Sunday, 30 June 2013

Review ~ Sleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart

Sleeping in Eden: A Novel
Howard Books
May 21st 2013

She knew what he wrote . . . 

One little word that made her feel both cheated and beloved. 

One word that changed everything. 


When Doctor Lucas Hudson is called to view a body hanging from the rafters of the barn, it is assumed that Jim Sparks has committed suicide; the mystery deepens when a skeleton of a young woman is unearthed in the dirt below where the body hangs. For Doctor Hudson, this poses a dilemma, as with the body is a ring which Hudson decides to keep as a peace offering for his wife Jenna.

This murder mystery novel is divided into almost two separate books and as the story of Meg Painter and Dylan Reid, high school sweethearts starts to unfold, there is little correlation between the two stories, and then gradually inch by inch, the strands interlink and it becomes clearer why these two stories should combine.

Well written and imaginative, this story evokes strong emotions and combines sentiment with gritty realism. Overall, this is a good read, the author clearly knows her audience and has written several books with an overt Christian theme, and whilst this is not my usual genre, I can appreciate that fans Christian themed novels , will find much to enjoy in this latest book from Nicole Baart.

My thanks to NetGalley and Howard Books from my digital copy of this book to read and review.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Review ~ Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran

Scent of Triumph
Published May 1st 2012 by Briarcliffe Press

This historical novel is set during the troubled years of WW2, and tells the story of Danielle Bretancourt who is a talented perfumer, and even as she uses this amazing olfactory skill to survive in the glitzy world of Hollywood, she never forgets those who were lost to her during the troubled events of the war in Europe.
Nicely written, this story holds your imagination from the beginning and captures both the horror of war time loss, and the glitzy glamour of 1940’s Hollywood. The subject of fashion, perfume and passion is skilfully woven into a story which shows that the natural urge to survive is strong and even as Danielle’s bravery, spirit and resilience are put to the test, the courage of this feisty heroine, and her irresistible endurance is always strong.

My thanks to NetGalley and Briarcliffe Press for this review copy.

Friday, 28 June 2013

My Guest on the Blog is Catriona Troth

I am delighted to welcome 


Piebald Publishing
1 June 2013

The people of the Haida Gwaii tell the legend of the raven – the trickster who brings the gift of light into the world.

Canada. 1971.

Terry always believed his father would return one day and rescue him from his dark and violent childhood. That’s what Indian warriors were supposed to do. But he’s thirteen now and doesn’t believe in anything much.

Yet his father is alive. Someone has tracked him down. And Terry is about to come face to face with the truth about his own past and about the real nature of the gift of the raven.

Catriona ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo

How would you describe Gift of the Raven?

It’s a story of a teenager exploring his own heritage and learning to take pride in it.  Terry has been told all his life that his Indian roots are something to be ashamed of.  When he was younger, he imagined his father as a warrior who would rescue him from his brutal stepfather.  But that father never came, and now he’s pretty much given up believing in anything.  So how will he react when he comes face to face with man who left him and his mother to suffer for all those years?

How much research did you do for Gift of the Raven?

Not as much as with some things I’ve written!  I read some books about the history of the Haida, including Christie Harris’s Raven's Cry, and I spent time learning about the techniques used by the Haida artists.  And as Terry is a huge fan of the Montreal Canadiens, I had to remind myself all about hockey!  I also had to relearn my Canadian English (not having lived there since I left school).

What was the writing process like?

I started with a string of short stories, and Gift of the Raven expanded out of the first one.  Maybe because Terry is an artist – and he is character through which we see everything – it felt like a very visual book. Many of the scenes grew out of their settings, and others from objects – especially the Haida art.  (I’ve created a Pinterest board, so that I can share some of that with readers who are interested in exploring that world further.)

Are you inspired by any particular era, author or book?

I do tend to be inspired by events and news items.  In the case of Gift of the Raven, the story was partly triggered by the fact that the beautiful Haida totems were being threatened by loggers (a threat that has now been averted).  My next book was directly inspired by events in Coventry through the spring and summer of 1981.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Probably the best advice I can give is to find a set of beta readers whom you can trust to be completely honest and to hold you to the highest possible standards.  They need to be widely read in your genre and to understand (really understand) what makes a book good.  And their judgement mustn't be clouded by their love of you!  Beta readers like that are hard to find – but when you do, treasure them, for their price is above gold.

And finally for fun:

What’s your favourite childhood book?

Oh, that is so hard!  There was so many.  My mum used to joke that she’d try and catch me between books and if she blinked, I’d be on the next one!  But I think I’ll pick The Borrowers.  I have always adored the world Mary Norton created.  As a new mother, I treated myself to an omnibus edition, which I read when I was too much in baby-mode for anything very demanding.  It incorporated a letter Norton wrote to a young fan, in which she described how, as the short-sighted little sister of long-sighted brothers, she could never see the things they tried to show her, like the kestrel gliding overhead. So instead, she focused on tiny things, like the wild strawberries growing in the hedgerows.  As the short-sighted daughter of a long-sighted mother, I instantly empathised. So perhaps that was the secret of what made me fall in love with Arriety and her family.

Catriona ~ Thank you so much for giving us such insightful answers to our questions. 

It was lovely to have you as a guest on our blog.

Jaffa and I will be following your writing career with great interest.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Review ~ Gift of the Raven by Catriona Troth

Piebald Publishing
1 June 2013

Sometimes a story can be told unequivocally in just a few words, and I am sure that the bold and brave style of writing in Gift of the Raven is one such story. Terry feels different, with his black hair and skin the colour of strong tea, there is no one quite like him amongst his immediate family, but when he sees native Indians at a local market, somewhere deep within his soul, a chord resonates. The fact that he is different makes Terry noticeable, and it invokes the wrath of his abusive stepfather, and yet Terry, yearning for his real father, spins and weaves a warrior’s tale in order to survive unspeakable abuse.

The story can be read quite comfortably over the space of a couple of hours, but don’t be fooled into thinking that because it is an easy read that the novella is light on content, far from it, there is an underlying richness and a profound sense of compassion pervading through the narrative, and the spirit of the story stays with you for a long time.

Before reading this novella, I had no knowledge of the Haida Gwaii Indians of Canada, but their proud and poignant history is reflected in the lyricism of the author’s writing and in the cultural heritage of their myths and legends.

Oh, just one more thing - the cover is stunning !

Highly recommended.

My thanks to the author and Triskele Books for my copy of the book

Do come back tomorrow to see an interview with the author Catriona Troth 

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Review ~ Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

Dear Thing
Random House UK
Transworld Publishers

On the surface it seems that Ben and Claire have everything. The only thing missing from their warm and loving relationship is a child of their own, but Claire’s infertility hangs like a shadow, affecting every aspect of her life. Romily, is Ben’s best mate, they met at University, and through good times and bad, have managed to remain close friends. Claire and Ben are Godparents to Romily’s daughter, Posie, who is the nearest thing they have to a child of their own and they adore her.
Romily knows how sad Ben and Claire feel about not being able to have a child of their own, and so when she offers to act as a surrogate for them, it seems to be the answer to their prayers. However, even the grandest gesture amongst friends can soon start to unravel, and long buried secrets and feelings can never be truly hidden.
I was hooked by this story from the first moment and devoured the book almost in one sitting. The characters are all so finely drawn that they could be people you know, and the way in which the story is allowed to evolve, so that we begin to see right into the psyche of all the characters, is very believable. There’s a lot to absorb in the story, not just about the complexity of surrogacy, but also about the minutiae of relationships and what happens when we explore the true meaning of friendship.

My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK Transworld Publishers for a digital copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


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My Guest on the blog is J J Marsh

I am delighted to welcome back

Photo by kind permission of the author

to talk about her latest book

Published May 6th 2013 by Prewett Publishing

Disheartened by her recent performance, Beatrice Stubbs takes a sabbatical from the Metropolitan Police for a gourmet tour of Northern Spain. In Vitoria, she encounters a distant acquaintance. Beautiful, bloody-minded journalist Ana Herrero is onto a story. Beatrice, scenting adventure, offers her expertise. The two women are sucked into a mystery of missing persons, violent threats, mutilated bodies and industrial-scale fraud. They are out of their depth. With no official authority and unsure who to trust, they find themselves up to their necks in corruption, blackmail and Rioja. Beatrice calls for the cavalry. The boys are back, and this time, it's a matter of taste. But when her instincts prove fallible, Beatrice discovers that justice is matter of interpretation.

What is it about Tread Softly which will appeal to readers?

Readers always surprise me with their reactions, so it’s hard to tell. Some people enjoy the locations, others like the build-up of tension, or the characters, the food, or even the underlying themes. I hope one feature people will enjoy about Tread Softly is the behind-the-scenes look at the wine trade. Another is the cover. Jane Dixon-Smith has made a beautiful job of the e-cover, and James Lane’s original oil painting for the paperback makes it an object of desire.

TreadSoftly is now the third book in the Beatrice Stubbs series - how do you sustain the series, and does it get easier or harder the more involved you get with the characters?

That’s an interesting question and one I had to think about. I’d planned all six books before even writing the first, so the series in terms of locations, adventures and character development is pretty much mapped out. The characters get easier, definitely. But the more you write, the more you become aware of your own writerly tics. I have to be vigilant and force myself to find new, more creative ways of solving problems.

Location seems to be a strong factor in all of your books - why did you choose to set TreadSoftly in Northern Spain?

The Basque Country is unique. It has a language like no other, a complex political past, an amazing variety of landscapes and an intriguing culture. A wine-producing location was essential to my story and I have a special place in my heart for Vitoria. And not only my heart. The whole region has a legendary reputation for food and wine – San Sebastian is known as the gourmet capital of Europe. I had an absolute ball doing the research.

Can you tell us what are you writing next?

More research. The next book, Cold Pressed, is set in the Greek islands. So I need to explore the culture, the landscape, death rituals, geography, legends, the language, architecture, the police system, the atmosphere, and of course, the food and drink. The book is due out in Summer 2014, presuming I ever finish the research ...


Jill - thanks so much for spending time with us, it's been great fun to read more about

Jaffa and I wish you continued success and can't wait to read Cold Pressed !

Monday, 24 June 2013

Review ~ How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days by Karen Salmansohn

How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less Using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers

This quirky  little book really made me smile and whilst it has some interesting observations on how to make your man behave in 21 days, what really made me laugh out loud were the wry illustrations and general light-hearted comments.

It's a quick read in many ways - but its definitely one of those funny books that would make a great present for the man in your life.

I enjoyed it.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Silver Falcon by Katia Fox

The Silver Falcon
Published 4 June 2013
Amazon Publishing

 The story opens in England in 1184, and even though eleven year old Will is the son of the famous swordsmith, Ellenweore, he has no interest in learning his mother’s trade. What he would really like to do is train falcons, and so when he inadvertently rescues one of King John’s falcons, he uses this as an opportunity to persuade the king to let him become an apprentice falconer. What then follows is a coming of age story, set during the tumultuous reign of King John, and which simultaneously evokes the art of falconry and life at a medieval court.

My only concern is that this is a follow up story to that which was started in the author’s first book, The Copper Sign, and I feel that it would have been better to have read the books in natural progression. There is occasionally a tentative quality to the narrative, which may well be due to the fact that it is translated into English from its original German.

Overall, this is an interesting historical novel. I thought that the imagery surrounding the falconry scenes were particularly well done.


 My thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Review ~ The Twelve Children of Paris by Tim Willocks

Published 23 May 2013
Random House
Vintage Digital

Set in Paris in 1572, the story focuses on the quest by Mattias Tannhauser to find his wife, Carla, who has disappeared. Without knowing Mattias arrives in Paris on St Bartholomew’s Eve and is unwillingly drawn into one of the bloodiest massacres in European history.

This book is a sequel to Tim Willocks’ previous book, The Religion, and whilst some of the characters are the same, this  entirely different story is no less powerful. There is the same fine attention to historic detail, and the undeniable pull of strong leading characters make this a memorable and worthy follow up. The content is not for the faint hearted, as the visceral and graphic nature of the story is often quite shocking, but putting that to one side, I am sure if you enjoyed The Religion, then you will be more than happy with this successor.


My thanks to NetGalley and Random House Vintage Digital for the opportunity to read this book.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Recommended Read ~ The Carriage House by Louisa Hall

The Carriage House
Penguin Viking
July 4 2013

'You've disappointed me. You had all the potential in the world. You could have been so much.'

William Adair is a man on the edge of despair, his wife Margaux is slowly disappearing into the unfathomable abyss of early onset Alzheimer's, and his three grown up daughters are a disappointment to him, as none seem to have fulfilled their earlier potential. When William suffers a stroke, the family need to put aside their own indifferences and concentrate on the one thing which will reunite them, which is, namely, the restoration of the historic carriage house built originally by William's grandfather. To aid William's recovery, the family pull together to renovate the house, and in doing so attempt to strengthen the bonds of unity which once held them all together.

There is an acknowledgement that inspiration for the story is taken from Jane Austen's novel, Persuasion and the parallel between these two stories is seen in the manipulation of the central characters, and the way in which the family's dissatisfaction with life encompasses everything.  However, by far the most interesting portrayal comes in the sensitive handling of Margaux's deterioration into the loneliness of Alzheimer's, and her written thoughts in her diaries are poignant pieces of narrative.

Intricate and complex, the author deftly manoeuvres between characters and gradually unpeels all the layers which reveal the flaws and imperfections of family life, and whilst dysfunctional superficiality becomes the central theme, it only serves to strengthen the awareness that together we are stronger than when we are alone.

This is a commendable debut novel.


My thanks to the Lovereading Review Panel for the opportunity to read and review this book.

The Carriage House  is available from Lovereading and other books stores from
July 4th 2013

Thursday, 20 June 2013

My Guest on the Blog - Gillian E. Hamer

I am delighted to welcome back 

Gillian Hamer

Photo courtesy of the author

 to talk about her latest book 

G E Hamer; 1 edition (19 May 2013)

Gillian ~ welcome back to Jaffareadstoo

What is it about Complicit that will pique the reader’s interest? 

I hope it will be the historical thread that will attract new readers to Complicit - and for existing readers who enjoy my books, I hope that getting back into the lives of Gareth and Chris will encourage them to read about their latest exploits.

I have a fascination with all things Roman - just last weekend I went to see the Pompeii & Herculean Exhibition at the British Museum in London. And the fact that the Romans faced such a battle to conquer Anglesey, or Mona Insulis as it was known at the time, is testament to both the toughness of the Celt tribes and the importance of the island to the Druidic religion. I wanted to find a way to address that period of history and combine it with a modern day treasure hunt that ends in murder. Another of my loves is archaeology, but I find it so frustrating that in many cases, we can never know the story behind the finds or reasons why a hoard was hidden in a particular spot. By combining a historical thread that carried echoes right up into the modern day setting, I hoped to address that too.

Complicit is the third book in the crime series set in North Wales - how do you sustain the series and does it get easier or harder the more involved you get with the characters?

For me it gets easier. It's like getting to know a real person. As I get more under their skin, I can sense what their reactions, thoughts, reasonings would be - in much the same way as you can attune to someone you're close to in real life. In the beginning, things are a little awkward, much like a real relationship would be. But as the characters develop, I think writers become almost instinctive, and this helps with voice and language. It's something of a cliché but it does almost feel like slipping on a pair of comfy slippers when I get back inside the life of my characters.

Your stories have a mystical/paranormal edge - was this deliberate - and have your novels evolved in the way you expected?

Yes, it was deliberate. I wanted to combine my passions. Crime, paranormal, historical and archaeology. In a way it's writing what you know, but also writing what you love. If you don't have a passion for what you're writing about, I can't see it being good enough for anyone else to want to read. I've had a constant battle against agents and publishers who refuse to consider 'genre-crossing' and I am lucky to have an agent who represents me for a separate straight crime detective series I'm also writing. But not wanting to pigeon-hole readers has been something that came out of my need to write books I wanted to read. And it led me to the inception of Triskele Books and the indie publishing route. 

Can you tell us what you are writing next?

Yes, I'm researching and plotting at the moment for the next Triskele book which will probably be released Spring next year. It will also involve hints of ghosts and historical shipwrecks - but this time set around the WWI period.

Gillian ~ Thank you so much for telling us about Complicit - we hope you'll come back and discuss your next book with us.

Triskele Books is a writers' collective and was formed in 2011

All are highly-acclaimed writers who share a passion for good stories.

Here are some photographs from their recent launch party in June 2013

Photo courtesy of the author

Photo courtesy of the author

Triskele Books
Photo courtesy of the author

My Review of Complicit

Echoes of the past resonate throughout this cleverly constructed murder mystery which flips effortlessly between the story of the Roman invasion of Mona Insulis and the effects on the Druids of Anglesey two thousand years ago, and the seemingly inexplicable and torturous deaths of a group of individuals who may or may not be part of a secret organisation in present day North Wales.

Like Gillian Hamer's previous two novels, the stalwart investigative skills of detectives Gareth Parry and Chris Coleman are again stretched to the limit as they seek to uncover this serial killer’s modus operandi, but it is in their bemused relationship with new girl DI Megan Jones, whose enthusiasm for crime solving can sometimes seem to be a hindrance, where the contemporary police procedural story really comes alive.

As with the author’s previous two crime novels, the plot never falters and moves along at a cracking pace, the writing is as always crisp and clear and the intertwining of both past and present and the gradual connection between the two is done with real skill. The wild and beautiful history of Anglesey comes gloriously alive in the hands of this talented writer, I’m now completely hooked on this series and only hope that Gillian Hamer can write really quickly, as I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Review - The Trader of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks

The Trader of Saigon
Heron Books
July 4 2013

The Trader of Saigon opens in Vietnam in the 1980s. Alexander is an ex-US army deserter who trades in women, Hanh is a young Vietnamese woman who is trying her best to survive amidst appalling poverty, and Phuc is a business man fallen on hard times who will do anything in his power to protect his family. The intertwining of this disparate group of people weaves together a story of overwhelming greed and utter hopelessness.

Without doubt this is a stunning debut novel, and even though parts of it make for uncomfortable reading, there is no doubt that the evocative style of writing conveys a picture of helplessness and despair, and every sentence evokes a perfect sense of time and place. The mean and often dangerous streets of Hanoi and Saigon where corruption and misery linger on every street corner is expertly explored, and the often stilted and ambiguous nature of survival is encapsulated in a society which treated its women as commodities to be bought and sold.

On a personal level this is a difficult book to enjoy, but the good writing and fine attention to detail more than compensate for the harrowing storyline.


Definitely an author to watch !

My thanks to the team at Newbooks for my review copy of this book.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

My Guest Today is Steven Manchester

I am delighted to welcome back to Jaffareadstoo

Image of Steven Manchester



Published 18 June 2013

Memories are the ultimate contradiction. They can warm us on our coldest days – or they can freeze a loved one out of our lives forever. The McCarthy family has a trove of warm memories. Of innocent first kisses. Of sumptuous family meals. Of wondrous lessons learned at the foot of a rocking chair. But they also have had their share of icy ones. Of words that can never be unsaid. Of choices that can never be unmade. Of actions that can never be undone.

Following the death of his beloved wife, John McCarthy – Grandpa John – calls his family back home. It is time for them to face the memories they have made, both warm and cold. Only then can they move beyond them and into the future.

A rich portrait of a family at a crossroad, THE ROCKIN' CHAIR is Steven Manchester’s most heartfelt and emotionally engaging novel to date. If family matters to you, it is a story you must read.

The Rockin’ Chair excerpt

It was a bitterly cold Saturday morning when friends from far and wide came to pay their respects. Everyone who knew Alice adored her and equally loved her grieving husband. The McCarthy’s tiny field of granite was filled with mourners. As the preacher spoke, an eerie silence filled the frozen air.
“The Lord blessed each of our lives with the gift of knowing and loving Alice. Now He has taken her home to be with Him. Those who remember her, who loved her, walk with heavy hearts today, but we must also remember that Alice has been freed from the heavy chains of this world. She now walks with the Lord and shall dwell peacefully within His house for all eternity. Until the day we meet again...”
The preacher’s kind words were carried on the icy wind and John listened carefully to each one. Amidst them, a thousand memories reminded him of why he felt such loss. A thousand more reminded him of the void that now filled the desolate chambers of his heart. He stood rigid, conscious not to sway, and nearly snickered when the pastor mentioned “forgiveness.”
While John fought back the tears that burned to be free, the preacher’s drone drifted and became distant. John tried comforting himself with his own thoughts, but the ache in his heart was worse than anything he’d ever imagined. I’m nothin’ without Alice by my side, he thought, and the pain made him want to join her.
The preacher continued to talk above the sniffles. John glanced down at the scarred earth where friends had dug the hole. Beside his parents, Alice’s pine casket was about to be committed. A roll of old burlap covered the hole, while a mound of dirt mixed with snow sat behind them. Interrupting his own prayer, John questioned the Lord. Why ain’t there another hole dug beside her, Father? It don’t make no sense. It ain’t natural for Alice to be layin’ here alone.
John understood the cycles of life and had always been as comfortable with death as he was with life, but putting Alice in the ground alone was a tough one. I got no purpose walkin’ this earth without my wife matchin’ every step. God, how I wish I was layin’ right there beside her in our eternal bed. He became entranced in the fantasy.
Shoulder-to-shoulder, Hank, Elle, Evan and Tara stood across the casket from the old man. In his most difficult hour, Grampa John needed to stand alone and they respected him for it.

Elle rubbed Hank’s back, comforting her husband and ignoring her own pain. She loved Alice too. In fact, for years she loved her like her own mother. Then, when the illness took hold and caused the kind woman to live more in the past than the present, Elle loved her like one of her own children. Either way, the depth of the love never changed. At the end, though—just before Alice passed on—Elle prayed for closure. Realizing the harshness of such hopes, she wanted an end to everyone’s suffering once and for all. It had nothing to do with loving her mother-in-law any less. It had to do with peace. Mercifully, the Lord finally answered her prayers.
Denying herself the permission to mourn just yet, she continued to rub Hank’s back and whisper things in his ear that only he could hear. There will be time for me to cry later, she decided.

Hank stared at the beautifully carved casket and played the same reel of his mother over and over in his mind. He remembered watching her slave away for years in the house. She washed clothes by hand, hung them out and warned Hank, “You best stay clear.” Most of the time, he minded her. She canned vegetables, never stopped cooking and was usually busy working on one of her quilts. She was non-stop. Her routine was no easier than Pa’s, only she was being monitored by the ghosts that watched from frames on the parlor walls.
She was also in charge of haircuts and what a treat they were. If Hank didn’t squirm and fuss, she’d rinse out the bowl when she was through hacking him up and fill it with a few scoops of cherry Jell-O. Hank loved rubbing the new fuzz at the back of his head, as he sucked the sweet slime through his teeth.
Ma was also the self-appointed boss of hygiene. Every Saturday for sure and sometimes once during the week—depending on how much dirt had accumulated—she’d draw him a bath. Hank loved that old porcelain tub. It was like climbing into a swimming pool, with lion’s claws holding up its weight. Ma would leave him be for awhile, then call out, “Cover up your privates. I’m comin’ in.” With strong hands, she’d wash his hair, all the while complaining, “I swear there’s more water on the floor than in the tub!”
He could still see her sneaking dinner up to his room when he was punished, never thinking any less of him for misbehaving; and the wedding ring—from her own finger—that she gave Elle at the breakfast table the morning after he and Elle had eloped. He would never forget the way she always found time to talk, or better yet—to listen; and the ways in which she showered his children with love. The list went on and so did the invisible projector in his head.
Hank struggled to stop it, but the movie kept playing and the emotions he fought to contain finally overwhelmed him. As Elle rubbed his back, telling him, “It’s okay, hon, let it out,” the dam burst wide open. Hank’s whimpers could be heard above them all. Although he was bawling like a child, his embarrassment was suddenly replaced by another truth. This was not a physical pain that he felt. It was his heart and it was breaking. It didn’t matter that he was weeping in front of people. It don’t matter what anyone thinks, he thought. There was great freedom in it.
Hank looked across the casket and noticed his father standing strong. “Pa’s mask is still set in place,” he mumbled under his breath. As Elle leaned in to hear what her husband was trying to say, he added, “I ain’t ever been no match for him but it don’t matter no more.” For the first time, Hank felt sorry for his father.

Evan listened to his father’s labored sighs and childlike sobs. Like a contagious disease passed on by the wind, to his surprise he could feel the man’s pain. With all the resentment he held toward his father, his heart still bled for him. Looking to his side, it amazed him how pain could be such a cohesive bond in bringing people closer together. The bottom line was—they were family. Beyond their differences and hard feelings, they shared a common love and the pain that came from losing it. He’d always thought of his father as being lazy—in a fearful sort of way. Now, he just felt bad for him. Evan realized that his love for his father was stronger than his own pride. He placed his hand upon his pa’s trembling shoulder. Allowing his own tears loose, his mind suddenly flashed Carley’s smiling face. His body shuddered at the unexpected picture, and he realized that the woman he thought was his soul mate had already become nothing more than a bad memory.

Tara huddled against her brother. As the pastor spoke, her thoughts jumped from Lila to Bryce to the possible reasons Georgey didn’t make it to the funeral. Her mind was everywhere and she felt a wave of anxiety wash over her. Her life was in complete shambles, but looking around she discovered that Evan had been right. She wasn’t alone. There was pain etched into every face. All I want is a drink, she thought. Her body craved it terribly. She looked across the casket and noticed Grampa John’s mouth moving. He’s whispering something to Grandma, she realized. That was it. She lost it.

Trapped in his own bitterness, anger and sorrow, John stared at his wife’s coffin. Suddenly, Alice’s bony finger nudged him hard in the back, causing goose bumps to cover his body. It’s her touch, he knew. I’d never miss it. The strong smell of lilac wafted in the air. She’s tryin’ to tell me somethin’.
As if he’d been blinded for days, his eyes reached across the casket and rested upon his family. He gasped at the sight of them. Quickly studying each face, for the first time he could see the pain—and it wasn’t only from grieving the loss of Alice. The entire family was broken. He could feel it as plain as Alice’s message on his back. They were all slumped over from the weight of the cross they each carried. How could I have been so blind? he thought, kicking himself for missing it. If there had been a second hole, he would have endured his own grief and buried their pain instead. His concern had already shifted.
John continued to study their eyes. It was clear. The very fabric of their lives had become stained and tattered. The look on the two young ones only confirmed John’s beliefs of the world beyond the mountains. Like a cruel dream grinder, it’s chewed ‘em up and spit ‘em out.
Their parents weren’t in any better shape. Hank could barely stand, while Elle neglected her own needs—as usual—and tended to him. John felt Hank’s pain and cringed over the doubts of being able to heal the one who needed it most. He shook his head. The quilt that Alice spent so many years on is unravelin’ at the seams, he thought. No wonder she kept pokin’ me until I opened my eyes. While my squaw struggled so hard to remember her own life, her family was all fightin’ to forget their own. He felt one more nudge in the back and grinned. “I know, Alice. I know,” he said aloud. Others glanced nervously at the outburst. John’s grin scared them more.
The preacher had just finished his sermon when John dropped to both knees and spoke to his wife. “I see now, squaw. Seems I still got some chores that need tendin’ to.” He placed his lips to the frozen casket and kissed her. “You’re right, as usual. There’s some mendin’ to be done. So leave the porch light on for me and I’ll be along when I’m through.” Standing slowly, he straightened out his back and steeled himself for the chores ahead of him. I still got a few more miles to go, he decided. And it looks like I’ll be travelin’ all the way to hell to reclaim these kids. It was time to take them back from the evils of society.

© Steven Manchester

About the Author

Steven Manchester is the published author of the #1 best seller, Twelve Months, as well as A Christmas Wish (the holiday prequel to Goodnight, Brian) and Goodnight, Brian. He is also thePressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of his short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series.!/AuthorStevenManchester

Paperback & Kindle:


 Steven thank you for giving us a taster of The Rockin' Chair  

 Jaffa and I wish you continued success.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Five Days by Douglas Kennedy

Five Days
Random House UK, Cornerstone
March 28 2013

Is it ever too late to have the life you wanted?

This is an interesting look at one women’s unease, both with herself and with her life. Trapped into an unequal and disinterested marriage, Laura has stopped doing all the things she once dreamed of, and although she doesn't know how unhappy she is, all it takes is the chance meeting in a hotel lobby with a stranger, and the five days that follow show Laura just how magical life can still be if only you are prepared to follow your heart.

Beautifully written from the beginning Five Days is one of my favourite Douglas Kennedy books to date. He gets into Laura’s character so perfectly that the book could so easily have been written by a female author. The interpretation throughout is flawless and the ability to dissect the minutiae of everyday life is exemplary. With its combination of regret, fidelity, family values and second chances, this story really tugs at your heart strings, and the conclusion, when it comes, is skilfully completed.

Highly Recommended.

My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for my review copy of this book

I'm Back - Thank you !

In my absence over the last week or two,
I am so thrilled that you sent me get well messages
and continued to visit Jaffareadstoo

I really appreciate all your concern
and hope to be back to full blogging strength in the next few days.


for your patience.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Feely Poorly ....

I'm sad to say that I am feeling a little poorly at the moment.

Normal blogging will be back soon.

In the meantime - Happy Reading

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Sylvia Day ~ Entwined with You

I am delighted to have an interview


Sylvia Day



Entwined with You 



Publishing 6th June (Paperback Original) and 4th June (eBook)

Gideon and Eva's story continues in the powerfully sensual third novel in the international bestselling Crossfire series.

**Sylvia ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo**

Tell us a little about what’s in store for Eva and Gideon in Entwined with You?

Eva’s in a different place in Entwined with You. At the end of Reflected in You, Gideon made a pretty large sacrifice for her. Her big issues had been insecurities, concerns about other people – and other women, particularly – in Gideon’s life. It’s hard to have those sorts of fears and self-doubt after the person you love makes a huge sacrifice for you, like Gideon did for her. So Eva’s in a much more stable place as far as her comfort level with the relationship and being able to accept the depth of Gideon’s commitment to her. Gideon, however – what he’s done, there are a lot of ramifications. Not just externally, but internally. So as Eva grows stronger, Gideon’s actually struggling with more. That said, she’s really the anchor for that relationship; she has been from the beginning. So with her being stable, it brings new strength to their love affair, and readers will see a lot more moments of calm and connection between the two than we have seen in the previous books.

When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?

Rarely. For the most part, the characters are unique in my mind. They don’t look like anyone else.

The Crossfire novels have been hugely successful. What has been your most memorable experience as an author to date?

Every career has milestones. Over the last ten years, I've been blessed to have several big ones. Career-wise, the day Bared to You hit the New York Times bestseller list as a self-published book was one that meant a lot to me. Every aspect of the production was entirely under my control and that makes it very personal. Reader-wise, every time I have a meet-and-greet is a memorable experience for me. I love spending time with other readers who love the characters as much as I do.

Can you tell us a bit about your average working day?

Before I even roll out of bed, I’m checking my email via my iPhone. Since I’m in California, all of the industry professionals I work with are operating at least a few hours ahead of me, so I start every weekday trying to catch up. I’m at my computer from waking to sleeping, doing a mix of business items (interviews, Q & As, negotiations, contract fine-tuning, cover and marketing approvals, etc.) and actual writing. If I’m awake, there’s a 90 per cent chance I’m working, inclusive of weekends and holidays.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read, watch television, see 3-D IMAX action films, and spend time hanging out with my kids.


**About the books**

jacket image for Reflected in You by Sylvia Day
jacket image for Bared to You by Sylvia Day

OVER SEVEN MILLION CROSSFIRE BOOKS SOLD in the English language so far 


BARED TO YOU and REFLECTED IN YOU were BOTH #1 bestsellers in the UK and internationally 


BARED TO YOU and REFLECTED IN YOU were both among the UK’s Top 10 bestselling ebooks of 2012 

REFLECTED IN YOU had one of the biggest first-week sales from a novel since official sales records began. It was Penguin's biggest weekly sale from a paperback publication since the birth of BookScan 

  jacket image for Entwined with You by Sylvia Day

My thanks to Francesca Russell at Penguin books for the opportunity to feature this interview with 


 Entwined with You

Publication Day

6 June 2013

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

English Fairy Tales And Legends by Rosalind Kerven

English Fairy Tales & Legends

This wonderful set of fairy tales features stories and legends from the different counties of England and wraps them up so beautifully in illustrations that steal right into your heart, awakening long forgotten memories of ghosts and dragons, witches and forbidden forests.

Overall, there are fifteen English folklore tales, some as familiar as Jack and the Giant Killer from Cornwall, through to the less well known but equally inspiring Devil's Bargain from my own county of Lancashire.

 All the stories are equally delightful and the extensive notes and sources at the end of the book give the history of the legend and its source in other literature.

There is something magical about fairy tales and curling up with a sleepy child to discover a world of mysticism and magic is a joy to be treasured.

My thanks to NetGalley and Anova Books for my copy of this book.