Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Blog Tour ~ One Minute Later by Susan Lewis

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the One Minute Later Blog Tour

Harper Collins
21 February 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my invitation to be part of this blog tour and for my copy of this book

Vivienne Shager has everything going for her, but on the afternoon of her 35th birthday, Vivi has a heart attack. Unbeknownst to her, Vivi has been living with a rare heart condition and now her life shrinks back to how it begun, as she moves back to the small seaside town she grew up in. And with her time running out, there is one thing she wants to know the truth about… 

Thirty years earlier, Shelley’s family home, Deerwood farm, bursts full of love and happiness. Until her husband dies in mysterious circumstances. So many secrets were buried with him, family loyalties, and things best left to history.

My thoughts..

We tend to go blithely through life thinking we are indestructible but as this novel shows, life can, and does, change, quite literally, on a heartbeat. Vivienne Shager's life is altered forever when she experiences a heart attack on the afternoon of her thirty-fifth birthday. The result has a devastating effect, not just on Vivi as she comes to terms with her greatly altered lifestyle, but also on the lives of those around her, and even the lives of some people she has never even met. The story of how Vivi copes is in itself a captivating read but add into the mix a dual time element about something which happened thirty years earlier and the story starts to take on a whole different meaning.

The author writes this type of family saga really well and brings her characters to life in a very believable way. There is much to consider, not just about how Vivi's heart condition affects her lifestyle, but also running alongside is the consideration given to organ donation, and the meaning this has on the wider context of the story is gradually revealed. I think the first half of the book is concentrated on setting the scene and I needed to concentrate on what's happening but once the characters, and the settings, were fixed in my head, I enjoyed discovering where the story was leading.

One Minute Later is, in many ways, a rather sad story, and yet, what shines throughout is the importance of family and friends, and whilst there is sadness at the conclusion of the story, there is also hope, and love in abundance.

Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. 

Following periods of living in Los Angeles and the South of France, she currently lives in Gloucestershire with her husband James, stepsons Michael and Luke, and mischievous dogs Coco and Lulu.

Twitter @susandlewis #OneMinuteMore #OnePageMore


Monday, 18 February 2019

Blog Tour ~ Dreaming of Tuscany by T A Williams

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Dreaming of Tuscany Blog Tour

11 February 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my invitation to be part of this blog tour and for my ecopy of this book
Beatrice Kingdom (Bee to her friends) wakes up in hospital in Tuscany. After an accident on a film set leaves her burned and scarred, she feels her whole life has been turned upside down.

Bee is offered the chance of recuperating in a stunning Tuscan villa in the company of a world-famous film star, the irascible Mimi Robertson. Here amid the vines and olive groves, Bee quickly finds there’s more to the place than meets the eye, not least a certain Luca (and Romeo the dog). 

As she comes to terms with her injuries and her new life takes shape, Bee will have to travel a road of self-discovery… and make a huge decision.

My thoughts..

This is such a lovely story and a perfect pick-me-up after the gloom of winter. The beautiful Tuscan setting allows the gentleness of the narrative to wrap around you and gives you such a cosy, warm feeling.

I was quite enamoured of Bee, who after a dreadful accident on a film set, is sent to recuperate in a beautiful Tuscan villa, her companion on this retreat is a very well known film actress who is also recovering from the after effects of the same accident. The relationship between Bee and Mimi is at first a little difficult but the magic of the place and getting to know the interesting characters, particularly the handsome Luca, and Romeo the delightful Labrador,  soon help both women to relax.

Dreaming of Tuscany is a really lovely story, with its glorious Tuscan setting, delicious descriptions of Italian food and wine, and the charming characters who tug away at your heartstrings. I spent an enjoyable afternoon in the company of Bee, Mimi, Luca and Romeo, and whilst I was sorry when the story ended, as I could have read on and on, I was absolutely delighted to have been treated to another lovely feel-good story from this talented author.

T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

Twitter @TAWilliamsBooks


Sunday, 17 February 2019

Book Birthday Blitz ~ The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of The Migraine Relief Plan

 Book Birthday Blitz

Agate Publishing

My thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book and giveaway prize
and also to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to the Book Birthday Blitz

The Migraine Relief Plan: An 8-Week Transition to Better Eating, Fewer Headaches, and Optimal Health.

In The Migraine Relief Plan, certified health and wellness coach Stephanie Weaver outlines a new, step-by-step lifestyle approach to reducing migraine frequency and severity. Using the latest research, her own migraine diagnosis, and extensive testing, Weaver has designed an accessible plan to help those living with migraine, headaches, or Meniere’s disease. Over the course of eight weeks, the plan gradually transitions readers into a healthier lifestyle, including key behaviors such as regular sleep, trigger-free eating, gentle exercise, and relaxation techniques. The book also collects resources—shopping lists, meal plans, symptom tracking charts, and kitchen-tested recipes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner—to provide readers with the tools they need to be successful. The Migraine Relief Plan encourages readers to eat within the guidelines while still helping them follow personal dietary choices, like vegan or Paleo, and navigate challenges, such as parties, work, and travel. A must-have resource for anyone who lives with head pain, this book will inspire you to rethink your attitude toward health and wellness.

My thoughts..

When I opened this book I felt like I had finally found someone who spoke my language. Having lived with the distressing symptoms of both vertigo and migraine, I realised long ago the importance of modifying my diet in order to avoid the triggers which exacerbated both conditions. 

This 8-week transition to better eating, fewer headaches and optimal health puts the whole thing into perspective and for people who live with these conditions finding something that really helps is half the battle of coping with so many different symptoms.

The Migraine Relief Plan is completely user-friendly, which helped enormously as there's nothing worse that starting a health plan only to be bamboozled by too much waffle and too much complicated science. The individual chapters are both informative and really useful and the author's own interpretation and the ways she puts forward her ideas and the reasons behind these ideas and suggestions was, for me, quite enlightening.

There's an informative diet plan, and interesting food suggestions to follow with lots of delicious trigger free recipes which help to navigate the complicated process of what you put into your body as fuel, but what struck a chord with me was the section about taking care of what you put on the outside of your body. I realised long ago that detergents, perfumes and chemicals acted as personal triggers and so it was reassuring to read that I haven't been wrong in my assumption and that so many artificial products really do act as triggers for both migraine and vertigo, the statement, "Avoid putting anything on your skin that you can't eat or drink " made perfect sense to me.

This is definitely my new go to book as I continue to cope with symptoms which I've learned to live with but, like many sufferers, I am constantly searching for new ways to cope, and this book certainly gave me some answers to questions which have long been a puzzle.

And just to add for those of us based in the UK that whilst there are references to US based medical practices it doesn't detract from the overall content to what is after all a very informative book.

If you live with migraine, and or vertigo, then here's a fabulous chance to win a copy in this generous giveaway or find the book here Amazon UK

The prize is a signed copy of The Migraine Relief Plan for US winners, or an unsigned copy of The Migraine Relief Plan for UK winners.

Enter this fabulous giveaway to win a copy of  The Migraine Relief Plan 

About the Author

Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC, is an author, blogger, and certified wellness and health coach. Her recipes have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Parade, and more. She lives in San Diego, CA.

Social Media Links

Twitter @SweaverMPH #migrainereliefplan 



Saturday, 16 February 2019

Review ~ The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...Victorian England

Alma Classics
Alma Books
November 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Gilbert Markham is fascinated by Helen Graham, the beautiful and enigmatic woman who has recently moved into Wildfell Hall. He is swift to befriend her and steadfastly refutes the local gossip calling her character and behaviour into question, yet he soon has cause to regret his infatuation, and grave doubts and misgivings begin to arise in his mind. It is only when Helen presents Gilbert with her diary and instructs him to read it that the shocking truth about her past life becomes clear.

My thoughts..

The content of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is, by the standard of its time, rather dark and shocking as it uncovers a web of deceit and wickedness which surely shocked the sensibilities of its first readers It's about a woman who is grievously wronged and who, despite her precarious position in Victorian society, strives to protect herself, and her child, from further harm. 

Whilst there is no doubt that this story has all the strength and passion we associate with Anne Brontë it is not an easy read, firstly, it takes a while to become accustomed to Anne's writing style which is quite loquacious, and also the sheer scale of the novel takes a real investment of time. Realistically, I found that I could only read a chapter at a time, as the story is complex, and I needed to take time to absorb the meaning of this dark and quite gloomy Victorian Gothic.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the book I most associate with Anne Brontë, and although by 1846 she had contributed to a book of poems with her sisters, it was the acceptance of Charlotte's novel, Jane Eyre, which spurred Anne to publish her first novel, Agnes Grey in 1847, under the pseudonym, Acton Bell. However, whilst Agnes Grey did reasonably well, it was rather overlooked by the greater success of Emily's Wuthering Heights which was published at the same time. Undaunted by this Anne went on to publish The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in 1848 and it's shocking and controversial content made it a huge success, with the first published run of the book selling out in 6 weeks.

There remains something remarkably important about the Brontë novels as no matter when you read the stories written by Charlotte, Anne or Emily, there is always something to discover which reiterates the strength, not just of their style writing, but also of their unique and at times quite scathing observation of  the role of women in Victorian society.

This edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published by Alma Classics in November 2018 and is a beautifully presented copy with a sumptuous new cover. The series of illustrations at the start of the book show portraits of Anne, her parents and her sisters, placing them nicely into context and the extra material about Anne's life is both fascinating and informative.

Anne Brontë was an English novelist and poet, the youngest member of the Brontë literary family. The daughter of Patrick Brontë, a poor Irish clergyman in the Church of England, Anne Brontë lived most of her life with her family at the parish of Haworth on the Yorkshire moors. She died, aged 29, from tuberculosis in 1849.

©Digital Images


Friday, 15 February 2019

Review ~ The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

Bonnier Zaffre
7 February 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realises her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Fielding family, something happens that threatens not only her career - but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her terrible childhood is finally coming back to haunt her. 

The truth turns out to be even more terrifying . . .

My thoughts..

Georgia Sage has an exceptional talent for recording what goes on in the most intense of courtroom battles. The reason for this is that Georgia is employed as a courtroom artist and her unique ability to record accurately the facial expressions and personality traits of those on trial have enhanced her reputation as one of the best artists in her field.

When Georgia is given the opportunity to revisit one of the more notorious trials she covered she finds, to her cost, that the deeper she gets drawn into reopening this mystery the more vulnerable she becomes. She is soon involved in a whole new set of secrets and lies which not only have the ability to destroy her peace of mind, but which also reveal the secrets of her own past which she has kept hidden for far too long.

The Secrets You Hide is a well written and complex psychological thriller. The opening chapter sets the scene really well and the action doesn't really let up until the story is finished. I found this to be a really suspenseful read and it was really refreshing to have a lead character who has a different perspective on the criminal justice system. Georgia is a complex character and we get a great insight into her personality as the story progresses.

The story is compellingly addictive and once started I found that I really couldn't put the book down.

Twitter @KateWritesBooks #thesecretsyouhide


Thursday, 14 February 2019

Review ~ The Smallest Things : On the Enduring Power of Family by Nick Duerden

 💖💖 Happy Publication Day 💖💖

14 February 2019

My thanks to the publishers and to Alison Menzies PR for my copy of this book
and the kind permission to share this extract from the book.

Nick Duerden’s grandparents were always just . . . there. A mysterious yet unchanging presence, a source of dutiful visits, birthday cards and carefully preserved rituals: lunches, dinners and endless card games.

But, as he enters midlife, and his 98-year-old grandmother enters a care home, he realises that, like so many of us, he should perhaps have paid more attention to her true worth years before.

As Nick goes in search of the secrets his late mother took to the grave, he finds it can be the smallest things that keep us together when so much is left unspoken. This is a memoir of the tiny dramas that fill all our lives, and a celebration of the special ties that can bind two intimately connected strangers. Tender and poignant, it captures the richness, and also the complexity, of family life.


How to remember us

Before you go, I want to give you something to remember us by. It’s clear to me you need some clothes, because why else would you have worn the same pair of jeans all week, with the rips at the knees? You really should have let me fix them for you. It wouldn’t have been any trouble. Anyway, your grandfather has many trousers here, and he doesn’t wear most of them. Look at these ones. Corduroys! And brown is always fashionable. No matter if they are too long and too wide, I can take them up, and in. Try them on, let me see you in them.

For consecutive birthdays, we will buy you a wallet made from real Italian leather. You may well let them pile up in a drawer at home, each unused and still in their presentation boxes, but eventually you will use every one of them. Life is long. You will always need to keep your money somewhere.

Here, take these cups. They are made from china. For coffee. Every time you have your morning espresso, think of us. No, no. I will wrap them up so they won’t break in your luggage. You can have the saucers, too. Do you have spoons in London?

For your wife, this scarf. A coat, perhaps? The collar is real fur. Or these lace doilies, beautiful for decoration. This umbrella? For the plane, some sandwiches. Four, so you won’t go hungry. Ham, cheese, tomatoes. And for the fridge at home: tortellini, ravioli. Gnocchi. Do you know gnocchi? You do? Some sweets for the plane, so your ears won’t pop.

Take the sweets. Remember us, yes? Don’t forget.

My Thoughts..

Love comes in many guises and on ♡Valentine's Day♡ it is all too easy to focus on the romantic love between couples but as this lovely book reminds us, love is all around us, and it's often the smallest things which make all the difference.

In this memoir of tiny dramas the author focuses on the strength of family, of the need to belong, and of the values instilled into us by our relationships with our significant others, and not just in a romantic way but also in a familial way. And by using the example of his grand-parents, the author takes us through the recollections he has of staying with them, and how these visits affected his upbringing and yet, what really shines throughout the book is the the love he had for his grandparents, and of the gradual realisation that they wouldn't be around forever.

This is a beautifully written memoir, which struck quite a few chords with me as my own mother is  97 and in a nursing home. Some days she doesn't know who I am or of my association with her and  this really hurts as I feel like I have lost the person she once was, and yet, there are still lovely moments when she surprises me and I can see that beneath the mask of dementia, she loves and remembers who I am and what I mean to her.

We take for granted those who mean the most to us and yet as this book so beautifully describes they really do 'hold the keys to who we really are'...

Nick lives in London with his Spanish wife and children. History is repeating itself as his two daughters have a Spanish grandmother. He is an experienced broadcaster appearing on national TV and radio, and writes regularly for the national press.

Twitter @Nick_Duerden



Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Blog Tour ~ Material Remains by Richard W H Bray

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to host today's stop on the Material Remains Blog Tour

7 February 2019
My thanks to the publishers and also To Anne at Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

One Thursday morning a body is found on the beach of St Andrews. Suddenly archaeology student Mike MacEwan's world of tea, pints, late mornings and the occasional essay comes to an abrupt halt. Consumed with guilt, grief, confusion and thoughts of what might have been, Mike haunts the local ruins, rebuilding them in his mind, trying to find the shape of what is no longer there, as he obsesses over the loss of someone he barely knew, unsure of his place in her life, or her death. It's only the discovery of an ancient plague burial site near campus that drags Mike back into contact with those around him. But life has changed, both for himself and others, and the burial ground holds more than the bones of those long dead. Unsure what he will find, Mike peels back the layers of earth and its dark history, trying desperately to connect the victims of the past to the tumult of his present.

My thoughts..

Mike MacEwan is a mature student studying archaeology at St Andrews University in Scotland. He and a group of friends seem to spend most of their evenings in the pub getting drunk and then something happens which turns Mike's world upside down. He sinks into depression, only finding some sort of resolution when he becomes involved in an archaeological dig which is uncovering long buried secrets from the past.

Material Remains is a slow book in many ways and there doesn't seem to be much going on at times but then, I think this is quite deliberate as it gives you the opportunity to understand more about Mike's character and to discover what he is thinking. I must admit that, given the book blurb, I did sort of expect this to be more of a murder mystery, but that wasn't the case at all. There are several layers to the story, one is of the bewilderment when life suddenly takes a different turn, with no clear answer of what to do next. The other is one of involvement, learning to deal with events in a practical sort of way and finding the way forward.

The author writes the story well, and the university town of St Andrew's with its snaking wynds and alleyways are nicely described and together add atmosphere to this interesting story.

About the Author

Richard W. H. Bray is a writer and winemaker. His first book, Salt and Old Vines, won Best French Wine Book at the 2015 Gourmand Awards. He lives in London.

Twitter @RWHBray #MaterialRemains