Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sunday WW1 Poet....

The theme for this month's WW1 poems 


Literary Figures 

Those poets who are perhaps better known for their stories

D H Lawrence

1885 - 1930

Future War

After our industrial civilisation has broken, and 
the civilisation of touch has begun
war will cease, there will be no more wars.
The heart of man, in so far as it is budding, is budding warless
and budding towards infinite variety, variegation
and where there is infinite variety, there is no interest in war.
Oneness, makes war, the obsession of oneness

David Herbert Lawrence was born and educated in Nottingham,
During the First World War he was know for his anti war poems and is, of course, now recognised as one of our great English writers.

His novels include:

Sons and Lovers (1913)
The Rainbow (1915)
Women in Love (1920)
Lady Chatterley's Lover(1928)


Saturday, 25 April 2015

Letters to the Lost Blog Tour 2015....

Jaffa and I am delighted to welcome

Author of 

Simon & Schuster
23 April 2015

Iona ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo....

What can you tell us about Letters to the Lost which will pique the reader’s interest?

I’m an out and out romantic, and Letters to the Lost is very much a love story. Or two love stories, really, as it’s a dual time frame book, with two sets of characters. It’s set in the 1940s – in wartime London – and in 2011, so I really hope that anyone who has an interest in the war and a weakness for a good old fashioned romance will enjoy it. It involves some unfinished business from the past, and a quest to resolve things before it’s too late.

What came first for you – the idea, the plot, the place or the characters?

Actually, the title came before anything else! The phrase Letters from the Lost came into my head one day, when I caught a glimpse of a handwritten letter on my daughter’s desk. I really liked the sound of it and wrote it down immediately, then couldn't stop myself trying to work out what story might lie behind it. I think the piece that slotted into place next was the location – the deserted house in the present day. I knew that the letters would arrive there, so I then had to find out who had sent them and why. From there Dan and Stella’s story really wrote itself, and the characters came to life for me.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing the story? How did you overcome it?

I wrote the whole of Dan and Stella’s story first, without stopping until I reached the end, and it really was lovely! I used to get in the shower in the morning and start thinking about the scenes I was going to write that day, and couldn't wait to get up to my office in the attic to get stuck in. I reached the end of their bit at about the same time as my daughters broke up for the summer holidays, and so I stopped writing altogether for the next month or so, and mulled over the present day story in my head. It felt like starting an entirely different book, so was fairly daunting, but once I reached the part when Jess finds the letters and the two stories started to merge I felt much happier. That was the most difficult bit – weaving the two strands together (in fact, I often wonder what masochistic instinct makes me write dual time frame books!) but I overcame it by planning everything out on a whiteboard (and then mostly ignoring it and writing whatever felt right at the time – but the planning made me feel better!)

What is your definition of writing Heaven? And writing Hell?

Oooh – lovely question! I think my definition of writing Heaven is time and space to Think. Of course (standard disclaimer) I adore my family, but the necessity of feeding them (three times a day!) and shopping for the food is the ultimate enemy of creativity. (I have a slight concern that on occasion I have wandered around the aisles of Sainsburys with an empty trolley actually muttering to myself). So, Heaven would be someone to plan, shop for and cook decent healthy food for us all 5 days a week. Actually, when I was writing Letters to the Lost, I had a week of writing heaven in Ironbridge in Shropshire. My middle daughter had a work experience placement at lovely Blist’s Hill and we’d rather underestimated the journey time from home, so the two of us stayed in a beautiful Landmark Trust house right beside the famous bridge. I dropped her off in the morning, then went back to the house for a whole day of writing, uninterrupted by laundry, cleaning or cooking, as we happily existed on ready meals and pub food. (It’s probably relevant to mention that there was no television or wifi there, either...)

Writing Hell for me is time pressure. Sometimes it’s not a linear process, and it’s really important to have the luxury of time to go back and change something, or slash whole swathes of words. It’s never an easy decision to make, but having the deadline clock ticking loudly in your ear makes it infinitely harder to make that call. I also think that books grow organically, and at certain stages of their development they just need time to... settle. At those times there’s no sense at all in rushing on and trying to beat a wordcount goal. Far better to put the kettle on, open a packet of biscuits and stare out of the window... (*EXCUSE KLAXON*)

Which writer do you admire most and why?

There are so many writers that I love and admire, and am inspired by. One of my all-time favourite writers, and my earliest influence was Jilly Cooper. I picked up my stepmother’s copy of one of her shorter novels (Imogen) while on holiday in France at the age of 10, and I absolutely devoured it. It was a total revelation. Up until then I’d only read children’s books, with overwhelmingly virtuous heroines, but here was a book about real people: funny and awkward and sexy and vivid. It was like getting a glimpse into a grown up world I longed to be part of. I still pre-order everything she writes.

Other writers I admire include Kate Atkinson for her effortless prose, which often seems to make me laugh while I’m still reaching for the tissues to mop up the tears, and Rosamunde Pilcher for her amazing skill at telling a story that totally transports you to a different world. I’m in awe of that power. (And having her provide a cover quote for Letters to the Lost was one of the most exciting and moving and amazing things ever. Totally incredible.)

What books are you reading at the moment?

I often have two books on the go – one for research, and one for pleasure. At the moment my research book is Up West, by Pip Granger, which is about life in Soho in the post-war years and is wonderfully absorbing as well as being informative. For bedtime reading, I’m deeply enthralled by Vanessa Lafaye’s brilliant Summertime which is utterly breathtaking, (sometimes quite literally, as the tension keeps building) and keeps me reading long after I should have switched out the light.

Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?

I do! I’m deep into writing book 2, which is set in the early 1950s (hence the research!). The war is over and the King has just died. It’s only a decade after the era I wrote about in Letters to the Lost, but it feels like an entirely different world; in many ways a more drab and depressed one than in wartime. And of course, it’s a love story!

My review of Letters to the Lost can be found here.

Huge thanks to Iona for sharing her thoughts so eloquently and to Hayley at Simon and Schuster  for her invitation to be part of this exciting book tour.


Friday, 24 April 2015

Derby Book Festival 2015....

I am delighted to be able to share the details of the first ever

  Derby Book Festival.

The book festival, the first ever for the city, is the brainchild of Jenny Denton and Sian Hoyle, two avid readers, whose passion for books have inspired this huge event.

Jenny Denton, Liz Fothergill, Sian Hoyle

 The Festival is filled to bursting with exciting author events 

and is to be held from the

31 May - 7 June 2015

The Festival, which is a registered charity, will celebrate the joy of books and the power and pleasure of reading.  The ambitious programme will be held in venues across the city with over 60 book related events and activities for all ages and interests.

The programme includes best-selling, celebrated writers, including:

Michael Morpurgo at Derby Theatre on Sunday 7 June

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Michael Morpurgo

David Nicholls at QUAD Derby on Wednesday 3 June

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David Nicholls

Penelope Lively at the Cathedral Quarter Hotel for the Festival Lunch on Thursday 4 June

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 Penelope Lively

Simon Armitage at Deda (Dance Centre) on Thursday 4 June

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Simon Armitage

Katie Fforde at QUAD Derby on Friday 5 June

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Katie Fforde

Sarah Waters at QUAD Derby on Saturday 6 June

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Sarah Waters

James Naughtie at Derby Museum & Art Gallery on Saturday 6 June

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James Naughtie

There will also be a recording of BBC Radio 4's Bookclub with Jon McGregor on Friday 5 June.  

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With events from author talks, discussions, live performances, and workshops for budding writers to children’s book trails, storytelling, theatre performances and ‘Make It’ sessions, there’s something for everyone!  

It will also feature events of local and specialist interest including cycling, railways, photography, football and cricket. 

For full details of the programme visit:

Follow the event on social media

Twitter @DerbyBookFest

Facebook DerbyBookFestival

Go on be know you want too..


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Review ~ Word Drops by Paul Anthony Jones

...A sprinkling of linguistic curiosities....

Elliot & Thompson
April 2015

I've long been fascinated by the power of words and can remember as a child, in primary school, being completely comfortable in English lessons when we were encouraged to do dictionary practice. Looking up the meaning of words is a still something I do on a regular basis, either by using a well thumbed Oxford English Dictionary, the quick reference facility on my Kindle or by browsing the cornucopia of online dictionary facilities.

So, to be asked to review a book, made up entirely of one thousand linguistic and etymological snippets that form one long interconnected chain, was a complete joy.

Word Drops is a language book which completely fascinates and as one word drops into another, a picture emerges, not just of the colourful and quirky use of language, but also of the unique power of words as they have evolved over time.

'Did you know that the bowl made by cupping your hands together is called a gowpen?

And speaking of bowls, the earliest known reference to bowling in English dates from 1555, when bowling alleys were banned by an Act of Parliament.

And that ties in nicely with the fact that the English called Germans "Alleymen" during the First World War....'

I absolutely loved this book. It's one of those hidden gems which sits quite comfortably on a book shelf until you need a little nugget of knowledge, and then once you dip into it you will be immediately be enthralled, not just by the goodies on offer, but also the way in which the book is presented. And as each fascinating fact drops into another one, very soon, the diversity and richness of language starts to enthral and really, I promise you, once started, you won't be able to stop to reading.

It would be a really special gift for someone, who, like me , loves the beauty of language, or for anyone who simply wants to know more about words which have long been abandoned.

And just to finish , I'll leave you with this snippet...picked at random from the book ...

The word happy in English is used three times more often in English than sad....

Have a happy day.

Paul Anthony Jones

Paul Anthony Jones is best known as a language blogger, He is the author of several books on trivia and languages including The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer, Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons and its sequel, Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire, He contributes regularly to the Huffington Post and Metal Floss as well as writing the Haggard Hawks Blog.

My thanks to Alison Menzies at Elliot & Thompson for my review copy of this book.


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Today my Guest Author is....... Melanie Hudson

© Melanie Hudson

A Yorkshire lass first and foremost, Melanie left her native county in 1994 when she joined the Royal Air Force as an Air Traffic Control Officer.
Melanie enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle awarded by her military career.  In addition to working at several air stations throughout the UK, she experienced an operational tour in the Balkans during the Kosovo Crisis in 1999, and served as air liaison officer with the British Army during their insurgence into Iraq in 2003.
In May 2004 she transferred to the Royal Navy Air Traffic Control Specialisation, the highlight of which was an exhilarating stint in HMS Invincible.  Melanie had a son in 2007, before retiring from military life in 2010, after which she moved to Dubai temporarily where she finally found the time to pursue her passion for writing.  She wrote the majority of her first novel, The Wedding Cake Tree, while sitting in a Japanese tea shop overlooking the Burj Kalifa.
Melanie is happiest when wandering in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands (pretending to be all mysterious and romantic). Melanie lives in Devon.

And especially for Jaffareadstoo, here's a lovely guest post
from Melanie....

As I type, I’m sitting in my favourite coffee shop in Bideford, Devon, and it’s publication day for my debut novel, The Wedding Cake Tree. This is a day I've been looking forward to for a very long time. The path to publication for any debut author is a story in itself, so I’ll briefly tell it to you all about mine…

In November 2010, having just retired from my sixteen year commission as a Royal Navy Officer, I moved to Dubai temporarily. It was the first time in my adult life I hadn’t had a job, so, unable to not my gainfully employed doing something (anything) I sat down and started to write a story that had been kicking around in my mind for quite some time. At first I was just writing to have something to do, but once I started to write, I couldn’t stop. It was lovely. Most people would probably spend their first few months in Dubai basking in the winter Arabian sunshine – but not me. I would daily de-camp to a café (the café in the book shop in the Burj Kalifa) and type away for hour after hour after hour – heaven. Every hour on the hour the Dubai Fountains would spring into life and dance away and I would briefly glance up and watch them from behind the café’s triple glazing. I’d had a stressful job for many years and it was truly lovely to just sit back and create something.

At that time I was writing for pleasure and genuinely had no intention of trying to achieve publication – to be fair, I wouldn’t even have begun to know how. And then, a friend sent me a link to the ITV/HarperCollins Peoples’ Novelist Competition, and on a whim I printed off the first three chapters of my embryonic novel, slid them into a buff envelope, sent them off to HarperCollins and thought nothing more about it. The following May I was notified that the novel had been shortlisted and all of a sudden there was a very real possibility that, if I won, my little project would suddenly become a published novel. I didn’t win. But the comments were so positive from the judging panel I began to believe that I might actually have written something that people (people who didn’t know me, that is) might want to read. So I paid to have a professional manuscript appraisal done (best money I ever spent), re-wrote the book, and then a friend of mine, self-published author Frankie Valente, helped me to self-publish on Amazon Kindle. To my surprise and delight the book became (almost) an overnight success. I was delighted. But even then I didn’t consider sending the manuscript off to agents because (and I’m going to be perfectly honest now) the thought of writing letters to hundreds of agents in the hope of one of them taking me on filled me with nothing but dread.

Then, one fortuitous, beautiful day, a lady I barely knew who had briefly moved to my village, popped in for coffee and we got to chatting about the book. She was a big fan of independent publishing company, Choc Lit, and encouraged me to contact them via their website in the hope of igniting some interest about the book. Something about Choc Lit (deep in my bones) felt right … and now, sometime later, my little book is published by Choc Lit, and my mum and dad can walk into their local bookshop and see it, and that is the best, best feeling in the world. And there you have it, my own little path to publication – why don’t you give it a go?

Choc Lit

Can a mother’s secret past provide the answers for a daughter’s future?

Celebrity photographer Grace Buchanan has always known that one day, she’d swap her manic day job for the peace and quiet of her beloved childhood cottage, St Christopher’s – she just didn’t expect it to be so soon.
At the reading of her mother’s will, she’s shocked to learn that she hardly knew Rosamund at all, and that inheriting St Christopher’s hangs on one big – and very inconvenient – condition: Grace must drop everything for two weeks and travel the country with a mysterious stranger – war-weary Royal Marine, Alasdair Finn.
Caught in a brief but perfect moment in time, Grace and Alasdair walk in Rosamund’s footsteps and read her letters at each breathtaking new place. As Grace slowly uncovers the truth about her mother’s incredible life story, Alasdair and Grace can’t help but question their own futures. Will Rosamund’s madcap scheme go to plan or will events take an unexpected turn?
An emotional, fun-filled and adventurous journey of a lifetime.

Buying Links:

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

 Huge thanks to Melanie for sharing her thoughts so eloquently and to Lusana at Choc Lit for her help with this guest post.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Lindsey Kelk - Blog Tour Announcement...

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of  Lindsey Kelk's

Always the Bridesmaid 

Blog Tour


Published on the 7th May



7 May 2015

Everyone loves a bridesmaid
(except Maddie, who’s perpetually asked to be one.)
Everyone loves a wedding
(except Maddie’s best friend, who’s getting divorced.)
And everyone loves the way Maddie’s so happy behind the scenes
(except Maddie herself.)
One best friend is in wedding countdown while the other heads for marriage meltdown. And as Maddie juggles her best chance at promotion in years with bridezilla texts and late-night counselling sessions, she starts to wonder – is it time to stop being the bridesmaid?


Monday, 20 April 2015

Bloggers on the Blog...Being Anne

Bloggers on the blog

My latest feature showcases some of the best of the book blogging community. 

These are the unsung heroes who are constantly on the look out for new and exciting books 

and who give so generously of their time ,energy and expertise.

I am delighted to welcome



 the excellent blog

What makes you want to blog about books?

I’ve always loved books - my mum would tell you stories about finding me in the corner at parties, reading whatever had caught my eye. As a grown-up, I still love every moment I spend reading - if I could read 24 hours a day I would. Retiring in March 14 was the second best thing - now, if there’s a day when I really don’t want to move, no-one’s going to tell me off for reading a book all day. I’ve reviewed books for years on various sites, I just want to let people know about the books I’ve loved. Nothing gives me more pleasure than an author tweeting their delight about a review, or a follower telling me they enjoyed a book as much as I did. 

What type of book makes you happy?

If it has words and a story, I’m happy - and if I’m not enjoying it, I’ll give it 100 pages, set it aside, and move on!

Which book have you recommended the most?

There are authors I recommend again and again, but the single book I suspect I might have recommended the most is Matt Haig’s The Last Family in England. I don’t usually read books about animals and pets, but I thought this book was just so perfect - I’ve never looked at labradors (or spaniels) in the same way again.

Which is the best book you received as a gift?

This is a poignant one. I read English Literature at university, and came away with a vast library of classics - I had a flood at my house a few years ago (when I lived near Wigan), and lost them all. I mentioned it to an on-line friend, and said that the book I missed the most was an illustrated copy of William blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. My gifted replacement copy now has a very special place on my shelf and in my heart - rest in peace Penny. 

Which book has sent a shiver down your spine? 

I’m a bit of a wuss about shivers - my vivid imagination tends to turn them into nightmares. But I adore Stephen King… my all-time favourite was Gerald’s Game. His son, Joe Hill, is pretty good too - after reading his Heart-Shaped Box, I was afraid to leave the bedroom at night for quite some time! 

How many books do you have, as yet unread, on your book shelves?

If I say this quickly, it doesn’t sound as bad - over 2000, equally split between shelves and Kindle library. It’d be so awful to have nothing to read, wouldn’t it?

Tell me about a book you’ve read more than three times?

I just don’t - there are just so many wonderful new books published daily! A book I’ve read never returns to my shelves, unless it’s been signed by the author.

What’s your idea of book heaven or book hell?

“Book” and “hell” just don’t fit together for me… reading a book is always heaven!

Where is your favourite reading place?

I read everywhere (really… except the bath, I’ve never perfected that!). But my favourite place is on a horrible winter’s afternoon, in my favourite armchair in the lounge, with the cat snoring on my lap, scented candle burning, cup of tea and slice of cake to hand, classical or soft soul music playing in the background!

What has been your favourite book of the far ?

It’s been an excellent year so far, but I’d like to recommend The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin - I thought it was a quite wonderful and life-affirming read, and can’t imagine anyone not loving it as much as I did.

Huge thanks to Anne for giving so generously of her time.

Jaffa and I love visiting your blog.

Long may it continue.