Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Book Review & Giveaway - It Takes Two by Emily Harvale

Amazon UK
Title: It Takes Two
Author: Emily Harvale
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Crescent Gate Publishing
Publication Date: 19th July 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


Alison Warner knows love doesn’t always last. Wedded bliss is hit and miss and she’s not taking any chances. She’s the daughter of divorce lawyers, so Ali knows the statistics by heart. Now her parents are adding to the numbers and Ali’s more certain than ever: marriage is not for her.

Others do not share her views. Her cousin Sasha’s got engaged; her best friend Jules is giving ‘Bridezilla’ new meaning and even her crazy gran, Gertie’s dogs are getting hitched. When her life-long friend, Simon Hart unexpectedly proposes, Ali’s convinced the world’s gone mad.

Having an arrogant new boss is the last thing Ali needs right now. Aidan Rourke has come to run The Shimmering River and Water Sports Centre – a job that should have been Ali’s. But at least she can be sure of one thing. Marriage is definitely not on Aidan’s mind. Although it’s abundantly clear something else is...

A sheer pleasure to read, I was hooked on this easy to read, fast flowing story, that despite the blurb had far less weddings than I was expecting.  In fact although Ali and Simons friends all seem to be getting engaged around them, there was only one wedding in the entire book, which I found quite refreshing. 

Which meant that the book had a slightly different focus, and that is on Ali, her parent's argumentative relationship, Ali's friendship with Simon, her new boss at the Shimmering River and Water Sports Centre, Aiden, and also her friendships. 

As the book is written in the third person, even though most of the chapters focus on Ali, there are occasional glimpses into Simon and Aiden's lives too. Aiden is a smooth talking, rich lothario and is someone my opinion changed about regularly.  Simon on the other hand is Ali's long time best friend, but things became awkward after a proposal, which may or may not have been in jest. 

There is a kayaking scene in which I found the dialogue to be quite witty and clever, while seeing what the town looked like from the river was quite novel too.  

I have no idea how but I read this cover to cover in under three hours, in one sitting. I just couldn't tear myself away and as the chapters were generally quite short, even if you are the sort that continually says "just one more chapter" you may end up even further than you expected before you know it.  

I am a huge fan of Emily Harvale's books and have been for many years, and this one is incredibly enjoyable, well written and even features one of the most unlikely weddings I've ever seen. Add to it warring divorce lawyers, a grandma who seems a bit off the wall, a bride-zilla of a best friend, a massive engagement party to open the book, and a character who doesn't believe in marriage and you have all the ingredients for It Takes Two, a fabulous romantic comedy. 

Thank you to Emily Harvale for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 


Giveaway to win 1 x signed copy of It Takes Two (Open Internationally)

Emily Harvale is as always being incredibly generous to readers of Rachel's Random Reads, and has given me one signed copy of It Takes Two to give away to a lucky winner. 


Giveaway open internationally, all options are voluntary, but please do what they ask, as I will be verifying the winner. Giveaway closes 23:59 31/08/2017. Winner will be announced on twitter, 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.


Book Review - The Cosy Canal Boat Dream by Christie Barlow - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: The Cosy Canal Boat Dream
Author: Christie Barlow
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 22nd August 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


Welcome to the Little Rock marina – where hearts are healed and dreams are made…

For the last two years Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…

Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

Without a doubt my favourite Christie Barlow book of all time. From the prologue that hooked me in and gave me such a clear picture of the Little Rock Marina, to the instant familiarity I felt with the characters and the overall cosy and warm feelings I got from the book, made this a story I adored reading. 

Two years on from the sudden death of her husband, Nell is slowly trying to get more of a grip on her life. Things really start to change when an opportunity comes up for her to follow a dream and set up a project in her late husbands memory. 

However Gilly seems to be really opposed to the potential project, and there is a large mystery surrounding this. Whereas best friend Bea is all for it, as is new man about the marina Guy and his adorable dog Sam. Guy is very easy on the eye, and he has a very welcoming manner. Guy and Nell hit it off very fast and I felt as though I was a fly on the wall watching their initial encounters. 

Two of my favourite characters were Sam the dog, who is utterly adorable, but also shows some great doggy instincts at times, and also Jacob, Bea's son. who is a cute 5 year old, who comes out with some great lines, and is such a likeable child. 

The friendship between Bea and Nell is great, as is Bea's deli which serves delicious food. They have known each other forever and really have each others back. And yet as the book progresses various aspects of their back stories become known which completely threw me.

I would love to see Little Rock Marina used as a setting for future books, as its a great sounding place to live. The warm fuzzy feeling I felt from reading The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is similar to the feeling I get from Katie Fforde's books - its a feeling like I'm coming home and also receiving a big hug from the book, which is the best was I can sum it up. 

The author's typical sense of humour is present as is the great writing style that I have come to expect from her books. I truly thought this to be a fabulous book that as I progressed with my reading of it, I became more and more loathe to put it down, and in fact was surprised by just how quick I devoured it. The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is the sort of book that will warm you up from the inside and perfect for when you want to be lost in a cuddle of a book! 

Thanks you to Christie Barlow for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Please take a look at the rest of the stops on this blog tour 


Monday, 21 August 2017

Book Review - The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Amazon UK
Title: The Art of Hiding
Author: Amanda Prowse
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: 22nd August 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

The second I saw this book was available for download I knew I had to have it, so pressed the buttons without even reading the blurb. About a month later I was finally ready to read it, had cleared my schedule to allow time to be drawn into hopefully one of Amanda Prowse's immersive stories and started it. 

Within a chapter I thought I'd just look at the blurb just to see what sort of book I had let myself in for this time, what huge topic was going to be tackled as is often the case by the author and I will freely admit my first impression of the blurb and the initial part of the story was that I have read many books on this sort of them. 

So then I was wondering, ok I have faith in the author and I am interested in whats happening so lets see how it proceeds. Well yes to be honest I've read the husband dies leaving a huge financial mess behind story before and how the rich family pick themselves up from it...

...but before long I realised exactly why I was reading this one, and its due to the depth of emotions that the author is able to display, the real nitty gritty of the situation, the horrifying realism and thoughts that any finding themselves in Nina McCarricks' position would be feeling. all has such a ring of truth about them. 

Yet within this there were also the small moments that make a person smile, a throwaway comment from Declan who is ten, and a thoughtful gesture from Connor who is 15, that give a bit of light relief, and offer a momentary release from the tension of their lives. 

For Nina and her family have to learn how to adjust and for Nina this is hard as she didn't really do much in her old life, and now suddenly has to be everything to her children and try to earn money too. Her job search is something many people will be familiar with. It strikes me just what an isolated life Nina had and it was interesting to see how she would deal with many unfamiliar circumstances. 

I read The Art of Hiding in about 4 straight hours with only brief breaks from it. At times I found tears were near the surface especially in the early part of the book, which for me shows how emotionally involved I was with this family from a relatively early stage.  This book took me on a journey that I am entirely glad I took, it really does highlight the differences in lifestyle between the rich and poorer, as well as how in extreme circumstances you can deal with situations so far out of your own comfort zone. 

Although not my favourite book by this author, it is still a very accomplished story that was gripping to read and easily up to her normal standards. 

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

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Book Review - The House by Simon Lelic

Amazon UK
Title: The House
Author: Simon Lelic
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied review copy
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 17th August 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


Whose story do YOU believe?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door. And now the police are watching them.

THIS STORY IS THEIR CHANCE...

TO PROVE THEY'RE INNOCENT. 
OR TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.

Incredibly creepy and addictive story that I was scarcely able to tear myself away from. There is just something about this authors writing style that enticed me in and just wouldn’t let me go.

Although the book is called The House, it is about so much more than a house, although it is the trigger for everything that happens. For the first part of the book the story alternates between Jack and Syd telling the story in their easily identifiable voices.

They are writing down exactly what happened as they understand it, to get it clear to themselves, and there is a bit of a chatty feel to the writing, as we get to see all the odd occurrences that happened from the time they found this rather creepy house.

The timeline isn’t completely chronological as it is how they have remembered the events and the order they feel things need to be explained to anyone that reads this account.  Jack’s story is one that I had no problem reading, I just didn’t fully take to his character, but he seemed like a nice enough guy.

However Syd’s story is what makes the book, I loved her voice, and what comes out from her backstory is gripping, horrendous and made me really root for her. She has had a troubled life and yet she still tries to help someone else who she can see in a similar sort of situation.

Whether Syd or Jack’s judgments were always correct, I’ll say that by the time we reach part of the book, I had no choice but to curl up on the sofa and pray that I had no interruptions, I was hooked and raced through the second half of the book, eager to see just what it would bring.

There are many twists and surprises to come, and I was kept guessing throughout.  I’m not sure exactly how you would describe this book, it doesn’t feel quite like a psychological thriller, but it’s definitely full of suspense, creepy feelings and gripping writing.

This is the first time I have come across the author Simon Lelic, and I am very impressed by the writing, and storytelling. Definitely an author I need to keep an eye on future releases from.


Thank you to Annie Hollands at Dead Good Books for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Book Review - The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: The Big Dreams Beach Hotel
Author: Lilly Bartlett
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 18th August 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Rosie never dreamed she’d still be in her faded British seaside hometown three years after skulking back there from New York City. Managing the Victorian hotel where she first started work at sixteen is definitely not the way she expected her life to turn out.

But a lot of unexpected things are about to come Rosie’s way.
Flamingos, for one thing. When the once-grand family hotel is sold to US developers, they set about turning the quintessentially English institution into a copy of their Florida properties. As cultures clash, there’s no longer room for the hotel’s quaint traditions, let alone for the oddball residents who stand in the way of the developers’ big plans. To the 80-something Colonel, the aging torch singer, motherly Jamaican force of nature, narcoleptic dog trainer and his resident Bassett Hound, the hotel is home and family all wrapped into one.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce all the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side. He might be charming, but he’s still there to evict the residents from their home. What’s worse, she’s supposed to be helping him do it.

This is Rosie’s only chance to revive the career she’s always wanted. Will she follow her dreams if it means ending those of her friends?

Utterly fabulous, completely hilarious, with a cast full of eccentric characters, its bright colourful Florida ideals brought to a typically English seaside hotel. It's a complete clash of cultures and within the hilarity, there are some fantastic stories....one of why Rosie is even in Scarborough in the first place, one of how she is going to manage the hotel through its major changes and also the individual storylines of some of the residents of the hotels. 

For at this seaside hotel, although it has been losing money for years, everyone involved is like a family. They run events for the good of the community, and there are assorted people living long term in the hotel for a variety of reasons. Yet everything is set to change when The Colonel announces he has sold the hotel to Americans!

And these are US developers who want to turn this Scarborough property, bought unseen, into a replica of their Florida hotels, right down to the flamingo print! Not to mention their tag line "5 Star experience at 3 Star prices" If you rolled your eyes at that you were completely correct to, it is laughable. 

The new owners are complete eccentrics and mainly communicate via skype or fax, they send in a transition manager, Rory to help smooth over the take over and to to do their bidding.

We get to read all about Rosie's past heartbreak spread over chapters, that are spaced throughout the book, generally any time that Rosie starts getting confused between Rory and Chuck! 

There is just so much to love about this book, but if I tried to list everything here I would be spoiling it for you, and not doing the book justice either. But lets face it its not often you read a book featuring of a narcoleptic children's entertainer with a dog, a 60s singer who is still trying to make it big, one surfer dude, a man with brightly coloured hair with unusual ideas, 6 course taster menus but an ex-army chef who generally cooks comfort food and a whole lot more besides.  

The Big Dream Beach Hotel is by far my favourite of the three Lilly Bartlett books to date, but probably also my favourite book by Michele Gorman too. It just hits everything I like in a book, and was a great match for me. This is a pure escapist read, perfect pretty much anytime you want something incredibly entertaining to absorb yourself in. 

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


Please follow along with the rest of the blog tour. 



Friday, 18 August 2017

Guest Post - My Writing Path by Jane Lythell - Blog Tour

As a child my mum would describe me fondly as a bookworm. My favourite activity was to lie on my stomach, on my bed, in the garden or on the beach and to escape into the latest fictional world that was enthralling me. From the age of nine we lived in Norfolk and as an early teen I read my way through the fiction shelves of Sheringham library. I also tried my hand at fiction when I was seven or eight. I wrote a story for my younger sister Caroline about Sally Dumpling, a fairy with curves who lived in a yellow rose. Her best friend was a robin. I read this to my sister who said she loved it. She still sometimes mentions it today.

I studied English Literature at university so I enjoyed three more years of intensive reading, novels and poetry, and writers were my heroes: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I started to write a few short stories. These were highly autobiographical and I never did anything with them though I think they were teaching me something about how to write. Then, from about the age of thirty and for many years, there was no time for writing and a lot less time for reading. I was working in film and TV in the kinds of jobs that gave you very little empty time. I think you need empty time to be able to write. And I had my daughter and was a lone parent from when she was two and a half. But I had stories in my head which I wanted to tell one day. While I was at the Foreign Office, heading up their TV and Radio Unit, I started on my first draft of what would become The Lie of You.

One of the things that helped me at this time was the Arvon Foundation which runs writing retreats. I went to two week-long retreats, one in Devon and a year later one in Scotland. These were very valuable because I met other would-be writers and the published writers who lead the courses and this made me take my wish to write more seriously. I carried on with The Lie of You.

The next step in my writing path was blogging. In 2011 I started to write a novel in instalments which I called The Chronicles of Chloe Greene. It was set in the 1980s and centred on a young idealistic woman called Chloe Greene who lived in a run-down housing association house in North London with two artists. Each week I made myself write an 800 – 1,000 word instalment and would post this up on my blog every Tuesday. I then tweeted about it and began to attract readers who enjoyed the unfolding story. Blogging gave me two very good things: the discipline to write every week and the sense of reaching an audience, however small. Readers would post comments on the instalments and I found this thrilling.

I took my draft of The Lie of You out of the drawer where I had stashed it and read it again. I felt it had something and I finally plucked up courage to ask my partner Barry to read it. Barry is a TV script writer and we hadn’t been going out very long! I asked him to be honest. Was it worth trying to redraft it or should I start again? Barry’s feedback was so helpful. He said it opened well and that the characters were interesting but that the last third of the book had lost direction. And it had.
This encouraged me to work on it again and I rewrote it and sent the first forty pages of the manuscript to the literary agency Sheil Land. I didn’t know anything about publishing at this time. 

My work world had been film and TV. My finished manuscript was only 57,000 words long. 
I had the huge luck to be taken on by the literary agent Gaia Banks of Sheil Land. Gaia guided me. She explained that publishers expected a novel to be at least 80,000 words long. We discussed the book at length and how it needed some new scenes to deepen the characters and the plot. And I learned that you never submit to a publisher until you have made your book as good as it possibly can be. A first draft is just that, a first draft. It is at the redrafting and editing stage where you can hone and polish your book.

Six months later Gaia submitted my now longer novel (87,000 words) and I was selected for publication by Head of Zeus which was a new publishing venture. If I could do cartwheels I would have done these all around the garden! 

This was my writing path and I now write full time.

Jane Lythell

Thank you so much Jane for sharing your writing path with us.

Jane's latest book Behind Her Back is out now, and I hope to be reading and reviewing it as soon as I can.



Liz Lyon is a television producer and busy single mum to a teenage daughter. She works at StoryWorld, the UK's favourite morning show. As both confidante and team leader, she is the person tasked with controlling the conflicts and tantrums that flare up off-air. Having just started dating again, she's also having to deal with a few conflicts and tantrums at home...

Following a blissfully peaceful two-week holiday in Italy, Liz has returned to find a new colleague has joined the station. Lori Kerwell has been brought in to increase the show's profitability. But Liz is not sure that's the only thing on Lori's agenda.

As Lori builds her power base with the bosses, Liz finds herself wondering what's really going on behind her back... 

Purchase from Amazon UK

Please follow along with the rest of the blog tour to see more from Jane. 





Book Review - A Taste of Death by H.V. Coombes

Amazon UK
Title: A Taste of Death
Author: H.V. Coombes
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 24th July 2017
Rating: 3 Stars


Midsomer Murders meets The Great British Bake-Off in this foodie delight with murder at its heart.

The first murder happened while I was making meringues…

When Ben Hunter moves to become head chef at the Old Forge CafĂ© in the quiet village of Hampden Green, a tricky recipe for egg-based desserts isn’t the only thing he gets embroiled in. As he struggles with a whisk in his first week, he gets an unexpected visit from DI Slattery – there’s been a murder and he’s a suspect.

Ben resolves to get to the bottom of the mystery, and he soon discovers that this sleepy Chilterns village is covering up a whole lot more than an appetite for sweet treats…

One of the things that attracted me to this book was that it was being described as a cosy mystery but that it also contained food.  Well unfortunately for me the mystery didn’t really grab my attention, although the ending did redeem it slightly

Now on the other hand, this is an author that knows his food, especially during the early part of the book, we have descriptions on how various dishes are made, assorted cookery tips throughout and I really felt as though I was in Ben’s one man kitchen.

I loved the turn of phrase and the writing style of this book, it felt fresh and in places did make me chuckle a bit.  Easily though my favourite character was Francis, who was hired as a kitchen porter. He is a rather large man, not overly intelligent but very kind hearted. He knows his own limitations, and puts himself down a lot but does try to do whatever is asked of him, even if the results aren’t really to Ben’s standards.

The early part of the book I really enjoyed and felt it flowed well, I enjoyed the ending, but thought the story lost its way slightly in the centre, where I was finding it harder to pick up and continue reading.  It may be because I just had no interest in the crime that was being investigated and I also had no guesses as to the outcome either!

As a debut novel, I have certainly seen worse and I’m sure others will enjoy the mystery of this book a lot more than me, it just didn’t quite work how I’d have liked.  I am certainly curious as to what this author will write next.

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

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Book Review - A Beginner's Guide to Saying I Do by Jennifer Joyce

Amazon UK
Title: A Beginner's Guide to Saying I Do
Author: Jennifer Joyce
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 15th August
Rating: 5 Stars


Ruth can’t quite believe she’s managed to snag The One but when he proposes, she can finally accept that she’s found her happily ever after. But when Ruth finds herself booking her dream church for just six weeks away, she starts to panic. You can’t plan a whole wedding at such short notice. Can you?

Trina has only just walked down the aisle, but she’s already starting to question whether they can make their marriage work. Will they survive the honeymoon period, or have they just made a very big – and very expensive – mistake?

Erin has somehow found herself agreeing to be a bridesmaid for the tackiest wedding known to man. With drunk hens, ridiculous outfits and a terrifying wedding planner, just what has Erin signed up for?

Three women. Three weddings. But who will say I do – and who will say I don’t?

Three weddings and a...well thankfully not a funeral but an incredibly romantic surprise! 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, there are plenty of moments to giggle at, some wonderful weddings to either gain inspiration from or to generally enjoy, and three very different, but equally fabulous main characters all of which feature in these weddings. 

First let me state this can easily be read as a standalone novel, although if you have read the previous book A Beginner's Guide to Salad you will know Ruth and Jared's full back story, and more of Erin's romantic history to. This one is set two years later and you don't have to have prior knowledge to be able to appreciate the fun of this book. 

We have Ruth who is madly in love with Jared, and after finding their dream church they need to plan a budget wedding in just 6 weeks. Cue calling in favours from her best friends and family. Best friend Erin is in a relationship with Richard, has no interest in marriage but has to be a bridesmaid at Richard's sister, Lindsay's wedding.  Then there is Trina, Ruths cousin who has a fairytale wedding at the start of the book, but then the marriage side of things turn out a bit trickier. 

With three different takes on weddings and relationships and all the characters interlinking it leads to a lot great situations. Anything involving Lindsay's wedding was hilarious, her hen party sounded a bit like a nightmare, at least for Erin, and when you get to the description of her wedding dress and bridesmaids dresses its laughable. 

On the other hand I loved the sound of dress that Ruth finds, and all her plans for the wedding seem great, even if there was some initial panic about planning of a short notice wedding, I really enjoyed seeing how it all came together. 

Yet Trina's story adds another dimension to this book, and I couldn't help but have a lot of sympathy for her. The family she marries into sounds like a nightmare for various reasons, while her new husband  - well the less said about him the better. 

If you are a fan of Jennifer Joyce, romance, weddings, humour, books with groups of friends, great characters and generally a whole feel good vibe from a book then A Beginner's Guide to Saying I Do is for you. I loved the writing, the story and was interested to see how Ruth had developed and changed since the previous book. I really hope this isn't the end of this series. 

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

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Book Review - Cocktails and Dreams by A.L. Michael

Amazon UK
Title: Cocktails and Dreams
Author: A. L. Michael
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date: 24th July 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


I was seven years old when I realized my mother was not a great person… 

Since Savvy was abandoned by her rockstar mother, she has craved a normal life. But after years of financing her boyfriend’s lacklustre career, he leaves her when he hits the bigtime.

Savvy’s friends at the burlesque club where she serves elaborate cocktails encourage her to make bold changes in her life. She soon meets handsome bartender Milo, and begins to plan a future she can be excited about.

But when Savvy’s estranged mother crashes back into her life, her newfound happiness is under threat… will Savvy have the courage to pursue her dreams? 

This is completely 100% my sort of book! It had delicious sounding cocktail recipes, some delicious food, a character who is just learning how to discover her own dreams, a problematic relationship with a mother, oh and a hot bartender as the frosting on the glass!

Savvy is the daughter of an international rockstar, but aged seven she realised her mother wasn't all she should be, as when Savvy asked for a normal life, she gets abandoned at her aunts house, and barely has a relationship with her mother since. 

Fast forward many years, and Savvy is unfortunately being dumped by her long term boyfriend as apparently they are now too different, and it takes her friends and colleagues to show her how much her life needed to change, and help her to discover some new independent dreams, 

Turns out Savvy is able to make magic with her cocktail and cooking skills, as well as her expert palate, and is able to catch the eye of a very like minded bar tender Milo.  I loved how the two main threads of the story came together, as well as seeing just how much Savvy was able to change over the course of the book. 

The Martini Club where she was working sounds like a great burlesque club, and just adds a touch of glamour to the story,  while Savvy's aunt and father add the contrast of being just lovely regular people with love in their hearts. 

I just thoroughly enjoyed the direction Cocktails and Dreams was going in and am so excited to realise that this is only book 1 in the Martini Club series. I really hope wherever the next books go, that we get to keep up with Savvy's story even if she isn't the start of them. 

It seems to me that I enjoy A.L. Michaels books more and more with each one I read, and that she is continually coming up with stories that a fantastic to read. 

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

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Book Review - To Provence, With Love by T.A. Williams

Amazon UK
Title: To Provence, with Love
Author: T.A. Williams
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 12th July 2017
Rating: 4.5 Stars


Anything is possible…

Struggling writer Faye Carter just can’t believe her luck. She’s off to Provence to write the autobiography of a famous film star and she’ll be staying in the stunning chateau!

So when she meets charming (and completely gorgeous) lavender farmer, Gavin, she knows that she’s made the right choice – even if glamourous, elderly Anabelle seems to be hiding something…

But when the sun is shining, the food is delicious and the air smells of honey, anything seems possible. Will the magic of Provence help Faye finally find a happy-ever-after of her own?

Another absolutely lovely book from the talented T.A. Williams. This one features an ageing actress, a biographer, a reticent farmer, fields of lavender,  Provence and one of my favourite fictional labradors, Marlon. 

So where to start? Well let's begin with Annabelle Beech who is wanting her biography written, even if it never is published. She hires a relatively unknown author to write it for her, and allows the biographer to stay in Provence with her for 6 months for a rather large sum on completion of the project. 

Faye is the person chosen for this task, and after her first meeting with Annabelle she is eager to get started, and to embrace life in Provence for a bit. She is after all nursing a bit of a broken heart so a change of scenery is very welcome. 

The first person in Provence that Faye meets is rather quiet lavender farmer Gavin, and as the weeks progress they build a quiet friendship. In addition Faye starts meeting the locals of the area, and agrees to run English classes for them. 

I loved the sound of Provence, especially all the beautiful walks that Faye took, with Marlon alongside her. Marlon is a gorgeous black labrador who is always up for a walk. He barks a lot at strangers but takes to Faye instantly. They often come across another black lab on their walks, George, who is Marlon's brother. 

It is reasonably clear quite early on that Annabelle is hiding something, and I had a strong inkling quite far before the reveal as to what the secret may be. I was correct and although it didn't detract from my enjoyment, the timing of it did make em wonder where the book would go from there. 

I found the sections of Faye and Annabelle talking to be very interesting. Annabelle Beech clearly had a very interesting life, and I also loved the two assistants she lives with now.  Generally there were some lovely dynamics in this book. 

To Provence, With Love is a very gently story, the sort of book that should calm you down if you are tense, while transporting you to another country.  

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


Monday, 14 August 2017

Book Review - The Summer House by Jenny Hale

Amazon UK
Title: The Summer House
Author: Jenny Hale
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 9th June 2017
Rating: 4 Stars


Some summers will stay with you forever...

Callie Weaver and best friend Olivia Dixon have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast.

Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s property empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy, but as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks.

Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets... secrets that stretch across the island, and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor. 

Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm it unleashes, or can true love save them?

The Summer House is an absolutely gorgeous, heart-warming summer romance, about the importance of family, not keeping secrets, and learning how to open your heart.

Heart-warming story of two women attempting to set up a new guest house, which contains a sweet romance, a slight mystery and a great feel of a small coastal location in North Carolina.


I really enjoyed the characters in this story, especially the leads Callie and Luke. Callie is focused on work and trying to get The Beachcomber ready for guests, and is really closed off to potential romances. She finds a journal that belonged to the previous owner that could contain secrets.

Callie is literally swept off her feet by Luke, in their first meeting. Luke is from the local rich family in town, and tries to escape the press a lot. As Luke’s character is revealed I found myself falling for him a bit more with each chapter. He is a lovely man who has many hidden depths to him.

The Summer House I found started off comfortably and I found myself liking the characters but around half way the pace and action kicks up a notch at which point I found it a lot harder to put down, and I was enticed into the book properly.

This is a good book that I enjoyed reading. I love this authors writing style although often find I prefer her Christmas books to her summer ones.  With lovely characters, some surprises and a great feeling from the book, The Summer House is a cosy summer story.

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

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Book Review - Guilt Game by L.J. Sellers

Amazon UK
Title: Guilt Game
Author: L.J. Sellers
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 6th June 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


Roxanne MacFarlane is the Extractor—a former CIA agent who specializes in rescuing people from dangerous situations. She lives on the edge and works outside the law, but desperate families know she’s the only operative who can bring their missing loved ones home. Driven by guilt over the loss of her sister to a polygamous cult, she will stop at nothing to save her clients.

When Dave and Jenny Carson ask her to find their daughter, Emma, and extract her from a charismatic cult leader who preys on young women with guilt issues, Rox is eager to help them. But the experimental treatment she just started in order to improve her atypical brain patterns forces her to face conflicting newfound emotions while working feverishly to find the secret compound and craft a strategy to get Emma out.

When the bodies of young women who match Emma’s description turn up, Rox must fast-forward her plans. But the situation is more complicated and dangerous than she realizes, and her own life is soon in jeopardy. Can Rox save Emma and bring down a ruthless predator before more young women fall victim?

To me the sign of a good book is one you can read in only two sittings and spend the time you aren't reading it thinking about it, and Guilt Game for me was just that book. I was completely intrigued and hooked from the second I understood just what Roxanne's job was, to the moment it finished. 

In fact I'm already hoping that this is the first of a new series, as I would love to see more from Roxanne. For she is an Extractor - someone who tries to extract people either from abusive parents, or from cults, or other dangerous situations. She needs to come up with a plan that gets her into as little trouble as possible, while fulfilling the wishes of her client, to get a loved one to safety. 

The case this book focuses on is tricky as its trying to get a young girl away from a cult. The cult seems to prey on women which suffer from huge amounts of guilt and thus Emma was a prime target for them. Her parents just want her home safely, and its up to Roxanne, or Karina as she is known for work, to try and find out everything she can about the cult leader and how it operates. 

Rox isn't on her own completely she has a step dad who is an ex-cop and her currently boyfriend is with the police working on a large case of his own. Rox is also slightly different from "normal" people and has just started a magnetic therapy treatment to try to get her brain patterns to become more regular. You can see after each session slight changes in her personality, which I found quite interesting. 

Guilt Game is certainly a different take on a thriller, but it is now less compulsive. I was really concerned for the cult members, curious as to the sections focusing on the leader, and generally loved the investigating and thought processes Roxanne had. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Guilt Game where the action ramped up as the story progressed leaving me surprised with the direction of the ending.  Yet another great book from the talented L.J. Sellers. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 
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