Thursday, 24 August 2017

Book Review - The Lemon Tree Cafe by Cathy Bramley - - Blog Tour - #AroundTheUKIn144Books,#Derbyshire

Amazon UK
Title: The Lemon Tree Cafe
Author: Cathy Bramley
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Corgi
Publication Date: 24th August 2017 
Rating: 5 Stars

When Rosie Featherstone finds herself unexpectedly jobless, the offer to help her beloved Italian grandmother out at the Lemon Tree Cafe – a little slice of Italy nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire – feels like the perfect way to keep busy.

Surrounded by the rich scent of espresso, delicious biscotti and juicy village gossip, Rosie soon finds herself falling for her new way of life. But she is haunted by a terrible secret, one that even the appearance of a handsome new face can't quite help her move on from. 

Then disaster looms and the cafe’s fortunes are threatened . . . and Rosie discovers that her nonna has been hiding a dark past of her own. With surprises, betrayal and more than one secret brewing, can she find a way to save the Lemon Tree Cafe and help both herself and Nonna achieve the happy endings they deserve?

The Lemon Tree is Cathy Bramley at her magnificent best. From the first page where I was gasping and giggling at what turned out to be a double entendre (and not the only one in the early chapters), to the drama of the entirety of part 3 - Tea and Sympathy, to the huge community minded village events, plus a popular returning character from the Plumberry School of Comfort Food book, and all manner of other goodies inside! 

When Rosie took a stand in her social media marketing job, she goes back home to her Nonna's cafe and offers to work for a month as a favour to her grandmother, and secretly to perhaps organise the place a bit better, while trying to get a new job. 

I loved The Lemon Tree Cafe with its two great waitresses and of course Rosie's Nonna, Maria. Maria is a remarkably private person and I never guessed exactly what she was hiding until it was revealed. Neither did I fully guess just why Rosie doesn't trust men, and it was surprises like these that made this book so gripping. 

From about the 50% mark onwards the book was impossible to put down, as I was already engrossed with the characters, and the story just seemed to ramp up as it progressed. I was loving the warmth and vitality that the author brings to her characters, and just stepping into this novel felt like a comforting hug. 

And of course you can't have a book review, about a book focusing on an Italian cafe, without mentioning food, it sounded delicious. As a word of warning if you are a huge fan of pizza you will love certain aspects of this book without a doubt, and may have your fingers itching to reach and call for your local delivery service! 

The pacing of this book was just right, and conveniently for the purpose of it having been released in four parts, there were little intrigue or mini cliffhangers as you came to the end of each part, which added to the grippiness of this book, as I could just continue turning the pages to see what would happen next. 

I absolutely adored every second of The Lemon Tree Cafe, from its moments to make you laugh, to the deep secrets that shocked me, and the overwhelming sense of family and community I felt from the book. This is an addictive book, that is quick to read and will leave you craving your next Cathy Bramley fix. 

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

Please take a look at the blog tour for more The Lemon Tree Cafe goodness! 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Book Review - A Castle in Cornwall by Laura Briggs

Amazon UK
Title: A Castle in Cornwall
Author: Laura Briggs
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Self published 
Publication Date: 12th July 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

Just when everything is finally perfect for Julianne, a sudden request has her helpless in the face of giving up the life she loves most. The only thing distracting her from the future is her current assignment: a secret royal wedding at a southern Cornish castle, where Lord William's cousin needs all the available help she can find to ensure its success.

Now Julianne and the rest of Cliffs House's staff — including special guests Pippa and Dinah — are helping bring together a English royal cousin and a European prince for their special day ... only Julianne finds herself drawn into the event more deeply than she intended when she becomes the accidental confident of the bride-to-be's secret dilemma.

Will Julianne's advice save a royal wedding from disaster? Or will her personal life — and the dilemma she and Matt are facing at the end of the summer — stand in the way of happily-ever-after?

If I wasn't aware of book 7 in this series about to be published, I would be saying that this is a fabulous conclusion to the series. If feels like a lot of the loose ends from the previous books have been tied up, and even the message to the reader at the start of the book implies that the next one will feel a bit different. 

In fact already A Castle in Cornwall had a slightly different feel to it, partly as it wasn't really set at Cliff House, but in a castle elsewhere in Cornwall, and features far too much of a royal wedding, and a cast of characters involved in that, that I really didn't care for. 

I was far more interested in Julianne and Kitty's character and story development, than the main event being planned. In fact I found I was loving Kitty's sections a lot, even if the play her community theatre group was putting on, really wasn't to my taste. 

This is another good novella in the series, and although I wasn't keen on the characters involved in planning the royal wedding, I did start to like the bride and Julianne's interactions, especially when Julianne stumbles across something she isn't meant to know.  

As a fan of the series it was great to see Dinah and Pippa both return to help out  with this wedding, as well as seeing all the recurring characters. We also have the first introduction to the new chef at Cliffs House, and I wonder just where he will fit into future books. 

This was not my favourite book in the series, but it still adds to the series, and draws some series story arcs to a more rounded finish. 

Thank you to Laura Briggs for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Book Review - The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas

Amazon UK
Title: The Honey Farm on the Hill
Author: Jo Thomas
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: 24th August 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

We never forget the one who got away.

Eighteen years ago Nell fell in love in the mountains of Crete and life changed for ever. Nell's daughter, Demi, has never met her dad. Nell never saw him again.

When she gets the chance to return to the hilltop town of Vounoplagia - where everything began - Nell can't resist the urge to go back and find him.

Working on a honey farm perched high up in the hills, there's plenty to keep her busy. And she will quickly realise the town harbours just as many secrets as she does.

But if Nell's favourite romantic films are right, there's a happy ending in store for each of us. All she has to do is seek out the magic of the mountains...

Jo Thomas takes you there.

Transport yourself to Crete this summer, to a rather special Honey Farm (that is missing its bees), a huge mystery as to what is happening to rare herb, masses of great Greek food, and the search for a lost love, in this wonderful new novel from Jo Thomas. 

Incredibly enjoyable to read and a relatively quick read at that, it is full of one main great story plus a few other threads interlinking in. This is a book where I learnt a whole new acronym that I had never come across before, for Nell  decides to spend summer in Crete as a WWOOFer (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farm), on a Honey Farm near a village she spent time in many years ago. She is also hoping to track down the love of her life, and father of her now grown up child, but isn't sure if he even still lives there or what the reactions to her will be. 

I loved how Nell slotted into life in Crete with Kostas, Maria and Mitera who own the honey farm on the hill. Learning about the properties of various herbs and spices and the general way life in rural Crete was eye opening and made me really long to be a part of life in Vounaplagia.  Nell having been a mother for 18 years, is slowly trying to rediscover who she is, while her daughter has an adventure in London. 

This is a rather apt book to read in summer, as often the discussion of how to keep bees safe emerges, as they play such a critical role in the world, and this is a story that encompasses that as a theme. Admittedly I could have done without descriptions of angry swarms of bees as I tend to run a mile if I see a single bee, but other than that, there is definitely a useful message to be taken from that element of the book. 

The writing is evocative and I could practically smell the herbs in the air in Crete, taste the various foods and when there was the sense of danger, my heart was beating extra fast for the characters. This is easily my favourite book so far from Jo Thomas, an author who seems to improve with each book and they are all fabulous! 

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

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.



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 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. 
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