Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sunday WW1 Remembered

As part of my ongoing tribute during this centenary of WW1, I am delighted to feature the work of some excellent authors who have written about The Great War.



A bit of blurb..

Rose rivals her beautiful, mercurial sister for Michael’s love but calculated lies and misunderstandings alter the young peoples’ course. War breaks and Michael is as eager as the others to go.
Maybe Rose will settle for second best with Thom even though she cannot get Michael out of her soul.
Does a man need the grace of serenity to rediscover his own or is it frivolity and seduction he craves when he has been through the darkest places of war? Michael’s experiences in the trenches gradually alter his grace of serenity to rediscover his own or is it frivolity and seduction he craves when he has been through the darkest places of grace of serenity to rediscover his own or is it frivolity and seduction he craves when he has been through the darkest places of war?
This is a story of deceit and loyalties, complex relationships and love developing from youth to adulthood during a cataclysmic time in history. With mixed up ideas of duty and loyalty can love survive?

My thoughts..

The story opens in Northern England in 1912 where we are introduced to Rose, Delphi and Iris Stone. Three sisters living their lives in gentle splendour, their only excitement comes from their tentative friendship with local boy, Michael Redfern, who is the son of the local department store owner. The girls are typical of their era, sheltered, polite and mainly without ambition, with the exception of Rose, who, with her bright mind and inquiring ways, wants to study at Oxford University.

All is comfortable in the Stone family, Rose gets her wish to study, until the rumblings in Europe start to rear their ugly head and before too long 1914 is upon them and the country is at war with Germany. Like so many brave young men, Michael Redfern enlists and is sent with a Manchester pals regiment to northern France where he, along with thousands of other brave soldiers, face the horrific consequences of trench warfare.

With impeccable research, Flowers of Flanders captures the essence of the First World War, in a well written and absorbing look at what life was like, both for those fighting on the western front, and also for those who were left behind at home, often with no news, or receiving heavily censored letters, which didn't share the true horrors of what was actually happening. It explains the uncertainty of relationships which were conducted in the shadow of war and about the bravado of young men who had little to celebrate and who relished news from home, any snippet of ordinary life, which would give colour to the grey mud of Flanders.

Flowers of Flanders is a poignant story about a group of young people growing up, falling in love, making heroic gestures all within the shadows of war and as it’s the first book in a proposed trilogy I feel that the author has set the scene really well, and nicely concludes the story with enough scope for there to be a worthy continuation.

Best read with...Eggs, fried bread and bacon with bucket loads of tea..

About the Author

Ros writes both historical sagas and contemporary romance and is is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and the Historical Novelists' Society. Flowers of Flanders is her third book. and the first book in 'The Strong Sisters' Trilogy

Find Ros on Facebook 
Follow on Twitter @ros_rendle

Ros was recently my guest on Jaffareadtoo. Read her guest post here.

Amazon UK

Huge thanks to Ros for sharing Flowers of Flanders with me.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Blog Tour and Giveaway ~ Watching Edie by Camilla Way

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the Watching Edie Blog Tour

Harper Collins
28 July 2016




Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.


Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.


Edie or Heather?

Heather or Edie?

Someone has to pay for what happened, but who will it be?

My Review...

I knew this book was going to be a bit special when I received this cut up photograph of the lovely Jaffa along with a proof copy of the book, and I'm pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed.

Watching Edie is all about obsession and the destructive power of friendship between people who should never really have been friends in the first place. On the surface it's a dark and dangerous account of just how, almost without trying, we can get sucked into a whirlpool of deceit, and then bubbling, just under the surface, is an emotional plot so clever it takes your reactions and screws them into a tight little ball.

The story evolves in two different time frames, which are cleverly named after and before and which lead you inexorably into a story, which is so deep it’s cavernous and so sublimely crafted that you won’t be able to escape or put the book down. You will carry it around with you in case the words escape before you’ve had a chance to read them. That’s because, there’s always more to find out, and the fact that the story is dripped piecemeal, morsel by tantalising morsel, by two narrators who are each supremely flawed , makes this an altogether compelling psychological thriller.

I’m deliberately not giving you anything of the story, or any details about the central characters, Edie and Heather, because you need to make their acquaintance without any introductions from me and I want you to get to the ending and go …wow…like I did.

So, if you’re looking for a compulsively readable, hauntingly addictive, cleverly contrived psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat then it is. Read on.

The strap line for the novel reads “Watching Edie: The most unsettling psychological thriller you'll read this year”…and I'm going to be one who argues with that.

Best Read with …Lamb tagine and a comforting glass of red wine...

About the Author

Camilla Way was born in Greenwich and studied modern English and French literature at the University of Glamorgan. Formerly an editor on the men's magazine Arena. Camilla now writes fulltime and lives in south-east London with her partner and children.

Credit : Philippa Gedge

Follow the author on Twitter @CamillaLWay

Amazon UK

#KillerReads #WatchingEdie

I'm really excited to be able to give away a lovely hardback copy of Watching Edie in this UK only giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do visit the other stops on the tour which runs between 25th July - 5th August 2016

My thanks to the publishers for the chance to be part of this exciting blog tour and for the generous offer of this give way copy of Watching Edie 


Friday, 29 July 2016

Review ~ A Life Without You by Katie Marsh

14 July 2016

A Bit of Blurb...

Can you ever outrun the past?

It's Zoe's wedding day. She's about to marry Jamie, the love of her life. Then a phone call comes out of the blue, with the news that her mum Gina has been arrested. Zoe must make an impossible decision: should she leave her own wedding to help?

Zoe hasn't seen Gina for years, blaming her for the secret that she's been running from ever since she was sixteen. Now, Gina is back in her life, but she's very different to the mum Zoe remembers. Slowly but surely, Gina is losing her memory.

As she struggles to cope with Gina's illness, can Zoe face up to the terrible events of years ago and find her way back to the people she loves?

My Review...

I'm not sure that there are many brides who would consider leaving their own wedding, not once the dress is on, the band is striking up and the champagne is flowing but that's the dilemma which is facing Zoe on her wedding day. Why she has this awful decision to make is something which is revealed in the early part of the book and what then follows is an emotional look at the ties that bind us and of how fate often intervenes when we least expect it.

I wasn't really expecting the depth of story in this one, and that took me completely unawares as, and apologies to the author, I thought it was going to be a bit of a fluffy sort of read, but I was so completely wrong that I feel that my words won't really do the story justice. Trying to analyse what the book is all about is difficult without revealing whopping big spoilers, so what I will say is that really it’s a story about love, it’s about forgiveness and the possibility of a second chance and it’s all tangled up in the whole complicated business of relationships; namely between a mother and her children, between families, between lovers old and new, and also of learning to carry on regardless of what life throws at you.

In parts it’s a difficult story to read as it covers the whole gamut of emotions which control our thought processes and what happens when these thought processes become fuddled and hazy and in this respect the author has it completely spot on, but there are also some much welcome lighter moments which made me smile and I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the author in granting this heart-breaking story some much needed moments of light and shade.

I enjoyed watching as the story progressed, hoping against hope that everything would work out, of course, whether it does or not is up to you to find out for yourself, but what I will say is that by the end of the novel I was an emotional wreck and in much need of some restorative toast.

Best Read with ...Happy bites of toast liberally spread with Nutella and a celebratory sparkle of champagne.

Katie Marsh's debut novel, My Everything was published to fantastic reviews and was chosen by the Evening Standard as one of the best summer debuts of 2015. A Life without You is her second novel. 

Katie  Marsh

Visit the authors website

Find on Facebook

Follow on Twitter @marshisms

My thanks to Emma at Hodder for my review copy of this book.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Review ~ Florence Grace by Tracy Rees for the Quercus Summer Reading Group.

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the Quercus Summer Reading Group and here's the second book in the Summer Read choices.


June 2016

A bit of blurb..

Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It's a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone.

But when Florrie is fourteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie's life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth.

Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

My thoughts about the book..

When the story opens, Florrie Buckley is a feisty thirteen year old living with her beloved Nan in a small village community in a remote Cornish valley. Like the rest of the folks who live there, they eke out a meagre living as best they can, but times are hard, so when Florrie is given the opportunity to earn an extra sixpence helping out at a function at a grand house in Truro, she feels that, regardless of her Nan's disapproval, it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity. Watching the glittering people dance and twirl, Florrie experiences a glimpse of a life she has never known, but then an unexpected meeting with Sanderson and Turlington Grace, two aristocratic young men, will change Florrie's life forever.

Flitting between the rugged Cornish landscape and the grand salons of Victorian London, Florrie embarks on an adventure, the like of which she could never have imagined but which will test her mettle to the limit.

What I love about good historical fiction, and believe me, this is good historical fiction, is that it has the power to take you completely out of the world you know and transports you instantly to another time and place. Such is the appeal of this story that, very quickly, you become as one with Florrie and as her circumstances change beyond all recognition, you start to experience the vagaries of Victorian society life through her eyes.

I loved the easy style of writing and the way that the author gives us such a feisty heroine who is brave and bold and full of such sparkling wit and good humour. The other characters are equally fascinating, particularly the Grace family, who are so much a product of their time, that it becomes a real delight to watch as all their faults and foibles are laid bare.

The idiosyncrasies of Victorian society are uncovered in this story of hidden family secrets which grips from the beginning and doesn't let up until Florence Grace's story is told.

It's a hefty read, coming in at 550 pages but as I became immersed in the story I found that the narrative never dragged along, I was never bored or disillusioned, I was just enchanted by a really good story, well told.

A perfect summer read, either curled up in your favourite garden chair or lounging by a swimming pool, preferably somewhere hot and sunny...

Best Read With ...Creamy porridge and the sharp clear taste of blackberry tea, purple as twilight..

About the Author

Tracy Rees was born in South Wales. A Cambridge graduate, she had a successful eight-year career in nonfiction publishing and a second career practising and teaching humanistic counselling. She was the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition and the 2015 Love Stories 'Best Historical Read' award.

Twitter @AuthorTracyRees

Amazon UK

My thanks to Quercus for the invitation to be part of this Summer Reading Group

Here's my photograph of Florence Grace flourishing in my summer garden


Mt thanks to the team at Quercus Books for inviting Jaffareadstoo to be part of their summer reading

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Review ~ The Last Thing I Remember ~ Deborah Bee

28th July 2016

A bit of blurb...

Sarah is in a coma. She was mugged. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She didn’t deserve any of it. She’s a nice girl from a nice family. She’s a victim. That’s what they say.

Kelly is in the waiting room. She’s just a kid. A typical schoolgirl. Bullied a bit, probably. She doesn’t know anything. That’s what they say. So why is she there? Why does she keep turning up?

Can Sarah remember what happened to her, and work out who is it that keeps coming into her room at night?

My thoughts about the book...

Two very different narrators take us by the hand and lead us through this refreshingly different psychological suspense story. Sarah has been the victim of a severe assault and lies comatose in the critical care unit of the local hospital where she is, to all intents and purposes, brain dead. However, Sarah can listen and think, the only trouble is she can't make anyone hear her. Kelly is Sarah's fourteen year old neighbour and in the months leading up to Sarah's attack these two unlikely companions have become friends. They both have a story to tell and each story is compelling in its own way.

Sarah trapped in locked-in syndrome can communicate to the reader only by her thoughts, but with emotional depth she shares her reactions to her dream like state and reveals much about her life, her childhood and her marriage, whilst Kelly, on the other hand, is feisty, fierce and determined to help Sarah and, at the same time, tell her own side of the story.

This is a well put together psychological suspense story which looks at the repercussions of a devastating crime from diverse perspectives and, in doing so, allows two completely different narrators to tell their unique version of events. The author writes a good story and has created characters which stay with you. I especially enjoyed reading Sarah’s thought processes and feel that the locked in process was described really well. I would have liked less profanities coming out of Kelly’s mouth, but I realise that was necessary to emphasise the social differences between Kelly and Sarah’s life experiences.

So, overall,The Last Thing I Remember is a good debut by a talented author who I am sure will continue to go from strength to strength in future novels.

Best Read With... Cheese and bacon grilled baguettes and a frothy chocolate milk shake...

About the Author

Deborah Bee studied fashion journalism at Central St Martins. She has worked at various magazines and newspapers including Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The Times and the Guardian as a writer, a fashion editor and later an editor. Currently, she is a Creative Director at Harrods.

Follow on Twitter @BeeDeborahBee1

Amazon UK - Paperback release date 28th July 2016

Read a guest post by the Author here

Thanks to the publishers for my review copy of The Last Thing I Remember


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Summer Six ~ Review ~ Giveaway ~ In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Dead Good Books launches it's Summer Reading Campaign with the Summer Six

Six books that they're recommending as fab page turners and real holiday suitcase space worthy!

You can join in with the fun on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from 25th July using the hashtag #SummerSix

Tweet  @DeadGoodBooks which of the books you’d recommend to a friend using #SummerSix or snap a written version of your recommendation on Instagram with the hashtag and you’ll automatically be entered into a draw to win a set of all six books and an additional set to gift on to a friend.

Running out of space in your suitcase? Never fear – Dead Good Books are also giving you the chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite too so you can take loads of wonderful books with you!

Find out more on the Dead Good Books Website

For your delectation
~** Here are the Summer Six**~

27405729 27833865 25705819

25686318 23346719 23346377

I was lucky to be invited to be one of the bloggers given the chance to read one of the books 
In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

 Here are my thoughts plus the chance to win a copy of the book in my UK only giveaway.

The Blurb

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. 

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room...
Some things can’t stay secret for ever

My thoughts about In a Dark Dark Wood

If you go down to the woods tonight be sure not to go alone otherwise you may get tangled in this very cleverly controlled story of revenge and retribution.  What starts off as a group of alleged friends gathering in a secluded house in the woods for a hen party, rapidly becomes something far more sinister, and as old secrets come to the surface, so the fickle finger of fate starts to intervene with disastrous consequences.

Leonora Shaw has been invited to the hen party of a friend she hasn't seen in over ten years, she is puzzled as to why she has been contacted after such a long time but, as with all things, just sometimes, against your better judgement, you go along with an event even though you know that deep down it just feels wrong to do so.

I read the book quickly over the space of a few hours and I found the first person narrative, the story is told from Leonora's point of view, quite compelling.  There is much to take in and the pace is really fast and even though there were times when I questioned whether the characters would act the way they did, I couldn't stop myself from powering through the book at top speed in order to find out just what was going on with this disparate gathering of odd bods.

In a dark dark wood is a complex and multi-layered psychological suspense story which gives rise to the notion that we never really know what makes our friends tick and the old adage of keep your enemies close couldn't be truer. The author writes with great conviction and keeps control of a complicated plot whilst at the same time cranking up the tension. The added bonus of putting so many unstable narrators into one place makes it a real challenge to know who is telling the truth and why they are acting in the way they did but I enjoyed rising to that challenge. Throughout the story there is a real sense that this hen party is not going to end well, of course whether it does or not, you'll have to find out for yourselves.

Written with a fine eye for detail, In a dark dark wood is deliciously sinister, with more than a hint of ice cold terror, it’s a perfect holiday read and I loved it.

Best Read with …Pepperoni pizzas and ice cold tequila slammers.

Leave us a lovely comment after this blog post to be in with a chance of winning a copy of  In A Dark Dark Wood and of course, leave us a contact email or we won't be able to find you again and that would be disastrous if you're the winner.
UK addresses only.

I'll put all the entries into Jaffa's hat and pick a winner by Sunday 31st go...go

**Good Luck**


 Happy Summer Reading


**~~ And the Winner is~~**


Well done 

Monday, 25 July 2016

Blog Tour ~ My Last Continent by Midge Raymond

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the 

My Last Continent Blog Tour

Please welcome the author

Midge Raymond to tell us more about her novel

Hi Midge, tell us a little about yourself.

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

I’ve been writing since I was a young girl, though as I got older I switched from making up stories to telling real ones. I published my first article in a local newspaper when I was fifteen years old and continued in journalism until my mid-twenties, when I returned to making up stories. I published my first short story in 1999; my first book, a short story collection, Forgetting English, in 2009; and my first novel, My Last Continent, this year. 

Where did you get your inspiration for the story from – were you inspired by people, places or did you draw purely from your imagination?

As with most of my stories, My Last Continent was inspired by a specific moment, and it grew from there. The novel began as a short story that came to me when I was on an expedition in Antarctica and saw a passenger fall on the ice near a penguin colony. He was fine, fortunately, but seeing this happen reinforced the notion that, at the bottom of the world, you are at the mercy of the conditions and of the few people who are with you. This idea stuck with me and, combined with the concern of our shipboard naturalists about the larger cruise ships that visit the region, inspired me to write the novel, which tells the bigger story of what would happen if a cruise liner were to sink in the Southern Ocean, where conditions are unpredictable and rescuers can be several days away.

Your writing is very atmospheric – how do you ‘set the scene’ in your novels and how much research did you need to do in order to bring the story to life?

I love to travel and see new places, whether a new neighborhood or a new country. Often there’s something specific about a place that makes me want to write about it, whether it’s the otherworldly landscape of Antarctica or a wildly bright and noisy street in Tokyo. I find that people are very much a part of their environments, so for me exploring place is similar to exploring character. I love it when my research can be firsthand — the details are so much easier for me to convey this way — but if I can’t visit, or can’t return to a place I’ve seen, I use my photos, memories, and also read as much as I can to get a deeper understanding of a place. 

What do you consider to be your strongest points as a writer?

I love revision. Many writers dislike this part of the process, so I consider myself lucky to enjoy it! I’m at my best when I have a lot to work with on the page, and bringing what’s there to the next level is the most fun and rewarding part of the process for me.

In what skill (as a writer) would you most like to improve?

I would like to enjoy the blank page a bit more. This is my least favorite part of a writing project, how to begin with nothing but an idea. I’d love to be able to organize my thoughts better from the beginning. 

And finally - how can readers find out more about you and your writing?

Readers can visit me online and can also find me on Facebook 
Twitter @MidgeRaymond and Instagram 

Text Publishing
28th July
Amazon UK

About the book..  

It  is  only  at  the  end  of  the  world –  among  the  glacier  mountains  and  frigid  waters  of  Antarctica –where Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For the few blissful weeks they spend each year studying  the  habits  of  penguins,  Deb  and  Keller  can  escape  the  frustrations  and  sorrows  of  their separate  lives  and  find  solace  in  each  other.  But  Antarctica,  like  their  fleeting  romance,  is  tenuous, imperiled by the world to the north. A new travel and research season has just begun, and Deb and Keller are ready to play tour guide to the  passengers  on  the  small expedition  ship  that  ferries  them  to  their  research  destination.  Except that this year, Keller fails to appear on board. Shortly into the trip, Deb’s ship receives an emergency signal from the Australis, a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters. And among the crew of the sinking ship is Keller...An  unforgettable  debut  love  story,  set  against  the  dramatic  landscape  of  Antarctica.  Lyrical, page-turning and emotionally intelligent, My Last Continent is a stunning novel of love and loss in one of the most remote places on earth.

And here are my thoughts about My Last Continent..

The glacier, cold waters of Antarctica are home to creatures who survive in bone biting cold. However, their isolation and remoteness does not render them safe from the elements, but rather puts them at the mercy of nature which is so often unpredictable and cruel. The inhospitable surroundings are not a natural environment for humans and yet, researcher, Deb Gardner feels perfectly at home at the edge of the world, where amongst her beloved Adélie Penguins, she has learned to cope with solitude. That is until she meets Keller Sullivan and falls in love… 

Adélie Penguins

Cleverly told in a series of flashbacks, the story moves forwards and backwards in time, which helps to give a clear understanding of both Deb and Keller as individuals, whilst at the same time allows the author to draw you into an isolated, frozen world. A world which is so believable, that you can, quite literally, feel the bone biting cold, and see the penguin colonies in your imagination, and before long you begin to worry about Deb and Keller and all the other people who exist in this inhospitable part of the world..

The writing is wonderfully lyrical with an otherworldly dreaminess to it, which is rather difficult to describe without giving anything away, and I don’t want to spoil anything. However, what I will say is that My Last Continent is one of the most emotionally affecting novels I have read in a long time. It’s so visually descriptive that, even though I will never, in my wildest dreams, travel to Antarctica, I now feel that I have just survived a journey where I stepped ashore on Petermann Island, slept on a bunk at McMurdo Station, experienced fifteen foot sea swells aboard the M/S Cormorant and listened in gentle awe to the purrs and squawks of groups of penguins. 

Everything about the story feels so beautifully realistic that it’s almost like being immersed in a travelogue, with the added benefit of making an emotional connection to both the characters and the scenery. I am sure like me, you will read through to the end with a real sense of affinity, to the people, the landscape and more importantly to the penguins, especially Admiral Byrd.

My Last Continent is a very different love story, it’s honest, believable and so beautifully written that it will break your heart into a million pieces.

Best Read With..Southern fried tofu with crinkly fries and a bottle of ice cold beer

About the Author

Midge  Raymond  is  an  award-winning  short-story  writer  who  worked  in  publishing  in  New  York before  moving  to  Boston,  where  she  taught  creative  writing.  She has published two books for writers, Everyday Writing and Everyday Book Marketing. Midge lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is co-founder of the boutique publisher Ashland Creek Press. My Last Continent is her first novel.

Twitter @MidgeRaymond

Huge thanks to the author for answering my questions so thoughtfully and for spending time with us today and also to Alice at FMcM Associates for my invitation to be part of this Blog Tour.

Blog Tour runs between 21st July- 27th July 2016

Do visit the other stops for more interesting content about

My Last Continent 


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

It must be remembered that women also played a huge role in the war effort.

This interesting poem is by war poet writer and journalist  

Jessie Pope


War Girls

'There's the girl who clips your ticket for the train, 
And the girl who speeds the lift from floor to floor, 
There's the girl who does a milk-round in the rain, 
And the girl who calls for orders at your door. 
Strong, sensible, and fit, 
They're out to show their grit, 
And tackle jobs with energy and knack. 
No longer caged and penned up, 
They're going to keep their end up 
'Til the khaki soldier boys come marching back. 

There's the motor girl who drives a heavy van, 
There's the butcher girl who brings your joint of meat, 
There's the girl who calls 'All fares please!' like a man, 
And the girl who whistles taxi's up the street. 
Beneath each uniform 
Beats a heart that's soft and warm, 
Though of canny mother-wit they show no lack; 
But a solemn statement this is, 
They've no time for love and kisses 
Till the khaki soldier boys come marching back.

Jessie Pope was born in Leicester and educated at the North London Collegiate School. As a journalist she was a regular contributor to Punch magazine, The Daily Express and The Daily Mail. 

The Daily Mail, a newspaper which actively encouraged enlistment, handing out white feathers to those who did not take up the call of duty, regularly published Pope's war poetry.

Pope's poetry was in direct contrast to other war poets , particularly Sassoon and Owen who found her pro-war poetry distasteful. In 1917 , Wilfred Owen directed his poem, Dulce et Decorum Est at Pope and initially, dedicated the poem to "To Jessie Pope etc.", but then later changed this to "To a certain Poetess". 

It would seem that Pope's pro war poetry was in direct contrast to the more notable war poets anti -war stance.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Review ~ The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling

A bit of blurb..

The adventures of Mowgli, the young man raised by wolves in the jungles of Central India, and his friends Baloo the bear, Bagheera the panther and Kaa the python, as they face the arch villain Shere Khan the tiger, have become so popular that they have achieved an almost mythical status throughout the world. They were collected by Kipling in The Jungle Book and its sequel, The Second Jungle Book, which also contain other stories set in India which prominently feature animals, such as the well-known ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’, which describes the struggles of a mongoose against venomous cobras.

Here presented with brand-new illustrations by Ian Beck, these hugely popular tales, inspired by ancient fables and Kipling’s own experiences in India, form a vivid account of the relationship between humans and nature, and will continue to inspire readers young and old.

Age range 12+ to adult...

Here are my thoughts..

It's always a treat when a lovely book like The Jungle Books pops through the letterbox, which then takes me, instantly, back to when I was a child. Back to days of endless sunshine, summer holidays stretching before me and the possibility of sitting in the long grass with a book and a chocolate biscuit. I read The Jungle Books when I was about eleven or twelve, but before that I had often listened to the some of the stories read to me by my mother, or by my teacher at school and I loved the stories so much, that when I was able to buy my own copy, I did.

Of course, we've all seen the Walt Disney version of The Jungle Book which is based on Rudyard Kipling's First and Second Jungle Books and yet, inside, the story is so much more. There are tales of great adventure and derring-do, stories that remind us to be kind to one another and stories which make you smile and which also make you ask questions. 

The Jungle Books were first published in 1894, and have been reissued many times. This new version by Alma Classics is an easy to read paperback, which, contains the first jungle book and also its sequel, which, together with beautifully simple drawings, is a real joy to read. From the very the beginning Kipling's rich prose and poetry draws you into the heat of the jungle, to the danger lurking in corners, and to all the myriad sights, sounds,colours and legends of this amazing landscape. 

I especially liked the extra material for young readers which goes into some detail about the author, the books and the characters, along with a wonderful informative glossary.

Best Read With...A bottle of ice cold, fizzy lemonade and a Blue Riband biscuit...

About the Author

Famous for his tales of adventure in British India, Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) is one of the most popular writers of all time and the first English-speaking recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

About the Illustrator

Ian Beck is an author and illustrator known for his beautifully illustrated books which include his young fiction series, 'Tom Trueheart' (translated into over seventeen languages), and numerous picture books including The Teddy Robber and Lost in the Snow. He has also collaborated with authors including Bertie Doherty and Philip Pullman on classic fairytales retellings and continues to write and illustrate picture books and titles for young readers.

My thanks to Alma Books for my copy of The Jungle Books


Friday, 22 July 2016

Blog Tour ~ Random Acts of Unkindness by Jacqueline Ward

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the 

Random Acts of Unkindness Blog Tour


Random Acts of Unkindness by Jacqueline Ward 

June 2016

A bit of blurb...

How far would you go to find your child? 

DS Jan Pearce has a big problem. Her fifteen year old son, Aiden, is missing. Jan draws together the threads of missing person cases spanning fifty years and finds tragic connections and unsolved questions. 

Bessy Swain, an elderly woman that Jan finds dead on her search for Aiden, and whose own son, Thomas, was also missing, may have the answers. 

Jan uses Bessy's information and her own skills and instinct to track down the missing boys. But is it too late for Aiden? 

Set in the North West of England, with the notorious Saddleworth Moor as a backdrop, Random Acts of Unkindness is a story about motherhood, love and loss and how families of missing people suffer the consequences of major crimes involving their loved ones. 

Random Acts of Unkindness is the first in the DS Jan Pearce series of novels.

My review ...

Saddleworth Moor in North West England is a bleak and lonely place. It's a place that guards its secrets well, and in the quest to find her missing son, DS Jan Pearce discovers, to her cost, just how many evil secrets lurk in dark corners. Looking into missing persons cases, which stretch back over a period of many years, DS Pearce starts to uncover some unusual cases and, as her frantic search for her own missing son gets cast ever wider she starts to discover some painful secrets of her own.

I found the story to be fast paced and intricately plotted. There is much to take in, not just in terms of the present day mystery in which DS Pearce finds herself to be a major part of, but also in the struggle she has to bring to justice those evil manipulators who threaten the very foundation of society.

The story is gritty in the places where it needs to be and remarkably insightful in others, particularly in the way it deals with the sorry history of missing persons. I especially like the way that the author bought time and place to life, and only someone familiar with the subtle nuances of the north of England can do justice to the way in which the dramatic landscape so often shaped people’s destiny.

There is no-one of my generation, growing up in the north of England, who cannot be aware of the ghastly shroud which was cast over those small northern towns, which nestle in the shadow of the moor itself, by the Moors Murderers, and the author has done a really good job of using some of this dark history, whilst at the same time, developing a story which is completely unique.

This is a fascinating and intricately plotted crime novel by an author who, I am sure, will continue to go from strength to strength.

Best Read With...Sausage and Beans on toast, all washed down with copious cups of tea from one of those big brown Betty teapots.

Jacqueline Ward writes short stories, novels and screenplays. She has been writing seriously since 2007 and has had short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Jacqueline won Kindle Scout in 2016 and her crime novel, Random Acts of Unkindness, will be published by Amazon Publishing imprint Kindle Press. Her novel SmartYellowTM was published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 and was nominated for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2016. Jacqueline is a Chartered psychologist who specializes in narrative psychology, gaining a PhD in narrative and storytelling in 2007. She lives in Oldham, near Manchester, with her partner and their dog.

Find the author on her website
Visit her on Facebook
Follow on Twitter @JacquiAnnC

Read an excerpt from Random Acts of Unkindness here

My thanks to Faye Rogers PR for the invitation to be part of this blog tour 

which runs  18th - 24th July.

For more interesting content do please visit the other stops on the tour.


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Blog Tour ~ Bad Blood by Julie Shaw

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the Bad Blood Blog Tour

~I'm delighted that the author Julie Shaw is spending time with us today ~

Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Julie. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started as an author?

I’m 52 years old with two grown up children. I have six grandchildren (and hoping that that’s the lot!) but thankfully I have a very young, modern attitude and a bucket load of patience! I have been writing since I was a little girl really and that stemmed from my love of reading. If I was well behaved, I got a new book every week and I soon learned that I could escape reality whenever I wanted by simply opening some pages. Whenever I couldn’t get a book, I would write my own stories and I had my first story serialized in a local newspaper when I was just nine years old.

Will you explain to us a little more about the plot of Bad Blood without giving too much away?

Bad Blood really concentrates on complicated relationships within families. A single mother who wants to remain young and carefree puts her son and daughter to one side as she concentrates on finding and keeping a man. The man has many other women and only uses them to serve his needs. The children suffer in the most unusual ways and pay the ultimate price for their mother’s lack of concern. Despite all of that, I think the underlying theme is – how far would you go for your family?

I know that you base your novels on things that have, perhaps, happened within your family, do you find this a help... or a hindrance?

It’s a definite help. I can understand and write about the actual raw emotion that accompanies these tragedies without having to research or second guess. I’ve lived almost everything I write about.

How do you plan your writing, are you a plotter, or a see where it goes kind of writer?

Actually, I used to be very much a ‘see where it goes’ kind of writer, but my friend and co author, Lynne Barrett–Lee, would absolutely despair of me! She is a dyed in the wool plotter. And I don’t just mean she will have me sketch out a rough outline, oh no, she has taught me that the easiest way to write is always to have a chapter by chapter outline, a full story before we even start! I do have a moan now and again, but secretly I’m so pleased she now has me doing this without thinking. It makes the whole process so much easier J

What do you consider to be your strongest points as a writer?

I believe my strongest points are that I find it easy to write believable dialogue, naturally. I don’t know why, I can just hear the natural rhythm of speech as I write and I don’t really have to think about it. I think I am also an emotive writer, which apparently is also a good thing J

Which was the first book (of any kind) to make a strong impression on you – and why? 

The first book that had a very powerful effect on me was called ‘They Put Me Inside’ by Tony Grestone. It was a memoir about a young lad from an impoverished background who went to prison for petty crimes. The book told the story of his struggles in prison and how he felt he didn’t fit in, anywhere. Finding religion saved his soul and his life ultimately, and it was this – underdog comes good, theme that affected me so much. It left me with a lifelong desire to help those less fortunate who wanted to change things.

And finally...If your life was book what would be the title?

Oh dear, that’s a tough one! Against the odds? I once wrote a song that I guess was biographical, it was called When is it my turn? It was about a girl who was happy to listen to her girlfriends bemoan their love lives etc. She would make them feel better and build them up, and even though she wanted nothing more than to be loved herself, she put it to one side every time so that she wouldn’t be happy if her friends weren’t. Sad eh? J

Harper Element
July 2016
(Hudson #5)

A bit of blurb..

It’s 1981 and seventeen-year-old Christine is about to give birth to her son. When her family throw her out, Christine has the biggest fight of her life to bring up her son safe on the infamous Canterbury Estate in Bradford, rife with crime, alcohol and drugs, a place where family is everything and nothing.

It's Friday evening on the Canterbury Estate in Bradford and Christine, who's been rushed to hospital by her friend, Josie, is on the maternity ward giving birth. She's 17 and terrified. Not just of the pain, which is ripping her in two, but because she knows that once the baby arrives, her family is never going to speak to her again.

Her beautiful baby boy is about to start a chain of events that will lead to tragedy - and only her own family can save her

My thoughts about Bad Blood..

A gritty northern saga with more than a hint of seriousness is the basis for this novel which starts in 1981 when seventeen year old Christine has her baby boy. This is not the happy event is should be, and as the chasms which open in Christine's family threaten to engulf her, you can't help but be drawn into a story that abounds with tough northern grit. The ties that bind families together are not always the most meaningful or reliable, and Christine, growing up in her dysfunctional family has left her with a void, which this new baby may just satisfy, that is, if she is ever given the chance to get her act together.

I found the story easy to get into and even though the characters were a bit of an mystery to me, having not read the other books in the series, I was soon able to pick up the thread. It's hard hitting and doesn't pull any punches but then that's the trademark of this talented author who writes about what she knows with such honest realism. It's hard to believe that 1981 now seems so far away that it almost feels historical, but not quaintly historical, as this was a time of great social and political change. Families were struggling to keep body and soul together and many council estates such as the one in Bad Blood were a scheming hotchpotch of thwarted dreams and the gradual erosion of family life.

The author does a great job of bringing time and place alive, to a time before mobile phones and social media, taking us to the very depths of despair and to the absolute misery of hopelessness.

I am sure fans of this author's writing will delighted by this continuation and by the end of the book will be eagerly looking forward to the next installment. 

Best Read With...A large vodka and coke and a packet of crisps..

About the Author

Julie Shaw is the daughter of the only surviving member of the 13 Hudson siblings, born to Annie and Reggie Hudson on the infamous Canterbury Estate in Bradford. Bad Blood is her fifth book.

Twitter @JueShaw

My thanks to the author for her insightful answers to my questions and also to Jasmine at Harper Collins for for all her help and her invitation to be part of this blog tour

Tour runs 18th -22nd July