Friday, 24 March 2017

Guest Post - Extreme Celebrity Weddings by Wendy Holden - Blog Tour

Is there anything better than a really fabulously over-the-top celebrity wedding? I don’t think so, which is why I’ve written a novel about them. Laura Lake And The Hipster Weddings is a riff on the phenomenon of elaborately over-styled nuptials, from boho-chic woodland affairs with guests on haybales to castles, tiaras and ancestral carriages, or arty extravaganzas in Victorian loos in Shoreditch.

Writing it, I was inspired by a number of recent real-life unions of famousness. The twenty first century has marked a new high in hedonistic high jinks on a marital theme and long may this continue! Here are my top five.

5. The bohotastic Charlie Gilmour nuptials when the bride and groom (stepson of Pink Floyd star Dave), wearing only the flowers in their hair, jumped starkers into a Sussex river in 2016 to join guests already in there.

4. Tamara Ecclestone and Jay Rutland Billionaire Bernie’s little girl Tamara made it legal in a lavish three day 2013 French Riviera extravaganza. Brandishing a champagne flute and wearing three separate white outfits over the course of the celebrations, Tamara danced on the beach with a groom resplendent in white shorts and blue deck shoes. A banging post-wedding beach set was provided by superstar DJ Mark Ronson, while wedding singers were Elton John, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. Lionel dedicated Endless Love to the couple, although it might as well have been Endless Money.

3. Bo Bruce’s cosmic Celtic handfasting in Savernake Forest. Under a mighty oak called The King of Limbs, and watched by guests sitting on haybales and conveyed into the depths of the forest by tractor, The Voice star wed her best friend/bandmate/ Henry (the groom wore no socks) in a 2016 ceremony involving their hands being bound together with ribbons. The magical nuptials were full of creative touches; besides poetry readings there was an acoustic performance by Red Sky July, a trio including someone called Charity Hair.

2: Andrea Casiraghi and Tatiana Santo Domingo. An intimate 2013 ceremony in the stunningly understated location that is Monaco. The sunglasses-sporting groom’s arrival in an army jeep kicked off three days of celebrations including a party on Princess Caroline’s yacht. To wed the second in line to Monaco’s throne, Colombian billionaire’s daughter Tatiana sported her signature laid-back hippie-chic style; a bespoke crochet gown by Missoni and a simple wreath of flowers on hair styled in flowing waves. The couple’s Boston terrier dog Daphne was in attendance.

1: Will and Kate The splendid 2011 Westminster Abbey bash with Prince William and his brother showcasing splendid red uniforms and Pippa Middleton showcasing her famous bottom has yet to be equalled for sheer showbiz glamour. The cartwheeling verger, Princess Beatrice’s alien hat, the real trees in the cathedral aisle and David Beckham actually wearing his OBE are only some of the details that linger in the memory. Can Prince Harry’s rumoured forthcoming nuptials knock it off the number one spot?

Laura Lake And The Hipster Wedding by Wendy Holden, published in hardback and ebook by Head of Zeus

Thanks so much Wendy for these great examples of extreme weddings. For more amusing weddings, take a look at Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings which I loved.

Amazon UK
She'll need a triple-barrelled name for the castle one. She'll need a gallon of glitter for the woodland one. She'll need a lobster-shaped hat for the Shoreditch one.

Laura Lake longs to be a journalist. Instead she's an unpaid intern at a glossy magazine – sleeping in the fashion cupboard and living on canapĂ©s. But she's just got her first big break: infiltrate three society weddings and write a juicy exposĂ©.

Security will be tighter than a bodycon dress, but how hard can it be? Cue disappearing brides, demanding socialites – and a jealous office enemy who will do anything to bring her down...

Win free signed copies of Laura Lake And The Hipster Weddings by sharing your own hilarious wedding stories with me! I can't wait to read them! They might even inspire another novel! Please go to  Thank you.  Love Wendy xx

Book Review - The House on Sunset Lake by Tasmina Perry

Amazon UK
Title: The House on Sunset Lake
Author: Tasmina Perry
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 23rd March 2017
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Casa D'Or, the mysterious plantation house on Sunset Lake, has been in the Wyatt family for over fifty years. Jennifer Wyatt returns there from university full of hope, as summer by the lake stretches ahead of her. Yet by the time it is over her heart will be broken, her family in tatters, her dreams long gone.

Twenty years later, Casa D'Or stands neglected, a victim of tragic events. Jennifer has closed the door on her past. Then Jim, the man she met and fell in love with that magical summer, comes back into her life, with a plan to return Casa D'Or to its former glory. Their reunion will stir up old ghosts for both of them, and reveal the dark secrets the house still holds close...

What an evocative story of romance, suspense, intrigue, secrets, family and a whole lot more, in a story spanning a twenty year gap.

The majority of the book is set around Casa D'Or on Sunset Lake, and is was great to see how this one house, could feature in so many key bits of two people's history.  For it is central to Jim and Jennifer's story both in 1994 and now in the present too. 

Some of the book is set in the 90s and the rest in the present, and I loved both parts of it, as together it tells you all about Jim, Jennifer, and their families, past and present.  It didn't take too long into the book for me to be gripped by the fabulous writing, and the story, while suspecting there would be some surprises along the way. 

Casa D'Or is in Savannah, Georgia, which is a part of the US that I haven't really encountered much in fiction before. With this book I got a great feel for the climate and feel for the area, even if my knowledge o the town doesn't really extend much past this property. 

But the book isn't just set in Savannah, there is also plenty in New York, and then there are some scenes on a Caribbean island, that I believe to be entirely fictional, but no less gorgeous than real life. 

I enjoyed seeing the contrast in how the years have treated Jim and Jennifer, from their younger ideals, to the man and women in their forties now. There are many parts of story that are hinted at, but its only in the last third or so where everything comes together and you see just how good and clever the majority of the book has been! 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The House on Sunset Lake, and its definitely a return to form for Tasmina Perry, although I do still prefer her big blockbuster books, this has some of the feel of one, with the destinations and intrigue, but was missing the lashings of sex! 

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

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Book Review - The Escape by C.L. Taylor

Amazon UK
Title:  The Escape
Author: C.L.  Taylor
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon 
Publication Date: 23rd March 2017 
Rating: 5 Stars

"Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"
When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.

The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

Wonderfully immersive piece of writing that has had me continually pondering exactly what may be the truth, all the while absorbed in this fabulous book. 

There is a great deal of tension from the first page, which is just what I want from this sort of book, and the sense of danger, or there being something not quite right with all the presented information doesn't leave me at all. 

Jo Blackmore appears as though she could be a rather unreliable narrator, given she admits to a few mental health problems including panic attacks and a form of agoraphobia. She often seems rather paranoid, right from the start, so it is really hard to know whether you should be believing everything she says. However as she is the main point of view, I found I was taking everything at face value, while the depths of my brain was working on if there were any holes. 

Whatever you feel about Jo, there is one thing for certain, she believes her daughter, Elise is in danger, and that she is too, and she isn't really sure what to do, as it seems that no one else believes her, and very slowly her life is turning into a living nightmare, and she decides that life on the run is for the best...

Having learnt from previous books by C.L. Taylor, I made sure that I set aside a day to read this where I would be ideally uninterrupted so that I could relish every second I spent reading The Escape, and I finished it far quicker than I was expecting. I completely lost track of the time, and read it in one sitting and found the writing to be compulsive reading. I needed to know what was going to happen next at all times. 

I feel as though I had been alongside Jo on this journey, and that her ups and downs were mine. I feel exhausted for having gone through what she has, even if I was only reading about it.  This is possibly the best book C.L. Taylor has written, probably eclipsing even The Lie in my affections. 

This is everything that the author does well, writes a compelling story that draws you in, until it becomes a part of you. I am so impressed by The Escape and can't believe that I have finished it already, and will have to wait ages for another book by the author. 

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

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Book Review - Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: Puzzle Girl
Author: Rachael Featherstone
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Accent Press
Publication Date: 16th March 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

Love is a riddle waiting to be solved…

Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything.

When she finds herself stuck in a doctor’s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious ‘puzzle-man’ behind it.

Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. 

Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

I was attracted to this book, the first moment I saw it on twitter, as I am a huge fan of puzzles. I thought the concept of using a puzzle book to convey messages to a random stranger was intriguing and I was very interested to see how it would all play out. 

What I don't think I fully realised was that the puzzle book in question was in a doctor's surgery, well more of a drop in centre, and that for Cassy to keep returning to the book to see if her puzzle boy has replied, would involve her conjuring up all sorts of excuses for visiting the surgery. 

While she is arguably making a fool of herself at the drop in centre, she is also trying her hardest to gain a promotion at work, and hates her rival with a passion. They have an interesting rivalry but yet are you see elements of arch enemy Martin, you have to wonder whether you are seeing a different person to the one that Cassy hates. 

There was a least one sub plot that I had guesses the outcome to a mile off, to the extent that I almost rolled my eye when it was revealed, but the actual identity of her mystery man, was concealed reasonably well for a good amount of the book at least.  My main issue was I just didn't really feel like the two puzzle fiends really had that much of a connection, so made the ending of the book for me not a fabulous as it could have been. 

A fair amount of this book seemed to take place on the DLR (for those not familiar with London, that is the Docklands Light Railway that features driverless trains), and as Cassy it thinking on her commute her thoughts are regularly interrupted by the next station announcements. This is a familiar enough occurrence, but whether it needed to be stated every single time she was on a DLR I'm unsure, unless the idea is to get the level of annoyance with the announcements that the average commuter probably feels. 

With those exceptions I thought that Puzzle Girl was a largely polished debut, that I really enjoyed reading, and following the life of Cassy as she tries to recover from her big break up, and all the ups and downs of her working life. There are definitely some laughs to be had and its generally an entertaining story. 

Thank you to Accent Press for this copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Author Bio:

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. After reading Mathematics at New College, Oxford university, Rachael went to work in research. When Rachael's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfil a life time ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published. Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her Husband, Tim. Puzzle Girl is Rachael's debut novel. 

Check out Rachael Featherstone on Facebook & Twitter

Puzzle Girl & Puzzle Boy are also on twitter!

Take a look at the other blogs also on the Puzzle Girl blog tour. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Guest Post - All About Bubbles by Malcolm Howard - Blog Tour

My ex-wife Della (affectionately known as Delilah) was working as a Governess for the sixth richest family in France and skyped me one day for story ideas. The precocious offspring had soaked up everything she ever knew, or could find in storybooks, and still they wanted more. It was Delilah’s fault – she is a great storyteller.

Delilah was working in this Chateau in the Alps and I was staying nearby in a place called ‘the funny house’ (to get upstairs you had to go out the front door and up an outdoor staircase). “Can you write me a story” she said. 

Looking out of my window I could see the old abandoned schoolhouse in the village. ‘Monday’ was the first story, which was followed by Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday and Friday over the next few weeks.

One of my favourite books when I was young was “Angelique and the King” so I picked the name for my schoolteacher. I suppose she was based on Delilah. The long legs and long arms were necessary to reach the bubbles on the high shelf, which was out of the reach of children, and the enormous spectacles enabled her to be ‘all seeing’.

The story exists in three different dimensions. Reality is the parents bringing the children to school and collecting them. The presence of the ‘fabulous’ creatures within the schoolroom is insulated from the reality of the outside world by the bubbles. The bubbles are also the gateway to the third dimension; the adventures in dreamland, where Mrs Buttercup is Angelique’s alter ego in looking after the children. 

The fun with the bubbles is in the combination of names given to the bubbles depending on their effect, and also the effect of a cocktail of different bubbles. The bubbles provide this ‘portal’ between different dimensions of the story. The current book is very much a pilot project and the effect and significance of the bubbles will be expanded in future tales.

The one guideline Delilah gave me was that every good story should have a ‘moral’. I like to think that has been followed but not at the expense of fun and adventure. I also like to think that the safety and wellbeing of children, in this day and age, is seen to be protected.

In case you’re wondering; Delilah and I would be celebrating our 40th ‘Divorce Anniversary this year. Unfortunately I haven’t a clue on which date the decree absolute came through! 

We are now the best of friends. We have two sons, Don and Jim aged 47 and 45 and a 17-year old Grandson, who is half French.

Angelique has long thin legs, long thin arms and a turned-up nose on which sits an enormous pair of spectacles. Her spectacles are so big that they look like magnifying glasses and make her eyes look very large. She normally wears black shoes, a blue dress and a red scarf, and she had just been awarded all her Certificates and Diplomas to become a teacher. But she needs a job. Returning to her home village at the foothills of the French Alps, Angelique finds her childhood school has closed! All she needs is determination, enthusiasm and ten pupils to re-open the school and realise her dreams. But Angelique soon realises that her daily adventures have only just begun.

About the author: 

Now retired Malcolm Howard lives in Walton-On-Thames Surrey. Malcolm has enjoyed a varied career from being a part of the Queens Surrey Regiment, to moving to the French Alps where he set up a Ski High School, now part of the British Ski Academy, before returning to Surrey to work for the probation service. In his spare time he continues to lend a hand at the local Council as well as visit the mountains in France where his son still lives.

Please follow along with the rest of the Bubbles Blog Tour:

Book Review - The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

Amazon UK
Title:  The Idea of You
Author: Amanda Prowse
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: 21st March 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…

Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?

Having just finished this this wonderful book, I have a lump in my throat and tears are just pricking at my eyelids. It is another masterpiece from the incredibly talented Amanda Prowse, and this time the theme of the book is parenthood and family. 

The writing is beautiful and draws you into the story right from the start. It was the perfect way for me to spend a Sunday afternoon, utterly absorbed in Lucy Carpenter's story with new husband Jonah and step daughter Camille. 

There are some incredibly emotional topics surrounding parenthood, including the desperate need to have a baby, and what happens when things go slightly wrong. There were certainly some surprises along the way in the book which just added to the unputdownability for me. 

Interspersed with the chapters which are all from Lucy's point of view, there are little letters are so filled with emotion, but you aren't fully sure initially just who they are to. I loved finding out the reasoning behind them, while really feeling for the writer of the letters. 

I was hooked on Lucy's journey in The Idea of You, feeling very closely both her ups and her downs. There are some light hearted moments in the book, to balance out all of the emotion. There are also blazing rows as tempers are high. It really is a roller coaster of feelings for all characters in this book. 

The topics discussed in this book are ones that the majority of people will be able to easily identify with, or know people that have gone through the same things. However  it was just hard for me to fully feel for the characters never having had children myself, but even with that drawback, I was still engrossed in the book, and enjoyed it thoroughly. 

I may have said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again but I am so glad that I discovered Amanda Prowse as an author a few years ago. Since then I have read a multitude of amazing books by her, and although this may not be my favourite, it is no less brilliant. I would eagerly recommend this book to anyone that wants to read a book with a lot of heart, that is well written and that will have you thinking afterwards. 

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

Monday, 20 March 2017

Book Review - The Jackdaw by Luke Delaney - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #57

Amazon UK
Title: The Jackdaw
Author: Luke Delaney
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 12th March 2015
Rating: 4.5 Stars

The fourth novel in the DI Sean Corrigan series – authentic and terrifying crime fiction with a psychological edge, by an ex-Met detective. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham, Peter James and Stuart MacBride.

Guilty or not guilty?

A lone vigilante is abducting wealthy Londoners and putting their fate in the hands of the public. Within hours of disappearing, the victims appear on the internet, bound to a chair in a white room.

Revenge or mercy?

Their crimes of greed and incompetence are broadcast to the watching thousands who make up the jury. Once the verdict is cast, the man who calls himself ‘The Jackdaw’ will be judge and executioner.

Live or die?

DI Sean Corrigan and his Special Investigations Unit are under pressure to solve this case fast. But as The Jackdaw’s popularity grows, Corrigan realizes he’s hunting a dangerously clever and elusive adversary – one who won’t stop until his mission is complete.

Impressive fourth book in the DI Sean Corrigan series, which could easily work as a standalone, although to really feel like you know Sean and his team, it could be recommended to have read previous books. 

I have to give great kudos to Luke Delaney in creating perhaps one of the most complex villains I've read about ever. The Jackdaw as he becomes known has seemingly plotted and predicted everything , while at the same time is eager to show what he is doing off to a large audience. 

I suspect that only the most devoted of thriller fans will be able to work out who The Jackdaw is before the finale, I will admit I didn't have even the slightest clue in any direction, but was sitting there with awe at how police detectives were going about solving this incredibly complex case. 

The last 100 pages or so were pretty much unputdownable, and before that I was very gripped by the story, and what was going on with DI Corrigan and his team. There are plenty of characters who popped up intermittently presumable just to show how the public's reaction to the Jackdaw was changing over time, and these are people from all walks of life. 

Similarly it makes a change that the victims I didn't immediately have sympathy for, although that may just be because I didn't feel as though I got to know them that well. 

The Jackdaw is another very strong entry into this series that keeps delighting me every time I read one. I am really hoping this isn't the last we have seen of DI Sean Corrigan,  as I love the department he heads up and it really does show how twisted some people's minds are. 

Thank you to those of you that voted for The Jackdaw. This is  a series that I started on holiday a year or so ago, and have finally caught up to where it is. I  love the depth of these crimes and the ability to try to look into the criminal's psyche. Really looking forward to seeing what will win this week. 

Rachel Reads Randomly - Vote #58

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

1 Votes - Pendulum by Adam Handy
2 Votes -  Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
2 Votes - Friends, Lies and Alibis by Debby Holt
3 Votes -   Dog Soldiers by Isabel George
4 Votes - The Jackdaw by Luke Delaney

Thank you so much everyone for your votes last week. I'm getting the impression they weren't the most known books in my collection, but always good to hear about new books. I loved The Jackdaw which has one of the best villains I've read about for ages! 

This week I've decided we are going to randomise from books published in 2017, I figure if I can slowly keep on top of what I've been buying this year, it would be good.

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:

10 - Rosie's Little Cafe on the Riviera by Jennifer Bohnet - This is a title that keep tormenting me on my TBR, it sounds as though it should be fab and I love books featuring cafes and also the French Riviera. 
15 - Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French - I absolutely loved the first book on The Chapelwick Mysteries series, and I'm just trying to find time to read this second book. 
17 - Prime Justice by Mel Comley - Can't believe this is book 14 already on a series that I have been loving since book 1. I can't wait to read the next installment of DI Lorne Warner
20 - Playing by the Rules by Rosa Temple - I've really enjoyed the previous two books I have read by this author, and looking forward to the time to start this one
22 - Sins of the Father by Sheryl Browne - I love Sheryl Browne's books and this is another book that I'm really looking forward to reading. I need to know what happens next to DI Matthew Adams. 

Wow this for me has to be the most exciting selection that has popped up for a few weeks. I would be so happy with any of these books winning, however equally I fear this ending up as a tie, as I just wouldn't be able to pick between them.. which could lead to a lot of weekend reading for me!  All I can say if please do take part, have a say, it doesn't matter if you have read it yourself or not, just if you have anything drawing you to one book or another, please have a comment..its only fun and I never blame you all if I don't like the book! 

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

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

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

How is this going to work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Cover Reveal - Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

I am a huge fan of Sue Moorcroft and absolutely loved her Christmas book last year The Christmas Promise,so imagine how excited I must be feeling right about now, knowing that I'm about to share with you the cover of her latest book!


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

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

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

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

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

Available for Pre-Order on Amazon UK

I absolutely love the look of this cover, and think it feels very summery. Really loving the sound of this book, and we all know I enjoy stories set abroad, so think this may be a winner for me. Rest assured this won't be the last you will see of this book on Rachel's Random Reads!

Book Review - The Second Chance Tea Shop by Fay Keenan - Fab Firsts

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

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

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

This is the debut novel by Fay Keenan, and I suspect what could be the first of many set in Little Somerby. 
Amazon UK
Title: The Second Chance Tea Shop
Author: Fay Keenan
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 10th March 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

Following the tragic death of her beloved husband, Anna Hemingway decides it's time for a fresh start. So Anna and her three-year-old daughter Ellie move to a picture-perfect cottage in the beautiful village of Little Somerby, and when she takes over the running of the village tea shop, Ellie and Anna start to find happiness again.

But things get complicated when Matthew Carter, the owner of the local cider farm, enters their lives. Throughout a whirlwind year of village fetes and ancient wassails, love, laughter, apple pie and new memories, life slowly blossoms again. But when tragedy strikes and history seems to be repeating itself, Anna must find the strength to hold onto the new life she has built.

This beautiful, life-affirming debut novel marks the beginning of the Little Somerby series, and promises to make you smile, cry, reach for a cream tea, and long for a life in the perfect English countryside.

Well this is a story that started off reasonably well, not spectacularly but was enjoyable enough, and then as it progressed and especially for the second half, it became more and more enthralling and I found myself thoroughly enjoying what was happening. 

As much though as I liked Anna and Matthew and was willing them together, to me the stars of the book were Ellie and Merry. Ellie is Anna's 3 year old daughter, and she comes out with some absolute classic lines. I love the innoncece of young children, and Ellie was just entertaining on all levels. 

Merry is Matthews teenage daughter, and she takes an instant liking to Anna, and is determined to matchmake the adults. She is wonderful with Ellie and has her own challenges to face later in the book. 

Despite them both having children, they are both single parents. Anna was widowed two years ago, and Matthew is divorced with his ex living in America. Anna has moved to Little Somerby where she grew up, to try to move on with her life, and has taken over the tea shop in town. 

Despite the tea shop being a hub of the community, I disappointingly didn't really feel that enamoured with what was being sold. Having read many books set in tea shops in the past few months, the one thing the usually all have is the ability to make me drool for some sort of food, but it didn't really happen in this book, which I found a bit surprising. 

However I did love the locals that came into the shop, and Anna slowly builds a great support network, and falls into a good routine of life, and getting to know her regulars. 

Although I found this book quite easy to read, I couldn't help but feel at times especially at the beginning that it felt a bit on the long side. It may just be that I hadn't really got into the swing of the book, but I felt the percentage meter just wasn't going up as fast as I was expecting, for how much I had read. As the book progressed it bothered me less and less, but to me it seems like the biggest indicator that for me the book was a slow starter. 

Despite my niggles, I did really enjoy The Second Chance Tea Shop, and I think this author has a lot of promise. I am definitely interested to see if there will be another book set in Little Somerby and to return to this village and some of the characters. 

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