Sunday, 30 September 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered..





A Sampling of War Poets

1918

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

1850 -1919

War Mothers



There is something in the sound of drum and fife

That stirs all the savage instincts into life.

In the old times of peace we went our ways,

Through proper days

Of little joys and tasks. Lonely at times,

When from the steeple sounded wedding chimes,

Telling to all the world some maid was wife—

But taking patiently our part in life

As it was portioned us by Church and State,

Believing it our fate.

Our thoughts all chaste

Held yet a secret wish to love and mate

Ere youth and virtue should go quite to waste.

But men we criticised for lack of strength,

And kept them at arm's length.

Then the war came—

The world was all aflame!

The men we had thought dull and void of power

Were heroes in an hour.

He who had seemed a slave to petty greed

Showed masterful in that great time of need.

He who had plotted for his neighbour's pelf,

Now for his fellows offers up himself.

And we were only women, forced by war

To sacrifice the things worth living for.



Something within us broke,

Something within us woke,

The wild cave-woman spoke.



When we heard the sound of drumming,

As our soldiers went to camp,

Heard them tramp, tramp, tramp;

As we watched to see them coming,

And they looked at us and smiled

(Yes, looked back at us and smiled),

As they filed along by hillock and by hollow,

Then our hearts were so beguiled

That, for many and many a day,

We dreamed we heard them say,

'Oh, follow, follow, follow!'

And the distant, rolling drum

Called us 'Come, come, come!'

Till our virtue seemed a thing to give away.



War had swept ten thousand years away from earth.

We were primal once again.

There were males, not modern men;

We were females meant to bring their sons to birth.

And we could not wait for any formal rite,

We could hear them calling to us, 'Come to-night;

For to-morrow, at the dawn,

We move on!'

And the drum

Bellowed, 'Come, come, come!'

And the fife

Whistled, 'Life, life, life!'



So they moved on and fought and bled and died;

Honoured and mourned, they are the nation's pride.

We fought our battles, too, but with the tide

Of our red blood, we gave the world new lives.

Because we were not wives

We are dishonoured. Is it noble, then,

To break God's laws only by killing men

To save one's country from destruction?

We took no man's life but gave our chastity,

And sinned the ancient sin

To plant young trees and fill felled forests in.



Oh, clergy of the land,

Bible in hand,

All reverently you stand,

On holy thoughts intent

While barren wives receive the sacrament!

Had you the open visions you could see

Phantoms of infants murdered in the womb,

Who never knew a cradle or a tomb,

Hovering about these wives accusingly.



Bestow the sacrament! Their sins are not well known—

Ours to the four winds of the earth are blown.


Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born in Johnstown, Wisconsin and her poetry was being published by the time she graduated from high school. Her poetry was very popular, generally written in plain, rhyming verse.

(Source: Poetry Foundation.org )


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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Author ~ Margaret Skea



On Hist Fic Saturday

I am delighted to welcome back to the blog

Margaret Skea





A very warm welcome, Margaret. Tell us why you love writing historical fiction...


Now here’s the thing – I’ve written short stories for more years than I like to admit to, and with some success. And over the years 3,000 words became my literary equivalent of a ‘comfort blanket’. There was absolutely no way that I thought I could ever write a novel - 100,000 words seeming far beyond my capabilities. 


But lightbulb moments generally happen when you least expect them. And so it was with me, when someone (whom I can’t now remember, but to whom I remain eternally grateful) said that a novel was only 30 short stories, without the trouble of thinking of a fresh location, characters, plot etc each time. And as said ‘lightbulb’ moment coincided with circumstances which gave me additional time and space to write, the first decision was made – a novel it was going to be.


Now came the hard bit – what would I write about? All my short stories up to that point had been contemporary, but I was struggling to think of any contemporary plotline that I wanted to explore in depth. But there was an event that however much I tried to dismiss it, kept popping into my head. There were two potential problems though – 1) it had happened in Scotland in 1586, a setting and period that I was rather less than familiar with, and 2) it was rather grisly. 

Looking back I can see a pattern – many of my contemporary stories are set in locations that I’ve never visited such as Kenya and Afghanistan and thus are as far removed from me geographically, as the Massacre of Annock is in time.


Source: Wiki commons


I’ve come to realise that I relish the challenge of transporting readers to a time and / or a place that neither I, nor (likely) they, have ever been.

So much for period, but what about topic? We all know the advice – ‘write what you know’. Yet on the face of it I appeared to specialize in writing what I didn’t know. Delve a little deeper though, and it became clear that there was a common thread that, in some guise or other, ran through most of what I had already written. That thread was conflict. Perhaps it wasn’t altogether surprising, given that my teenage years were dominated by the ‘Troubles’ in Ulster, so that what I knew in emotional terms was what it was like to live with an ever-present danger and the very real sense that each day might be my last.


By kind permission of the author


The parallels of life in Ulster with the Cunninghame / Montgomerie feud in 16th century Scotland, a feud that was punctuated by tit-for-tat atrocities over a period of some 150 years, are obvious – the issues of tribalism, of diverse loyalties, of right versus expediency, and the impact that living within a conflict situation places on families, on relationships and on personal integrity. I could have written about all of those things in the context of contemporary Ulster, except that I couldn’t because it felt too close for comfort. So, instead, I chose to tell a similar story, at 400 years remove. 

If emotionally it was easier to write an historical novel, in other ways it was harder - the research for the Munro saga took several years initially, and isn’t over yet, but the more I did, the more I enjoyed it. Getting into the mindset of a different era is also challenging, as is striving for an authentic ‘feel’, but for me it is an effort worth making. I’m now writing my fifth historical set in the 16th century – a Scottish trilogy and the first of two set in Saxony are already published- and when I’ve finished the current novel, while I may change centuries and location, I suspect I shall remain writing historicals for some time to come. And loving (almost) every minute of it. 


Huge thanks to Margaret for being such a lovely guest on the blog today 


and for sharing her love of writing historical fiction 



 






Visit the author's Website


Follow on Twitter @margaretskea1


Amazon UK





Friday, 28 September 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Promise by Katerina Diamond



 ๐Ÿ“– Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on The Promise Blog Tour ๐Ÿ“–


D.S Imogen Grey #4
Avon
20 September 2018

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

What's it all about...

When troubled teen Connor moves to Exeter from the US to escape his past, he finds himself embroiled in a world of popular kids and easy girls. Everyone wants to be his friend, but they don’t know about what he did…and they don’t know about his father. 

As Connor’s life in England begins to unravel, DS Adrian Miles and his partner Imogen Grey are working up against the clock to catch a serial killer who dates his victims before he kills them. Determined to uncover the truth, Imogen is forced to act as bait – but will she take it too far and risk her own life? 

Katerina Diamond is back with a bang in this dark, twisted novel, perfect for fans of M.J. Arlidge and Karin Slaughter. 


My thoughts about it...

It's always interesting to read a series and to see the main characters grow in confidence and even if you haven't read the previous books there are enough hints into the background of the partnership between DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles so that you can pick up hints as to what's gone on for them in the past.

This fourth book in the series gets off to a good start with an opening chapter which really sets the scene for what's to come. That a serial killer, with an unusual modus operandi, is targeting young women in Exeter forms the crux of the story and DS Grey is thrust into the very heart of the investigation bringing the danger, for her, ever closer to home.

There are three main threads to this story which are all woven together with an interesting eye for detail. At first there seems little correlation between a ruthless killer, a teenager who has recently moved to England, and the diary entries of an unknown woman, however, the tantalising clues which are dropped like gems along the way soon start to make sense, making the connection between them all the more compulsive.

This author seems to go from strength to strength and writes about the grittier side of life with an edginess which is a little shocking at times but which most certainly grabs your attention. The relationship between DS Grey and DS Miles is such a sustainable partnership that I can see this series continuing for some time to come.







Katerina Diamond was born in Weston in the seventies. She moved to Thessaloniki in Greece and attended Greek school where she learnt Greek in just 6 months. After her parents’ divorce, they relocated to Devon. After school, and working in her uncle’s fish and chip shop, she went (briefly) to university at Derby, where she met her husband and had two children. Katerina now lives in the East Kent Coast with her husband and children.





Thursday, 27 September 2018

Author Spotlight ~ Patricia Furstenberg

I am delighted to welcome Patricia Furstenberg as my guest on the blog today





A very warm welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Patricia. Thank you so much for spending time with us today and for sharing your thoughts about Why Poetry and Dogs are As Good as Gold...

There are few things that cheer me up as much as seeing a dog’s tail wag! The first cup of coffee in the morning, spending time with my children and husband, writing and reading top my list. 

I want you to remember the last time you saw a dog wagging its tail. Close your eyes and place yourself in the moment. Where were you? Was it sunny? How were you feeling? Were your worries forgotten? Were you by any chance smiling? Watching a dog wagging its tail is pressing “pause” on the life’s play button.

Poetry is very much like a dog wagging its tail. It gets us to live in the moment. You can read just a stanza and, for a mere few seconds, it will transport you out of this world and into a time and space where daily issues and life’s burdens are irrelevant. Where the light shines inside you, revealing forgotten emotions, long lost excitement and new horizons. 

Very much like our pets, poetry is as good as gold for our souls.

Forget ALL you’ve learned in school about poetry. It doesn’t matter what the author wanted to say. Embrace the joy of reading, find your own interpretation and allow the feelings to erupt, the smile to spread over your mouth or the question to shoot upwards and forward and linger in your mind and over your face long after you closed that book.

Forget all you’ve learned in school about poetry, because poetry can be easy to follow, it can be funny and, without any doubt, it can and should mean different thing to different readers.

The benefits of owning a pet and taking joy out of it are well known. Perhaps if one would look at poems from a health benefit perspective, we would give poetry one more chance into our lives. Very much like our beloved pets, poetry allows us to slow down and escape the everyday digital whirlwind; poems can boost our mood, fighting off the occasional state of loneliness, giving words to those untamed feelings; poetry even allows us to travel within our mind, transporting us on a cool mountain path or half way across the world.

Poetry may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I am sure there is a poem to match every mood and suit each one of us.




Celebrating the simple things in life as seen through the eyes of our old time favorite furry friends, “As Good as Gold” is a volume of poetry revealing the talent and humor we always knew our dogs possessed.

Dogs are full of questions, yet they are famed sellers of innocence especially when it comes to explaining their mishaps and often foolish effervescence through such pondering as “Why IS a Cat Not Like a Dog”, “As Brown as Chocolate”, “Silver Stars and Puppy Tail” or, best yet, “Dog or Book?”

A book with an enormous heart for readers of all ages, it includes 35 poems and haiku accompanied by expressive portraits of our canine friends. The poems are grouped in: Questions, Colors, Musings and Haiku.


My thoughts about As Good as Gold..

There's something quite charming about a set of verse, particularly one that involves animals. Even though it's quite obvious that our household is ruled by feline companionship rather than canine, nevertheless, the kitties and I found much to enjoy in reading As Good As Gold. From the delightful illustrations which highlight the joy of this book, right through to the actual content itself, the whole thing made me smile. It is obvious that the author has had a great deal of fun in writing the poems and haiku which are primarily aimed at children but which are also rather soothing for grown up readers too. Either reading to a sleepy child or just enjoying the beauty of the words on a busy commute, there is something within As Good As Gold for everyone to enjoy.




Patricia Furstenberg came to writing through reading. 

With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about mind, brain, education and the psychology behind it. Using her knowledge she crafts stories and poems that are great fun, as well as teaching empathy. What fuels her is her fascination for writing and… coffee.

She is the author of the beloved Joyful Trouble, The Cheetah and the Dog, Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles and many more, all available through Amazon. She has personal work and educational articles published on Huffington Post SA, MyPuppyClub.net and ITSI_SA. She blogs extensively at http://alluringcreations.co.za/wp/

She now works on a novel about the lives of military working dogs in Afghanistan as well as three more poetry books about Africa’s bravest creatures. Patricia lives with her husband, children and their dogs in sunny South Africa.




Twitter @PatFurstenberg #AsGoodAsGold









Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Blog Tour ~ Hope on the Waterways by Milly Adams



๐Ÿ“– Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Hope on the Waterways Blog Tour ๐Ÿ“–


Arrow
20 September 2018

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

What's it all about...

January 1945, West London

Sylvia Simpson is flourishing in her role aboard the Marigold and has quickly established herself as an invaluable member of the crew. But as the V-I and V-2 rockets draw closer, someone from her past is about to burst into their lives. Now Sylvia must choose between keeping the promises she has made, and remaining loyal to the people she loves the most. 

Polly and Verity are still waiting for their sweethearts’ safe return, and soon find they have their own battles to fight on the home front. It will take all their resolve to keep their heads above water, but as long as they stick together there will always be hope.


Here's what I thought about it...

Hope on the Waterways sees a welcome return to the feisty group of young women who work the British canal system during the Second World War. It's now 1945 and Polly, Verity, Sylvia and their beloved, Dog, put their lives on the line as they attempt to move goods along the Grand Union Canal. With the added danger of V-1 and V-2 rockets exploding all around them, there is no doubt that there is never a moment when they at not at risk.

Filled with the usual blend of excitement and camaraderie, the boating community plays a very strong role in the story and the love and affection which is shown to the girls as they face their toughest challenge is written so beautifully that there were moments when I had a little tear in my eye. As always, the characters really make the story come alive, not just in the way they all interact and pull together, but also in the emotional attachment of the girls to each other. The way they support each other through all their individual troubles is portrayed realistically with humour and a great deal of affection.

I've followed this story from the beginning, which started in 1943, when the three girls were first introduced to each other, and it's been really lovely to have been on an exciting journey with them through the latter years of the war. There's a certain amount of tying up of loose ends, as this book sees the conclusion to the trilogy, it's been interesting to see how the author brings everything to a lovely, natural ending.

In The Waterway Girls series the author has created a really lovely set of stories which are all perfectly possible to read as standalone and yet, like all trilogies they really should, for greater enjoyment, be read from the very start with book one.


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Milly Adams lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, dog and cat. Her children live nearby. Her grandchildren are fun, and lead her astray. She insists that it is that way round.




Twitter @Milly_Author #HopeOnTheWaterways


@arrowpublishing




Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Review ~ Victory for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell


Arrow
6 September 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about...

The war rages on, but their friendship is stronger than ever.

Sunderland, 1942

With the war showing no sign of abating, Helen is thriving in her role as shipyard manager. But at home the return of her father brings a shocking discovery that tears her family apart. Gloria is shouldering the burden of a terrible secret. If the truth comes out there could be dire consequences, and it will take all her resolve to resist the pressure around her.

Meanwhile Rosie is throwing herself into her work, taking on as many shifts as she can. Anything to keep her mind off the fact that she hasn’t heard from her sweetheart in months…

With life in the shipyards tougher than ever, will the strength of their friendship see them through to victory?


My thoughts about it...

This series of novels about the female shipyard workers during WW2 continues to exude its usual warmth and charm, and the women we have followed since the beginning have now become as familiar as friends. As each book ends it's always an eager wait until the next book is published as the author is very good at leaving the ending of her stories with a real cliffhanger...

In Victory for the Shipyard Girls we are again thrust into the lives of Helen, Rosie, Gloria and the other women who make up his close knit group. Each of them are facing their own particular challenges, but as ever the trials and complications of their lives draw the women ever closer, and as they share their hopes and fears, so their bonds of friendship get deeper and deeper.

With each successive story, this series seems to grow in confidence and, as a reader, the emotional investment in each character pays dividends as none of the women seem to outshine each other. I am equally interested in Rosie's story, as I am in observing just how Gloria is coping with  managing both her job in the shipyard whilst caring for her baby daughter. I'm afraid that Helen has never been my favourite character but I did worry about how she was coping with all the troubles that seems to come her way.

If you've followed this series from the start, and this is now book number five, then you will be delighted with this continuation of the shipyard girls story, and delighted to know that there is indeed another cliffhanger of an ending...

For those who like books about strong women coping during the tumultuous years of WW2 then this series would work for you, and, although the stories can be read as stand alone, my advice is to start at the beginning of this excellent series and enjoy from the very beginning.

The sixth book in the series, Courage of the Shipyard Girls publishes 7th March 2019 and is available to pre order now.





Nancy Revell is the pen name of writer and journalist Amanda Revell Walton, who has worked for the national press for the past 25 years, providing them with hard-hitting news stories and in-depth features. She has also worked for just about every woman’s magazine, writing amazing and inspirational true life stories.


Twitter @arevellwalton #TheShipyardGirls


@arrowbooks


@PenguinRHUK


Monday, 24 September 2018

Blog Tour ~ After He Died by Michael J Malone



๐Ÿ“– Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to host today's stop on the Blog Tour for After He Died ๐Ÿ“–


Orenda Books
30 September 2018

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things tours for the copy of the book
and also the kind invitation to be part of this blog tour

What's it all about...

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed… When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought she knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger. Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…


What did I think about it...

We never truly know just what is going on in someone's life and that certainly rings true for Paula Gadd, for even as she greets mourners at her husband's funeral, and with little time to come to terms with his untimely death, she finds that she into thrust into a maelstrom of deceit and buried secrets.

The mystery at the heart of the novel is complex with lots of twists and turns which, most certainly, had me guessing. I enjoyed how the action fairly bounces along so that you are never really sure of what Paula is going to find out next and that there is much for her to discover is obvious from the start. It's interesting to observe just how Paula deals with the fact that her husband of thirty years is someone that she truly didn't know and, as the story moves along, it becomes obvious that she has more questions about his life than there are clear answers. 

After He Died isn't just dark domestic noir, it is also a sympathetic portrayal of grief and how it affects judgement and I think that the author captures this really well in the way that Paula's behaviour is often a little unpredictable. The other characters who flit into and out of the story are equally unreliable, and there were definitely some that I liked more than others, but there is no doubt that, collectively, they add the necessary light and shade to what is, after all, quite a dark thriller.

Beautifully written with a distinct eye for detail, After He Died is a fascinating character driven novel by a skilful author who really knows how to keep the tension alive until the very last page.







Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.


Twitter @MichaelJMalone1 #AfterHeDied


@OrendaBooks


#RandomThingsTours



Sunday, 23 September 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered..



A Sampling of War Poets

1917


Mary Borden

(1886-1968)


At The Somme: The Song of Mud


This is the song of the mud, 

The pale yellow glistening mud that covers the hills like satin; 

The grey gleaming silvery mud that is spread like enamel over the valleys; 

The frothing, squirting, spurting, liquid mud that gurgles along the road beds; 

The thick elastic mud that is kneaded and pounded and squeezed under the hoofs of the horses; 

The invincible, inexhaustible mud of the war zone. 


This is the song of the mud, the uniform of the poilu. 

His coat is of mud, his great dragging flapping coat, that is too big for him and too heavy; 

His coat that once was blue and now is grey and stiff with the mud that cakes to it. 

This is the mud that clothes him. His trousers and boots are of mud, 

And his skin is of mud; 

And there is mud in his beard. 

His head is crowned with a helmet of mud. 

He wears it well. 

He wears it as a king wears the ermine that bores him. 

He has set a new style in clothing; 

He has introduced the chic of mud. 


This is the song of the mud that wriggles its way into battle. 

The impertinent, the intrusive, the ubiquitous, the unwelcome, 

The slimy inveterate nuisance, 

That fills the trenches, 

That mixes in with the food of the soldiers, 

That spoils the working of motors and crawls into their secret parts, 

That spreads itself over the guns, 

That sucks the guns down and holds them fast in its slimy voluminous lips, 

That has no respect for destruction and muzzles the bursting shells; 

And slowly, softly, easily, 

Soaks up the fire, the noise; soaks up the energy and the courage; 

Soaks up the power of armies; 

Soaks up the battle. 

Just soaks it up and thus stops it. 


This is the hymn of mud-the obscene, the filthy, the putrid, 

The vast liquid grave of our armies. It has drowned our men. 

Its monstrous distended belly reeks with the undigested dead. 

Our men have gone into it, sinking slowly, and struggling and slowly disappearing. 

Our fine men, our brave, strong, young men; 

Our glowing red, shouting, brawny men. 

Slowly, inch by inch, they have gone down into it, 

Into its darkness, its thickness, its silence. 

Slowly, irresistibly, it drew them down, sucked them down, 

And they were drowned in thick, bitter, heaving mud. 

Now it hides them, Oh, so many of them! 

Under its smooth glistening surface it is hiding them blandly. 

There is not a trace of them. 

There is no mark where they went down.

The mute enormous mouth of the mud has closed over them.


This is the song of the mud,

The beautiful glistening golden mud that covers the hills like satin; 

The mysterious gleaming silvery mud that is spread like enamel over the valleys. 

Mud, the disguise of the war zone; 

Mud, the mantle of battles; 

Mud, the smooth fluid grave of our soldiers: 

This is the song of the mud.



American writer Mary Borden was born in Chicago in 1886 and earned a BA from Vassar College in 1907. One year later, she married George Douglas Turner, a British army general and member of Parliament, and they lived in England. She served as a director of French field hospitals in both World Wars, for which she received military medals for bravery.

(Source poetry foundation.org)

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Saturday, 22 September 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Elizabeth Woodcraft


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


Elizabeth Woodcraft




Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Elizabeth, I'm so thrilled to have you as my special guest today

Do tell us about yourself and how you were inspired to start writing your novels


I began writing when I was at school so then I wrote mostly on Sundays because we weren’t allowed to go out to play on Sundays. When I started to keep a diary I was 12 and I would write every night, in bed, hunched over the pages, because I slept in the lower bunk of bunk beds. My sister slept in the top bunk. 

I began writing my crime novels (Good Bad Woman and Babyface) while I was still working as a barrister. The good thing about being a barrister is you’re always writing documents that attempt to persuade as well as interest and even entertain your reader. So you are always honing your craft because the judge will tell you pretty smartly if your argument isn’t logical or lacks an important part of the story. 


1897641 4133864


Most of the fiction I wrote in those days was for my writing class. The class at City Lit in Holborn in London, was held on a Saturday afternoon, so in the morning I would be scribbling away. I couldn’t tell anyone at work that I was writing because – really – everyone wants to be a writer and I knew people would just yawn and say ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But the day I got a two-book deal from HarperCollins I was so excited I went into my chambers and told them all. Well, everyone who was in the clerks’ room. Basically, it was the clerks, all the barristers were in court. Immediately their question was, ‘What’s it about?’ and when I said it involved a barrister and her chambers they all said, ‘Am I in it? Am I in it?’ And in fact, one of the clerks, Lee, was in the book, in one short scene. 

It was at a time in my barrister’s career when I was representing a client whose case had gone to the House of Lords – the highest court in the land (now the Supreme Court). I was about to leave chambers to go to the hearing and as I said goodbye to the clerks I said, proudly, ‘I’m just off to the House of Lords.’ Lee, one of the senior clerks, looked me up and down in my barrister’s smart outfit and said, ‘In those shoes?’ I thought that was very funny, although a bit disconcerting. Fortunately in court your shoes are usually hidden. But that was the quote that went into the book. 

I’d written the first book, then I had to write the second one. 

I cut back on my barrister work which was something I could do fairly easily, because barristers are technically self-employed, although long-running cases had a habit of getting in the way. But the second book got written. 

Now I have left the bar and writing is my first career. I have to say it’s a whole lot harder now to sit down and do it, because now I am totally the mistress of my own time. And there are all those other activities which are calling to me - going out for coffee, going to the flicks (watching a film in the afternoon when the cinema is almost empty is one of the greatest pleasures on earth), reading newspapers, books and magazines, doing a sudoku or two, and occasionally going for a short stroll (exercise). It’s a challenge. But it’s a great life.


Huge thanks to Elizabeth for being my guest  author today 

and for sharing her thoughts about her writing...


41432243

Elizabeth's latest novel The Saturday Girls was published

 by  Zaffre on 30th August 2018. 

 ✧Here's what it's all about ✧

It's 1964. England has shaken off its post-war gloom and the world is full of possibilities.

Best friends Sandra and Linda live on a housing estate in Essex. They are aspiring mods: they have the music, the coffee bar and Ready Steady Go! on a Friday night.

Having landed their first jobs, Linda and Sandra look set. But the world is changing rapidly, and both girls have difficult choices to make. As Sandra blindly pursues a proposal, Linda finds herself drawn to causes she knows are worth fighting for.

But when Sandra's quest leads her to local bad boy Danny, she lands both her and Linda in more trouble than they bargained for . . .

Here are my thoughts about The Saturday Girls...

The Saturday Girls evokes that special time in the 1960s when every suburban town had its share of trendy coffee bars and the most important question for teenagers at the time, wasn't about nuclear disarmament or The Cold War, but was, for them, far more significant... are you a mod or a rocker?

Best friends, Linda and Sandra, are typical teenagers, fashionable mods, from their C&A twinsets, to their neatly pressed grey skirts. They enjoy innocent nights out, lust after inappropriate boys and generally have a really good time. However, times are a-changing and when Linda and Sandra start to become more independent, they realise that life isn't always very simple.

The author writes with confidence and enthusiasm, and as she explains in her notes at the end of the book, this was her time and the diaries she kept and her vivid memories have stayed with her. I was too young in the sixties to understand what it was like to be a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, with momentous change all around, and so this story certainly helped to bring time and place alive in my imagination.

I travelled back to a newly progressive time when boys with Lambrettas and girls with beehive hairstyles would meet and chat over coffees to plan their nights out. Futures would be decided and yet, for some, life wasn't always very kind, the ugly stigma of illegitimacy, and the unfairness of being ostracised for being an unmarried mother was still very much in existence, and the race to the altar, to be a wife was, for some girls, their life's ambition.

I really enjoyed being whisked back to suburban Essex in the 1960s in The Saturday Girls and I am sure that the author has more stories of this fascinating time to share.







Friday, 21 September 2018

Blog Tour ~ What Was Lost by Jean Levy



Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the 

What Was Lost Blog Tour

The Dome Press
13 September 2018


What's it all about...

Sarah has no memories. She just knows she was found, near death, on a beach miles from her London home. Now she is part of a medical experiment to see whether her past can be retrieved. 

But bad things seemed to have happened before she disappeared. The police are interested in her hidden memories too. A nice man she meets in the supermarket appears to have her best interests at heart. He seems to understand her - almost as if he knows her…

As she fights to regain her memories and her sense of self, it is clear that people are hiding things from her. Who are they protecting? Does Sarah really want the truth?


What did I think about it...

Our memories define us, they make us into the people we are and give us meaning and purpose. When those memories are taken away from us we flounder and cease to function as we did before. 

Sarah is recovering from a devastating accident which has left her without any conscious memory and as her amnesia takes over her life, so the struggle for some sort of stability becomes paramount. Guarded by a team of medical experts, Sarah tries to make sense of a world in which she is increasingly isolated, a world in which she can remember how to drive her car, but then struggles to make a cup of coffee. That is, until she meets a man who makes her question everything about her new life. 

This compelling psychological drama looks at what happens after a catastrophic trauma, at how the brain closes down to protect itself from memories it doesn't want to remember and which, as the story progresses, reveals more questions than it does answers. 

The author controls this complicated plot really well, offering tantalising glimpses into Sarah's previous life whilst at the same time keeping the unreliability of Sarah as the primary narrator. I found everything about Sarah's emerging life compelling, particularly in the way the medical profession seem to be manipulating her recovery, and whilst I was drawn to some of the people in the story from the start, there were others, and one health professional in particular, who made my blood boil. Even though some of the peripheral characters aren't always likeable, they add much needed light and shade to what is, after all, quite a dark story. I particularly enjoyed the medical aspects of Sarah's condition; her medical problems are well explained for those of us who know very little about the inner workings of the brain, or of its complexities when it goes wrong. 

Engrossing, compelling and fascinating until the very last sentence, What Was Lost is a clever debut by a talented writer whose love of language and creativity shines through with every well written word.

About the Author

Jean Levy has worked in genetics research, the pharmaceutical industry and in academic publishing. She is currently completing a doctorate in Linguistics. She studied Creative Writing at the University of Sussex and lives with her husband in the South Downs. This is her first novel.

Twitter @JeanELevy

@DomePress






Thursday, 20 September 2018

Review ~ The Antique Dealer's Daughter by Lorna Gray


Happy Paperback Publication Day


The Antique Dealerรข€™s Daughter
Harper Impulse
20 September 2018

My thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for my e-copy of this book


What's it all about...


In the aftermath of war, Emily Sutton struggles to find her place in a world irrevocably changed by conflict. When she refuses to follow tradition and join her father’s antiques business – or get married – her parents send her for an ‘improving’ stay with her spinster cousin in the Cotswolds. But Emily arrives to find her cousin’s cottage empty and a criminal at work in the neighbourhood.

A deadly scandal still haunts this place – the death of John Langton, the rumour of his hoard of wartime spoils, leaving his older brother to bear the disgrace. Now, even as Emily begins to understand each man’s true nature, the bright summer sky is darkened by a new attack. Someone is working hard to ensure that John’s ghost will not be allowed to rest, with terrifying consequences…

Here are my thoughts about it...

In The Antique Dealer's Daughter we are introduced to Emily, who with a mind of her own, doesn't always see eye to eye with her parents. Her father would prefer it if she followed him into the antique business but Emily refuses to conform to tradition. In desperation, her parents send Emily to stay with an unmarried cousin who lives in a cottage in the Cotswolds, but when Emily arrives to an empty cottage, she finds that she is inadvertently involved in a rather dark mystery which is haunted by a scandal from the past

The author writes with great enthusiasm and clearly does her research well as both time and place are nicely described and, within the 1940s setting, there is a real sense of history. As with this author's previous stories, the mystery is complicated and there is much to take in, both in terms of character and plot, but, as always, the strength of the lead female character does much to carry the story forward. The adventure is filled with twists and turns and Emily finds that she needs to keep one step ahead of the game. I found the story a little over descriptive at times. and it takes a while for the story to settle. however, once I got used to the author's distinct style of writing, I started to enjoy the book.

The author seems to be developing a niche for this type of historical mystery/adventure and I look forward to seeing what she writes next.

The Antiques Dealer's Daughter is published today in paperback by Harper Impulse.


This is now the third book by this author which has a wartime setting


23390890 The War Widow The Antique Dealerรƒ¢ร‚€ร‚™s Daughter


More about the author can be found on her website


Follow on Twitter @MsLornaGray





Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Blog Tour ~ Street Cat Blues by Alison O'Leary



Jaffareadstoo is honoured to be starting off the Street Cat Blues Blog Tour


Crooked Cat Books
2018

My thanks to the author, publisher and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour
What's it all about ...

A quiet life for Aubrey? After spending several months banged up in Sunny Banks rescue centre, Aubrey, a large tabby cat, has finally found his forever home with Molly and Jeremy Goodman, and life is looking good. However, all that changes when a serial killer begins to target elderly victims in the neighbourhood. Aubrey wasn’t particularly upset by the death of some of the previous victims, including Miss Jenkins whom Aubrey recalls as a vinegar-lipped bitch of an old woman who enjoyed throwing stones at cats, but Mr Telling was different. Mr Telling was a mate…


Here's what I thought about it...

I often wonder what my two orange cats see and do when they go out for the night. That they patrol the area, with whiskers twitching and paws gently tumbling along footpaths and driveways, is all part of the secret world of cats.

In Street Cat Blues we meet Aubrey, a slightly overweight rescue cat, who hopes that he has found a permanent home with his new owners, Molly and Jeremy, but as every street cat knows, it’s always wise to have a backup plan and Mr Telling was Aubrey’s back up plan, that is until something dreadful happened to this kindly, old gentleman.

I knew I was going to like Aubrey from the very first paragraph when he slipped beneath a parked car and covered in grease and dust he waited and observed the comings and goings at Mr Telling's house across the street. 

The author writes well, and keeps the momentum of the mystery alive in several threads which don’t all involve cats and feline participation and yet, it is with Aubrey and his pals where the real heart of the story lies. She has created in Aubrey such a force of nature that you can’t help but become involved as he, and his associate cats, particularly, the hapless Moses, who I loved second only to Aubrey, start to delve a little deeper into the ensuing mystery. That Aubrey is as clever as he is wise comes across in this charming cosy crime debut.

I really enjoyed solving this murder/mystery alongside Aubrey and his pals, their feline point of view is a refreshing change in a world of gritty crime and I’m sure given the right set of circumstances, Aubrey and his adventures could become a great book series.


About the Author





Alison was born in London and spent her teenaged years in Hertfordshire. She has also lived in Somerset and Gloucestershire. After studying Law she decided to teach rather than go into practice and for many years taught Criminal Law to adults and young people. Since moving to the south coast, Alison has been involved in qualification and assessment development for major awarding bodies. When not writing, she enjoys crosswords, walking by the sea and playing Scrabble on her iPad – which she always sets to beginner level because, hey, why take chances? Alison lives with her husband John and cat Archie.


Twitter @alisonoleary81 #StreetCatBlues

@crookedcatbooks

#RandomThingsTours



Blog Tour ~ The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech



Jaffareadstoo is really excited to be part of The Lion Tamer Who Lost Blog Tour


Orenda
30 September 2018

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

What's it all about...

Be careful what you wish for… 

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn't...

Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. 

When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…

Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it? 

What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?


Here's what I thought about it...

I don't know where to start with this one because no matter how hard I try I won't do justice to this poignant, beautiful, heart-breaking story, which by the last few words had me a blubbering wreck, and not with those tears which roll, ladylike, down your cheeks, but with those big, ugly tears which run like a torrent, and which leave you wrung out like a wet cloth.

I came to the book knowing nothing of its content, and when I first saw the title, I naively thought it was going to be, mainly, a story about taming lions, and whilst lions, and two very special ones in particular, do feature in the story, it's about so much more than animal conservation. At its core, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a story about friendship and family, it's about feeling lost and alone, bewildered and frightened, and it's also a rather beautiful love story between Ben and Andrew and of their close relationship which society still doesn’t fully understand. 

The story is beautifully written, by an author who, with perfect precision, has the ability to take you from the absolute solitude of a wild African dawn, with its lingering scent of heat and dust, to the pungent aroma of stale booze and cigarettes in a tiny northern kitchen. And as you travel in your mind, the writing never falters or fails to reach out both physically and emotionally. It will make you stop, think, consider, rant, laugh, and, ultimately, when you read those last two lines of the story, unless you have a heart made of granite, will make you weep those big, ugly tears. 

Books come and books go, and some may even linger in the memory a little while longer before they fade. The difference between those stories and this one is that the beautiful complexity of The Lion Tamer Who Lost will stay with you forever. 


My Reading Table







Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon, was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.


Twitter @LouiseWriter #LionTamerWhoLost

@OrendaBooks

#RandomThingsTours