Saturday, 31 December 2016

End of year thank you...

A

 Whopping


BIG 






To


180 Amazing Authors

for


180 Incredible Adventures


and


121 Blog Tours



Thank you for being part of my bookish journey in 2016



Here's to another amazing literary journey





in



2017

Friday, 30 December 2016

Review ~ Echoes of Time by Anne Allen



31321800
Sarnia Press
2016


A bit of blurb..

1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey. 
All too soon Olive realises she’s made a mistake. 
Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer- 
but there’s a price to pay. . . 

2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own… 
Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive. 

Thrown together in a bid to find out what really happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on? 


My thoughts..

This is now the fifth book in the Guernsey series of novels and even though each novel comfortably sits on its own merits as a stand alone story, there are threads which run through each one, and fans of the series will recognise people and places previously mentioned.

As always the author draws you so completely into the story that the here and now quite simply disappears and you are transported back in time to the Guernsey occupation during the Second World War, a time when fear and suspicion was rife. Olive's sad and sorry tale is told with such sensitivity that there were times when I was moved to shed a few tears.

I loved the modern day element and as always the author intersperses the story with believable characters. I really got to like and admire both Natalie and Stuart and felt an emotional attachment to them from the beginning. I also had real cottage envy and wanted to move into "Beauregard" with Natalie, and sip wine with Stuart whilst looking through the sheer glass window of the Old Barn.   

The time- slip element of the story is done quite seamlessly and the obvious attention to historical detail emphasises just how much research goes into making each of the stories feel truly authentic. There is no doubt that this author has found a real gem of a series in her Guernsey stories. Each one is as precious as the next and I am sure that the story, should the author be willing , can only continue to go from strength to strength.





Best Read With...A glass of home brewed gooseberry wine and a slice of home cured ham..





Anne  Allen

Find the author on her website by clicking here

Follow on Twitter @AnneAllen21





My thanks to the author for sharing her story with me 




~***~

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Review ~ Siren by Annemarie Neary



25955307
Hutchinson
2016

 A bit of blurb..


Róisín Burns has spent the past twenty years becoming someone else; her life in New York is built on lies. 

A figure from her Belfast childhood flashes up on the news: Brian Lonergan has also reinvented himself. He is now a rising politician in a sharp suit. But scandal is brewing in Ireland and Róisín knows the truth. 

Armed with the evidence that could ruin Lonergan, she travels back across the Atlantic to the remote Lamb Island to hunt him down. 

But Lonergan is one step ahead; when Róisín arrives on the island, someone else is waiting for her.


My Thoughts...

The beginning of the novel is both disturbing and intriguing and undeniably sets the scene for a tense and often violent look into the shadowy world of Ireland's past.

Róisín Burns seems to have left the past behind her, but as with all things in her life there is only so far and so fast that she can run to outwit her demons. When she discovers that someone from her past has resurfaced she realises that the only way to exorcise her demons is to confront them. Returning home to Ireland is never going to be easy but in this one thing Róisín doesn't really have any option.

I thought that the book was really quite gripping, with a fast and furious narrative which doesn't pull any punches. The author writes with fascinating conviction and opens up to scrutiny the whole idea of conflict and of the effect that the Irish troubles had on those growing up during the worst of the violence.

Siren is one of those books that, once you start, you can't put down. Its high octane realism keeps you on the edge of your seat and doesn't let up until the story is concluded.



Best read with ...two fingers of Irish whiskey and a guest house breakfast..



Annemarie is an Irish-born, London-based novelist and short story writer.

Annemarie Neary


Visit her website by clicking here 

Follow on Twitter @AnnemarieNeary1





My thanks to the author for sharing her book with me 




~***~

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas Sunday ~ WW1 Remembered...






A Christmas Story


December, 1916... somewhere on the Western Front


He sat huddled against the biting chill of a cold wind that whistled and moaned its way along the trench. Dan was so cold he couldn't feel his feet, or his fingers, and how he longed for the warmth and the crackle of a wood fire and the comforting smell of his mother's spiced gingerbread cake. Lost in deep thought, Dan felt the icy, cold air of the Western Front slip away and for a moment he was back in his mother's kitchen and he could hear her voice gently scold him for bringing in mud from outside.

"How many times, Dan, take your boots off by the door, and stop tramping in muck from the field...and close the door, it's bitter out there.."

Dan smiled to himself and rubbed his mittened hands together, any thought of home brought him comfort. He looked up at the midnight blue sky, so many stars twinkled above him, he felt as if he could see far into the heavens. He knew that the same night sky flickered down on the fields of home but, right now, the farm seemed so very far away. He remembered previous Christmas times, walking home from church with the sound of carols ringing in the air. Dan doubted he would ever want to go to church again, not after what he had seen in recent months, he scarce believed in God any more.

"Man's inhumanity to man, well, that didn't bear thinking about, did it?"

Holding the same stooped position in the trench for hours on end didn't half play havoc with his back and every bit of him ached so that the thought of a long hot soak in warm water was something he dreamed about. He stretched and rolled his cramped neck muscles,   “Come on, Dan, lad", he said to himself, " A warm bath, that's not going to happen any time soon, ...so stop daydreaming!”

Dan could hear the muffles and groans of the other men, some like him, sat hunched in their overcoats, like hulking shadows, others were pressed along the edges of the duckboards trying to grab a few minutes sleep and merciful oblivion, but sleep didn't last long, not in this cold. They were so close to the enemy lines that an issue had gone round that no braziers were to be lit which meant that everyone was wearing so many layers of clothing that sometimes it was hard to move. Dan laughed to himself when he thought of how he would play cricket for the Sunday sports team in little more than white trousers and a shirt. Would this war never end, he wanted to go home so badly he had to pinch himself hard to stop the tears from flowing. 

Dan sensed a lightening of the air around him and knew that dawn was breaking. Christmas Day, he thought with a wry smile. He wondered if Santa would bring anything. He laughed out loud, there had been promise of an extra rum ration, but well, you never knew these days, if promises would be kept. He felt down into his kit bag and brought out a crumpled package he'd been saving for a few days. With icy fingers, quite numb now with cold, Dan opened the parcel and felt the softness of wool and smelled the spice of gingerbread. It was a scarf, soft and warm and oh, so long that Dan could wrap it several times around his head and neck. It smelled of wood smoke, the scent of home and he pictured his mother, knitting needles flying as she sat after another long day on the farm. Wrapped in greased paper was a gingerbread cake, it was icy cold to touch, but the warmth of the spices hit his senses as soon as he crumbled a corner of it into his mouth. He wouldn't eat too much now, he would share the rest with his mate, Bob, who didn't have a mother to make him a cake for Christmas.

Dan heard the first stirring of life in the trench, the moans and murmurs changed to coughs and snuffles as his companions started to make ready for a new day. And then, ever so gently, Dan heard the plaintive notes of a harmonica and the first few notes of Silent Night echoed gently along the line of the trench.

"Happy Christmas, mum", Dan whispered, and his voice echoed across the miles to his mother, who, just starting her day on the farm, looked up into the dawn streaked sky and whispered softly, "Happy Christmas, son".


©Jo Barton, 2016


Listen to a Imperial War Museum Podcast here about the winter of 1916-1917





Christmas Dinner on the Western Front
December 
1916


© IWM (Q 1630)
Jaffa and I wish you all a Blessed and Peaceful Christmas





Saturday, 24 December 2016

The spotlight shines on .....Jaffa



Random Facts About Orange One





Do you have a middle name?

All cats have a middle name.

My middle name is Pickle – I have no idea why


What is your favourite drink?


Whiskers Cat Milk but the V.E.T says I can’t have it so I am relegated to water and when
no-one is looking I drink out of the garden pond.


What is your favourite food?


Gourmet - Beef or Turkey
Sometimes my humans try and trick me with another brand but I am not easily fooled



What was the last thing you bought?


Occasionally I do a bit of inter-cat shopping for cat treats – I sneak packets of Dreamies into the house under cover of darkness


What is your favourite book of all time?


Catlantis by Anna Starobinets




What is your favourite colour?


Orange …..of course


Do you have any pets?


Yes, I have two human pets who are now nicely trained to do everything I ask 


What is your favourite perfume?


Eau de Mouse


Where is your favourite hideaway?


My favourite hideaway is under the chair in the spare bedroom where I have a cosy blanket and a few cat toys





Do you speak another language?


Of course

I  say “hello” to my  human every morning, just to be polite



How many siblings do you have?


I have a sister but I haven’t seen her for a long, long time and that makes me sad



Where is your Favourite place to lie in wait?


The stairs are my playground - I enjoy nipping toes and ankles






When was the last time you meowed?


This morning when I couldn’t get into the wardrobe. I need to check it daily for intruders



What is your Favourite Blog?


The one with my name above the door …Jaffareadstoo, of course





What is your Favourite pastime?


Sleeping - it's an art form I have perfected






What is your favourite TV Show?


Strictly Come Dancing, I enjoy the music – Anton Du Beke is my favourite 


Do you have a friend?


Yes, Timmy - he's a sneak and a thief





Do you have a secret?


Yes, but if I told you I would have to kill you






What would you say is your specialty?


I take security very seriously and check items that come into the house very carefully






Anything else to say, Jaffa ?


Of course, I hope your Christmas shines bright like a diamond





Friday, 23 December 2016

Review ~ A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens..






9781847496171
Alma Books
2016

Ebenezer Scrooge is a lonely, miserly old man who hates Christmas, which he dismisses as “humbug”. One Christmas Eve, however, he is visited by a series of ghosts who reveal to him the innocence he has lost, the wretchedness of his future and the poverty of the present, which he has so far ignored. This experience teaches Scrooge the true meaning of the holiday and leaves him a transformed man.

With its memorable cast of characters such as Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is the most heart-warming of seasonal tales, a timeless classic that continues to enchant readers around the world and a lesson in charity and hopefulness that is as powerful today as when it was first written in 1843.

----

For me no Christmas is complete without reading A Christmas Carol. No-one can conjure a Victorian Christmas like Dickens, who with his unique perspective, brings the story of Christmas to glorious life. We all know the story of how the miserly and cantankerous, Ebeneezer Scrooge is made to realise the importance of human kindness and, of how, at the end of his journey he is changed irrevocably into a nicer person.

But it must also be remembered that Dickens wrote other Christmas stories, of which A Christmas Carol is but one. In this volume we are also given..

The Chimes ( 1843)
The Cricket on the Hearth (1845) 
The Battle of Life (1846)
The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (1848)


This is a really lovely version and what I find important these days is that the font is a good size for comfortable reading . All too often classics stories are spoiled by much too tiny a font - publishers take note !!

Also included in this version are a few photographs of Dickens and his family along with notes on Dickens's life and also on Dickens's works which I found to be really interesting and informative.



Available from Alma Books and all good book shops.






My thanks to Will at Alma Books for my review copy of A Christmas Carol and other Christmas stories.















Thursday, 22 December 2016

A box of delights...





I was recently contacted by Sophie at Scribe UK to say that 


I had won one of their exclusive blogger boxes.


Imagine my delight when this beautiful surprise arrived today













A huge thank you to Sophie and all the team at Scribe Publications



I enjoyed unravelling the box and look forward to unravelling the mystery of


Lipstick
Chocolate
Bath Bomb
Postcards
Book



The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy is coming in 


March 2017




#The Possessions


















Wednesday, 21 December 2016

My favourite reads of 2016...





Jaffareadstoo is delighted to share our favourite reads of the year










Favourite Twelve...in no particular order...



26050845  26797014 27245142


25914145 26128897 29454461


26198481 28448481 27418655


29089111 29957613 28933085






And just because out of 180 books read, it would be impossible to limit my choices to just twelve favourites so here are Twelve Honourable Mentions...in no particular order...

 


 26889460  27276274 29243709


29213246 28513019 23346377


25613619 27405729  28584721


 Killing Kate by Alex Lake In the Shadow of the Storm by Anna Belfrage 30134079





Thank you to all these incredible authors who have shared their stories with me



Jaffa and I wish you all happy reading and writing in 2017