Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ How to Find Love in the Little Things by Virginie Grimaldi

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the 

How to Find Love in the Little Things Blog Tour

Headline Review
23 August 2018

My thanks to the publishers and to Random Things tours for my copy of this book and my invitation to the blog tour

What's it all about..

Welcome to Ocean View. You don't know it yet, but you'll be happy here...' 

Julia's not running away. Not exactly. She just needs a break from Paris and Marc and all the sad stuff that's been going on lately. A little time to pull herself together. 

The job offer felt like a lifeline. But now she's back in Biarritz, suitcase in hand, she hasn't the faintest idea what she was thinking. 

What Julia doesn't yet know is there's more to the odds and ends of Ocean View than meet the eye. Behind the double doors lie broken hearts, lifelong secrets, a touch of romance and an unwavering passion for life. And sometimes it's the most unlikely of places and people who help you find your way.

My thoughts about it..

How to Find Love in the Little Things is one of those lovely stories which looks at the quirks and eccentricities of older people. Setting the novel in a care home in Biarritz allows the main protagonist of the story, Julia, to come to terms with a personal loss whilst working at the  Ocean View Nursing Home. As a psychologist, Julia is perfectly placed to try to understand the elderly residents of the home, but, as she discovers, sometimes it's them who are doing their best to do the analysing.

I enjoyed this light and easy summer read which has a charming mixture of happy and sad moments interspersed with gentle insights into the vagaries of life whatever your age. The delightful characterisation made me smile especially the residents who call Ocean View their home,  they're an odd bunch, to be sure, but mostly they made me smile, and I enjoyed seeing how everything would, eventually, play out for all of them. Julia's story which runs alongside the events taking place in the nursing home shows just how she learns to cope with her own personal loss, which is handled sensitively, and adds an interesting dimension to the story.

The author writes well with a fine eye for detail and whilst the story has been translated from its original French it doesn't seem to lose its momentum. All too often books in translation can lose their original verve but this is not so with How to Find Love in the Little Things, which kept my attention throughout the whole of the story.

Virginie Grimaldi grew up in Bordeaux and has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She wrote her first novel aged eight in a green notebook with multiplication tables in the back. It was about love and the sea and featured a thirty-page-long sunset . . . How to Find Love in the Little Things was first published in France in May 2016 and became an instant bestseller, translated into multiple languages.

Twitter @GinieGrimaldi


Monday, 20 August 2018

Ten Poems for a Picnic ~ Candlestick Press

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to share this latest poetry pamphlet from Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press
July 2018
Selected and introduced by Jacqueline Gabbitas

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this pamphlet

Lazing on a picnic rug under a clear blue sky, what could be more lovely than reading poetry? These ten poems have been selected to provide a perfect accompaniment to an open-air feast; some capture culinary delights such as strawberry tarts and custard while others have been chosen to add to the mood of carefree bliss that only a picnic on a summer’s day can offer.

From Jeremy Hooker’s thoughts while blackberrying to the quiet joy of being in a park with squirrels and daffodils in March, we are transported to enchanted times and places where day-to-day routines seem to have been suspended:

“In a little rainy mist of white and grey
we sat under an old tree,
drank tea toasts to the powdery mountain,”

from ‘The Picnic’ by Edwin Morgan

Whether read alone or to a friend or lover, these beautiful poems make ideal companions for a cucumber sandwich and a glass of fizz.

Poems by Wayne Burrows, Jacqueline Gabbitas, Katherine Gallagher, Jeremy Hooker, Mimi Khalvati, Edwin Morgan, Frank O’Hara, Peter Phillips, Gertrude Stein and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

My thoughts..

This collection of ten quirky poems about picnics is such a diverse assortment of verse that it's really difficult to choose a favourite. However, any poetry collection that starts with a poem by one of my favourite twentieth century poets, Edna St.Vincent Millay, is bound to set my thoughts in the right direction.

"We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came too soon."

from ' Recuerdo' by Edna St.Vincent Millay

I also like ..

"What I see are strawberry and raspberry tarts
apricot flans and creamy cheesecake

I breathe in, taste the colours
go in search of a cup of tea."

from 'Cakes at Sherringham Park' by Peter Phillips

This collection of poetry conjures the delight of sitting outdoors, in good company, with good food and the simple pleasure of being with friends. And all around, with beautiful verse, the sounds, tastes and sights of nature come gloriously alive.

Reading Ten Poems for a Picnic is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon, sitting on lovely tartan rug, with a flask of tea and ham sandwich, and let the cares of the day simply drift away.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Cricket, London, Lesbian and Gay, Revenge, Babies and Fathers. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Connect: www.candlestickpress.co.uk

Twitter @PoetryCandle

Huge thanks to Kathy at Candlestick Press for my copy of Ten Poems for a Picnic

Sunday, 19 August 2018

WW1 Remembered...

On this Day in 1918

British Advance in Flanders  ~ Battle of Outtersteene Ridge 18th August 1918

Action of Outtersteene Ridge. 

Wounded from the 27th Brigade, 9th Division, prepare for a light railway journey from Meteren to medical units in the rear area, 18 August 1918.

Brooke, John Warwick ( Lieutenant)
© IWM (Q 6959)

Action of Outtersteene Ridge. Artillery observers watching the progress of the creeping barrage laid down to support the attack of 27th Brigade, 9th Division. Meteren, 18 August 1918.

Brooke, John Warwick ( Lieutenant)
© IWM (Q 6948)

Action of Outtersteene Ridge. Signallers, Royal Engineers (9th Division), at an artillery observation post sending back messages about the British creeping barrage. Meteren, 18 August 1918.

Brooke, John Warwick ( Lieutenant)
© IWM (Q 6947)

The hundred days offensive which began in with the Battle of Amiens in August 1918 saw the rapid series of Allied Victories against which the German army had no real defense.


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ... England, 1678

Crooked Cat Books
16 July 2018

Huge thanks to the author and publishers  for my copy of this book

What price justice?

London 1678.

Historical fiction has the ability to take you to a place long ago, back to a time that isn't your own, with customs, traditions and legends which have been set down in history books. Mostly, I know a little about the time and place I find myself in, but not always, and so in The Road to Newgate, it's been a real treat to spend time with a story I didn't know too much about, that of the infamous preacher, Titus Oates.

The Road to Newgate is a vivid description of this unsettled time and is told through the eyes of  three fictional characters who were caught up in the events as they happened. Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, his wife Anne, and their friend, William Smith, all help to bring the story to life in a realistic way and intertwining real historical figures with that of fictional characters also gives an authentic edge to what was happening.  

The story covers the tumultuous events which began in 1678 during the reign of Charles II and although England has had some stability during his 18 year reign, there is always intrigue and insurrection just waiting to happen. Religious discord, particularly from those who would have England return to Catholicism, is a constant threat, and so when the preacher, Titus Oates incites panic with news of a new Popish threat which threatens to kill the King, the meeting houses and coffee shops on the streets of London are decidedly twitchy.The city comes gloriously alive, so that you can hear the angry shouts, feel the danger and despair, and, as you traipse through seventeenth century London, the scented rag you hold your nose does little to disguise the dirt and squalor of this teeming city.

The author does this type of historical fiction so well, cleverly blending fact with fiction, danger with intrigue and all the necessary emotion along the way. The mystery at the heart of the novel is handled well and I whilst it sounds strange to have enjoyed time in the hell hole that was Newgate Prison. The author's vivid descriptions of the place makes you feel that you have actually been incarcerated within its walls, on execution day, with the dubious aroma of boiling flesh filling your nostrils.

The Road to Newgate is an atmospheric insight into a turbulent and dangerous time. The author has done a commendable job in bringing place, people and historical detail to glorious life.

About the Author

Kate Braithwaite grew up in Edinburgh but now lives with her family in Pennsylvania. The Road To Newgate is her second novel. 

Twitter @ KMBraithaite 


The Road to Newgate is available to buy from Amazon UK  and other good book stores.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be hosting today's stop on the Cottage by the Sea Blog Tour

Arrow Publishing
9 August 2018

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

What's it all about..

Rocked by tragedy, Annie Marlow returns to the one place she knows she can heal: the cottage by the sea where she spent many happy childhood holidays with her family. 

There, Annie meets Keaton, a local painter with a big heart; Mellie, the reclusive landlord Annie is determined to befriend; and Britt, a teenager with a terrible secret. With them her broken spirit starts to heal. 

Then events threaten Annie’s new idyll. And when the opportunity of a lifetime lands in her lap, she is torn between the excitement of a new journey and the pull of the haven – and the man – she has come to call home. Will she be able to make her new-found happiness last?

What did I think about it..

When Annie Marlow suffers a personal tragedy she returns to the place where she spent happy summers with her family. Hiring the cottage by the sea helps to heal the wounds which threaten to engulf her and with a new job and making new friends, Annie starts to feel hopeful again. However, the future is a scary place, and Annie needs to start to trust again before her heart can heal.

This is a lovely entertaining read which looks at the dynamics of family and friendship and shows that friends really are the family we choose for ourselves. Annie's interaction with the people who call the small seaside resort of Oceanside home makes for a quietly thoughtful story, which is reflected in Annie's burgeoning relationship with gentle giant, Keaton, and of her lively encounters with  Millie, her belligerent and, somewhat eccentric, landlord.

This is the type of story which this author does so well and Cottage by the Sea is up there with the best of its genre, which, it must be said, Debbie Macomber has, over the years, made her own. Throughout the whole of the story I found that I was smiling at the gentle way everything is allowed to unfold with quiet emphasis on observation and gentle humour.

There is much to enjoy in Cottage by the Sea as it's a lovely read, which is just perfect for a lazy afternoon in the garden. I found myself racing through the story, quite engrossed in life at Oceanside and completely at ease with the characters who make this story rather special.

Debbie Macomber is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers. In addition to fiction, Debbie has also published two bestselling cookbooks; numerous inspirational and nonfiction works; and two acclaimed children’s books. The beloved and bestselling Cedar Cove series became Hallmark Channel’s first dramatic scripted television series, Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, which was ranked as the top program on US cable TV when it debuted in summer 2013. Hallmark has also produced many successful films based on Debbie’s bestselling Christmas novels. Debbie Macomber owns her own tea room, and a yarn store, A Good Yarn, named after the shop featured in her popular Blossom Street novels. She and her husband, Wayne, serve on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, and she is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and her husband Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington (the town on which her Cedar Cove novels are based) and winter in Florida. 

Twitter @debbiemacomber #CottageByTheSea



Thursday, 16 August 2018

Review ~ How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

How to Walk Away
9 August 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
What's it all about ..

Margaret Jacobsen has it all: The fantastic job, a bright future, and the man of her dreams. One day, on what was supposed to be the most special day of her life, a freak accident turns Margaret’s life upside down. 

Suddenly, Margaret is full of questions she never thought she would have to ask - 

Is her fiancĂ© actually her fiancĂ©? Why is her estranged sister here? But most importantly, will she ever walk again? 

For fans of Jojo Moyes, How to Walk Away is an unforgettable love story about finding joy and hope in the darkest of circumstances.

My thoughts about it ..

Margaret Jacobsen and her perfect boyfriend Charlie seem about to spend an idyllic night together and Margaret is sure that on this night Charlie will propose to her, but the fate has a nasty way of intervening and in the blink of an eye Margaret's life is changed forever. Waking up in a trauma unit with life limiting injuries is the start of Margaret's long road to recovery. And whilst she finds that Charlie is less than supportive there are others who do their best to bring Margaret back to some semblance of 'normal' life.

How to Walk Away is an interesting story about family dynamics and how a catastrophic event can either bring out the worst, or the best in people.  There are some lovely light moments within the story particularly with Margaret's sister, Kitty, who has come back into her life after being estranged from the family for three years, we gradually learn the reason for this estrangement as the story progresses. However, it is in the relationship that Margaret has with her physiotherapist, Iain, where the story starts to come alive. It was interesting to observe just how much of Margaret's recovery relied upon the taciturn Iain who, on occasion, tested her endurance to breaking point, and whose maverick approach to rehab often landed him in trouble. I enjoyed the 'will they, won't they' aspect of Margaret's relationship with Iain, who with his Scottish stoicism is quite the hero with his no nonsense approach to physical therapy. 

I enjoyed reading this story which is both sad and happy in equal measure. The author has clearly done her research about the type of injuries that Margaret sustains and whilst the story doesn't dwell too much on the more serious medical aspects of Margaret's condition there is enough information there to make it feel convincing. Margaret's slow rehabilitation shows just how fragile is the life we once felt we held safe and shows that help comes in all sorts of different ways.

Katherine Center

New York Times best selling writer Katherine Center writes bittersweet comic novels about how we get back up after life has knocked us down. She writes about hope, and love, and how we hold onto life’s joys, even in the midst of all its hardship. Katherine is the author of six novels, with more on the way. Her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, was recently optioned for a movie.

Twitter @katherinecenter #HowToWalkAway


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on 

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway Blog Tour

9 August 2018

My thanks to the author, publishers and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be a part of the blog tour

What's it all about..

Sam Holloway has survived the worst that life can throw at you. But he’s not really living. His meticulous routines keep everything nice and safe - with just one exception...

Three nights a week, Sam dons his superhero costume and patrols the streets. It makes him feel invincible - but his unlikely heroics are getting him into some sticky, and increasingly dangerous, situations.

Then a girl comes into his life, and his ordered world is thrown into chaos ... and now Sam needs to decide whether he can be brave enough to finally take off the mask.

Both hilarious and heart-warming, this is a story about love, loneliness, grief, and the life-changing power of kindness.

My thoughts about it..

I'm sure that, if we look deep enough, there's a little bit of the super hero in all of us and as Sam Holloway proves sometimes you just have to get out there and defend those who can't always defend themselves. Sam's unlikely heroics are the stuff of dreams and as each of his Phantasm adventures gets underway I found that I was smiling, not just because he arms himself with a restorative cherry coke and a toffee crisp, incidentally, in my opinion, one of the best ever chocolate bars to be invented, but that he also succeeds against all odds. That his personal life is rather quiet and mundane only adds to his considerable charm and so when he meets the girl with red hair, you just hope that his life takes an altogether different turn.

I loved this book from start to finish. It's warm, it's witty and it's wise beyond measure but more importantly, it made me remember just how good a feel-good story can make you feel. However, don't be fooled into thinking that this is a quiet little story, it's not, as life has not always been plain sailing for Sam, he's had his share of bumps and knocks and yet, he keeps going, keeps on doing his best, showing a little kindness and standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves, and in the end that's what we should all be doing.

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway is suffused with gentle humour, it will make you smile, laugh out loud and even shed a little tear now and again, but throughout it all Sam's inherent goodness shines through like a beacon of hope.

I knew I was going to love Sam from page 5 when I read that he was a great believer in not rushing beans and observes that there is an art to everything in life, even beans. How true.

About the Author

Rhys Thomas lives in Cardiff with his long-term girlfriend and two cats, 
Henry VIII and Sheldon Tilllikum Cooper

Twitter @rhysthomashello #UnlikelyHeroics