Monday, 18 December 2017

Review ~ Forgotten History by Jem Duducu

Amberley Publishing
15 November 2017

My thanks to the publishers for my review copy of this book

About the book...

Not all history is recorded in school textbooks or cast into towering monuments that shape city skylines. Quite often the most intriguing (and most bizarre) bits are forgotten and fall away into obscurity. In this fascinating book, Jem Duducu shines light on the almost forgotten, wonderfully strange, and often hilarious moments of history that would otherwise be lost forever. 

Forgotten History tells in delightful detail the stories of the hard-to-believe moments, people or inventions from history. Split into four main eras–ancient, medieval, early modern and twentieth century – this light-hearted and easy-to-read fact book is full to bursting with the bits from history that even history enthusiast may otherwise have never known. 

Covering a wide variety of topics, from the time a Pope put his dead predecessor on trial all the way up to the awkward moment when the US Air Force accidentally dropped nuclear bombs on Spain, take a journey through time and discover the weird and wonderful history that you didn’t learn about in school.

My thoughts...

If you are interested in snippets of 'forgotten history' then this little gem of a book will really appeal to you. 

In an easy to read format, the book covers:

Ancient History - where I discovered more about Aliens v Smart Humans:the Nazca Lines..

The Medieval Era - where I discovered more about the strange history of chocolate..

The Early Modern to the Victorians - where I discovered more about the most expensive dress disaster in history..

The Twentieth Century - where I discovered that in 1943, IBM didn't think there was much a future for computers..

It is often said that the truth is stranger than any fiction and whilst some of these forgotten moments seem to be shrouded in myth and legend, there is no doubt that we share a rich and varied history, and  that no matter how much you think you know, there is always something new to learn.

The author has done a great job in bringing these forgotten moments of history to life in one slim volume. And reading never becomes a chore as there is always a fascinating fact or two to capture the imagination. So, if you like to learn about history in bite size chunks, from the bizarre to the the genuinely obscure, then this little book would be an interesting addition to any history book shelf.

And you never know, when that pub quiz question asks who was Jonathan Wilde..well.. you'll be able to answer 1718, he was the first self proclaimed Thief Taker General of Great Britain and Ireland ...who knew !!

About the Author

Jem Duducu has been in love with history for as long as he can remember. He went to UWCC to read Archaeology and Medieval History. He is also the author of several history books from the ‘100 Facts’ series for Amberley.

Follow the author on Twitter @HistoryGems.


Sunday, 17 December 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

The Fallen


Diana Gurney

Shall we not lay our holly wreath

Here at the foot of this high cross?

We do not know, perhaps a breath

Of our remembering may come

To them at last where they are sleeping,

They are quiet, they are dumb,

No more of mirth, no more of weeping,

Silent Christmas they are keeping;

Ours the sorrow, ours the loss.

There are few references about Diana Gurney other than she is recognised as one of the 
WW1 War Poets.

Her book of poems The Poppied Dream was published in 1921

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ A Winter Love Song by Rita Bradshaw

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ....1928

Pan Macmillan
November 2017

My thanks to the publishers and edpr for my copy of this book

When the story opens in 1928, Bonnie Lindsay is ten years old and living with her father as part of a travelling-fair community in the north-east of England. Life is really tough for Bonnie, and when things start to go badly wrong for her, she relies on her wits and her ability to sing to see her through the worst of what life throws at her. When Bonnie is fifteen she is forced to flee the travelling community in order to make her own way in life. However, this is not an easy decision and Bonnie soon finds that if she is to put aside the memories of her past she must make some tough choices.

The shifting time frames and locations are written with fine attention to detail and throughout the novel there is a real sense of time and place. I especially enjoyed watching how Bonnie progressed during the years of the Second World War when the story takes her to Burma and her life there as an musical entertainer.

At times the story is quite an emotional read as it covers some heart rending topics, particularly in Bonnie's early years when she lives with her maternal grandmother. However, ultimately the story is about the power of redemption and how, even in the most desperate of circumstances, the human spirit rises above adversity.

A Winter Love Song is a heartwarming family saga which just perfect for this time of year.

About the Author

Rita Bradshaw was born in Northamptonshire, where she lives today. At the age of sixteen she met her husband - whom she considers her soul mate - and they have two daughters and a son, and six grandchildren. Much to her delight, Rita's first novel was accepted for publication and she has gone on to write many more successful novels since, including the number one bestseller Dancing in the Moonlight.

Follow on Twitter #AWinterLoveSong @ed_pr @panmacmillan

Friday, 15 December 2017

Author Spotlight ~ Anne Allen

Today sees the welcome return of one of our favourite authors

Welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, Anne and thank you for answering our questions about your latest novel in the Guernsey series, The Betrayal.

How would you describe The Betrayal to a reader who hasn't read any of your books before?

The Betrayal, set in Guernsey, is best described as a dramatic mystery with a touch of romance set in a dual-time frame. All the books in The Guernsey Novels series offer individual stories set mainly or wholly in contemporary Guernsey, focusing on new main characters each time. However, old friends pop up from previous books, adding extra dimensions to the stories. 

The Betrayal is set in two different eras. Guernsey in the 1940s, and also in 2011. How do you approach writing about two different time frames and which do you find easier to write ...past or present?

Interesting question! The first book I wrote in dual-time was Echoes of Time, book 5 in the series, and I struggled with writing two entirely different stories at the same time. I learnt the hard way that it’s better to write one story at a time and then interweave the chapters when both are finished. What I found surprising was that I found it easier – and more satisfying – to write the chapters set in the 1940s. I’m beginning to wonder if I should consider writing a ‘proper’ historical novel 😊

When researching The Betrayal, did you discover anything which surprised you?

Not so much surprised, but fascinated to learn how different are the police procedures and courts systems in Guernsey compared to mainland UK. I was able to chat with a Guernsey policeman about such matters as armed police, surveillance vehicles and forensics. It was a shock to find that DNA results could take up to a month and samples have to be sent to England for testing. If the matter is urgent – as it is with the murder inquiry featured in The Betrayal – then a policeman will fly to the UK with the sample for immediate testing. 

The Betrayal is book six in The Guernsey Novels, what keeps you motivated about the series?

I think, as my readers often comment, my love of Guernsey shines through in the novels and as long as I can come up with new stories I shall continue to write them. I’m inspired by the island’s rich history and connection to well-known characters (such as Renoir, featured in The Betrayal) and events such as the German Occupation.

Your style of writing is very much ‘from the heart’. Does this take its toll on you emotionally, and if so, how do you overcome it?

It can do if I’m describing something that touches on a personal experience. For example, I have lost people dear to me, one in particularly tragic circumstances, and describing funerals is poignant for me. My first book, Dangerous Waters, was personally cathartic as it explored several issues of love and loss. My way of dealing with any emotional impact is to finish the novels with upbeat, happy endings!

Where do your ideas for the stories come from, and as one book finishes do you already know where the next book will take you?

The stories are triggered by something I may have read – either another book or an article in the press – and I adapt them to the Guernsey setting. For example, in Finding Mother, my character Nicole searches for her birth mother and the idea came after reading a newspaper article about a man’s search for his own natural mother.

I do have a rough idea about the next book when I finish a book, although the full plot may not play out until after I start writing it. Having said that, there are moments – even weeks – of panic as I wonder if an idea will arrive in time.

And finally, are you able to share anything about book seven with us? 

Yes, it’s whirling around my mind quite nicely! Titled The Inheritance, it’s a break from tradition for me in that part of the dual-time story takes place in Victorian Guernsey rather than the Occupation years. It might surprise people to know that Victor Hugo lived for 15 years in St Peter Port, Guernsey while an exile from France. It was here he finished writing Les Miserables and wrote a number of other significant works, increasing his fame worldwide. My book’s central character in the Victorian era is Eugenie, a young widow who becomes employed by Hugo as his copyist. Her story is intertwined with his and when Eugenie’s descendant, Tess, inherits her house in the present day, she uncovers the truth behind the myths handed down from generation to generation concerning Hugo and Eugenie.

You can find out more about Anne and her writing on her website by clicking here

Connect on Facebook

Follow on Twitter @AnneAllen21

Find The Guernsey series on Amazon UK

Huge thanks to Anne for being our guest today and for sharing the background to her latest novel, The Betrayal, which is out now in paperback and e-book.


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Christmas Read ~ Christmas at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn

Canelo ebook
9 October 2017
My thanks to the publishers for my review copy of this book

When Grace​ ​Phillips​ travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. As Grace meets local vet​ ​Oli​ ​Davenport​ she initially finds him rude, but learning more about his passion for animals and how much he cares for his two kids helps Grace to see a softer side to Oli.

It’s been three years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. Though he loves eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom​ more than anything it’s hard to be mum and dad, as well as hold down a busy job. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto fear about letting someone into their heart.

What did I think about it...

If a book could be made of spun sugar and then sprinkled with gold and silver stardust then Christmas at Conwenna Cove would be one such book. Beautifully written and presented, this is a story that will so completely tug away at your heartstrings that you will want to carry the book from room to room, just so that you can sneak a read at any free moment.

I defy anyone not to fall under the spell of Conwenna Cove. It's a picture box perfect Cornish seaside village, with wonderful people, seemingly amazing cafes that serve delicious cakes, and thrown into the mix are two damaged and sad people who, by chance, fate has decided to sprinkle with a little happiness. I fell in love with Oli and Grace from the start, they're such lovely people that you can't help but warm towards them. That both of their lives have been blighted by sadness only makes the story all the more poignant to read, and as we start to share in their lives, we begin to invest in them emotionally as characters and hope that life is about to be a little kinder to them. Whether it is, or not...well, this is one of those stories you need to read for yourself.

This is such a lovely Christmas story to curl up with and so on a cold, wintery afternoon I snuggled in my super size blanket, comforted myself with a hot chocolate topped with gooey marshmallows, and let my imagination take flight to Conwenna Cove to spend time with this group of delightful characters.

You can read an extract from the book by clicking here

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Follow on Twitter @DarcieBoleyn @Canelo_co


This festive romance is currently on sale at just 99p on Amazon UK - go on, treat yourself, it's Christmas !!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Blog Tour ~ Anything For Her by G J Minett

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Anything For Her Blog Tour

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

I am excited to be able to feature this lovely guest post by the author sharing 

The locations that feature in Anything For Her

Everyone understands how important characters are and the crucial role they play in keeping a reader hooked. What is less widely recognised is the fact that locations can be equally important, almost characters in their own right. The chance to follow the action as it unfolds in familiar settings seems to add a little extra. Certainly, feedback from book groups and reviewers has been favourable so far about my choice of The Cotswolds for The Hidden Legacy and the Bognor/Chichester area for Lie In Wait.

With those two, I have to confess, I played it safe (euphemism for “I was really lazy”) and stuck to areas I already know really well but with Anything For Her I felt it was time to branch out a little and actually do some research. With that in mind, I came up with two separate locations and spent a few days there, familiarising myself with the layout and identifying specific landmarks. They were chosen as follows:

Rye, Winchelsea and Camber Sands

Rye had been in the back of my mind ever since I saw a TV production of Mapp and Lucia. I was taken with the cobbled streets and mistakenly thought it was the same setting as for Foyle’s War, which turned out to be Hastings. There was something slightly olde England about the town itself and during the three days I was there I got to know the area well and found myself adapting the original plan for the novel to take account of places I’d visited.

I stayed outside the town at a family run B&B called Point Farm on the outskirts of Camber, which of course brought Camber Sands into the equation. I remembered the awful tragedy of a few months earlier when five young men from the London area came down for the day and were caught unawares by the tides and when I went for a long walk along the beach it was almost impossible to imagine how such a thing could have occurred. Then, having walked out an amazing distance to get to the water at low tide, I turned round and found that it was starting to run in channels behind me and I had to wade back through some areas that were already ankle deep. Not long afterwards, the tide came in with a vengeance and it wasn’t too difficult then to appreciate how a non-swimmer might get into difficulties. The slight frisson of danger persuaded me that this setting could play a significant role in the novel.

As for Winchelsea, I’ll admit to a touch of whimsy there. A friend of mine is a Spike Milligan fan and had told me that on his gravestone were inscribed the words ‘I told you I was ill’. When I heard that he was actually buried in the churchyard in Winchelsea I was determined to find out whether this was true or just one of those urban myths. It took me ages to find the gravestone as four locals out walking their dogs were either unaware of where it was or were fed up with strangers asking them the same question every other day. When I did find it, the inscription was in Gaelic so I’m none the wiser, but I’d like to believe it anyway.

Peak’s Island

I knew I needed a location outside the UK and fancied that New England might be a possibility for no better reason than that my wife and I had always wanted to go there. It would be nice to think that my publishers were happy to sponsor it but I suspect they’re worried that if they go down that road my next novel will be set in Turks and Caicos. A self-financed research trip then, sometimes referred to as a holiday. 

When we arrived in Portland, Maine the landlady of the B&B where we were staying (NOT Jeanie Alvares, I hasten to add – you’ll understand if you read the novel!) suggested strongly that we should visit Peak’s Island. We’re so pleased she did. A 15-minute ferry crossing drops you off at this idyllic setting of clapboard houses and homemade apple pie wholesomeness where motorised transport around the island is principally by golf buggy and every corner negotiated reveals amazing scenery. The locals are friendly and it’s almost like stepping back 50 years in time . . . and please don’t infer anything remotely patronising from that remark. I knew within minutes of arriving there that this was going to be the foreign setting for the novel and if you’re ever fortunate enough to travel to New England yourself, I’d strongly recommend a trip to Portland and Peak’s island. I only hope I’ve done it justice.

So, those were the locations for book 3. I’m just off to pack my bags for the Caribbean for book 4 . . . in case my publishers are reading this.

Bonnier Zaffre
Out in ebook
30 November 2017
Out in paperback 22 march 2018

You'd do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn't you? 

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy's never forgotten her. He'd do anything for her then, and he'd do anything for her now. 

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago? 

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing - reasons that might be more dangerous than she's led him to believe . . . 

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.

About the author

G.J. Minett studied at Cambridge and then spent many years as a teacher of foreign languages. He studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, and won the 2010 Chapter One Prize for unpublished novels with the opening chapter of The Hidden Legacy. 

You can follow him on Twitter @gjminett #AnythingFor Her

Follow on Facebook 

Huge thanks to the author for spending time with us today and for sharing
 this lovely guest post.


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Blog Tour ~ East End Angels by Rosie Hendry

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the 

East End Angels Blog Tour

Meet The East End Angels, the newest members of Station Seventy-Five’s ambulance crew – when the war arrives, only true friendship will see them through.

14 December 2017

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

Strong-willed Winnie loves being part of the crew at Station Seventy-Five but her parents are less than happy. She has managed to avoid their pleas to join the WRENS so far but when a tragedy hits too close to home she finds herself wondering if she’s cut out for this life after all. 

Former housemaid Bella was forced to leave the place she loved when she lost it all and it’s taken her a while to find somewhere else to call home. She’s finally starting to build a new life but when the air raids begin, it seems she may have to start over once again. 

East-Ender Frankie’s sense of loyalty keeps her tied to home so it’s not easy for her to stay focused at work. With her head and heart pulling in different directions, will she find the strength to come through for her friends when they need her the most? 

Brought together at LAAS Station Seventy-Five in London’s East End during 1940, these three very different women soon realise that they’ll need each other if they’re to get through the days ahead. But can the ties of friendship, love and family all remain unbroken?

What did I think about it ...

Winnie, Bella and Frankie are a feisty bunch of young women who work closely together as ambulance crew at the LAAS Station Seventy-Five in London’s East End. They are constantly called out to attend the devastation and destruction caused by the nightly bombing raids on London during the Blitz in 1940. The horror they witness on nightly basis bonds the group very firmly together and as they share the ups and downs of their lives so their friendship becomes stronger and stronger. Nicknamed the East End Angels, the ambulance team provide a vital service during this devastating time during WW2.

The separate lives of the three women come together in a lovely way, and even though Winnie, Bella and Frankie are all very different, it is in their shared experiences where the story starts to become really interesting. I didn't know anything about the London ambulance service during WW2, so it was fascinating to read this fictional account of what the crews faced on a regular basis and of the hardships they endured.

The author creates an authentic sense of time and place which really captures the uncertain war time mood. The deadly danger of trying to survive against all odds comes across as does the stoicism of the East Enders who tried to make the best of what life threw at them.The story flows nicely and amidst the gloom, there are some lovely light moments which add necessary light and shade.

And as the private lives of Winnie, Bella and Frankie start to mix with their working lives you can't help but form emotional bonds with  each of them. This trio of strong female protagonists are a lively bunch, they make you laugh out loud at some of their antics and yet, they also show huge compassionate and expertise in the most dire of circumstances.

East End Angels is a lovely war time saga with more than enough adventure and a smattering of romance. It is encouraging to note that there will be a continuation of the East End Angels story in the next book Secrets of the East End Angels which is coming soon.

Rosie Hendry lives by the sea in Norfolk with her husband and two children. East End Angels is the first book in her uplifting and heart-warming saga series that follows the lives and loves of Winnie, Frankie and Bella, who all work for the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service (LAAS) during the Blitz. Listening to her father’s tales of life during the Second World War sparked Rosie’s interest in this period and she loves researching further, searching out gems of real life events which inspire her writing. 

Keep up-to-date with Rosie 


Twitter @hendry_rosie #EastEndAngels @LittleBookCafe

Become her friend on Facebook rosie.hendry.94