Saturday, 23 March 2019

Review ~ Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick

Rupa Publications

My thanks to Ben at Cameron  Publicity and Marketing for my copy of this book

Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son's thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise. What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter...

What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat? Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions--one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it! In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia's daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

My thoughts..

Sam is grieving for the catastrophic loss of his family, whilst Cynthia is trying desperately to juggle family life with her teenage daughter, Lily, and at the same time trying to cope with the aftermath of a painful separation from her abusive husband. On the surface these two characters have little in common, only coming together initially when Sam attends clinical appointments with Cynthia in her role as his  therapist.

When then follows is an interesting study in the way that trauma affects people, not just in their daily life but also in the long term effects on mental health and well being. The story builds slowly and the author does a great job in allowing the characters enough time to develop slowly, never rushing the action, and always with a considered response to what makes people, under pressure, act in the way that they do.

The author has an interesting writing style which took me a little while to get used to, but once I had the characters' individual characteristics firmly in mind the story became much more interesting. The action is rather slow which I think is quite deliberate, as this isn't an all action story, but is rather more a reflective piece about coping with psychological stress and the subsequent mental health issues which may arise from dealing with some quite dark and complex issues. There's also an interesting suspenseful element to the story which becomes more apparent as the story progresses.

Dark Blossom took me by surprise, as I wasn't sure what to expect, but drawn in by the rather interesting book cover I found the story to be both clever and complex with an interesting twist.

With degrees in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, USA, and Business Administration from INSEAD, France, NEEL MULLICK is the Head of Product and Information Security at a Belgian family-office technology company.

He mentors women entrepreneurs through the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, is involved in raising a generation of digital and socially-aware leaders with the Steering for Greatness Foundation (Nigeria), supports improvement in the quality of life of domestic workers at Emprendedoras del Hogar (Peru), and is helping IIMPACT (India) break the cycle of illiteracy plaguing young girls from socially and economically impoverished communities.

He lives on three continents, dividing his time between between New York, Brussels, and New Delhi.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Shadow Between Us by Carol Mason

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's stop on the The Shadow Between Us Blog Tour

Lake Union Publishing
21 March 2019

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

Olivia’s marriage is floundering, her grown up daughter is painfully distant, and her life is in pieces. Desperate for a fresh start, she packs her bags and retreats to a remote and beautiful holiday home on the coast near Port Townsend. Joining a letter-writing club seems like a harmless decision to connect with those around her in this small community. When she meets Ned, an ex-soldier badly wounded in Afghanistan, this unlooked-for friendship revives unexpected emotions and memories she’d rather forget… But is her marriage to Mark really over for good? And can Olivia find the courage to confront the haunting secret she’s hiding from, healing the wounds that have torn her life apart?

My thoughts..

Olivia has left the family home with all of its memories and has settled in the pretty town of Port Townsend, where she is befriended by the townsfolk, in particular, ex-navy SEAL Ned and book shop owner, Beth. Amongst the books, and as being part of a letter writing group, Olivia finally comes to terms with some tragic events which are stopping her from moving forward in her personal life.

This is a beautifully written observational story; it's about what makes us function as people and its about what happens when tragedy strikes and how we cope with trauma and grief. The heartache of losing things which are precious to us is very much in evidence and as the story starts to develop so Olivia reveals much about herself and in doing so the gradual pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of her life start to come together. The author writes with great sensitivity and real compassion, revealing the pieces of the story ever so gradually so that when an emotional bombshell is dropped it absolutely knocks you for six.

The Shadow Between Us is a quietly contemplative story which allows an emotional glimpse into lives of people which have been forever changed by circumstances. The way that the very different characters in the story cope with these changes is what makes this book such a fascinating observational read.

Carol Mason is the bestselling author of women's fiction novels including After You left, The Secrets if Married Women and The Last Time We Met. Carol grew up in Sunderland, working as a model before joining the Diplomatic Service. She moved to Canada and met the man who would become her husband. Her novels are translated into 10 languages.

Twitter @CarolMasonBooks # TheShadowBetweenUs


Thursday, 21 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on The Conviction of Cora Burns

No Exit Press
21 March 2019

My thanks to the Katherine at the publishers and Anne at Random Things Tours for my invitation to the tour

Set in 1880s Birmingham, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut The Conviction of Cora Burns tells the story of Cora, a young woman born in a prison to a convicted criminal she never knew but from whom she fears she has inherited a violent nature. Perfect for fans of Sarah Schmidt, Anna Mazzola and Hannah Kent.

Cora was born in a prison. But is this where she belongs?

My thoughts..

Right from the start of this story there's a real sense of history and as we are taken by the hand into Cora Burn's fractured life we soon start to understand that she is no ordinary gaol bird. Born into the dark restrictions of a Victorian prison system Cora very quickly learns that to survive with her spirit intact she must use her considerable wit in order to keep one step ahead of a social welfare system that threatens to engulf her.

When Cora is given the opportunity to move away from the only place she has known, she grabs the opportunity but is filled with a real sense of trepidation. Working as a Between Maid in the household of a scientist, Cora soon gets drawn into the very mysterious world of Mr Thomas Jerwood, a gentleman who has, it must be said, a very unusual interest in photography.

Moving seamlessly forwards and backwards over a twenty year period, the author creates a very believable Victorian world which is very dark at times, and yet, which poses an interesting conundrum about the question of nature over nurture. The story opens up the dark and often dangerous world of the Victorian reform system, whilst at the same shining a spotlight on the more unusual scientific practices which seemed to obsess some Victorians. Beautifully written with a real sense of history, Cora Burns, literally leaps of the pages, she is fierce and feisty, not always very likeable as she does some very odd things, but always, throughout the story, she has such a real sense of drive and ambition which is quite wonderful to observe.

To say too much about the way the story plays out would really spoil things, however, if you enjoy the brooding nature of a Gothic mystery combined with a tragic tale of  lives ruined by circumstance, then I am sure that this story will appeal. Without doubt, The Conviction of Cora Burns is a stunning historical debut by an author who knows how to get right into the heart and soul of a story.

About the Author

Originally from the northeast of England, Carolyn Kirby studied history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, before working in public housing and then as a teacher of English as a foreign language. Her novel The Conviction of Cora Burns, begun in 2013 during a writing course at Faber Academy in London, won the inaugural Bluepencilagency Award and was a runner-up for the DGA First Novel Prize and the Mslexia Novel Competition, Carolyn has two grown daughters and lives with her husband in rural Oxfordshire.


Twitter @novelcarolyn #TheConvictionOfCoraBurns



Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Publication Week Blast ~ Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

✨✨ Publication Week Blast ✨✨

21 March

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Maddie and Ian’s romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.

But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime. But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?

My thoughts..

Beautiful Bad is an interesting psychological suspense story which opens with a frantic 911 call and the indication that something really bad has happened. The timeline then flips to ten weeks earlier and our proper introduction to Maddie, who is one of the main narrators. What then follows is an intricately plotted story, with multiple points of view, which looks at both the complexities of friendship and the minutiae of marriage.

As with all psychological suspense stories there are lots of twists and turns so it pays to keep a close eye on what's going on especially as the story jumps around rather a lot. I must admit to being rather lost in the story from time to time and I had to back track occasionally to remind myself of something I had missed. Moving between timescales and locations adds an interesting dimension to the story which can, at times, appear a little bit complicated, but once the complexities of the timeline start to become more apparent, so the story settles and it all becomes much more interesting.

My general impression is that this is one of those stories which takes quite an investment in time as the complicated plot and unstable narrators takes some getting used to, however, if you like complex psychological suspense which takes you to fascinating locations which range from the Balkans to Kansas via Iraq then Beautiful Bad is well worth reading.

Annie  Ward

Annie Ward has a BA in English Literature from UCLA and a MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. Her first screenplay, Strange Habit, starring Adam Scott was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Awrad winner at the Aspen Film Festival. She received a Fullbright Scholarship and An Escape to Create Artists residency. She live in Kansas with her family.

Twitter @_Annie_Ward #BeautifulBad


Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ Keep Her Close by M J Ford

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's final stop on the Keep Her Close Blog Tour

7 March 2019

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

When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College Oxford, DS Josie Masters is plunged into a world of panic as fear grips the city. Along with Thames Valley Police’s newest recruit, the handsome DS Pryce, Josie must act fast – and when two more girls disappear from Oriel and Somerville colleges, she realises the killer is sending her a deadly message in a cruel game of cat and mouse. This time, the case is personal – but who is the perpetrator?

In a desperate race against the clock, Josie hunts for the kidnapper, and soon discovers he could be a lot closer to home than she’d ever thought…

My thoughts..

This is the second police procedural thriller to feature DS Josie Masters and we meet up with her just a few months after the traumatic events which happened in Hold My Hand, which is the first book. The opening chapter gives a brief insight into how Josie is now coping with the fall out from that first disturbing case before lunching us into a new and deadly investigation.

When a student goes missing from Oriel College, Oxford, Josie and her colleague DS Jack Pryce have to do all that they can to investigate a complicated crime which seems to be littered with inconsistencies and red herrings. It's really interesting to watch this police duo in action especially as the story progresses and their connection to each other gets more involved. The added complication of the disappearance of even more students leads to an investigation which, for Josie, gets more and more complicated and decidedly more personal.

I've really enjoyed reading Keep Her Close and, even though I hadn't read the first book, the author gives enough information about Josie Master's back story so that right from the start I felt in tune with the way she works. She's a bit of an individualist, deeply flawed by the events of her past and often quite vulnerable, and yet, she has a strong work ethic and all of the necessary commitment to duty which we expect from a high level detective.

The action moves along at a cracking pace which makes the story really easy to read in one sitting and I think it's one of those stories which benefits from reading quickly. There's so much scope for this series to run and run and I'm really looking forward to meeting up again with this enigmatic detective sergeant in future crime stories.

About the Author

M.J. Ford is back with a gripping new thriller, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and T.M. Logan

Twitter @MJFordBooks #KeepHerClose


Monday, 18 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ A Death in Chelsea by Lynn Brittney

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on A Death in Chelsea Blog Tour

Mirror Books
14 March 2018

My thanks to Melanie at Mirror Books for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially-formed crime fighting team based in a house in Mayfair. 

A call comes through to Mayfair 100, where the intrepid team of investigators eagerly await their next case. 

A society gossip queen has been found hanged in her room in mysterious circumstances. Her enemies are numerous – and her family are convinced she was murdered. Can the group uncover the truth in a case that twists and turns to delight and terrify its readers.

My thoughts..

Cleverly combining social history, and particularly the effects on the country during WW1, A Death in Chelsea is a continuation of the cosy crime series which began with A Murder in Belgravia. This story continues the association between the colourful characters who make up the investigative team known, quite simply as Mayfair 100. Before the story begins there's a great introduction to the Mayfair 100 series, and particularly to the characters,  which is really helpful if you haven't read the first book.

The story opens with a woman's death in the affluent area of Chelsea, first reports suggest that this society gossip has taken her own life, but as the investigation gets underway, it becomes obvious that this is not a clear cut conclusion. What then follows is an intricate, and lively, investigation which takes the team into some dark places and uncovers secrets, and lies, which have a real bearing on the outcome of the story.

Mayfair 100 is a really interesting idea for a crime series as there's such an authentic historical feel to the story which reflects what was happening in the country during 1915. It was a time of great social change with the old values of the aristocracy being challenged as more and more of the working classes were either joining the army or, in the case, of women leaving domestic service to work in the more lucrative industries which were actively recruiting women.

I enjoyed the hidden complexities of A Death in Belgravia, and the many twists and turns in the plot were handled well and kept me guessing. I enjoyed watching how the team played to their individual strengths, using their unique skill mix to great effect as they each try to unravel the complicated clues which surround this mysterious death in Chelsea. 

This is the second book in the Mayfair 100 Mystery series and I'm sure we're going to see a lot more of this investigative team in future crime stories.

Lynn Brittney has been a writer for almost 30 years. Murder in Belgravia is her first crime novel. Her second novel was included in the UK Government’s Recommended Reading List for Boys and described by the Daily Telegraph: “furious swordplay, tremendous chases, atmospheric journeys and wince-inducing reminders that this was an age before anaesthetics.

Twitter @LynneBrittney2 #ADeathInChelsea


Saturday, 16 March 2019

Review ~ Courage of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...1942

21 February 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
Sunderland, 1942: Polly's heart and her future are hanging in the balance…

Polly’s sweetheart Tommy has been declared missing while serving overseas, and although there is no certainty that he is dead, there is no guarantee that he will return home. Now Polly needs her friends more than ever, and the other women welders are ready to rally around her while she waits for news.

The only one not showing support is shipyard manager, Helen. But looks can be deceiving, and beneath her cold exterior, Helen is wrestling with demons of her own, including one life-changing decision that could lead to potential ruin.

As the war continues, the shipyard girls must support one another as they bravely soldier on.

My thoughts..

This sixth book in the Shipyard Girls series starts us off in 1942 with some bad news which will test the fortitude and resilience of one of the girls, and will ensure that the others come together to look after one of their own. The Shipyard Girls are very good at looking out for each other, and even though the effects of the war are now starting to bite really hard, there are always snippets of good humour and camaraderie to be found amongst the sadness and hardship.

What I love about this series, and this book certainly continues the theme, is the way that the author brings the North East to life, both in terms of the vernacular which rolls of the tongue with ease, or, and perhaps more importantly, in the way the warmth and kindness of the people comes across, so that the reader feels enveloped, not just in a wonderful story, but also in the sense of being part of a community.

The story spans several months of 1942 and sees the girls involved in some quite difficult and emotional story lines. As always, each of the women have an individual story to share and each of them worry what the future will bring, however, throughout their troubles the girls, as did all women during wartime, pulled together, keeping, in this case, Thompson's shipyard functioning at top speed.

Whilst it is always possible to read these stories as standalone, I do feel that it makes more sense to start at the beginning, that way you get to know and really care for these characters, who by this sixth novel, are as familiar as old friends.

Courage, friendship and love come together in another wonderful continuation of The Shipyard Girls.

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35844714 Victory for the Shipyard Girls (Shipyard Girls #5)

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



Amazon UK

Friday, 15 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Cornish Lady by Nicola Pryce

7 March 2019

My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour


Educated, beautiful and the daughter of a prosperous merchant, Angelica Lilly has been invited to spend the summer in high society. Her father’s wealth is opening doors, and attracting marriage proposals, but Angelica still feels like an imposter among the aristocrats of Cornwall. 

When her brother returns home, ill and under the influence of a dangerous man, Angelica’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Her one hope lies with coachman Henry Trevelyan, a softly spoken, educated man with kind eyes. But when Henry seemingly betrays Angelica, she has no one to turn to. Who is Henry, and what does he want? And can Angelica save her brother from a terrible plot that threatens to ruin her entire family?

My thoughts..

Angelica Lilly is a beautiful and compassionate young woman whose entry into Cornish society would be guaranteed by an advantageous marriage because even though her father is a prosperous merchant, Angelica's deceased mother's background as an actress can sometimes be a hindrance. When Angelica's younger brother arrives home in poor health and with a friend in tow who is less than supportive, Angelica gets drawn into a very dangerous world which tests both her loyalty and her resilience to the absolute limit.

The Cornish Lady takes us back to an eighteenth century world of social prejudices and to a time when the country was largely unsettled when, due to the high price of food, poorer people were going hungry. To a large extent, Angelica, is sheltered from the worst of life but when the story moves to Falmouth and Truro, Angelica soon finds herself involved in some very dangerous events. Angelica is a feisty heroine, who is filled with a real sense of purpose and right from the start I felt really comfortable in her company and loved seeing how she grew in confidence as her story progressed.

There's a wonderful authenticity to this Cornish saga as each story explores a different aspect of eighteenth century life. What I love the most is the way that the author brings her characters to life so beautifully and allows them the time to tell their story whilst keeping the historical accuracy so firmly in place. Familiar characters are allowed to pop up from time to time, so that we can catch up with what's been happening to them, but without them ever dominating the way the new story is evolving.

There is no doubt that this author has made the world of eighteenth century Cornwall completely her own. Each successive story goes from strength to strength and there is so much scope for this series to continue that I really can't wait to see where this talented writer takes us to next.

Nicola Pryce came to writing after a career in nursing. She has an Open University degree in Humanities and is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer. She is lives in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset and when she isn’t writing she’s probably gardening or scrubbing the decks. She and her husband love sailing and for the last twenty years they have sailed in and out of the romantic harbours of the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure: it is there where she sets her books. The Cornish Lady is her fourth book: The others are Pengelly's Daughter, The Captain's Girl, and The Cornish Dressmaker. Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Historical Writers Association.

Twitter @NPryce_Author



✨ Fabulous Giveaway - Open Internationally 

Win a signed copy of The Cornish Lady, a box of Cornish Fudge and some bookmarks

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Silver Moon Storybook by Elaine Gunn

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Silver Moon Storybook

My thanks to the author and Kelly at Love Books Group Tours
for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of the tour

What darkness lies in the past of a little witch, cursed into the shape of a giant? Who will save a magical unicorn, imprisoned for generations in the castle of a tyrant? As the silver moon rises in the sky, an enormous clown and a powerful siren join a humble weaver and other enchanting characters in these haunting tales of illusion, discovery and love. 

An exquisitely illustrated bedtime story for the age of #MeToo, The Silver Moon Storybook transforms themes of modern feminism into touching fables full of the magic and shadows of traditional fairy tales.

My thoughts..

The Silver Moon Storybook is a beautiful selection of fairy stories, written with a lovely lightness of touch which makes reading the seven stories within the collection such a joy.

There's a real skill to writing fairy stories, sometimes it just feels right, and The Silver Moon Storybook has such an authentic feel that I truly felt like I was reading the fairy tales of old without the obligatory grimness. I've always loved fairy stories, they entertain, and inform, and give a glimpse into a magical world which although is not of our time, it so easily could be, and this collection cleverly shows that there are many parallels within the world of magic.

The stories are sensitively written and send a strong message which I'm sure will appeal to both children and adults alike. The stunning black and white line drawings interspersed throughout the book are a lovely addition and really bring the stories to life in a very special way. The author offers the idea of colouring in the line drawings, which is a lovely idea and could make the book very personal, however like lots of readers I could no more colour in the pages of a book than I could fly to the moon, however, it's always there as an option, along with the author's great suggestion of downloading the pictures from her website, if, like me, you can't colour the actual pictures in the book 😊

Beautifully written and presented, The Silver Moon Storybook is a really lovely collection of stories which are perfect for children...and adults.  I am sure that my copy will stay on my book shelf forever.

Elaine Gunn has been writing more or less constantly since she first picked up a pencil in primary school. Years of unpublished literary genius languish in handwritten journals, high school English portfolios, corporate banking reports and various awful pitch documents full of impeccably-written digital marketing jargon. Her first published work, The Silver Moon Storybook, is a collection of feminist fairy tales, written as an antidote to the passive princess culture that she became horribly aware of when her children started watching telly. Elaine is also a reiki practitioner and Dr. Hauschka esthetician.

Twitter @Elaine_Gunn #TheSilverMoonStorybook


Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ Unlawful Things by Anna Sayburn Lane

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the Unlawful Things Blog Tour

Independently Published
22 October 2018

My thanks to the author and to Anne at Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour.

A hidden masterpiece.A secret buried for 500 years.And one woman determined to uncover the truth.When London tour guide Helen Oddfellow meets a historian on the trail of a lost manuscript, she’s intrigued by the mystery – and the man. But the pair are not the only ones desperate to find the missing final play by sixteenth century English playwright Christopher Marlowe. What starts as a literary puzzle quickly becomes a quest with deadly consequences.When Helen realises the play hides an explosive religious secret, she begins to understand how much is at stake. Relying on her quick wits, she battles far-right thugs, eccentric aristocrats and an ancient religious foundation, each with their own motives for getting their hands on the manuscript. She discovers there is a price to pay for secret knowledge, but how high is too high?
Unlawful Things was shortlisted for the Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer Award. 

If you love a bit of historical sleuthing and a healthy dose of fast-paced action, you'll enjoy this intriguing debut thriller from Anna Sayburn Lane.

My thoughts..

Helen Oddfellow has a fascination with the playwright, Christopher Marlowe, and her work as a London tour guide brings her into contact with a historian who suggests to her that there may well be a lost Marlowe manuscript. More than a little intrigued by this idea, Helen gets drawn into a very dangerous world which will have repercussions, not just for herself but also for those characters she comes into contact with.

I was gripped by the opening prologue, which I thought was a very clever introduction, and I quickly became involved in trying to keep one step of ahead of the action, keeping a close eye on what was evolving as the story progressed. Even if you don't know anything about Marlowe and the controversy around his death in 1593, there are more than enough modern day twists and turns to keep the action feeling relevant and exciting. The author writes well, both from a historical perspective, which I found to be highly informative about Marlowe's life and times, she's clearly done her research very well, and also about the uncertainty and danger of the social and political climate we live in today.

This was a really interesting idea for a novel as it combines both literary history and mystery perfectly. Helen's determined quest to discover the truth allows the story to look more closely into the tangled history of Christopher Marlowe, a fascinating subject in himself, but which also combines a really dark historical mystery, with a modern day fast action thriller.

Unlawful Things is a great start to what I hope will be more books, with literary connections, featuring Helen Oddfellow.

Anna Sayburn Lane is a novelist, short story writer and storyteller, inspired by the history and contemporary life of London. Unlawful Things is her first novel. She has published award-winning short stories in a number of magazines, including Mslexia, Scribble and One Eye Grey. Her Mslexia award-winning story Conservation was described by judge and Booker-longlisted author Alison MacLeod as “a powerful and profound contemporary piece in which one man’s story stands for an entire nation’s… it’s a punch to the heart, a story that will haunt and touch its readers deeply”. She has told stories at London club The Story Party and One Eye Grey’s Halloween event, Moon Over the Lido.

Twitter @BloomsburyBlue  #UnlawfulThings


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ Belle of the Back Streets by Glenda Young

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to host the penultimate stop on the Belle of the Back Streets blog tour 

November 2018

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

Everyone recognises the cry of Meg Sutcliffe as she plies her trade along the back streets of Ryhope. She learnt the ropes from her dad when he returned from the War. But when tragedy struck, Meg had no choice but to continue alone, with only her trusty dog Spot and beloved horse Stella for company. Now the meagre money she earns is the only thing that stands between her family’s safety and predatory rent collector Hawk Jackson... 

Many say it’s no job for a woman - especially a beauty like Meg who’s noticed everywhere she goes. When she catches the eye of charming Clarky it looks like she might have found a protector and a chance of happiness. But is Clarky really what he seems? And could Adam, Meg’s loyal childhood friend, be the one who really deserves her heart?

My thoughts..

There's a lovely atmosphere in Belle of the Back Streets which brings to life the North East of England during the early part of the twentieth century. Meg Sutcliffe is a beautiful young woman, who finds that she has to do whatever she can to provide help for her mother and younger brother. Times are hard, poverty is rife and Meg constantly struggles to survive and keep her head above water, especially when there are men around like the dangerous, rent collector, Hawk Jackson and the charismatic, Clarky.

The author writes really well and brings to vivid life this area of the North East which she calls home. Her close connection to the history of the area gives such an authentic feel to the story and the hardships experienced by ordinary people, especially when life is really tough, shows just how resilient folk had to be. And even though they have nothing, there is natural kindness between the friends who rally round when Meg and her family are affected by personal tragedy.

I've really enjoyed reading this historical saga, the story grabbed my attention from the beginning and I loved how the author brought together a likeable set of characters and combined their stories with what was actually happening at the time. The effect of the 1921 Miner's strike and the hardship which greatly affected Northern communities is written about with a real sense of history and community spirit.

Belle of the Back Streets is this author's debut historical saga and from the strength of her writing I am sure we are going to see much more of her excellent stories in the future.

Glenda Young credits her local library in the village of Ryhope, where she grew up, for giving her a love of books. She still lives close by in Sunderland and often gets her ideas for her stories on long bike rides along the coast. A life-long fan of Coronation Street, she runs two fan websites for which she sometimes interviews the cast of the show.

Twitter @flaming_nora #BelleOfTheBackStreets

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Newcomer by Fern Britton

✨ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on The Newcomer Blog Tour 

Harper Collins
7 March 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Rebecca  for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of the Blog Tour

Set in springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan, the community have come together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny but this harmony is soon disrupted when a newcomer arrives causing quite a stir…

My Thoughts..

The prospect of taking over the running of an established village parish is rather daunting for Reverend Alison Whitehorn, as not only is the church at the heart of the village, but taking over from a much loved vicar and his family is a scary prospect, especially when this is your first ever parish responsibility. Undaunted, Alison, with the help of her handsome husband, Robert, teenage daughter Faith, and her incorrigible aunt, Mamie, sets out to win over the hearts of the people, which, it must be said, is no easy task.

The villagers of Pendruggan don't take kindly to change and for some, the idea of a new vicar making changes to an established system is an anathema, however, Alison forges ahead, winning over some, antagonising a few, and as the story progresses, it becomes ever obvious that not every one is happy about Alison's presence in Pendruggan. Beautifully observed, and described, the villagers, with their petty squabbles, their joyous moments and family tragedies, starts to come alive and whilst there are some villagers who you take to your heart from the offset, there are also some who, you soon realise, are going to be a whole lot of trouble.

The Newcomer is a lovely village saga, filled with drama and hidden secrets in a delightful Cornish setting. It's written with all the fine attention to detail and characteristic good humour which we have come to expect from this authors's fine writing. Fern Britton writes with such kindhearted warmth that you can't help but be drawn into the lives of the people she describes so beautifully. I was really sorry when the story ended as, so wrapped up in village events, I wanted to spend more time with Alison and the rest of the villagers of Pendruggan.

Fern Britton is the highly acclaimed author of seven Sunday Times bestselling novels. Her books are cherished for their warmth, wit and wisdom, and have won her legions of loyal readers. Fern was a judge for the Costa Book of the Year Award and a supporter of the Reading Agency, promoting literacy and reading. 

Fern has recently turned her talents to acting, currently starring as Marie in Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s award-winning musical Calendar Girls. 

A hugely popular household name through iconic shows such as This Morning and Ready Steady Cook, Fern is a much sought-after presenter more recently presenting The Big Allotment Challenge (BBC2), For What It’s Worth (BBC1), Culinary Genius with Gordon Ramsay (ITV) and her advent series Fern Britton Meets (BBC1). 

Fern lives with her husband, Phil Vickery, and her four children in Buckinghamshire and Cornwall.

Twitter @Fern_Britton #The Newcomer


Saturday, 9 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ Shadows of Athens by J M Alvey

On Hist Fic Saturday

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Shadows of Athens Blog Tour

7 March 2019

My thanks to the publishers for the invitation to be part of this blog tour

443 BC, and, after decades of war with Persia, peace has finally come to Athens. The city is being rebuilt, and commerce and culture are flourishing.

Aspiring playwright Philocles has come home to find a man with his throat cut slumped against his front gate. Is it just a robbery gone wrong? But, if so, why didn't the thieves take the dead man's valuables? With the play that could make his name just days away, he must find out who this man is, why he has been murdered - and why the corpse was left in his doorway.

But Philocles soon realises he has been caught up in something far bigger, and there are those who don't want him looking any further,

My thoughts..

Shadows of Athens is an interesting historical murder mystery which is set in ancient Greece and involves an aspiring playwright, called Philocles, who, as the story opens, is really excited that one of his plays is at last being seen by the pleasure loving public. However, when he discovers a body lying dead across the entrance to his home, and with no sign of a robbery, it opens up a whole set of circumstances that Philocles, right on the eve of his success, could really have done without.

I must admit that I don't know too much about ancient Greek history so it took me a little while to be comfortable with the story, however, I found that this didn't really matter as the author does a good job of explaining things. The Greek setting is nicely done and well described for someone like me who isn't familiar with time and place. I enjoyed observing life in 443 BC through the eyes of Philocles as he goes about trying to discover why this murder/mystery should involve him, and of the complicated process of  discovery, as he goes about getting to the heart of the mystery.

The author writes well and clearly knows this ancient historical time as this comes across in the attention paid to detail and to the way in which the characters spring into life. The complex politics and the intricate social strata of the time comes across, and  it was interesting to see just how the mystery sat against the historical background to the story. There are more than enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing, however, for me, I think it was the recreation of the historical setting which really captured my attention and brought the story to life.

Shadows of Athens is an interesting historical whodunit with a nice combination of both history and mystery.

Twitter @AlveyAuthor  #ShadowsOfAthens


Amazon UK

Friday, 8 March 2019

Blog Tour ~ Nowhere Girls by Teuta Metra

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Nowhere Girls Blog Tour

17 February 2019
Independently Published

My thanks to the author and Anne at Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour.

Friends Alba and Sara could not be more different. While Alba is forcing her way into the upper echelons of Albanian’s richest and most powerful, Sara is working more than one job as a struggling journalist. Both desperate to escape their corrupt country, they're quickly dragged into a sordid world of politics and lies. When tragedy strikes their friend Ina, the two women must come together to save her little boy. Can they put away their troubles and secure a better future for the child? Or will their past catch up with them? NOWHERE GIRLS is a thrilling tale of love, lies and the lengths a woman will go to for freedom.

My thoughts..

Nowhere Girls is an interesting look at the friendship between three very different women which is made all the more consuming by being set against the backdrop of a corrupt regime. In many ways, it is a courageous book as it shows the deep rifts between social and political culture and for that, I think, the author has done a commendable job in bringing the story of these women alive.

It took me a little while to get to grips with the story and for me to feel comfortable with the characters but once the story started to get underway, and I started to gel with the characters, I found Nowhere Girls really interesting. The author writes well and her work as a journalist allows her to give a unique perspective and this certainly comes across in the way the story unfolds.

I enjoy books which make me consider cultures other than my own, and reading of the lives of Alba, Sara and Ina, and of their individual struggles as they go about their daily lives made me appreciated everything I take for granted.

Nowhere Girls is translated from its original Albanian by S. Duli Ramadani and is a really interesting book to share on International Women's Day.

Now a fiction writer, Teuta Metra's experience as an Albanian journalist has made her an expert on the struggles of women from her country. Author, journalist and teacher, Teuta now lives in The Netherlands with her husband and two sons.

Twitter@Teuta_Metra #NowhereGirls