Saturday, 18 August 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ... England, 1678

Crooked Cat Books
16 July 2018

Huge thanks to the author and publishers  for my copy of this book

What price justice?

London 1678.

Historical fiction has the ability to take you to a place long ago, back to a time that isn't your own, with customs, traditions and legends which have been set down in history books. Mostly, I know a little about the time and place I find myself in, but not always, and so in The Road to Newgate, it's been a real treat to spend time with a story I didn't know too much about, that of the infamous preacher, Titus Oates.

The Road to Newgate is a vivid description of this unsettled time and is told through the eyes of  three fictional characters who were caught up in the events as they happened. Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, his wife Anne, and their friend, William Smith, all help to bring the story to life in a realistic way and intertwining real historical figures with that of fictional characters also gives an authentic edge to what was happening.  

The story covers the tumultuous events which began in 1678 during the reign of Charles II and although England has had some stability during his 18 year reign, there is always intrigue and insurrection just waiting to happen. Religious discord, particularly from those who would have England return to Catholicism, is a constant threat, and so when the preacher, Titus Oates incites panic with news of a new Popish threat which threatens to kill the King, the meeting houses and coffee shops on the streets of London are decidedly twitchy.The city comes gloriously alive, so that you can hear the angry shouts, feel the danger and despair, and, as you traipse through seventeenth century London, the scented rag you hold your nose does little to disguise the dirt and squalor of this teeming city.

The author does this type of historical fiction so well, cleverly blending fact with fiction, danger with intrigue and all the necessary emotion along the way. The mystery at the heart of the novel is handled well and I whilst it sounds strange to have enjoyed time in the hell hole that was Newgate Prison. The author's vivid descriptions of the place makes you feel that you have actually been incarcerated within its walls, on execution day, with the dubious aroma of boiling flesh filling your nostrils.

The Road to Newgate is an atmospheric insight into a turbulent and dangerous time. The author has done a commendable job in bringing place, people and historical detail to glorious life.

About the Author

Kate Braithwaite grew up in Edinburgh but now lives with her family in Pennsylvania. The Road To Newgate is her second novel. 

Twitter @ KMBraithaite 


The Road to Newgate is available to buy from Amazon UK  and other good book stores.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be hosting today's stop on the Cottage by the Sea Blog Tour

Arrow Publishing
9 August 2018

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

What's it all about..

Rocked by tragedy, Annie Marlow returns to the one place she knows she can heal: the cottage by the sea where she spent many happy childhood holidays with her family. 

There, Annie meets Keaton, a local painter with a big heart; Mellie, the reclusive landlord Annie is determined to befriend; and Britt, a teenager with a terrible secret. With them her broken spirit starts to heal. 

Then events threaten Annie’s new idyll. And when the opportunity of a lifetime lands in her lap, she is torn between the excitement of a new journey and the pull of the haven – and the man – she has come to call home. Will she be able to make her new-found happiness last?

What did I think about it..

When Annie Marlow suffers a personal tragedy she returns to the place where she spent happy summers with her family. Hiring the cottage by the sea helps to heal the wounds which threaten to engulf her and with a new job and making new friends, Annie starts to feel hopeful again. However, the future is a scary place, and Annie needs to start to trust again before her heart can heal.

This is a lovely entertaining read which looks at the dynamics of family and friendship and shows that friends really are the family we choose for ourselves. Annie's interaction with the people who call the small seaside resort of Oceanside home makes for a quietly thoughtful story, which is reflected in Annie's burgeoning relationship with gentle giant, Keaton, and of her lively encounters with  Millie, her belligerent and, somewhat eccentric, landlord.

This is the type of story which this author does so well and Cottage by the Sea is up there with the best of its genre, which, it must be said, Debbie Macomber has, over the years, made her own. Throughout the whole of the story I found that I was smiling at the gentle way everything is allowed to unfold with quiet emphasis on observation and gentle humour.

There is much to enjoy in Cottage by the Sea as it's a lovely read, which is just perfect for a lazy afternoon in the garden. I found myself racing through the story, quite engrossed in life at Oceanside and completely at ease with the characters who make this story rather special.

Debbie Macomber is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers. In addition to fiction, Debbie has also published two bestselling cookbooks; numerous inspirational and nonfiction works; and two acclaimed children’s books. The beloved and bestselling Cedar Cove series became Hallmark Channel’s first dramatic scripted television series, Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, which was ranked as the top program on US cable TV when it debuted in summer 2013. Hallmark has also produced many successful films based on Debbie’s bestselling Christmas novels. Debbie Macomber owns her own tea room, and a yarn store, A Good Yarn, named after the shop featured in her popular Blossom Street novels. She and her husband, Wayne, serve on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, and she is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and her husband Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington (the town on which her Cedar Cove novels are based) and winter in Florida. 

Twitter @debbiemacomber #CottageByTheSea



Thursday, 16 August 2018

Review ~ How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

How to Walk Away
9 August 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
What's it all about ..

Margaret Jacobsen has it all: The fantastic job, a bright future, and the man of her dreams. One day, on what was supposed to be the most special day of her life, a freak accident turns Margaret’s life upside down. 

Suddenly, Margaret is full of questions she never thought she would have to ask - 

Is her fiancé actually her fiancé? Why is her estranged sister here? But most importantly, will she ever walk again? 

For fans of Jojo Moyes, How to Walk Away is an unforgettable love story about finding joy and hope in the darkest of circumstances.

My thoughts about it ..

Margaret Jacobsen and her perfect boyfriend Charlie seem about to spend an idyllic night together and Margaret is sure that on this night Charlie will propose to her, but the fate has a nasty way of intervening and in the blink of an eye Margaret's life is changed forever. Waking up in a trauma unit with life limiting injuries is the start of Margaret's long road to recovery. And whilst she finds that Charlie is less than supportive there are others who do their best to bring Margaret back to some semblance of 'normal' life.

How to Walk Away is an interesting story about family dynamics and how a catastrophic event can either bring out the worst, or the best in people.  There are some lovely light moments within the story particularly with Margaret's sister, Kitty, who has come back into her life after being estranged from the family for three years, we gradually learn the reason for this estrangement as the story progresses. However, it is in the relationship that Margaret has with her physiotherapist, Iain, where the story starts to come alive. It was interesting to observe just how much of Margaret's recovery relied upon the taciturn Iain who, on occasion, tested her endurance to breaking point, and whose maverick approach to rehab often landed him in trouble. I enjoyed the 'will they, won't they' aspect of Margaret's relationship with Iain, who with his Scottish stoicism is quite the hero with his no nonsense approach to physical therapy. 

I enjoyed reading this story which is both sad and happy in equal measure. The author has clearly done her research about the type of injuries that Margaret sustains and whilst the story doesn't dwell too much on the more serious medical aspects of Margaret's condition there is enough information there to make it feel convincing. Margaret's slow rehabilitation shows just how fragile is the life we once felt we held safe and shows that help comes in all sorts of different ways.

Katherine Center

New York Times best selling writer Katherine Center writes bittersweet comic novels about how we get back up after life has knocked us down. She writes about hope, and love, and how we hold onto life’s joys, even in the midst of all its hardship. Katherine is the author of six novels, with more on the way. Her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, was recently optioned for a movie.

Twitter @katherinecenter #HowToWalkAway


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on 

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway Blog Tour

9 August 2018

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

What's it all about..

Sam Holloway has survived the worst that life can throw at you. But he’s not really living. His meticulous routines keep everything nice and safe - with just one exception...

Three nights a week, Sam dons his superhero costume and patrols the streets. It makes him feel invincible - but his unlikely heroics are getting him into some sticky, and increasingly dangerous, situations.

Then a girl comes into his life, and his ordered world is thrown into chaos ... and now Sam needs to decide whether he can be brave enough to finally take off the mask.

Both hilarious and heart-warming, this is a story about love, loneliness, grief, and the life-changing power of kindness.

My thoughts about it..

I'm sure that, if we look deep enough, there's a little bit of the super hero in all of us and as Sam Holloway proves sometimes you just have to get out there and defend those who can't always defend themselves. Sam's unlikely heroics are the stuff of dreams and as each of his Phantasm adventures gets underway I found that I was smiling, not just because he arms himself with a restorative cherry coke and a toffee crisp, incidentally, in my opinion, one of the best ever chocolate bars to be invented, but that he also succeeds against all odds. That his personal life is rather quiet and mundane only adds to his considerable charm and so when he meets the girl with red hair, you just hope that his life takes an altogether different turn.

I loved this book from start to finish. It's warm, it's witty and it's wise beyond measure but more importantly, it made me remember just how good a feel-good story can make you feel. However, don't be fooled into thinking that this is a quiet little story, it's not, as life has not always been plain sailing for Sam, he's had his share of bumps and knocks and yet, he keeps going, keeps on doing his best, showing a little kindness and standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves, and in the end that's what we should all be doing.

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway is suffused with gentle humour, it will make you smile, laugh out loud and even shed a little tear now and again, but throughout it all Sam's inherent goodness shines through like a beacon of hope.

I knew I was going to love Sam from page 5 when I read that he was a great believer in not rushing beans and observes that there is an art to everything in life, even beans. How true.

About the Author

Rhys Thomas lives in Cardiff with his long-term girlfriend and two cats, 
Henry VIII and Sheldon Tilllikum Cooper

Twitter @rhysthomashello #UnlikelyHeroics




Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Secret Keeper by Susan Lewis

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on The Secret Keeper Blog Tour

Arrow Publishing
9 August 2018

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

What's it all about..

You never forget your first love. Eighteen years ago, Olivia learned to live without Sean Kenyon. She moved on, building a life with her husband Richmond and their two children in the picturesque town Kesterley-on-Sea. But when Sean unexpectedly appears on Olivia’s doorstep, her world is turned upside down once more. As old feelings resurface, and new truths come to light, Olivia finds herself questioning everything. Is her husband really the person she thought he was? The past and present collide, and Olivia must uncover the truth before it’s too late. But if everyone is keeping secrets, how will she know who to trust?

What did I think about it..

Olivia and her husband, Richmond, seem on the surface to have the perfect marriage. With two teenage children, a lovely home and a successful business, their lives seem set on a perfect trajectory. But all is not as it seems in this paradise and when Olivia's first love, Sean Kenyon, unexpectedly appears back in her life, it unleashes all sorts of mayhem which threatens to change Olivia's life and that of her family forever.

The Secret Keeper is a beautifully written family drama which bears all the hallmarks of this talented author's ability to get right into the nitty gritty of family life. Olivia's story drew me in from the very beginning and I felt such huge sympathy for her as she battled her own demons alongside what was happening in her husband's complicated and messy life.

The tense atmosphere which starts to infiltrate the story adds a real sense of foreboding and as the story progressed I found that I was turning the pages faster and faster to try to discover just what was going on and so much wanted everything to work out well for Olivia and her family. The characters who dominate the story are an interesting bunch, some of them are not particularly likeable, but collectively they all add a lovely blend of light and some quite dark shade to the story.

The Secret Keeper is one of those intricate family mysteries which makes you thankful that your own family is really quite ordinary in comparison. It's definitely a perfect read for an afternoon in the garden.

Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of thirty-eight novels. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol. She lives in Gloucestershire.

Twitter @susandlewis #TheSecretKeeper


Blog Tour ~ Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the Bone Deep Blog Tour 

5 July 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and to Love Books Group for the invitation to be part of the blog tour
What's it all about..

What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?

The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. It is a dual narrative, told in alternative chapters by Mac, a woman bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose own past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

What did I think about it..

Told in alternating and quite compelling chapters Bone Deep exposes those deep and dark family secrets which have lain hidden for far too long. Mac, an elderly historian, is obsessed by an old story of two sisters whose fate seems to be intertwined with that of the old water mill which adjoins Mac's rural property. When Lucie is forced to flee her home she takes refuge as Mac's Girl Friday but soon the secrets which she is also keeping threaten to embroil the pair of them in some really dark goings on.

I really loved Bone Deep from the very beginning. There is a lovely mix of atmosphere; from light through to dark and all shades in between, and as the story gets deeper and deeper so the twists and turns in the story become ever more compelling. The author writes really well and has captured perfectly the rather creepy atmosphere of something not quite as it should be and there is a real sense of unease as the story starts to get deeper and deeper into the intertwining lives of Mac and Arthur her grown up son, and also of the complicated sibling dynamics which exists between Lucie and her younger sister, Jane. To say too much about what happens to them all and of how the story progresses would really be to give the game away, and Bone Deep is one of those clever psychological thrillers which should be read with no spoilers from me.

This is a clever and suspenseful story which plays havoc with your imagination and haunts your dreams for days after finishing the story.

Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Scotland. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. She returned to higher education her 40s, to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Dundee University. In 2016 she won Creative Scotland funding for a residency at Barry Mill, a National Trust for Scotland property. Her debut novel was Beneath the Skin (Polygon, 2016). She lives in Carnoustie.

Twitter @22_Ireland #BoneDeep



Monday, 13 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The White Cross by Richard Masefield..

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host  the first stop on The White Cross Blog Tour

Red Door Books
12 July2018

My thanks to the publishers and to Love Book Groups for the invitation to this blog tour
and also for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

‘A knight who isn’t skilled in arms can count for nothing in this world, remember that. It is your destiny to fight.’ 

With the words of his dead father ringing in his ears, Sir Garon leaves his new wife, Elise, and their green domain of Haddertun for blood and dust and disillusionment in Palestine. Meanwhile at home Elise is forced to fight for her survival and her honour in the brutal man’s world that is twelfth century England. Set against the backdrop of the Third Crusade and a villainous King Richard, The White Cross is a passionate and moving love story, and so much more – a thrilling and engaging novel that shines a fresh light on timeless issues of morality and faith and the futility of war.

What did I think about it..

I enjoy a crusade story and this one certainty packs a hefty punch as, coming in just at 530 pages, it certainly takes some committed reading time. It's a lively account of the relationship between Sir Garon, a crusader knight and his wife Elise. Garon's vivid recollections of the third crusade makes for interesting reading as does Elise's account of managing the couple's estate in her husband's absence. 

The story overall is divided into manageable sections with the narrative separated by the slightly unusual means of having different type-font for the main characters, a method which I found a little disconcerting at first, but as the story progressed I became more comfortable with the idea as it helps to place the characters very firmly in the story. Interspersed within Garon’s and Elise’s individual stories is that of Richard I, the Lionheart of our history, which depicts this enigmatic warrior king in an altogether more challenging light, and one which isn’t particularly flattering. That Richard is portrayed as selfish, vicious and arrogant is rather at odds with the image we have of a bounteous Crusader king whose chivalry and military success is the stuff of legend. But such is the way of historical fiction and it's interesting to have a different perspective.

The general historical feel of the story is good, and whilst there's a certain amount of colourful language, which may offend some, it certainly adds a realistic edginess to the story. The narrative flows throughout and there is enough historical detail to make the whole thing feel authentic. The author writes well and has an interesting turn of phrase. It is obvious that he has clearly done his research and this helps to bring time, place and history alive in the imagination.

A cousin of the poet, John Masefield, Richard has worked in a variety of spheres – as an actor and an adman, as a care manager and teacher at a school for disabled children and for many years as a livestock farmer. But always he has returned to writing. He is a regular speaker at literary and reading group meetings. He lives in Tenterden in Kent with his wife, Lee.

Twitter @RedDoorBooks #White Cross


Blog Tour ~ Kiss of Death by Paul Finch

Jaffareadstoo is really excited to host today's stop on the Kiss of Death Blog Tour

A Deadly Hunt

DS ‘Heck’ Heckenburg has been tasked with retrieving one of the UK’s most wanted men. But the trail runs cold when Heck discovers a video tape showing the fugitive in a fight for his life. A fight he has no chance of winning.

A Dangerous Game

Heck realises that there’s another player in this game of cat and mouse, and this time, they’ve not just caught the prize: they’ve made sure no one else ever does.

A Man Who Plays With Fire

How far will Heck and his team go to protect some of the UK’s most brutal killers? And what price is he willing to pay?

Could this be the end for Heck?

The Sunday Times bestseller returns with an unforgettable crime thriller. Fans of MJ Arlidge and Stuart MacBride won’t be able to put this down.

Don’t let them catch you…

What did I think about it...

The complex and convoluted investigation, code named Operation Sledgehammer, brings DS Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg into contact with a new partner, DC Gail Honeyford, who he worked with, some time ago, whilst on a previous investigation. Their new mission, as part of the Special Crime Unit, is to track down a number of cold cases and to discover the whereabouts of a vicious criminal who has evaded capture for far too long. This investigation is fraught with difficulty from the offset, and the complicated dynamics of working with Heckenburg makes for interesting reading.

I have to admit that this is the first book by this author I have read, and so to come into this crime series, at book seven, is perhaps not the best place to start. However, Kiss of Death works really well as a standalone novel, and whilst I have perhaps missed some of the more subtle references, particularly around Heck's complicated relationship with his boss, DSU Gemma Piper, there is no doubt that the overall complexity of both the plot and the characters works exceptionally well. Heck's rather maverick approach, and his often unorthodox investigative methods, help to give the story a realistic edginess. He’s definitely not a detective who plays it safe and that’s what makes this investigation so compelling.

The author writes with a credible authenticity which comes from his time as a police officer and also as a script writer for one of our most popular TV police dramas. This shows in the fine attention to detail and his clever ability to control a complicated plot without ever losing sight of the bigger picture. Kiss of Death is a very visual story, and is certainly something that I could, very easily, see played out as a TV drama, it has definite style and would work, really well, in terms of pace and tension.

The book concludes with a whopper of a cliff-hanger which I am sure will make regular followers of the series gasp out loud; it certainly leads the way for Book 8.

Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, now turned full-time writer. He cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, The Bill, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation and for Dr Who.

However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers, crime and horror. His best known work to date is the DS Heckenburg crime series, the first three titles of which all attained official ‘best seller’ status.

Paul lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife and children.

Twitter @paulfinchauthor #KissofDeath


Sunday, 12 August 2018

WW1 Remembered...

The Battle of Amiens, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy, was the opening phase of the Allied offensive which began on 8 August 1918, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that ultimately led to the end of the First World War. (Wikipedia)

This week saw the commemoration of the centenary of the Battle of Amiens with a service of remembrance held in the cathedral at Amiens and attended by representatives from the allied countries and also relatives of those who had been caught up in this offensive. The story of the battle told through contemporary letters, diaries and poems was a poignant reminder of how deeply significant this battle was in the final push towards the end of the war.

Battle of Amiens. Cavalry passing through Beaucourt en-Santerre to attack Le Quesnel, 9 August 1918. Stereoscopic.

© IWM (Q 8198)

Battle of Amiens. British horse-Wagon convoy passing under the German Ortskommandantur (Town Major's Office) notice swinging across the road at Cayeux-en-Santerre, 9 August 1918, the day after its capture. Stereoscopic.

© IWM (Q 8232)

This poignant photograph was taken exactly 100 years ago today

Battle of Amiens. Prisoners taken by the French near Roye 

12 August 1918. Stereoscopic.

© IWM (Q 8230)

Around 1200 prisoners were captured

All these photographs are from the Ministry of Information First World War Official Collection by kind permission of the Imperial War Museum.

Voices of the First World War

The Beginning of the End


Saturday, 11 August 2018

His Fic Saturday ~ Author, Juliet West

On Hist Fic Saturday

I am delighted to introduce to the blog the Historical Fiction writer 

Juliet West

A warm welcome to you, Juliet. Thank you for spending time with us today. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.

I grew up in Worthing, West Sussex. I went to the local school and sixth form college then studied history at university. Afterwards I trained as a newspaper reporter and worked in Dorset and Hampshire before moving to London. It wasn’t until my mid-thirties, when I was married with three children and living back in Sussex, that I started to write fiction. I joined a local writing group and later took a creative writing MA at Chichester University, where I focused mainly on short stories and poetry.

Finally, in 2010, I started to write my first novel, Before the Fall. I didn’t have an agent and I certainly wasn’t confident that the book would ever be published. It was just a challenge that I set myself – I wanted to write a novel before I was 40. In fact, I finished in 2013 when I was 42! 

To my amazement I found an agent very quickly, and signed a contract with Pan Macmillan. Before the Fall was published in 2014 and The Faithful is just out in paperback.

Without giving too much away what can you tell us about The Faithful?

The novel is set during the 1930s and it’s a love story that follows the lives of Hazel and Tom, who are teenagers when they first meet in 1935. Tom is a Londoner who has been dragged along to a seaside camp organised by Oswald Mosley’s blackshirt movement. Tom wants nothing to do with the camp, but his mother supports Mosley’s fascists and insists he comes along for the ‘holiday’. On his first day in Sussex, Tom meets Hazel, a local girl who knows nothing about the blackshirts. There is an instant connection between Tom and Hazel, but their romance proves to be less than straightforward . . .

Hazel is the main protagonist of The Faithful. Tell us about her and why you decided to write her story?

When I looked at old pictures of the blackshirt camps held in Sussex between the wars, I was struck by the number of young women taking part and wondered what could have possibly attracted them to join the British Union of Fascists. I imagined that some of them might have been vulnerable in some way, and became easy prey to the clever propaganda of the blackshirts. Even if they didn’t embrace the politics, they might be seduced by the sense of belonging and the security that being in a ‘gang’ can offer (even when that security turns out to be illusory).

So the idea for Hazel’s character was really borne of that curiosity. Hazel is an only child of wealthy parents, but her mother, Francine, is totally disinterested in her and spends as much time as possible with her lover in London. When the novel opens Hazel is bored and longing for excitement . . .

Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them now that the book is finished? 

Once a book starts to take off the characters live in my head quite vividly, and they do feel real in many ways, because sometimes they surprise me and go off on tangents that are totally unplanned. I don’t think there’s anything mystical about this: when you sink into a chapter or a scene it’s natural that the subconscious begins to take over.

I have a fondness for every character in The Faithful – even the flawed ones. One of the challenges I enjoy is trying to pick apart the seemingly incomprehensible actions of people who are not necessarily ‘bad’. This is what I’ve done in both novels – tackled quite difficult, dark subjects, not to excuse them in any way, but to gain some level of understanding. 

The Faithful is set in the mid-1930s. In researching the background to the story did anything leave a lasting impression on you?

Hazel is sixteen when the novel opens, but I didn’t want her to be totally ignorant in terms of sex education. I wondered what books might be lying around (or stashed away) in the 1930s family home. I knew about Marie Stopes’ Married Love, but then I discovered Ideal Marriage by Theodoor van de Velde. This was published in 1926 and became a massive worldwide bestseller. Fair to say Ideal Marriage is quite an adventurous sex manual, and the emphasis is most definitely on women receiving their equal share of pleasure. We have this image that everything was terribly buttoned-up before the 1960s, but the success of Ideal Marriage shows this certainly wasn’t the case!

When combining historical fact with fiction it must be quite a challenge to get the balance right. How do you manage to achieve this without compromising on authenticity? 

I am quite careful about research, and try to weave actual events into the narrative, rather than invent fictional incidents to serve the plot. The real history can be so rich and fascinating that there’s no need to dream up fictional scenarios. Having said that, there are occasions when I’ll make a balanced judgement and include an invented (plausible) detail, such as a soldier’s helmet washed up on Aldwick beach after the Dunkirk evacuation. After all, I’m a novelist not a historian – creativity is allowed!

26 July 2018

As England is pulled towards war, the secrets within two families threaten to tear them apart, in the new novel from Juliet West, The Faithful . . . July 1935. In the village of Aldwick on the Sussex coast, sixteen-year-old Hazel faces a long, dull summer with just her self-centred mother Francine for company. But then Francine decamps to London with her lover Charles, Oswald Mosley's blackshirts arrive in Aldwick, and Hazel's summer suddenly becomes more interesting. She finds herself befriended by two very different people: Lucia, an upper-class blackshirt, passionate about the cause; and Tom, a young working-class boy, increasingly scornful of Mosley's rhetoric. In the end, though, it is Tom who wins Hazel's heart - and Hazel who breaks his. Autumn 1936. Now living in London, Hazel has grown up fast over the past year. But an encounter with Tom sends her into freefall. He must never know why she cut off all contact last summer, betraying the promises they’d made. Yet Hazel isn't the only one with secrets. Nor is she the only one with reason to keep the two of them apart . . . From the beaches of Sussex to the battlefields of civil war Spain, The Faithful is a rich and gripping tale of love, deception and desire.

Read my review of The Faithful here

Juliet West worked as a journalist before taking an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University, where she won the Kate Betts' Memorial Prize. Before the Fall, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions novel-writing competition in 2012. Juliet also writes short stories and poetry, and won the H. E. Bates short story prize in 2009. The Faithful is her second novel. She lives in West Sussex with her husband and three children.

Find out more about Juliet and her writing on her website 

Follow on Twitter @JulietWest14 #TheFaithful

 Huge thanks to Juliet for being my guest today and for sharing her thoughts about 

The Faithful

The Faithful is available to buy from Amazon UK and other good book stores

Friday, 10 August 2018

Cover Reveal ~ The Cornish Lady by Nicola Pryce

✨✨ Coming in March 2019 ✨✨

I'm delighted to be able to reveal this wonderful cover

Atlantic Books
7 March 2019

The Cornish Lady is the eagerly anticipated fourth novel in the Cornish Saga by Nicola Pryce

Cornwall : 1796 Educated, beautiful and the daughter of a prosperous smelter, Angelica Lilly has been invited to spend the summer in high society. Her father's wealth is opening doors but Angelica feels like an imposter and worries that the smoke from the smelter still clings to her clothes. As Angelica navigates the perils of high society, she finds herself drawn to coachman Henry Trevelyan. He has kind eyes and reads poetry but can he be trusted?

I'm really excited about this forthcoming novel as I've read and enjoyed the other three books in the series so I really can't wait to see how the story continues in this latest saga.

30167593 The Captain's Girl (Cornish Saga #2) The Cornish Dressmaker (Cornish Saga #3)

Nicola Pryce trained as a chemotherapy nurse before completing an Open University degree in Humanities. She is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. Together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure.


Facebook NicolaPryceBooks 

#CornishSaga #The Cornish Lady


Thursday, 9 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the Puzzle Girl Blog Tour

Puzzle Girl will be published by the Dome Press in ebook on 2nd August 2018 and in paperback in January 2019.

My thanks to the publishers for the invitation to the blog tour and for my ecopy of the book.

Huge thanks also to Rachael for answering my questions about Puzzle Girl

Hi Rachael, welcome to Jaffareadstoo. Tell us a little about yourself. 

I am a very happy and proud new mummy, and recently turned 30. I love period dramas and Disney films (which I now have an excuse to re-watch with my daughter!). I enjoy reading romance novels, psychological thrillers and am taking a crash course in the wonderfully colourful world of baby board books. I am currently adapting to reading novels on my iPhone Kindle app in the rare me-moments I have when my daughter is napping – it’s amazing how a great book can still provide pure escapism on a tiny screen, even when you’re sitting in yesterday’s tee-shirt with baby-food smeared on the sleeve. 

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

I started writing back in 2012 after my mum was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. Seeing how bravely she fought her cancer, by living her life to the full, going travelling, making new friends and fundraising, inspired me to make my dream of becoming an author a reality. 

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

One afternoon sat in a hospital waiting room with my mum, I stared at the pile of magazines left for patients to read. I found myself wondering, if I wrote a note in one of them, would anyone ever find it? In my novel, Puzzle Girl, Cassy does just that. After a disastrous turn of events, Cassy scribbles a note in a magazine while sat in a doctor’s surgery and when she returns for a check-up she finds someone has replied. She becomes obsessed with finding out who this mystery person is, but her mission might just cost her everything she holds dear, and then some. 

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

Plotter, plotter, plotter. I am a plotter-nutter. I have post-it note timelines, Excel story arc graphs, countless notebooks full of plans with crazy flow diagrams. It all culminates in a Word document plot outline that is longer than most short stories. In fact, my outline, often turns into the novella that forms the backbone of my first draft. 

What were the challenges you faced whilst writing Puzzle Girl? 

Well, there were many… but one that had me stumped for quite a while was the dynamic between Cassy and the mystery Puzzle-man. In a fair number of romantic novels, you know pretty early on who the love interest is, but in Puzzle Girl, Cassy has nothing to go on other than a short message in a magazine. It was this dynamic that drove me - and challenged me - to write Puzzle Girl. 

When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing? 

Well… Before my daughter was born, I had it all figured out. I’d start writing around 9am at my dining room table, looking out at my lovely garden. Now my garden is rather wild and my dining room chair has been replaced with a highchair. I write in the evenings in bed, with the baby monitor by my side, so on those nights when I feel too tired to keep going, I can look at my little buddle of joy and remember it’s all worth it. 

Can you tell us if you have another novel planned? 

I do! My agent and I have been working together to fine-tune my second novella-style plot outline and I’m knee-deep in editing my first draft. I won’t give too much away at this stage but I will say that it’s another romantic comedy and – driven by my love of period dramas – set in an English country manor house. Watch this space!

I'm delighted to be able to share my review of Puzzle Girl..

When the world gets too tough for Cassy Brooks she takes refuge in doing puzzles so when she meets with an accident on her way to an important meeting at work, she passes the time in the NHS walk in clinic by doing a 'make up your own' puzzle she finds in a magazine. When she returns later to the clinic she finds that someone has been leaving messages within the puzzle. 

What then follows is a light-hearted and entertaining read about Cassy's search for the mystery puzzle person which not only means that she has to keep returning to the clinic under a number of excuses but also that this distraction starts to impact on her, already busy, time at work.

Puzzle Girl has all the hallmarks of a lighthearted summer read. It's really easy to get immersed in the convoluted chaos that is Cassy's life, and as we experience with her all the problems she has,first with a relationship break-up, and then with an over ambitious colleague at work, so we get to know, and understand, just what makes her act in the slightly loopy way that she does.

I really enjoyed reading Puzzle Girl. It's warm and funny, witty and slightly daft in places however,  throughout the whole of the story I had a smile on my face and was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research. When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfill a lifetime ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published. Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband and daughter.

Twitter: @WRITERachael #PuzzleGirl

Instagram : @rachael_featherstone

Facebook : @RachaelFeatherstoneAuthor


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the Open Your Eyes Blog Tour

Transworld Punlishers
26 July 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

 and to Random Things Tours for the invitation to be part of the blog tour
What's it all about...

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

What if you suddenly had no choice but to open your eyes to the problems in your life, and the secrets that have been kept from you.

Who knows what you might find..

My thoughts...

Open Your Eyes starts in a dramatic way when Jane's husband, Leon is brutally attacked whilst on the driveway of their home. That this attack has a catastrophic effect on Jane, Leon and their family goes without saying, however, how they cope with the fall-out of this event is the focus of this clever psychological suspense story.

Compelling and addictive in all the right places, Open Your Eyes is a clever story of deceit and lies and of a huge secret which threatens to tear the family apart. Not only is Jane having to cope with the emotional after effects of Leon's attack, but she must also deal with something quite deadly in her personal life which only starts to be uncovered as the story progresses.

There is no doubt at all that this author can do domestic noir very, very well. Her writing is always crisp and clear with never a word or a nuance wasted, and as she plunges the reader directly into the very heart of family life, the tension is so palpable it hurts to imagine what is going to happen next. From the trauma unit of Fazakerly hospital, to the inside of HMP Liverpool, there is a never moment when this story doesn't work and draw you into the darkness that becomes Jane's world.

I started to read Open Your Eyes at 2 'o' clock on a sunny afternoon in the garden and didn't look up, except to make cups of restorative tea, until the story, with its fabulous conclusion, was finished some 6 hours later.

Without doubt, one of my favourites reads this summer.

Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of five novels. Her work has been sold in fifteen countries, shortlisted for CWA Gold Dagger Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books are currently being developed into the ITV drama - Deep Water - set to air in 2019. She was born in Lancashire and lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children, and whippet Skippy.

Twitter @PaulaDalyAuthor #OpenYourEyes