Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Book Review - Girl In Trouble by Rhoda Baxter

Amazon UK
Title: Girl In Trouble
Author: Rhoda Baxter
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 7th October 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Olivia doesn't want kids. Walter does. Is this an argument Olivia can afford to lose? 

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn't need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren't that reliable anyway. She's got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn't need to settle down, thanks.

Walter's ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he's losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she's pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. Can Walter persuade the most independent woman he's ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like character driven romance, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you'll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot's Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.

What started off as a book that was light hearted and fun, turned into something that was simply marvellous, and with the level of attachment I had to the characters, I had a lump in my throat for a large amount of the last fifth or so, and practically in tears for some of that. 

It's just that the characters really got under my skin, I really cared about what happened to them, which is the sign of a great author, and fantastic writing. I wanted continually to know what would happen next,  and actually a fair amount of this book I wouldn't have predicted at the start which is also good. 

I absolutely loved getting to know both Olivia, and her tomboyish ways and also Walter who seems like a good guy and clearly loves his daughter even though he can't see her that often. 

During the book they both go through some rather large and life changing events, as well as getting to know each other a lot better.  From the rather hilarious entrance that Walter makes, to his text conversations with best friend Lawrence, and the way he is with Emily, I was building up the picture of a rather great guy, with just a slight (ok rather large) phobia. 

Olivia though is best man at her best friends wedding and we first meet her at the stag do, in some classic scenes, with great banter, and the whole time you get the feeling she loves being one of the lads, and she has distinct opinions on what she wants from life. But whether its time for those opinions to change, well you will need to read for yourself to find out! 

I absolutely loved every second of Girl In Trouble, its witty in places and utterly emotional at other times, and it deals with some deeper issues too, which gives it added depth that may be unexpected from the gorgeousness of the cover. 

I've read a few books by this author now and I can say without a doubt that the books are getting better and better, and that I really can't wait to read Lawrence's story in Girl at Christmas. 

Thank you to Rhoda Baxter for this copy which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Book Review - The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #81

Amazon UK
Title: The Deaths of December
Author: Susi Holliday
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publication Date: 16th November 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

It looks like a regular advent calendar. 

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors...and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it's a prank. Because if it isn't, a murderer has just surfaced - someone who's been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them...

It's shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

Well I do love a good Christmas book, and this was certainly a great Christmas book - but one without the festivities, good will and light heartedness of the season. That is because there is clearly a murderer on the loose. A rather sick minded person who has slipped by for years without being caught. 

But this year, the murderer has upped the ante and rather wants to be caught if the police are smart enough.  

20 cold cases, each represented by a photo behind a door of an advent calendar that is sent to the police.  However is it a prank, or is there really a serial killer on the loose. 

Told from many perspectives including the photographer,  DC Becky Greene, DS Eddie Carmine and Carly we are slowly able to piece together the story, get insights into the mind of a mass murderer and also discover more about the personal lives of the detectives. 

I do love a police procedural and was fascinated in how Becky and Eddie were able to start analysing the data and look for clues. This was rather more involved though just due to the sheer enormity of what they are looking into and the distinct lack of anything obvious to work from. 

This is  a brilliant story that once it captured my attention, I was seemingly oblivious to my surroundings, until I could think of was the book. Carly is a potter, and travels to various craft markets selling her wares, so we did get some festive cheer with the descriptions of Christmas craft markets, but apart from that the book felt like the anti-Christmas with its goings on. 

Watch out for the epilogue, it caught me slightly unawares! 

Thank you to everyone that voted for this fabulous book, really do appreciate it, and always love reading your comments.  Rachel Reads Randomly will be back in January! Just in case I forget to write something a bit later this week have a very merry Christmas! 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Book Review - Snowballs: Winter Fun on the Slopes by Fliss Chester

Amazon UK
Title: Snowballs: Fun on the Slopes
Author: Fliss Chester
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: 30th November 2017
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Escape to the glamorous resort of Val d'Argent for a wintry week of fun, fondue and frivolity. It's going to be an unforgettable Christmas!

Join old university friends Jenna, Max, Angus, Bertie, Hugo and Sally as they jet off to the French Alps for a week of festive fun.

On the agenda: flirting, drinking, dancing - and a bit of skiing along the way.

But once they arrive they are soon waylaid by secret passions, chairlift shenanigans, sexy ski-instructors and the sort of social climbing that requires more effort and planning than a solo ascent of Mont Blanc!

Will it all snowball into disaster or will there be someone waiting under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Clip on your skis, dig out your salopettes, and get ready for some fun on the slopes..

From the looks of the cover and the blurb I thought perfect this is easily my sort of book, I will love it and it should be a nice quick read for me.   So you may be wondering why only 3.5 stars from me? 

I think it was just the wrong book for my frame of mind at the time of reading it.  Unfortunately my main bug bear with it was purely that I didn't like most of the characters and from their behaviours I felt like I was 10-15 years too old to read this book - I would reckon teenagers would potentially enjoy this, or uni aged people but it just didn't quite strike the right chord with me. 

That being said, wow there was a lot of sex in this book and some of those scenes were hot and highly enjoyable. Some of it could be classed as more risque or sordid which did add to the fun of the book, and there seemed to be a lot of partner swapping. 

The action on the ski slopes too caught my attention and I loved the both the action on and off the piste, especially the hunky French ski instructor who was incredibly flirty! 

There is plenty to enjoy and I reckon another day, I would have been raving about the book. I am though curious to see what the next book is going to be like, although having read the blurb of that before finishing this one, I did know who one of the characters ended up with already. 

6 friends, 6 perspectives, a whole lot of fun and action packed into a one week ski holiday, plus some adventure and adrenalin pumping scenes.  Good debut and be curious to see how this author progresses. 

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

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Book Review - The Present by Charlotte Phillips

Amazon UK
Title: The Present
Author: Charlotte Phillips
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1st December 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

12 magical gifts, one love that lasts a lifetime…
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me … one romantic Christmas you won’t forget.

When helping to clear out her beloved grandmother’s home, Lucy Jackson discovers twelve beautiful Christmas decorations hidden in the loft. As she discovers their heartbreaking story, a touching romance develops with the handsome gardener next door.

The Present is a release that almost escaped my notice completely, and if this is the first you've heard of the book then I urge you to read on, as this is a little gem of a book. 

This is the story of a set of 12 Christmas decorations that are found in the loft of Lucy's grandmother's house, as she was clearing it, while her gran Olive was in hospital.  Now despite Lucy being rather accident prone in her way to find the box these decorations were stored in, once she was safely in the rest of the house, these gifts are uncovered and spark a huge interest in Lucy. 

She is determined to find out the story behind them, and to hopefully return some good memories to Olive, to aid her recovery.  Just one small thing Lucy isn't someone who tends to be spontaneous and her boyfriend Rod isn't exactly a flexible person either, and Lucy has a million and one other things on her to-do list for Rod and to get Christmas ready for his family. 

She does find an unlikely ally though in Joe, Olive's handyman/gardener and between them they slowly unravel the story.  Joe is the complete opposite to Rod, and is pretty much biding time with work until he can go on holiday again. 

As we learn about both of their pasts, we can see and understand just what made these characters behave how they do, and also a lot more about Olive's past. Despite Olive not being the main character she is present without being present as such in most scenes,  as the story revolves around her. 

I loved discovering all the stands of this story and seeing how it would all come together. I recall enjoying some novellas by the author a few years ago, so we really curious to see what a full length book from her would be like. 

Well the answer is incredibly good, fabulous infact, I was hooked on the story the whole way through and very interested in the outcomes. It is one of very few books that I have concentrated on enough to shut out the world and ready relatively quickly recently for which I can applaud it!  

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

Friday, 8 December 2017

Book Review - Meet Me Under The Mistletoe by Carla Burgess

Amazon UK
Title: Meet Me Under The Mistletoe
Author: Carla Burgess
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital 
Publication Date: 27th October 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the little flower shop…
Florist Rachel Jones might spend every day making beautiful bridal bouquets at her little flower shop, but her own love life is wilting as quickly as a bunch of dead roses.

Luckily, the arrival of handsome detective Anthony Bascombe, the new tenant upstairs is the perfect distraction! Although there’s a catch, Anthony isn’t looking for love – he’s looking for her ex-fiancĂ©, Patrick…

But as the snow begins to fall and her little shop fills with mistletoe ready for Christmas, will Rachel manage to melt Anthony’s heart?

Absolutely loved the interactions between Rachel and Anthony in what felt like a book with two halves. For the first part of the book Anthony despite any blatant attraction can't get involved with Rachel due to a conflict of interest in his job. 

However it was Rachel's assistant Bobbi's story that really caught my attention, and with what she is going through helped to illustrate the true meaning of Christmas being about family and friends, instead of material possessions. 

This wa a quick and easy to read book that was certainly enjoyable,  and certainly felt festive in Rachel's flower shop. Also really enjoyed meeting both families and seeing whether Anthony would ever agree to a relationship, or give in to Christmas given he has reasons to not like this time of year. 

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

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Q&A - Interview between Sue Moorcroft and M.W. Arnold - #BlogTour @rararesources @gilbster1000

Today I have the always wonderful Sue Moorcroft guest interviewing M.W. Arnold, a debut author and member of #TeamMoorcroft on The Season For Love blog tour. Over to you....

How does it feel to be joining the ranks of the traditionally published authors? How long have you wanted this?

For a 'supposed' author, I'm actually lost for words and until it's actually released, I guess you could say that I'm still waiting for it to all fall through. I can't tell you how many of my writing friends have told me not to be so silly when I say that. Actually, it's really not something I thought would happen so soon. I only joined the Romantic Novelists Association, New Writer's Scheme in 2013 after starting to write semi-seriously the previous year, so I've only thought about getting published since around that time.

Tell us something about The Season for Love.

'The Season for Love' is actually the second book I've finished and, so far, the only one where the last paragraph was the first thing I'd written. That's as far as the planning or it went, I'm not a 'Planster' I'm afraid to say. I've tried it since, and for this one too, but it only goes as far as jotting notes on the bottom of the page I'm writing as they come to me, though only about say, 40% of the time do they actually make the story. I expect I could get a sequel out of the notes I have stored away for this book.

What made you choose to write romantic fiction?

I'm a huge fan of the late and very great Terry Pratchett, but my Lady Wife read 'The Xmas Factor' by Annie Sanders and she insisted I read it, now. So, and more to humour her I have to admit, I did...in one sitting. Then read again. The morning after that second reading, I felt the need to write. I had no idea what I was going to write, just that I had to write. I was finally pulled from my old laptop late the same evening and I'd the start of what would be my first book. That's unpubished, and I now know why, though I would like to come back to it as the story is good, but by gum, the writing needs improvement. That was in this genre because of that book I'd read, and since then, this has been my genre of choice. It helps that I really am an old-fashioned romantic. I like to think I've found my calling.

Where can readers buy your book?

I've been lucky and 'The Season for Love' is being released on both sides of the Atlantic on the same day, December 16th. It's available on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords, Bookstrand and the Passion in Print (the publishing house I'm signed with for this book) website. And seeing as you were so kind to ask, here are the links:

Amazon US - tinyurl.com/ya88xjn3

Amazon UK - tinyurl.com/y9a3jzft

Barnes & Noble - tinyurl.com/yaqhy3lp

Bookstrand - tinyurl.com/yaddlwfv

Smashwords - tinyurl.com/yarnr484

What jobs have you had apart from 'author'?

For the first fifteen years of my working life, I worked for Her Majesty, Queen Elisabeth II. That sounds very impressive, doesn't it? It's not quite so much when I elaborate. I was actually in the Royal Air Force, so it counts. Nothing so fancy as a pilot, I was office staff, but I did serve on flying squadrons and saw quite a lot of the world, which was kind of the point as I wanted to travel.

Do you have a day job now?

After leaving the RAF, I started working with computers and that's what I do now. It pays the bills, so far, though I'd be fibbing if I didn't say I'd love to be able to earn my livng writing.

Have you told your day job colleagues about The Season for Love?

Yep. They all know and after getting their heads around the genre I've chosen to write in, have all been very supportive. One of them was actually a beta reader for this book and says it's encouraged them to write (not that they have yet), so that's good.

Do you have much time for reading? What do you read?

I don't have as much time for reading now as I did before I started writing, though I do try to read at least during my lunch break, it helps to clear the mind for an afternoons work. When I do read, it's very much in the Romance genre. It won't come as a surprise to those of you reading this that I'm a big fan of Sue's books and consider her very much a benchmark I'd like to aspire to attaining. Whenever I feel the need for a break from romance though, I always go back to Mr Pratchett, with a sideways trip into the Harry Potters too.

Is there another M. W. Arnold book coming along any time soon?

Currently, I'm finishing off 'Knicker Shopper Glory', which I expect to start sending out in the hope of getting a publishing deal for that in the New Year. So, yes, if anyone's out there, read's 'The Season for Love' you know where to find me. Whatever happens, I am determined to get that second deal as soon as possible.

Thank you so much Sue and M.W. Arnold for this enlightening interview. I am very much hoping that "Knicker Shopper Glory" really is the your next title as it keeps making me smile! 

Believing she was responsible for the death of her husband, Chrissie Stewart retreats from all those who love her. A chance meeting with mysterious stranger, single-parent Josh Morgan and his bewitching young daughter Lizzy, breathe new life into her and gradually, she feels able to start to let go of the memory of her lost love. Unexpected links are revealed between the two families that strengthen the growing bonds she feels to this man and with the encouragement of her best friend Annie, herself hiding a hidden conflict from Chrissie, she battles with her demons to believe in her ability to trust and love again. Everything comes to a head on Christmas Day; which all goes to show that this is truly The Season for Love.

Author Bio – Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England, and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the Royal Air Force, before putting down roots, and realising how much he missed the travel. This, he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and writing a regular post at the www.NovelKicks.co.uk blog site.

He’s the proud keeper of a cat bent on world domination, is mad on the music of the Beach Boys and enjoys the theatre and humouring his Manchester United supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, with the forthcoming publication of his debut novel The Season for Love.

About Sue Moorcroft - Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award and been nominated for others, including a ‘RoNA’ (Romantic Novel Award). Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies.

She also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.
The daughter of two soldiers, Sue was born in Germany and went on to spend much of her childhood in Malta and Cyprus. She likes reading, Zumba, FitStep, yoga, and watching Formula 1.

Follow Sue Moorcroft on Twitter | Website

Take a look at the rest of the blog tour being organised by my alter ego Rachel's Random Resources

Guest Post - What to buy an author for Christmas by Erin Green - #BlogTour via @gilbster1000

What to buy an author for Christmas – my top five wish list!

The countdown to Christmas has begun so here’s my top five goodies on my Santa list (I have been a good girl, I promise). I shall hang a woolly stocking up and hope for the best!

Number 5
More stationery. Seriously, for other women it seems to be shoes or handbags, with me this is the item that I sneak into the house under the cover of darkness hoping that husband doesn’t notice yet another Paperchase bag or a fabric covered notebook, A4 size, feint ruled, with decorative ribbon. I love the feel, the sight and most of all the smell of new stationery. I use my authorship as an excuse, of course. I say that it’s the tools of my trade, like scissors to a hairdresser, or trowel to a bricklayer…  Other stationery nerds will understand, I am not alone. The thrill of receiving a new note book, regardless of how many I have, never fails to make me happy.

Number 4
A constant supply of teabags! I am a self-confessed tea monster and consume copious amounts on a writing day. I regularly photograph freshly made mugs of tea, usually in pairs, and post them on social media as I consume them so quickly whilst writing. I think my true role in life is knitting tea into words. Three weeks ago, I actually ran out and spent 49 minutes ransacking the house in search of a hotel sachet to calm my nerves. I posted a plea on Twitter for an emergency supply and quick delivery – my prayers were soon answered. I’ve not fussy regards the brand, so I’m not difficult to buy for.

Number 3
An electric pencil sharpener like the ones they have in primary schools. I really want one of these but can’t justify the expense for a sturdy-last-a-lifetime one as I don’t hand write my manuscripts, though when I do it is in pencil (a poor attempt at justifying there). I keep promising myself that one day I will write an entire manuscript in long hand rather than type as I’m told an additional editing process occurs between brain and hand during the first draft so until then I’ll have to dream that Santa will deliver.

Number 2
An extra hour a day so I can write for longer than I do, would be appreciated. I figure that the twenty-four hour clock needs revamping, twenty-five hours a day is more rounded and would suit my needs. In October, when the clocks go back I love that additional hour so why tease me with it being just once a year. Though I hate the reversal in March! I understand the science behind it, I’m simply dreaming of a Utopia.

Number 1

An invisibility cloak. I could walk amongst readers in libraries, on trains and cafes to watch their expression whilst reading my book. I find people watching fascinating. I love the micro-expressions that occur when they are absorbed in a book, the puckering frown, the twitch of a bottom lip or the excitement in their eyes. I’d just love to linger and watch. I’ve received many messages and emails from readers but to actually witness their enjoyment would be awesome.

Hmm Erin, as much as I would love to help you out, I don't know Harry Potter personally to persuade him to hand over his invisbility cloak, but if you ever find the answer to more hours in the day please come back and share it with us all! Thank you so much. 

Genre: Romance Contemporary
Release Date: 1st August 2017
Publisher: Aria Fiction/Head of Zeus
 Flora Phillips has an excuse for every disaster in her life; she was abandoned as a new-born on a doorstep one cold autumn night, wrapped in nothing but a towel. Her philosophy is simple: if your mother doesn't want you – who will? 
Now a thirty-year-old, without a boyfriend, a career or home she figures she might as well tackle the biggest question of them all – who is she? So, whilst everyone else enjoys their Christmas Eve traditions, Flora escapes the masses and drives to the village of Pooley to seek a specific doorstep. Her doorstep. 
But in Pooley she finds more than her life story. She finds friends, laughter, and perhaps even a love to last a lifetime. Because once you know where you come from, it's so much easier to know where you're going. 
A story of redemption and love, romance and Christmas dreams-come-true, the perfect novel to snuggle up with this festive season.
Erin was born and raised in Warwickshire, where she resides with her husband. An avid reader since childhood, her imagination was instinctively drawn to creative writing as she grew older. Erin has two Hons degrees: BA English literature and another BSc Psychology – her previous careers have ranged from part-time waitress, the retail industry, fitness industry and education. She has an obsession about time, owns several tortoises and an infectious laugh!
Erin’s writes contemporary novels focusing on love, life and laughter. Erin is an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and was delighted to be awarded The Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017. An ideal day for Erin involves writing, people watching and drinking copious amounts of tea.
Twitter: @ErinGreenAuthor

A signed copy of the book for 5 lucky winners! (UK only)

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Book Review - What Happens at Christmas by Evonne Wareham - Blog Blitz

Amazon UK
Title: What Happens At Christmas
Author: Evonne Wareham
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Choc Lit
Publication Date: 5th December 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

A Christmas to remember 
Lori France and her four-year-old niece Misty are settling in to spend the holidays away after unexpected events leave them without a place to stay. 

Best-selling author Andrew Vitruvius knows that any publicity is good publicity. His agent tells him that often, so it must be true. In the run-up to Christmas, she excels herself - talking him into the craziest scheme yet: getting himself kidnapped, live on TV.

Little do they know they’re about to make a discovery and experience a Christmas they’re not likely to forget …

What an incredibly addictive and impressive book - its very different to the soft fluffy Christmas titles out there, and that is in part what will set this book apart. 

It is gritty, there is action, I honestly wasn't completely convinced I was going to get the ending I wanted, and although Christmas does feature, its not your typical Christmas either. 

There is nothing predictable about this book, it kept me guessing throughout, especially in regards to Andrew who was by far my favourite character. He is a best selling author, love adrenalin and risky adventures that sometimes end up in his books, so when his agent suggests he takes part in a series of high profile staged celebrity kidnappings and raise money for charity at the same time - he can't help but give in. 

However nothing particularly goes according to plan. In the mean time Lori has an unexpected guest of her young niece for Christmas. However she is also having her house refurbished after the floods, and ends up staying in an unexpected location in the Brecon Beacons this Christmas. 

As the stories converge, a friendship of sorts forms between Drew and Lori, only for their stories to diverge again equally quickly after Christmas for various reasons. This is a book that contains two Christmases, and the passing of over a year of time too. 

This was the first book I have read by Evonne Wareham and I am no wondering why I haven't read any of her back catalogue, which is something I will attempt to fix eventually.  

Thoroughly enjoyable, this was a refreshing change from the other festive titles out this year and really captured my imagination. 

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

Evonne Wareham was born in Barry on the South Wales coast, but spent most of her working life in London. Now home again in Wales she is studying for a PhD in History and writing romance. She was a finalist in two reality writing contests in the United States and had a great time, even if she didn’t win. When not studying or writing, she loves to travel, go to the theatre, walk on the beach and sleep. She has won and been nominated for awards for her romantic suspense novels on both sides of the Atlantic, and is now also writing romantic comedy with a light dusting of crime - which is a change of pace from writing the dark scary stuff. She is a member of both the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, which means she gets to go to twice as many literary parties.

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