Sunday, 15 July 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Over the last four years of adding WW1 information onto my blog I have found lots of books really interesting so I thought it was time to share them.

Corgi Childrens

Who'll Sing the Anthem
Who will tell the story?

One of my absolute favourite go-to books is this classic remembrance book from Michael Morpurgo which was originally published in 2014 to mark the start of the WW1 centenary.

Only Remembered is a  lovely collection of extracts, poems and memories of the Great war . Aimed primarily at the young adult market, this is, most definitely, a book which can be enjoyed by grown ups too. Simply and beautifully illustrated Only Remembered brings the poignancy, the horrors and the heroes of the Great War into stark reality.

Those who have contributed with words, thoughts and deeds are Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall, Sir Andrew Motion, Miranda Hart, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Anthony Horowitz, Eoin Colfer, Antony Beevor, Emma Thompson, David Almond, Dr Rowan Williams, Richard Curtis, Joanna Lumley, Raymond Briggs, Shami Chakrabarti and Sir Tony Robinson.

Royalties from the publication of Only Remembered will be spilt between the Royal British Legion and projects for soldiers' children and families at SSAFA.

Sir Michael Andrew Morpurgo, OBE, FRSL is the author of many books for children, five of which have been made into films.


Saturday, 14 July 2018

Review ~ Wrecker by Noel O'Reilly

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...Eighteenth Century, Cornwall

Harper Collins
14 June 2018

My thanks to the publishers and also to for my copy of this book

The wild and windswept Cornish coast with its rich history of ship wrecks comes alive in this story of village secrets and ancient superstition.

Like all the villagers in the remote Cornish village of Porthmorvoren whenever there is a ship wreck, Mary Blight heads to the beach to see what she can salvage, sometimes it’s a trinket or two, or occasionally, something more serviceable like a pair of wearable boots. When she discovers a distressed man in the sea, Mary risks everything to rescue him and nurses him back to health, but the villagers soon start to gossip about Mary’s motives for helping this stranger. The rescued man is Gideon Stone, an evangelical Methodist minister, who, on regaining his strength, sets out to bring salvation to this remote village which is blighted by religious fervour and age old superstitions. 

With a strong sense of time and place, Wrecker comes beautifully to life and highlights the difficulties of living in such a remote place. The superstitions which are so deeply ingrained into this harsh, and often unforgiving, community make it difficult for any stranger to get close to them and their vehement reaction to the minister’s attempt to save their souls is typical of their narrow-mindedness, whilst the way they treat Mary Blight borders on bigotry and hatred.

Wrecker is something of a slow burner of a story which I think is quite deliberate as it allows the place and its people to feature in a very realistic sort of way. The harsh realities of eking out a meagre existence in this unforgiving landscape are well described, as is the way that petty differences and scurrilous gossip are allowed to wreck and ruin lives. With a strong sense of time and place Wrecker comes beautifully to life, bringing together a strong story which is filled with a sense of destiny and which captures perfectly the spirit of this harsh and unforgiving time.

I read this book as part of the LoveReading Review panel.  More reviews of Wrecker can be found on the LoveReading website by clicking here.

Twitter @noeloreilly #Wrecker



Friday, 13 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ Fairlight Moderns

✨ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be involved in the Fairlight Moderns Blog Tour ✨

A collection of new short modern fictions from around the world

The books in the novella series are: Inside the Bone Box by Anthony Ferner, Travelling in the Dark by Emma Timpany, There are Things I Know by Karen B. Golightly, Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn, The Driveaway Has Two Sides by Sara Marchant. 

Most of the authors within the series are award-winning literary short story or flash fiction writers who are turning to longer fiction for the first time.

✩ Here's a taster of what they are all about ✩

Fairlight Moderns
11 July 2018

Nicholas Anderton is a highly respected neurosurgeon at the top of his field. But behind the successful façade all is not well. Tormented by a toxic marriage and haunted by past mistakes, Anderton has been eating to forget. His wife, meanwhile, has turned to drink.

There are sniggers behind closed doors – how can a surgeon be fat, they whisper; when mistakes are made and his old adversary Nash steps in to take advantage, Anderton knows that things are coming to a head.

My thoughts...

Stressed and harassed in both his personal and professional life, Nicholas Anderton, a once respected neurosurgeon, is the total embodiment of a life that has lost all meaning. Turning to gluttonous eating is not the answer but for Nicholas it's a means of escape from the poison that infiltrates his life. Perceptively and intuitively written Inside the Bone Box is a fascinating look at the vagaries of human nature.

My thanks to the publishers for my proof copy of this novella.


Fairlight Moderns
11 July 2018

Travelling back to her home town with her young son, Sarah is ready to face up to what she ran away from ten years ago.

As delays and diversions force her to return to well-known places from her youth, Sarah reflects on the relationships with her family and the events of the past that have shaped her present.

Set in the wild, beautiful and unreliable landscape of southern New Zealand, Emma Timpany’s novella is an evocative story of a woman coming to terms with her past.

My thoughts...

Travelling in the Dark is a quietly reflective story which links the present whilst rationalising the past. Set against the wildness of Southern New Zealand, both the place and the people come beautifully alive. There’s a lyrical quality to the narrative which I thought beautifully expressed the emotion of returning to a place where memories run deep.

My thanks to the publishers for my proof copy of this novella.


Fairlight Moderns
11 July 2018

Eight-year-old Pepper sees the world a little differently from most people.

One day, during a school field trip, Pepper is kidnapped by a stranger and driven to rural Arkansas. The man, who calls himself ‘Uncle Dan’, claims that Pepper’s mother has died and they are to live together from now on – but the boy isn’t convinced.

Pepper always found it hard to figure out when people are lying, but he’s absolutely certain his mother is alive, and he’s going to find her.

My thoughts...

There Are Things I Know is a beautifully observed story which has a very dark theme at its core and yet, there is a real sense of connection with eight year old Pepper who, it must be said, is the real hero of this tale. Perceptive, insightful and succinctly written there is never a word wasted or an emotion unexpressed.

My thanks to the publishers for my proof copy of this novella.


Fairlight Moderns
11 July 2018

When Alina’s brother-in-law defects to the West, she and her husband become persons of interest to the secret services, causing both of their careers to come grinding to a halt.

As the strain takes its toll on their marriage, Alina turns to her aunt for help – the wife of a communist leader and a secret practitioner of the old folk ways.

Set in 1970s communist Romania, Sophie van Llewyn’s novella-in-flash draws upon magic realism to weave a tale of everyday troubles, that can’t be put down.

My thoughts...

Romania in the days of its oppression is the focus for Bottle Goods which is quite a dark little story in places and yet, the whole of this novella-in-flash is tempered by some light touches of magical realism which bring the story alive in a very different sort of way. I enjoyed the short vignettes and the flash fiction approach to the individual chapters.

My thanks to the publishers for my proof copy of this novella.


Fairlight Moderns
11 July 2018

On an East Coast island, full of tall pine moaning with sea gusts, Delilah moves into a cottage by the shore. The neighbours gossip as they watch her clean, black hair tied back in a white rubber band. They don’t like it when she plants a garden out front – orange red carpinus caroliniana and silvery blue hosta. Very unusual, they whisper.

Across the driveway lives a man who never goes out. Delilah knows he’s watching her too and she likes the look of him, but perhaps life is too complicated already.

My thoughts...

Delilah arrives in a small East Coast tourist town and turns the lives of three men completely upside down. Beautifully written and with a fine eye for even the smallest of detail, The Driveway Has two Sides is an interesting story about the fundamentals of identity and how we keep so much hidden, not just from ourselves but also from others.

My thanks to the publishers for my proof copy of this novella.

More Information 

 Visit the Website

Follow on Twitter @FairlightBooks #FairlightModerns

Find on Facebook Facebook

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Review ~ The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

Happy Paperback Publication  Day

Simon & Schuster
12 July 2018

My thanks to the publishers and to edpr for my copy of this book

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is the heart-warming and hilarious new novel from the queen of feel-good fiction – a novel of family, secrets, love and redemption … and broken hearts mended and made all the stronger for it

What's it all about..

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change.

Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks.

But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

What did I think about it..

Whenever I open a Milly Johnson book I feel like I am sitting down with a cherished friend and having a natter over a cup of coffee and a slice of the delicious cheesecake which features so prominently in The Perfectly Imperfect Woman.

Marnie Salt is the epitome of every woman who has been beguiled and then left in the lurch by a man who bolstered her ego and then abandoned her to pick up the pieces of a shattered life. But never down for long Marnie picks herself up... hurt and bruised, most certainly, but with the offer of a clean break, she leaves her stressful marketing job and moves to the magical Wychwell, a delightful village in the Yorkshire Dales, where the rather wonderful and deliciously, eccentric, Lilian Dearman helps to put Marnie back together again.

Whilst reading the story over the last couple of afternoons, The Perfectly Imperfect Woman has filled my heart with sunshine. So typical of this author’s distinctive writing style, I have laughed out loud at the outrageousness, ranted at the perversity and bad behaviour of some of the characters and cried copious tears at the loss of others.  I've walked the village streets of Wychwell with Marnie Salt and enjoyed every single moment of the journey.

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is an absolutely perfect recipe for a delightful summer read. A delicious dash of romance, a sparkling cup of friendship and a generous pinch of this author’s special ingredient…magical story telling.

Credit: Charlotte Murphy

Milly Johnson is a Top Five Sunday Times bestselling author of fourteen novels with plans for many more. Her novels are about the universal issues of friendship, family, love, betrayal, good food and a little bit of that magic in life that sometimes visits the unsuspecting. 

Milly is a columnist for her local newspaper and is also an experienced broadcaster on radio and TV. She is also patron of several local charities, including Yorkshire Cat Rescue and The Well at the Core, with community and animal welfare both things that are very close to her heart.

Twitter @millyjohnson #PerfectlyImperfect



Blog Tour ~ Sticks and Stones by Jo Jakeman

Happy Publication  Day

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the Sticks and Stones Blog Tour

Harvill Secker
12 July 2018

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

What's it all about..

Imogen’s husband is a bad man.
His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son.
In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

And here's what I thought about it..

In what seems like a moment of complete madness, Imogen locks her ex-husband, Philip, in the cellar. That this act is done in haste doesn't lessen the impact of why she felt compelled to take this action in the first place. However, as Sticks and Stones unfolds, the reasons for this deadly drama starts to take shape, and as the story deepens, so more and more secrets about Philip Rochester start to emerge.

This is one of those tense and nail bitingly complex psychological suspense stories which grabs your attention right from the start, and whilst I couldn't always rationalise Imogen's behaviour, I could appreciate why Imogen, and later, Ruby and Naomi, two of Philip's other wives, acted in the way that they did. Looking at abuse, even in a fictional format, is never easy, and I think this story highlights just how desperate people can become when they have reached the limit of their endurance.

The author writes well and makes her characters feel totally authentic, and even though there were times when some of the action caused me to suspend belief, I couldn't help but become completely immersed in the way that the three women reacted to the situation. I was, very quickly, absolutely engrossed in this complicated story about the ultimate revenge.

The domestic noir genre is very popular and to stand out from the rest each new title has to offer something different, I think in Sticks and Stones, this debut author has succeeded in giving us a really innovative story, something which has a real edginess to it and which is both disturbing and utterly compelling, a real page-turner!

About the Author

JO JAKEMAN was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Sticks and Stones is her debut thriller.

Twitter @jojakemanwrites #SticksandStones

@Harvill Secker


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ The King's Justice by E M Powell

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on The King's Justice Blog Tour

Thomas & Mercer
1 June 2018
Stanton and Barling #1

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book and to HF Virtual Book Tours for the invitation to be part of this blog tour

What's it all about..

A murder that defies logic—and a killer on the loose. 

England, 1176. Aelred Barling, esteemed clerk to the justices of King Henry II, is dispatched from the royal court with his young assistant, Hugo Stanton, to investigate a brutal murder in a village outside York. 

The case appears straightforward. A suspect is under lock and key in the local prison, and the angry villagers are demanding swift justice. But when more bodies are discovered, certainty turns to doubt—and amid the chaos it becomes clear that nobody is above suspicion. 

Facing growing unrest in the village and the fury of the lord of the manor, Stanton and Barling find themselves drawn into a mystery that defies logic, pursuing a killer who evades capture at every turn. 

Can they solve the riddle of who is preying upon the villagers? And can they do it without becoming prey themselves?

And here are my thoughts about it..

It's been a real treat to escape to 1176 and spend time in the company of Aelred Barling, an esteemed clerk to the justices of Henry II, and his messenger and erstwhile assistant, Hugo Stanton, as they seek to investigate a brutal murder which has taken place in a small village on the outskirts of York.

With a real sense of time and place, The King's Justice takes us into very heart of medieval England and back to a time when impartiality was tenuous at best, and most often those on the wrong side of the law were often pronounced guilty even before trial. Trying to prove innocence was, quite often, a deadly affair, and although they have people under suspicion, Barling and Stanton’s attempt to investigate this horrific crime leads them into some very dark places.

From its short and snappy chapters, and filled with twists and turns, The King’s Justice moves along at a lively pace and there is certainly never a dull moment, or a minute’s peace, once these two, rather unconventional, investigators arrive in the village of Claresham. Stanton and Barling's subsequent involvement with, Sir Reginald Edgar, the Lord of the Manor, does nothing to make the due process of justice any less troublesome. 

Imaginatively written, with a fine eye for historical detail, The King’s Justice is the first in a proposed new series of medieval crime mysteries. The partnership between the sanctimonious Barling, alongside the more rambunctious, Stanton, makes for a really interesting partnership, and I am sure that we will learn more about what makes this duo tick as the series progresses. There is much to find out and I am already looking forward to seeing just where this intrepid duo find themselves in the next instalment of the Stanton and Barling mysteries.

E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. The King’s Justice is the first novel in her new Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. She is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers’ The Big Thrill magazine, blogs for English Historical Fiction Authors and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society. 

Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in North-West England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

Twitter @empowellauthor #TheKingsJustice



During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 6 paperback copies of The King’s Justice! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

This giveaway is organised by the Blog Tour operator and Jaffareadstoo is not responsible for its organisation or of the distribution of prizes.

Historical Fiction Virtual Tours

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on Her Name Was Rose Blog Tour

This new Irish voice is bursting onto the scene with her first foray into the thriller genre. This promises to be one of the most exciting debuts of 2018. Perfect for fans of Lianne Moriarty, B. A. Paris, Gillian Flynn and Marian Keyes.

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

Her name was Rose. 
You watched her die. 
And her death has created a vacancy.

When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.

And then she makes a decision she can never take back.

Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?

But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

And here's what I thought about it..

This clever psychological thriller grips from the dramatic opening which introduces us to Emily D'Arcy, who after witnessing a fatal accident is left reeling with disbelief. When she discovers more about, Rose Grahame, the victim of the accident, Emily soon becomes totally immersed in Rose's life, to the point where she is completely obsessed with needing to find out more and more about her.

What then follows is a skilfully crafted psychological suspense story which has more than enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. The story gets off to a bit of a slow start but as Emily gets more and more involved in the seemingly perfection of, what was once, Rose's life, so the mystery at the heart of the novel starts to pull ever tighter.

I really enjoyed the hidden depths of this story, the characters, in particular, come bouncing into life, especially, Cian, Rose's widowed husband, who is a forceful presence from the start. However, it is the other characters, who Emily finds herself involved with, who add an interesting dimension to the overall complexity of the story.

I can't say too much about the plot and its eventual outcome as that would spoil it and this story is one you need to read without any spoilers from me but what I will say is that Her Name was Rose is an enjoyable escape into a complex world of secrets and lies and is a great holiday-by-the pool sort of read.

A former journalist and columnist, Claire Allan has been writing fiction since 2006.

An Irish Times bestseller, she has tackled issues from post-natal depression, infertility, and dementia through to writing a based-on-a-true-story book about a couple reunited after 50 years apart. She has now decided to unleash her dark side!

Married with two children, two cats and a mad puppy she is happiest lost in a good book. She has kissed Michael Buble.

Twitter @ClaireAllan #HerNameWasRose


Monday, 9 July 2018

Review ~ Three Shoeboxes by Steven Manchester

The Story Plant
June 2018

My thanks to the author for my e-copy of this book

What's it all about..

One shoebox might store an old pair of sneakers. Two shoeboxes could contain a lifetime of photographs. But in Three Shoeboxes, a father’s undying love may be just enough to make things right again.

My thoughts about it..

Once again the author gets right into the heart of family life with this sensitive portrayal of the impact of living with someone who is traumatized by the effects of PTSD. 

Mac Anderson has everything he could possibly wish for, a beautiful wife, three healthy children and a prosperous lifestyle; all that is good in life seems to be his for the taking. However, this starts to change when he unexpectedly experiences violent panic attacks which distort his perception and make his and his family’s, life intolerable. What then follows is a story of how an ordered and peaceful life can suddenly change so much, and as Mac spirals into chaos, life for his wife and his children, will never be the same again.

The author writes about family life so thoughtfully that there is never a moment when the whole thing doesn't feel absolutely authentic. The wider effect, that of coping with PTSD, is handled sensitively and well, and yet, at the same time it allows a glimpse into the dreadful ramifications that this debilitating disorder can have on family life and structure. Mac's terror and bewilderment is palpable and as he struggles to make sense of what's happening to him so his family sink into utter despair as they too struggle to cope with his irascible mood swings.

Three Shoeboxes makes for emotional reading. The strength of the writing and the author’s obvious comprehensive research into PTSD comes across in the sensitive way he describes Mac’s decline. That the writing doesn’t shy away from showing just how devastating an effect this has on family life is to the writer’s credit. And yet, in the midst of chaos come hope and Three Shoeboxes demonstrates just how important is the love of  good a family and supportive friends.

I’ve read several novels by this talented author and I think that Three Shoeboxes is the strongest of his stories to date.

More about the author can be found on his website

Follow on Twitter @authorSteveM

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

Over the last four years of adding WW1 information onto my blog I have found lots of books really interesting so I thought it was time to share them.

Michael Joseph 1988
Penguin 1991

Lyn MacDonald writes with authority on the events of WW1 and this book in one that I use when I want to check up on facts or to look for inspiration for a blog post. It's a very readable account of what happened during 1914-1918 and what I find most useful is the poignant mix of the serious and the ordinary, which all add up to a fascinating account of the lives of those soldiers who fought, and died, on the Western Front.

It contains lots of illustrations, poignant photographs and letters, amateur poetry from 'ordinary' soldiers and the events they describe in letters home are both enlightening and desperately sad. There's even information in a letter which was been sent to The Times newspaper, in 1914, accusing them of reporting false we know that phrase isn't new then !

Of the many books in my WW1 bibliography, 1914-1918 : Voices and Images of the Great war is one of my particular favourites especially as it gives a voice to those ordinary soldiers who found themselves, often unwillingly, living out their, sometimes very short, lives in extraordinary and difficult circumstances.

First written 30 years ago, the book is perhaps a little harder to come by now, however, it's well worth a read if you spot it in a library or second hand book store.


Saturday, 7 July 2018

His Fic Saturday ~ Pam Weaver

 On Hist Fic Saturday I am delighted to welcome to the blog, best selling author

Pam Weaver

It's a real thrill to have Pam as my guest on the blog today sharing her thoughts about why she writes historical fiction..

My mother was a great story teller. I grew up listening to her tales from the past. Neither of us realised but she was doing the foundation work upon which I would start to build my reputation. I would listen to the same story over and over again and never get tired or bored. She’d create the scene, explain the dilemma, build the story to a crescendo but always leave me with a satisfying conclusion. 

Was story telling in my genes? The truth is, I have no idea. My mother adopted me. 

My mother was born in 1912 and life was very different back then. However her story telling was so vivid I felt like I could have been there. I quickly learned that no matter when we are born, we all have the same dreams, the same aspirations and the same longing to be loved and accepted. Because I loved her, I was always rooting for her in the stories she told. I felt the same indignation, the same pain of insult, the same frustration or the same glow of romance as she spoke. It was only as I grew older, I realised that as a child of the 1950’s and 60’s my attitudes and opinions were shaped in a different forge. It wasn’t long before I would cry, ‘You never should have put up with that, Mum,’ or ‘I would have told her to sling her hook.’ And she would just smile and say, ‘That’s the way things were back then.’

I never did have any great love for the dry facts of history but I am fascinated by the people. What made them tick? Why did they accept patterns of behaviour that we would never condone nowadays? When I write, it’s great fun to imagine myself in the same room as my character, but thanks to the years of listening to those often repeated stories, I know I have to be very careful to leave my 21st century mind, attitude and conditioning away from the page. 

In my first book, my character stayed with her pig of a husband and tried to make the best of it. A reader told me that she’d lost patience with her. ‘What an absolute wimp!’ she complained angrily. ‘Why on earth didn’t she just walk out on him?’ I would say, the answer to that question is simple. 

In this day and age, any wife leaving her husband can find support outside the marital home. The women of my mother’s generation had no such luxuries. A woman couldn’t even rent a flat without the signature of a male guarantor on the agreement. The man might be her local doctor or bank manager but I would hazard a guess that those men would be far more likely to tell her to go back home and be a dutiful wife, than they would be willing to stand surety for her. And if she had children - Oh, don’t get me started on that one!

There’s been plenty written about kings and queens or notables in high places but I’m more interested in the unrecorded people of history and the ordinary women who in turn became extraordinary – like my mother. I my humble opinion, they were the ones who really won the war. The men may have been fighting, but the women kept the country going, brought up the next generation and found a strength of character which is still much admired. To fully comprehend what that meant, as I write, I try to immerse myself in their times. And what fun that can be.

We are lucky enough to have a wealth of research material at our fingertips. The Internet, the local library, and old newspapers have given me a real insight into the ordinary life of the time. Added to that, the rest of the world and his wife have written their memoirs. Best of all, I love talking to the people from that generation. It’s wonderful when they’re in full flow and then they say something in all innocence which gives me a real insight into their lives. I remember a 90 year old telling me that during the war, all the petrol they used on the farm was tainted pink. ‘If you were caught using pink petrol in your car,’ she went on, ‘you’d be in big trouble.’ 

‘Oh that didn’t bother us,’ scoffed her 93 year old friend sitting next to her. ‘We used to filter our petrol through the gas mask. When it came out the other end, it was normal colour.’

What a gem! And yes, I did use it in a book. 

So why do I write historical fiction? First and foremost because I love it and then because you learn something new all the time. 

Pam Weaver is a bestselling author of saga novels set in Worthing, including There’s Always Tomorrow, Better Days Will Come, Pack Up Your Troubles, For Better For Worse, Blue Moon and Love Walked Right In. Pam’s inspiration comes from her love of people and their stories and her passion for the town where her novels are set. She is married with two grown-up daughters and lives in Worthing.

Here's more about Pam's latest novel

Sing Them Home

Pan Macmillan
June 2018

A German aircraft crashes into a house in Worthing, and causes complete devastation to the local community. Three strangers meet for the first time that day – Pip, Stella and Lillian. Lillian’s little girl Flora has been hurt in the crash and is rushed to hospital. As she comes through her ordeal, she finds her mother and her two new ‘aunties’ by her bedside.

The three new friends quickly bond over shared experiences; all their husbands are overseas in the fighting forces. They also have the same love of singing and soon form The Sussex Sisters, Worthing’s answer to the Andrews Sisters, to boost morale in in dance halls and canteens all over the south coast.

When D-Day finally arrives, it’s the promise of a brighter future they have all been longing for. But the men that return home are altogether different from the husbands they waved off. How will they respond to their wives’ new-found fame? How will the women live alongside these distant, damaged men? With secrets, revelations and surprises on the horizon, the friends will need each other more than ever.

Huge thanks to Pam for being such  a lovely guest on my blog today and for sharing her love of writing historical fiction with us.

You can discover more about Pam's bestselling sagas by clicking here

Friday, 6 July 2018

Review ~ Happier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva

Lana Grace Riva

My thanks to the author for sharing her book with me

I don't often read self help books but the title of this one struck a chord with me as it's all too easy to become so immersed in what's happening in daily life that you don't take the time to stop and consider the bigger picture, and let's face it we could all do with some happier thinking from time to time.

The author deals with several subjects and even though this is only a little book, coming in at just 50 pages, it certainly packs a lot into those pages. Neatly and succinctly divided into appropriate chapters the book takes you on a nicely guided tour of how to make the best of situations so that they don't become problematic.

Here's what inside :
  • Don't write off the day
  • Journal good things
  • Much you can't control but your reactions you can
  • Be kind
  • Dwell on the good
  • Act on what you can change
  • Don't compare your life to imagined others
  • Accept changed plans
  • Change path when it stops looking appealing
  • Don't make assumptions
  • Final Thoughts

I think what comes across is that right from the get go, the author makes it perfectly clear that she is not a trained psychotherapist and that this book is her own interpretation of how she has dealt with certain issues and by reading about mental health awareness and mindfulness she has put together her own coping strategies which she wants to pass on to others.

Happier Thinking is an interesting little book and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. I think my favourite chapter was the one about Being Kind. It's surprising how good a random act of kindness makes you feel, either giving or receiving.

I'm a great believer in the old adage by the author, Charles Kingsley..." do as you would be done by"..

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Review ~ The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

Happy Publication  Day

5 July 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Six Oxford undergraduate students spend the summer at a French farmhouse where they hope to shake off the shackles of study before they all embark on their separate careers. Severine is the beautiful next door neighbour who beguiles them, not just with her beauty, but also with her mysterious lifestyle. And then ...Severine disappears.

The story opens a decade later when we meet one of the six, Karen Channing, now in her early thirties, trying to run her fledgling head-hunting business and scurrying between clients. When she receives an unexpected phone call informing her that Severine's body has been discovered at the farmhouse it brings back memories of that fateful summer and of the secrets which have been locked deeply away.

What then follows is a complex psychological thriller which takes us slowly piece by piece back to the time when all six of the students spent that fateful summer together. Old rivalries and petty jealousies emerge and as the plot gets deeper and deeper so the ties that bind them all together get tighter and tighter.

The story gets off to a bit of a slow start which I think is intentional as it then allows the story to evolve at its own pace rather than give too much away at the beginning. I enjoyed watching the dynamics of the group as they all come together, with the exception of one, to go back over the events as they each remember them. I think what comes across is the way that we never really know the true nature of people, no matter how close we think we are, there are always secrets, some more deadlier than others.

The French Girl is a clever and complex thriller, with a controlled ambiguity that keeps the reader guessing. It's a great holiday read.

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University, where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport

Twitter @elliott_lexie #TheFrenchGirl



Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

 Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's final stop 

on The Death of Mrs Westaway Blog Tour

Harvill Secker
28 June 2018

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

What's the book all about...

When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast. 

There's just one problem - Hal's real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger's funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her. 

Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…

What did I think about it..

When Harriet ‘Hal’ Westaway receives a letter telling her that she is a beneficiary in her grandmother’s will, it takes her completely by surprise as the Mrs Westaway named in the letter cannot possibly be Hal’s grandmother. But without money, and being chased by loan sharks, Hal decides to take a chance and see what the proposed inheritance entails. Travelling to Trepassen House in Cornwall is the start of a momentous journey for Hal which will change her life forever.

The shadowy nature of the house comes alive, not just from the tip tap of the elderly housekeeper’s walking stick, and her malevolent attitude to the Westaways, but also from the cawing and muttering of the mischief of magpies who sit ominously watching from the rooftop of Trepassen House. The whole scene is set for a stunning and deliciously creepy family drama, which has all the hallmarks of this author’s special skill of bringing the disturbing to life.

There are many secrets at Trepassen House and all are beautifully revealed in story which will have you gripped from the very beginning. There is so much to learn, not just about Hal, whose character grows stronger and stronger as the story progresses, but also about the Westaways themselves, this mysterious family, for whom, at first, Hal feels no sense of familial connection.

Such is the pull of this dark mystery that even from beyond the grave the secrets that this dysfunctional family have kept so securely hidden have such a devastating effect that even the tarot cards, which Hal so cleverly controls, could never have predicted just what's hidden away at Trepassen House. 

There is such a visual quality to this dark story, that I can, very easily, see The Death of Mrs Westaway being translated to film or television. I read the story, quite transfixed, over the space of an afternoon, as I quite simply couldn’t put the book down. 

About the Author

Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her first two thrillers, In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 were smash hits and appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and the New York Times. The film rights to both books have been optioned and she is published in more than 40 countries. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family

Twitter @ruthwarewriter #MrsWestaway



Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's Blog Tour stop for Call of the Curlew

28 June 2018

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

What's the story about...

Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh.

It’s New Year’s Eve 2015 and eighty-six year old Virginia Wrathmell feels like the end is upon her. As she lookout on the dark and desolate marshes that surround the house she’s lived in since she was young, Virginia is overcome with the memories of one winter that have stayed with her since childhood.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1939 and Virginia is eleven, an orphan arriving to meet her new parents at their mysterious house, Salt Winds, on the edge of a vast marsh. War feels far away out here amongst the birds and shifting sands- until the day a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh. The people at Salt Winds are the only ones to see it.

When her adopted father goes missing, and a mysterious stranger arrives in his place, Salt Winds becomes a very dangerous place to be. Virginia’s failure to protect the house’s secrets will leave her spending a lifetime dealing with the aftermath.

What did I think about it...

Call of the Curlew begins at Salt Winds, on New Year’s Eve in 2015, as eighty-six year old Virginia Wrathmell takes stock of her life. Her discovery of a fragile bird’s skull seems to act as a portent and a catalyst for what happens next.

Moving seamlessly between two time frames, the story starts in 1939 when Virginia was first taken to live at the house on the marsh. Adopted by childless couple, Clem and Lorna Wrathmell, Virginia makes her home with them on the edge of Tollbury Marsh in the house known as Salt Winds. The salt marsh around the house is an eerie and disquieting sort of place and Virginia is warned never to go onto the marsh as the shifting sands are potentially lethal.

There’s a strange sort of atmosphere about Salt Winds, which comes not just from its occupants, although, there is no doubt that, Clem and Lorna an odd couple, but it is also in their unusual involvement with their neighbour, Max Deering, which adds an extra and rather creepy dimension to the story. There’s a real sense of uneasiness in the way that Salt Winds seems to enfold everyone in a web of silence and this air of disquiet never really goes away, creeping insidiously throughout the whole of the story like a ghostly wraith.

There's a dark secret at the heart of the novel, a moment fractured in time when the atmosphere in the house stood still and lives were changed on a whim. I was so emotionally connected to the characters by this point that I felt the change quite acutely, and such is the pull of the story that I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened had another choice been made.

Beautifully written from start to finish, Call of the Curlew has a wonderfully melancholic air about it which captures the very essence of the place and the people so perfectly that there is never a moment when the story doesn’t come alive. The brooding nature of the marsh nestles alongside that of the house itself which is such an integral part of the plot that Salt Winds becomes a vital and important character in its own right.

There is no doubt that Call of the Curlew is a stunning debut. From the beauty of its evocative cover, to the glory of its content, it is one of those special stories which, as you read, makes time stand still, so that you forget the here and now and escape willingly into the magic of a good story, beautifully told.

About the Author

ELIZABETH BROOKS grew up in Chester, and read Classics at Cambridge. She lives on the Isle of Man with her husband and children. Elizabeth describes herself as a “Brontë nerd”; Call of the Curlew is her homage to the immersive and evocative writing of Charlotte Brontë.

Twitter @ManxWriter #CalloftheCurlew


Blog Tour ~ When I Find You by Emma Curtis

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the When I Find You Blog Tour

Black Swan
9 August 2018

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for my ecopy of the book
and the invitation to be part of this tour.

I am delighted to welcome the author Emma Curtis to the blog and to thank her for this fascinating guest post about the subject of prosopagnosia or face blindness...

I first heard about prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, a few years ago. Stephen Fry was on the radio talking about having the condition. I was interested, but I was in the middle of something else, so I filed it away in my mind for a future project. 

When I was ready to begin thinking about a face-blind protagonist, YouTube was an invaluable source. There were stories from women who had attempted to pick the wrong child up from school; people whose children were misdiagnosed as autistic because developing friendships was impossible when they didn’t recognise their classmates from one day to the next; teachers giving up work because it was distressingly hard to distinguish one pupil from another; people missing out on jobs, mislaying husbands, losing out in love. When I tried to picture my daily life without the natural ability we all take for granted, I knew that I had to write this story. 

More than the crime novel possibilities, it was the strain of everyday life and the social disadvantages that I was drawn to. Conscious that they often inadvertently cause offence, face-blind people exist in a state of high alert. It can be a huge relief to discover that there is a name for their problem but even so, many, like my protagonist Laura, decide not to go public. There are valid reasons for this. People still don’t understand the condition and continue to feel offended when blanked in the street; there is a misconception that if those living with face-blindness only ‘worked harder’, they would overcome what can be perceived as a weakness; and perhaps most importantly, it makes them vulnerable – at best to practical jokers, at worst to people with malicious intent. Laura survives in the busy advertising agency where she works by knowing where everyone sits (fortunately, there is no hot-desking at Gunner Munro!), by hair colour, ear shape, gait, wedding rings and, importantly, context. Mouths are more helpful than eyes. 

To help me understand the science behind prosopagnosia, I met Professor Michael Banissy, Director of Research at the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths University. Michael explained that the condition has nothing to do with poor memory but everything to do with the way the brain receives visual information. It’s a learning difficulty. Imagine your eye sending light to the back of the retina where the resulting image is interpreted as a face, checked against any information you already have and filed away for future reference. The face-blind brain instantly flips the information back out again. 

It was important to me to tie down the parameters of the condition as early as possible in the story, because I want my readers to understand that what happened to Laura is possible. I want them to put themselves in Laura’s shoes, to feel her embarrassment, to be wearied by the mental gymnastics required every time a stranger approaches; to understand that it can be unnerving, that it can lose you friends and life opportunities; to realise that when walking into a room full of people, they might as well be walking into a field of sheep. 

It is thought that two in every fifty people have the condition to some degree, so chances are you know someone who does. Talking to a friend about When I Find You, she mentioned that there is local man who always greets her cheerily if she has her dog with her but blanks her if she doesn’t. Having read my book, she now thinks she knows the reason why. 

I hope you enjoy When I Find You. It’s been such a pleasure to research and write. Four years ago I didn’t know this condition existed. I now have face-blind friends and always introduce myself when we meet. I know they’re not being rude if they look momentarily panicked and fail to greet me by name! 

EMMA CURTIS was born in Brighton and brought up in London. She is a member of ‘The Prime Writers’, a collective of writers who have all had their first books published after the age of 40.Emma has two children and lives in Richmond with her husband.

Twitter @emmacurtisbooks #WhenIFindYou