 6 am until 8 am nearly every day and it is a habit or maybe an addiction. I then have my day free for family and friends and, if I have time, I edit and prettify the text in the afternoons. 

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

I always, always have a notebook or use my mobile to capture any ideas that fly into my head at odd moments… or a snatch of a conversation… sometimes waking from a dream, I write in the dark on my bedside notepad!

Tell us about your first…

7) Book you bought

The first book I bought for myself, rather than those bought for me, was ‘Lorna Doone’. I spent my aforementioned prize money on a delicious turquoise leather-bound edition. It was the first in a special classic collection and I was determined to buy them all. The next was a jolly red leather edition of Father Brown’s Stories and then… I must have given up… or the series floundered… but I do still have them both and love them dearly.

8) Memory

Looking up at a pattern of apple leaves and branches outlined against a shimmering blue sky. I am told my pram used to be parked under a large apple tree so maybe I could have been a second Newton if only I had been mathematically minded. As it is, I love blue skies so much that I went to live on the Cote d’Azur when I was twenty-one

9) Person you fell in love with

I am not sure if it was love or infatuation but he was an assistant golf pro who looked like James Dean and rode a motor bike. Naturally, my parents forbade me to go anywhere with him off the golf course. So, I jumped on the back of his bike one evening and went to Southend-on-Sea. He turned out to be surprisingly gentlemanly and treated me to an ice cream and returned me home. It was some time before I realised he had only been after my high handicap for mixed foursome competitions!  

10)  Holiday you went on

My unusual parents decided to board a boat in Newcastle (I think) and cross the North Sea to Norway for a skiing holiday. It was an extraordinary trip and I learnt to go up mountains with reindeer skins strapped to my very long narrow skis and cross over vast frozen lakes. I don’t remember much downhill skiing, except once when I had lost my right ski in a ravine and was rescued by Olaf who put me on his shoulders and ski-ed back down to the village, ducking low beneath snow-laden branches in a pine forest.  I was seven. 

Thank you so much Kate for answering my questions. What a fabulous sounding first holiday, and love the story about your first love!

Author Bio

Kate Fitzroy has two lives. One in a flinty Victorian cottage in Newmarket, where she awakes to the clatter of horses' hooves as strings of racehorses pass early each morning. Kate's other life is played out in a Napoleonic manor set in a sleepy village amongst the vineyards of the Loire valley. 

Her life has not always been so blissful. Widowed at the age of twenty-one, already with two children to love and protect, she fought her way up as hard a path as any of her heroines. Now happily married and surrounded by a large, loving family, Kate enjoys every moment of every day... CARPE DIEM... TEMPUS FUGIT.... or should that be CARPE MOMENTUM?

Kate on Twitter
Kate on Amazon
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