Thursday, 24 April 2014

Interview with Carole Mathews and review of A Place To Call Home

Today I am joined on the blog by one of my top 10 authors, the lovely Carole Matthews....

Thank you for taking the time to stop by Rea Book Reviews and answer some questions for us.

1) This has to be my favourite of your books, it had a slightly deeper and serious topic compared with your other books, what gave you the inspiration for this book.?
I do two books a year, so that’s a lot of material! It also gives me chance to do something a little bit different every now and again. The background to the story is an abusive relationship, but I concentrate more on how my character, Ayesha, builds a new life for herself and her daughter. I always like to have an issue with a tiny ‘i’ at the heart of my stories and pick something that affects a lot of women. Sadly, a lot of women have found themselves having to leave abusive relationships for one reason or another. The book still has it’s funny moments though. And a few weepy ones too. 

 2) Crystal was my favourite character she was so much fun but also had a caring side to her, was she or and of your other characters based on people you know? She’s named for my good friend, Ayesha, who is a lady from a Sri Lankan background so she helped me a lot with research - as did a trip to Sri Lanka. I wanted to explore how her character became so much more strong after she left her marriage and was free to be herself. She goes from being so timid to developing into quite a feisty lady. Quite often my characters have a basis in truth and I think that’s why so many women relate to them. I don’t often use one person entirely as inspiration, but I made the exception for Summer Daydreams which is the story of my friend, Helen Rochfort, handbag designer extraordinaire. That’s about 75% true to her own story.

 3) A birdie tells me you used to work as a Beauty Therapist which is what your character Ayesha turns her hand to, do you miss the industry at all? I was a beauty therapist for 15 years and loved it. Sometimes I miss the company as I used to see about 20 clients a day. Now I work in splendid isolation! There’s nothing quite like having a good gossip over a manicure. It also gave me a lot of interesting stories to draw on for inspiration. 

 4) Can you give us a teaser about the book you are currently working on? I’m just editing my book for Christmas this year and it’s called The Christmas Party. The book is about an office party in a manor house and features the stories of three women whose lives all change during the course of the evening. I’ve had great fun writing this. There are some quite slapstick moments and a wonderful pantomime baddy who we can all hate. 

 5) What was the last you’re currently reading and would you recommend it? I’m just in the middle of an oldish book - Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka. I adored her first book, A Short History of Tractors in the Ukraine - even though I thought it was a terribly unattractive title. I’m finding this book a little bitty. There are many viewpoints and it swaps from one to another every paragraph, so I’m struggling to remember who’s who. Even the dog has its own viewpoint. The underlying story is very interesting though. It’s about a bunch of immigrants - from Eastern Europe, China and Africa - who come together to pick the fruit during the summer in England. Nice, but I’m not as totally engrossed as I like to be. 

 6) What are your thoughts on Kindle vs paperback? You can’t beat the feel and smell of a proper book! However, I fell in love with my Kindle when I bought it for my trip to Sri Lankan. I loaded it up with about 350 books - all on one little gadget! For once, I didn’t have to choose between shoes and books when packing. I like the convenience of the Kindle and also that there are some great bargains to be had. I recently bought Donna Tartt’s book, The Goldfinch, for 99p on Kindle. And, at 800 pages long, I’m quite glad that I don’t have to carry the book around in my handbag. I don’t think I’ll ever stop buying paperbacks though. Like the banana, a perfect package.

I am a huge Carole Matthews fan and I have loved all of her books she never seems to put a foot wrong which is why I find her books so enjoyable they are like comfort food to me!

In the early hours of the morning Ayesha makes her escape with her mute daughter from her violent husband. With all her family still living back in Sri Lanka they have no one to turn to so they head for London to try and find a place to stay where her husband cannot find them.
Former popstar Hayden has become somewhat a recluse and has opened his house to Joy and Crystal, when Crystal asks Hayden if he could do a friend of hers a favour and take in a homeless mother and child he is not won over but cannot say no to Crystal.
Will this house be a safe haven for Ayesha and her daughter?

One of the first books I read of Carole Matthews was The Chocolate Lovers Diet Club and it has remained a firm favourite of mine by this author but there is now a book threatening to knock that off the top! A Place to Call Home was a fabulous read that is now easily my favourite by Carole Matthews. I knew from the first page that this book was going to be devoured in one sitting. Somehow the author managed to get me intrigued and on edge straight from that first page.

The characters are what make this book such a pleasure to read. There are a diverse group of characters who will melt your heart. Ayesha is a courageous, innocent and loveable and she has lived a very sheltered life so she is not very street savvy. Her cute little daughter Sabine was a big hit for me I had great sympathy for her and I was willing her to find her voice not only for her but for her mum also. Crystal was a very trendy, modern loving woman who brought a great deal of entertainment to the book whilst the gorgeous Hayden kept us ladies occupied!

The storyline was actually quite deep and tense compared to the author’s previous books. The storyline obviously covers a horrific topic of domestic abuse but this is dealt with so delicately. I really sympathised with Ayesha and I thought she was a very brave woman to try to escape but I am sure this is what the love for your child would make me do, I just wanted a happy ever after for her and her daughter.

This book has some great humour a touch of romance, some great friendships as well as some tense moments. This was an enthralling read that I would highly recommend, Carole Matthews fans you are in for a real treat with this book ENJOY! xx

Kindle            Paperback

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Follow Me Home by Cathy Woodman

The village midwife and a young shepherd find love in the new novel from the bestselling author of Trust Me I'm a Vet and Country Loving, set in Talyton St George, Britain's most romantic town Life has been tough for village midwife Zara. Recently divorced and living with her grandmother, Zara is struggling to get back on track. Until one day, love walks in, in the form of an abandoned puppy. Although Zara adores her new friend, the puppy causes havoc wherever they go, so she is grateful when local shepherd Lewis offers to train her.

But Lewis has an ulterior motive for helping. And though Zara may be able to trust him with her naughty dog, can she trust him with her bruised heart?

After reading Cathy Woodman’s short story The Three of Us which is about the characters in Follow Me Home I couldn’t wait to get started.

The village midwife Zara has recently divorced from her husband and life just seems to be on a low. Having been afraid of dogs for so long the last thing Zara expected to change her life would be her new dog Frosty who she found abandoned. Frosty proves to be a handful but help is at hand in the form of her sisters Shepherd Lewis but it is quite clear that Lewis has an ulterior motive to helping with Frosty but has Zara been burned for life?

Zara was such a warm friendly character who I instantly adored which I often find with Cathy Woodmans female leads she manages to create such normal but loving ladies that you can’t help but warm to. I loved seeing a variety of characters from past Talyton St George books, it gave the book a familiar feel and it was great to be able to see what has been happening to the characters. I loved Poppy in this book she is struggling to adjust with having a baby sister and some of the things she does and comments she makes were quite comical. 

The storyline was a joy to read and was easy to follow, it does cover some realistic topics to do with pregnancies such as infertility and teenage pregnancies as well as coping with dementia too which were all covered really well but didn’t make the book a deep read it was still a light cosy read. Although I am not a big animal lover I can’t help but love all of Cathy Woodman’s books she always manages to bring the animals into the storyline but yet still make the storylines completely different so they don’t feel repetitive.

I loved this book just as much as the authors previous books I hope that Cathy Woodman continues to create more stories for us in the village of Talyton St George.

Kindle       Paperback

The lovely publishers at Random House are offering a copy of Follow Me Home for me to giveaway so if you would like to be in with a chance in getting your hands on a copy then enter the rafflecopter competition below ( UK ONLY THIS TIME )

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A Seaside Affair Review and interview with Fern Britton

Today on the blog I am talking to Fern Britton about her new release A Seaside Affair.

1. I have just finished reading your new book A Seaside Affair and I have to say it is my favourite of yours, what gave you the inspiration for this book? 
 Thank you very much! I suppose with all of my novels something just pops into my head – I try not to think too hard about it. You could say I just wait for the writing angel on my shoulder to give me inspiration! A SEASIDE AFFIAR, is partly inspired by my recent tour with Strictly Come Dancing. So it’s set back in the theatre world, which was lovely for me to write as I trained to be a theatre manager – and the plot revolves around a local theatre that needs saving!

 2. This book features some previous characters of yours ( even my favourite Simple Tony is back!) are your characters based on people you know and do you have a character that you feel you have moulded around yourself?
If anybody’s me, and she isn’t really, it’s Helen Merrifield. Helen is the main character in Hidden Treasures, and she’s also in A Seaside Affair a little bit – she’s not me, but her experiences are a bit like mine.

 3. Have you started working on your next book and can we expect your previous characters to make an appearance again?
There are three more coming in fact, and I’m working on the first of them now. It’s all about fishing families in Cornwall – the fleet, the relationships between the families – I’ve only just started, but I’m very excited about it! I hope you like it too.

 4. We know you from your T.V work but what made you decide to take a change in your career, has writing always been something that you have wanted to do?
The truth is I had written my autobiography, which did amazingly well to my great surprise, and then I thought I’d finished with writing. But HarperCollins came to me and asked if I would consider writing a novel, and assured me they’d be on hand to help me with any problems. New Beginnings was a huge learning curve for me, but I so enjoyed it, and when I couldn’t wait to start my second novel Hidden Treasures. Here I am still writing – and if you keep reading, I’ll carry on!

5. Do you get much time to read yourself? If so what was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
I do read a lot; I love it. If anything I’m even more of a reader since I’ve been writing. I like to steer clear of books that seem like they might be similar to mine as I don’t want to absorb a character or a storyline unconsciously and accidentally reproduce it. Most recently I received a copy of Val McDermid’s reworking of NORTHANGER ABBEY, which is part of HarperCollins’ Austen Project, and I can’t wait to get started on that one.

I Big thank you to Fern Britton for taking the time to talk to us. A Seaside Affair is due for release on the 24th April so remember to pick up your copy.


I have read all of Fern Britton’s books, I couldn’t get to grips with New Beginnings but I loved both Hidden Treasures and The Holiday Home so I had been looking forward to this years release. 

When Trevay residents find out that their pavilion is under threat they are determined to come together as a community to try and save their beloved theatre, the last thing they want is a coffee chain store taking over. They lay their hopes on funding money by putting on a remake of the first ever show that was performed in the theatre but will it be enough?

This was such an enjoyable read. I had been in a reading slump and this has brought me out the other side. We have some characters from Hidden Treasures that are back in A Seaside Affair, it was great to see how both Penny and Helen are getting on and having characters that we have already built a relationship gave a welcoming familiar feel to the book. We did get a little glimpse of Simple Tony as well who I loved from Hidden Treasures it is a shame he didn’t feature more in this book. There are also a large amount of new characters some who I loved and some who were put there for us to love to hate such as the big show biz ego loving Ryan and Red.
Jess, Ollie and Brooke struck up a relationship and their friendship felt as though it comes from way back so they all had a good connection.

I did feel as though the outcome of the book was very predictable but this didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book because it was great to read about the rehearsals as well as the various romance problems and new friendships.

Praise where it is due Fern Britton has managed to bring us another cosy country read that will be perfect for your holiday reading this summer. Full of romance, fame, lies and scandal as well as good old community spirit there is more than enough to keep you entertained.

Kindle         Paperback

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Three Of Us by Cathy Woodman

Tessa and Jack live at the animal sanctuary in Talyton St George. They had been friends for years, but it wasn't until Jack interrupted Tessa's wedding that she discovered his feelings for her were stronger than she ever knew.

Now, a year on, they could not be happier. And when Tessa discovers she's pregnant, it's as if all their dreams have come true. But a scan shows that there are complications, and suddenly Tessa realises that Jack has always had doubts about having a baby. Supported throughout by Zara, the village midwife, Tessa and Jack have some tough decisions to make.

However, as the baby's birth draws closer, Tessa and Jack grow further apart. Will he feel differently when the baby is born? Or will having her wonderful child mean losing the man of her dreams?

I have been looking forward to Cathy Woodman’s up and coming release Follow Me  Home, and as I was browsing through Netgalley I came across a short story by the author about a few of the characters that are going to be in the new book so I didn’t hesitate in downloading it to give me a little fix until the new book is released.

I have to admit I am not a big fan of short stories as they usually always leave me on a cliff hanger or feeling ripped off because of the price of a book that you finish in five minutes but for me The Three of us was a great read that gave us a bit of background on some of the characters who are going to be in the new book. It was quite an emotional storyline in truth and I found myself taking a dislike to Jack in this book because of his way of handling the situation it really made me feel for Tessa. It was great to catch up with Tessa and Jack who we met in The Village Vet, and it was also nice to be introduced to our new character Zara who will be the lead character in Follow Me Home.

It looks as though we can look forward to seeing another path to the authors writing, whilst animals are still involved in the storyline it seems to me that judging by this short story the new book will be about babies and pregnancy and I am looking forward to seeing what the author has in store for us this time.

I did enjoy this short story and I would recommend you to read this if you are a fan of Cathy Woodman, I don’t see that you need to read this one in order to enjoy the new release but it is a great little fix, my only downside is I still feel it is overpriced for a short story as personally I wouldn’t pay more than 99p for a short story.


I am taking part in the Follow Me Home blog tour so stop by on Wednesday to read my review and also to take part in the giveaway.....

Monday, 14 April 2014

Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff

Jenni is a ‘ghost’: she writes the lives of other people. It’s a job that suits her well: still haunted by a childhood tragedy, she finds it easier to take refuge in the memories of others rather than dwell on her own. Jenni has an exciting new commission, and is delighted to start working on the memoirs of a Dutchwoman, Klara. As a child in the Second World War, Klara was interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation – she has an extraordinary story of survival to tell. But as Jenni and Klara begin to get to know each other, Jenni begins to do much more than shed light on a neglected part of history. She is being forced to examine her own devastating memories, too. But with Klara’s help, perhaps this is finally the moment where she will be able to lay the ghosts of her own past to rest?

Ghostwritten is the first book I have read by Isabel Wolff, I was intrigued by this book as Ghost Writers have always interested me, but I have never really enjoyed historical fiction so I was unsure how I was going to get on with this book as it talks of the Second World War.

Jenni is a Ghost Writer who has agreed to write the memoires of Klara who is reaching her 80th birthday and so she feels it is time to tell her story of her childhood years spent in the Second World War As Klara opens up to Jenni the pair soon become comfortable with each other to open up about the secrets that both of them hold from their pasts.

I was so immersed in this storyline that I couldn’t put it down. The beginning of the book was typical for the usual books I read, light hearted with a troubled romance and hidden secrets which I love and as the book progressed it then began to change path and as Klara began to tell her story of life living through the Second World War the storyline grew deeper and took a more serious and meaningful path. I have never been one that showed much interest in history but this book really touched me and I found that I had many questions in my mind as I was reading about the events that Klara mentioned. The author has quite clearly taken extensive research for this book and also her descriptive writing made this book feel so real.

Although both Klara and Jenni are main characters and both have a story in their past to tell it was Klara that really shone for me in this book she was such a homely, intelligent and brave character and from the moment we are introduced to her character we warm to her. Jenni is still a great character but she didn’t seem to drop her barriers even after she reveals her secret so I didn’t warm to her like I did Klara.

This is a poignant, compelling read that will stay in my mind for a long time yet and I have found another great author to add to my favourites. 

Kindle          Paperback

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony

Today is the day that things are going to change for Rachel Bidewell. She will walk through the doors of Clifton Avenue Care Home and start a new life. Rachel is returning to work. And as she discovers, juggling a new job, three children and an ex husband can feel like drowning.  Someone needs to throw her a lifeline... 

Philip doesn't seem like an obvious lifesaver. He has just lost the one person who ever cared for him and, even as an adult, he doesn't know how to live in the real world.

But might Philip and Rachel each have something the other needs?

Beautiful Day is the stunning debut by Kate Anthony. It follows the story of Racheal as she gets used to the challenges of her new life since her husband left her for another woman, she now has to juggle the day to day needs of their three children as well as starting a new job at ……………. Care home. It soon becomes apparent that this isn’t going to be a normal 9-5 job that she can switch off from when she is made key worker of a new resident Philip. Philip is a large full grown man whose mum has died, he has never been in the outside world and he doesn’t communicate well. How will Racheal find a natural balance to life to help herself as well as her children and Philip?

I really felt for our main character Racheal I think she deserves a medal, you could feel the hurt in her when trying to deal with Deborah but for me it was heartbreaking the emotion you feel when she has to try and deal with one of her children wanting to stay with his dad and his new partner when she just wants to keep all of her family close and together, as a parent this must be one of the hardest things to deal with battling between what is best for your child and having to deal with another woman looking after your child. If her personal life isn’t hard enough she then has the lovely Philip to care for.

Philip really touched my heart and it is because of his character that I really do hope the author releases a follow up to this book just to see his progress, I am surprised how much I found I cared for the lovely Philip.

It is quite clear from the authors writing that she has in-depth knowledge of not only people with disabilities but also within the care community. It really is a thought provoking read that also has a splash of romance as well as some witty humour to lighten the tone. For me this was a brilliant debut and I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author in the future.

Kindle           Paperback

Friday, 11 April 2014

The List by Joanna Bolouri

Phoebe Henderson may be single but she sure doesn't feel fabulous.
It's been a year since she found her boyfriend Alex in bed with another woman, and multiple cases of wine and extensive relationship analysis with best friend Lucy have done nothing to help. Faced with a new year but no new love, Phoebe concocts a different kind of resolution.

The List: ten things she's always wanted to do in bed but has never had the chance (or the courage!) to try. A bucket list for between the sheets. One year of pleasure, no strings attached. Simple, right?

Factor in meddlesome colleagues, friends with benefits, getting frisky al fresco and maybe, possibly, true love and Phoebe's got her work cut out for her.

Reading the synopsis of The List by Joanna Bolouri I was sure this was going to be an entertaining witty read what was exactly the kind of read I was looking for. The storyline follows Phoebe as she creates a list of ten things she has always wanted to try in bed and so she is looking for no strings attached sex so she can tick off all of the things on her wish list.

I wasn’t going to review this book as I was so confused by this book I still don’t know if I love it or not! When I first started the book I was unsure if I was going to be able to finish it, although Phoebe seemed like a fun character I just found the storyline so unrealistic, I mean I can imagine what my boy mates would say if I asked them to help me out! So I did stop reading this book for a week or so but there was something about it that was calling me back I mean it is fiction so it doesn’t need to be realistic, so I picked it back up and as I began reading again I actually began to really enjoy and I actually finished the book that afternoon!

As you can imagine there are many sex scenes but it didn’t feel like an erotic book it wasn’t steamy and sexy. She seemed to have sex so often that it was like a routine of cleaning her teeth! It was a fun and naughty read that at times did have me laughing out loud. Yes the ending was predictable but it isn’t always about the destination it is the journey getting to it. I think Phoebe’s character and the humour was what kept me reading this book and I do love a fast paced book.

If you are looking for a witty read then this will be a great read for you but just be prepared to have an open mind. It is currently only 98p on kindle which is a great price for this book. ( price at time of review)

To be in with a chance to WIN a copy of The List, a hilarious and raunchy read by Joanna Bolouri, simply Tweet: One year. One single woman. Ten very naughty challenges @scribbles78 #TheList @quercusbooks

Kindle                    Paperback
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