Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Blog Tour ~ Chains of Sand by Jemma Wayne

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the

Legend Press
1 June 2016

 Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Jemma. 

I am delighted that you are spending some time with us today and a very Happy Publication Day to you for Chains of Sand. 

Tell us a little about Jemma Wayne, author.

How long have you been writing and what got you started?

I think I have always written. I remember being aged five or six and stapling bits of paper together to create ‘books’ I’d fill with stories and then try to flog to relatives. And as a child I had two clear ambitions: to win a gold in the Olympics, and to be an author. When I left university however it occurred to me that declaring myself a writer wasn’t really a job, so I started off in journalism, which was a great foundation for everything that has come since. After working as a staff reporter for a year, I found that I couldn’t escape the urge to write the fiction that was constantly bubbling inside my head, so I decided to go freelance, started on a novel…and a short decade later(!), here I am…still chasing that illusive Olympic gold.

What inspired you to write Chains of Sand and what can you tell us about it that won’t give too much away?

Chains of Sand is about identity and truth. Set against the backdrop of Israel’s conflict with Gaza in 2014, it traces the parallel stories of two men: Udi, a 26-year-old veteran of the IDF who wants to leave Israel and move to London; and Daniel, a similarly aged British Jew who wants to emigrate to Tel Aviv. Alongside this is a tale of forbidden love set in Jerusalem a decade earlier between a Jewish girl and an Arabic man. Amidst chaos in Israel and a surge of antisemitism in London, these different characters attempt to unpack their identities, and the book asks the question not what is the truth of the conflict, but is there a truth, whose truth is it? The main inspiration for me was the climate surrounding the war in 2014. Israel is always a polarising issue, it pushes people towards extreme views, but I began to see a certain triumphalism everywhere: people on both ‘sides’ losing their ability to empathise, to listen, to even for a moment put down their rigid arguments, their passionate ‘truths’ and attempt to judge the morality of their own ‘side’s’ actions. For me this was a dangerous, complicated, fascinating dynamic. And something I wanted to explore.

Are you a plotter...or ...a start writing and see where it takes you sort of writer? 

I’ve been both. My first foray into writing a novel had no plan, no structure, little research. I started at A and I finished at B. It was raw, at moments surprising, and both better and worse for its lack of plotting. Since then, I’ve slowly grown into a fastidious plotter. I adore the research side of the process. I love gathering facts and insights and ideas. I love developing characters. And then I carefully plot the main events of each chapter, before lifting my metaphorical pen. At times however, there are still surprising moments – times when a character or an event begins to take on its own life and goes off in a tangent I never expected. These are my favourite parts, the best bits. But I think they come from and not in spite of the plotting.

What were the challenges you faced whilst writing this novel?

The topic is very controversial, very emotive, and I couldn’t help being aware of this while I was writing. I was anxious for that awareness not to impede the truth of the characters or the story, so hopefully I have accomplished this. During my research too, there were a lot of difficult questions I had to put to people – for example asking an Israeli soldier what it felt like to kill somebody, or what he was thinking when a bomb amputated his leg. But I hope that these challenges make the writing more visceral.

What do you hope that readers will take away from Chains of Sand?

Questions. Questions about the huge mass of grey within the black and white framework through which this conflict is usually viewed.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

My first book, After Before, was longlisted for the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and is available on Amazon and at various bookshops. For journalism and other info, readers can have a look at

Chains of Sand is published by Legend Press on 1st June (Paperback £9.99), buy your copy here.

My thanks to the author for taking the time to answer my questions about Chains of Sand and also to Alice at Midas PR for the invitation to join in with this blog tour

Blog Tour runs 30 May - 9 June 2016

Please visit the other stops on the tour for more exciting book content


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Review ~ The Sacred Combe by Thomas Maloney

May 2016

Samuel Browne is a singularly good man, but is set adrift when his marriage to the mysterious Sarah falls apart, and so, with his life and career in banking at a crossroads, he answers an enigmatic advertisement to act as a volunteer archivist in a private library. With nothing to lose, Samuel undertakes the journey to meet with Arnold Comberbache, and therein starts seventeen weeks of an adventure which will change Samuel's perception of life forever. 

Deep in the British country side, in a wonderfully, atmospheric country house, Samuel is instructed to search for a lost letter, which could be hidden in any of the books in Arnold's magnificent library. Searching through shelves of books, which run into many thousands, in order to find this precious letter, Sam could be forgiven for skimping on the task, but as I have said, Sam is a good man and he throws himself into this unusual assignment with quiet reserve and excellent fortitude.

Steeped in mystery and alive with Gothic mysticism, I soon became joyously absorbed in the many faceted life of the Sacred Combe, and with great delight, I followed both Arnold and Samuel as they went about their daily business. Their quiet companionship, their delight in books and music, and Samuel’s tentative exploration into the hidden delights of the gardens around the house, are all so beautifully observed that it really feels like you tiptoe in their shadow.

The Sacred Combe is the story of a family, of its links with the past, and of the repercussions of family tragedies, which continue to reverberate down through time. It’s also a story about a profound love for books, of the glorious mysteries they contain and of the hopes and dreams which are to be found within their pages. 

There’s such a quiet observational style to the novel, that the subtlety of its narrative sort of creeps up on you, until you feel the words wash over you like a comforting blanket. Its lingering lyricism reminded me of the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett in The Secret Garden and the delicate tracery of poetic description made the book a delight to read from start to finish.

.." A house does not need ghosts to be haunted...Memory is enough, if there's someone left to remember ..."

Best read with… A crystal glass of fine sherry and two wafer thin cuts of Mrs Synder’s Roast Pheasant..

About the Author

Thomas Maloney was born in Kent in 1979, grew up in London, and studied physics at university. He is a competent but unexceptional mountaineer and an astigmatic birdwatcher. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife, daughter, and kayak.

My thanks to Sophie at Scribe for the chance to read and review this novel.


Monday, 30 May 2016

Review ~ Love's Long Road by G D Harper

April 2016

Bobbie Sinclair’s feeling of responsibility for her boyfriend's suicide is something she struggles to cope with, and her only way of dealing with it is to fight against everything she knows. She innocently assumes that her life can be blocked out by an unending progression of one night stands, but leading a promiscuous life, in her home town of Glasgow, brings her into contact with Michael Mitchell, an unscrupulous manipulator, who takes Bobbie by the hand and leads her, imperceptibly, into the dark and shady world of Glasgow’s criminal underclass.

The dark and gritty world which Bobbie finds herself part of, both in Glasgow and later in London, evokes a realistic edge to a story which moves along at a rollicking good pace. The late 1970s, a time I know very well, comes alive, and the author's descriptions of time and place are excellent, from the wearing of bright yellow jumpsuits, mine was blue, to drinking abundant amounts of Blue Nun and cruising around the edge of a Tiffany's nightclub dance floor, the detail was absolutely perfect.

Bobbie is a feisty protagonist, the sheer strength of her personality carries the story very well, but she also has a uniquely vulnerable edge which even though there are times when she is exasperating, you can’t help but form a deep emotional attachment to her. The other characters who flit into and out, add real depth to this dark and gritty story. Michael is such a dangerous charmer, and yet he exudes a sensuous attraction which hides just how dangerous a manipulator he is, and then there’s, Duncan, Bobbie’s friend who sticks with her throughout the whole sorry story.

The drama throughout Love's Long Road is utterly believable, the attention to detail is excellent and the ending, when it comes, is entirely appropriate. I really enjoyed it - it would make a great TV drama!!

Best Read with….chicken in a basket and of course, copious glasses of luke warm, Blue Nun…

My thanks to the author for sharing this book with me


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle fought in the North Sea between the 
British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet.

The battle was fought between the 31 May and 1 June  1916

Fourteen British and eleven German ships were sunk with tremendous loss of life. 
Over 6000 British and 2500 German lives were lost and this marked one of the
Royal Navy's darkest times.

It was the only major battle fought at sea and marked a turning point in WW1.

The Verdict


Rudyard Kipling

Jutland , 1916

Not in the thick of the fight,

Not in the press of the odds,

Do the heroes come to their height,

Or we know the demi-gods.

That stands over till peace.

We can only perceive

Men returned from the seas,

Very grateful for leave.

They grant us sudden days

Snatched from their business of war;

But we are too close to appraise

What manner of men they are.

And, whether their names go down

With age-kept victories,

Or whether they battle and drown

Unreckoned, is hid from our eyes.

They are too near to be great,

But our children shall understand

When and how our fate

Was changed, and by whose hand.

Our children shall measure their worth.

We are content to be blind . . .

But we know that we walk on a new-born earth

With the saviours of mankind.

More information about the centenary commemorations can me found


Saturday, 28 May 2016

Review ~ Eden Gardens by Louise Brown

Headline Review
April 2016

A bit of blurb

Eden Gardens, Calcutta, the 1940s. In a ramshackle house, streets away from the grand colonial mansions of the British, live Maisy, her Mam and their ayah, Pushpa.

Whiskey-fuelled and poverty-stricken, Mam entertains officers in the night - a disgrace to British India. All hopes are on beautiful Maisy to restore their good fortune.

But Maisy's more at home in the city's forbidden alleyways, eating bazaar food and speaking Bengali with Pushpa, than dancing in glittering ballrooms with potential husbands.

Then one day Maisy's tutor falls ill. His son stands in. Poetic, handsome and ambitious for an independent India, Sunil Banerjee promises Maisy the world.

So begins a love affair that will cast her future, for better and for worse. Just as the Second World War strikes and the empire begins to crumble...

This is the other side of British India. A dizzying, scandalous, dangerous world, where race, class and gender divide and rule

My thoughts:

I was drawn to the book by its cover which I think has a great sense of place and which conjures the golden heat of a country in turmoil and that's exactly what this book is about; it's about a country at odds with itself, about women who are used, and who are bought and sold as commodities, with little regard for them as people, and it’s also about the sights, scents and sounds of India, which come alive in glorious technicolour. Don't be fooled by the cover as this is not a book for the fainthearted, as parts of the story are difficult to read without feeling a huge sense of hopelessness.

Initially, I thought that the book was rather hard going in places and it took me a little time to warm to Maisy, whose interesting and courageous story takes centre stage. But the writing is good, if a little jumpy, and once I had I settled into the story, probably about two thirds of the way in, I became engrossed in the way India was coming alive in my imagination.

The author writes with great passion about a subject she clearly feels passionate about and that comes across in the way she describes the minutiae of daily life and in her relationships with her characters who she describes in such intricate detail. Reading the notes about the inspiration for the novel at the end of the book goes a long way to explain just why the author has such a fascination for India and its people.

I think that this is difficult book to 'enjoy' as it's quite heart wrenching in places, and in a way the cover sort of suggests that the book will be a bit fluffy, which is a bit of a misnomer, as the book is anything but that.

Overall, it’s a good debut novel from an author who is worth watching to see what she comes up with next.

Best Read with....Bowls of Jhal Muri, spicy with chilli and coriander, and delicate cups of Masala Chai...

About the Author

Louise Brown has lived in Nepal and travelled extensively in India, sparking her enduring love of South Asia.

Eden Gardens is her debut novel although she has also written critically acclaimed non fiction books.

My thanks to Headline Review and Bookbridgr for my copy of this book.


Friday, 27 May 2016

Monkfish Maggie and the Bungalow Stairs....

**Out Today **

Monkfish Maggie and the Bungalow Stairs

Ilustrated by Berg Norcross

When Maggie returns home from the market one spectacularly normal day, two things in particular strike her as strange.

• Firstly, a rather peculiar set of stairs have sprouted from her otherwise stairless bungalow.
• Secondly, and probably most concerning of all, her husband Nesbitt is nowhere to be found…

Where is Nesbitt? Why have these extraordinary stairs appeared - and more importantly, what lies beyond them? Evil? Good? Monsters? Head lice?!

Join Maggie as she searches low, high and even higher for Nesbitt, in an intriguing debut adventure that will captivate children and adults alike.

Love stairs? This story is for you!
Hate stairs? It’s for you as well!
Don’t care either way? Me neither - have yourself a read!

Amazon .co .uk

Written by CatchphraseDan and bursting with over 50 enchanting illustrations by the mystical Berg Norcross, Monkfish Maggie and the Bungalow Stairs will dunk you deep into a barrel of mystery and then wring you dry like a limp blue flannel. Sit yourself down and open your mind hole, because this story is coming at you…




Thursday, 26 May 2016

Review ~ Leopards of Normandy : Duke by David Churchill

APRIL 2016

The Leopards of Normandy #2

He came, he fought and he conquered and that's really all I knew about William the first of England, the King who built the Tower of London with stone from his native Normandy. I didn't know anything about his life before the conquest of England and what's been so fascinating about reading David Churchill's excellent trilogy, so far, is that it has started to flesh out William, to give him personality and purpose, and in this second book in the trilogy, which spans the years between 1039 to 1051, William starts to emerge as a strong and decisive character.

Of course, there are going to be gaps in history, and this is most definitely a fictional account of William’s early life but wherever possible the author has used available historical evidence to add motivation and gives a plausible suggestion of what might have happened. The one thing that is certain, however, is that the eleventh century was a time of great political and democratic uncertainty. Conflict between the ruling families of northern Europe was rife and political assassination was both endemic and accepted as commonplace.

There is no doubt that the author writes well around a subject about which he is passionate. Factual and fictional history blends really well and as time and place starts to come alive, before you know it, the creeping menace of the eleventh century starts to surface, and in your imagination you are moving surreptitiously in the cold, dark shadows watching as William's story continues to unfold.

This second book in the trilogy shows just how unpredictable life was in the eleventh century, and as families fought against families, the only certainty was that the victor would be the one with enough ambition and motivation to succeed. I look forward to seeing how the story finally plays out in the final part of the trilogy and although the outcome is known, it's going to be really interesting to see how William finally gets to becomes the conqueror we know from our history books.

Best read with … A haunch of venison and a flagon of ripe and fruity Normandy cider..

About the Author

David Churchill is the pseudonym of an award-winning journalist. He has investigated financial scandals on Wall Street, studio intrigues in Hollywood and corrupt sports stars in Britain, and lived in Moscow, Washington DC and Havana. He has edited four magazines, published seventeen books and been translated into some twenty languages. The Leopards of Normandy trilogy reflects his lifelong passion for history and his fascination for the extraordinary men and women of the past who shaped the world we live in today.

Amazon UK

My thanks to Caitlin Raynor at Headline for my copy of this book