Saturday, 25 May 2019

Review ~ The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

On Hist Fic Saturday

Lets go back to Georgian England...1785

January 2019

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This chance meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, a journey on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost…

What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?

My thoughts...

Middle aged widower, Jonah Hancock is awakened early one morning to the news that one of his merchant ships has been lost at sea and in place of his livelihood the captain of his fleet has returned with, of all things, a mermaid. Jonah is both dismayed and intrigued by this turn of events and more than a little alarmed at being the owner of such an unusual curiosity.

With the need to recoup his losses, Jonah allows the public a tantalising glimpse of this creature and his mermaid exhibition causes a furore in London, with the great, and the not so good, queuing to see it. Against his better judgement Jonah comes into contact with Mrs Chappell, a notorious brothel keeper, who has her own more risqué ideas on how to enhance the mermaid’s effect. However, Jonah’s uneasy association with the brothel keeper brings him into contact with Angelica Neal, a famed courtesan, who is the most beautiful woman Jonah Hancock has ever seen.

This is a really intriguing story about love, greed and obsession and is a real journey through Georgian London, with its fascination for curiosities and its ambiguous morality. The characters are a fascinating bunch, from the rather staid atmosphere of Jonah Hancock’s merchant’s house, to the bawdy illumination of Mrs Chappell’s establishment, there is never a moment when the story doesn’t draw you in. Angelica Neal takes some getting used to, she’s brash and lively, petulant and greedy and yet, by the end of the story I really liked her spirit and determination.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, is really a story of two definite halves; with, I think, the second half of the story being stronger than the first, but throughout it all is a real sense of time and place, and Georgian London with all its pettiness, squabbles and obsession with society is brought to life in quite a vivid way.

I listened to The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock as an Audible recording, which was beautifully narrated by Juliet Stevenson. ( 17 hours and 19 minutes)

About the Author

Imogen Hermes Gowar studied Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History before going on to work in museums. She began to write fiction inspired by the artefacts she worked with, and in 2013 won the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholarship to study for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock was a finalist in the MsLexia First Novel Competition and shortlisted for the inaugural Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers’ Award.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Blog Tour ~ My Mother's Daughter by Ann O'Loughlin

Delighted to be sharing my book review on the last day of this blog tour 

16 May 2019

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

County Wicklow, Ireland. Margo has just lost her husband Conor and is grieving his passing, unsure how she and her daughter Elsa will survive without him. Then she receives a letter that turns everything she thought she knew on its head. Not only has she lost her husband, but now Margo fears she could lose her daughter as well. 

Ohio, United States. Cassie has just split from her husband acrimoniously. Upset and alone she does not know how to move forward. Then her ex-husband demands a paternity test for their daughter Tilly and sorrow turns to anger as Cassie faces the frightening possibility of losing her daughter.

My thoughts...

So many emotions run through this book that it's really difficult to say much about the plot without giving far too much away. However, it's safe to say that I was completely engrossed in the combined story of Margot and Elsa in Ireland, and Cassie and Tilly in the US. Both women have had their fair share of heartache as each is grieving the loss of their marriages, albeit for very different reasons. Not content with the trauma of coping as a single parent both women are devastated to learn that the daughter they each cherish could by some dreadful quirk of fate not be their biological child.

Getting right into the emotional heart of a story is what this author does best and My Mother's Daughter certainly shares some really tough emotional issues which, at times, threaten to engulf both Margot and Cassie. Throughout this emotional story there are some wonderful mother/daughter moments to cherish but equally there's also some really heart-breaking decisions to be made which the author handles with thoughtfulness, compassion and a real sense of empathy.

My Mother's Daughter covers some really sensitive issues around love and loss, and with some really sad stuff towards the end of the book which had me reaching for the tissue box, and yet, it's also a really uplifting story about the powerful bonds of both motherhood and friendship. 

Throughout this excellent story I was reminded of the lengths that mother's will go to to protect their children and that sometimes the strongest emotional bonds are not forged by blood but by unconditional love.

About the Author

As a leading journalist in Ireland for nearly thirty years, Ann O'Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with independent newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of The Troubles, and was a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper covering legal issues. Ann has also lived and worked in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast with her husband and two children

Twitter @annolwriter #MyMothersDaughter


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Review ~ Ten Poems about Childhood from Candlestick Press

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to share this latest poetry pamphlet from
Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press
April 2019

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this poetry pamphlet

Poems exploring innocence and experience

Childhood must be one of poetry’s very favourite subjects. Countless poems try to capture the light and shade of being very young – moments that lodge vividly in our adult memories.
This beautiful mini-anthology ventures off the beaten track with poems that will be new to many readers. From a group of children who:

“...thought words travelled the wires

In the shiny pouches of raindrops,”

from ‘The Railway Children’ by Seamus Heaney

to a baby entranced by mirrors and glass, we see the world in language that sparkles with newness.

Mimi Khalvati’s selection reflects her fascination with how we learn to talk and read, and there are poems about a first encounter with books and about children from different cultures playing ball and swapping words in a village square.

Mimi Khalvati is an award-winning poet and founder of the Poetry School.

Poems by Kayo Chingonyi, Jane Duran, Louise Glück, Seamus Heaney, Elizabeth Jennings, Mimi Khalvati, Hannah Lowe, James Merrill, Tracy K Smith and James Womack.

Cover illustration by Celia Hart.

Donation to Unicef.

My thoughts...

When I was a child I loved listening to poetry and I can remember how perfectly safe I felt when my mother read to me from a battered old copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's, A Child's Garden of Verse. In Ten Poems about Childhood, the magic of words comes alive and with such a wealth of emotion in this selection, it is difficult to choose a particular favourite.

Mimi Khalvati's thoughtful selection covers a whole range of experiences from her own work in:


"...children throwing languages in rotation-
their own, a new one, being made aware
as they leap, drop, pick up, catch, of translation..."

To The Railway Children by Seamus Heaney

"...We were small and thought we knew nothing
Worth knowing, We thought words travelled the wires
In the shiny pouches of raindrops..."

Reading Ten Poems about Childhood is a real celebration of childhood in all its many guises. Reading the poems took me back to those heady days of my own childhood, when summers stretched endlessly long, when with great excitement we build dens and dams, ran races and climbed trees and snuggled up with a glass of milk at bedtime and became lost in the universal language of words.

Ten Poems about Childhood makes a perfect gift for the child that lives in all of us.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Twitter @PoetryCandle

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Review ~ The Effortless Mind by Will Williams

Simon & Schuster
2 May 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Midas PR for my copy of this book
Will Williams has taught thousands of everyday people to meditate with astounding results. Long term sufferers of debilitating conditions including insomnia, depression and anxiety have used Will’s unique form of Beeja meditation to transform their lives. Others have found a new sense of joy and fulfilment in their lives, and report becoming incredibly productive and creative at work and home.

Supported by scientific research, The Effortless Mind explains how Beeja meditation soothes and calms both the mind and the central nervous system - with fast-acting, tangible results. Each chapter in the book is dedicated to a different problem created in our increasingly pressured and demanding world including addiction, divorce, and work-related stress. Compelling real life stories reveal how Beeja meditation can help overcome these traumatic situations and help improve relationships with both ourselves and others, with chapters on family, anger management, digestion and overeating.

Stories from the book include Nick, a banker and father of two who was admitted to psychiatric hospital for depression. Within two months of learning Will’s technique his anxiety had halved, his medication reduced and a month later he returned to work. Then there is Mia, a medical researcher who suffered with chronic IBS. With GPs dismissive and medication ineffective, Will’s meditation course led to results within 72 hours. Mia’s IBS clinic discharged her citing meditation as the catalyst.

Will’s meditation technique is so successful at calming the mind that he has become one of the UK’s leading meditation teachers and experts. Will teaches Beeja meditation to the world’s biggest brands including Google, Microsoft, BBC, Spotify, HSBC, Sony and Universal. His celebrated courses and retreats have taught film stars, musicians, business leaders, royals, politicians and explorers how to use his simple method to increase productivity, release potential and foster creativity.

My thoughts..

I'm not usually a great reader of self help books but sometimes one comes along which piques my interest and allows the opportunity of looking at life in a very different sort of way.

In The Effortless Mind, the author presents a way of mediating which helps to calm the mind thus allowing a more relaxed state of being.  I found the book to be an interesting and thought provoking read and the author, obviously passionate about the technique he promotes, does a great job of explaining the benefits of Beeja mediation, a method he has perfected.

There are some interesting case studies which help to put the contents into perspective and I enjoyed reading the author's own interpretation of what can be gained by embarking on a series of mediation. The book is divided into easy to read sections and covers: Mind and Body, Relationships, Being Your Best and Finding Greater Purpose.

In our stressful world we all need coping strategies, however, what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for someone else but what The Effortless Mind goes on to explain is that sometimes we just need to step away from the stresses and struggles and allow ourselves the time to reflect and relax.

I have enjoyed reading through this introduction to the Beeja technique and found much to consider and some really good suggestions.

About the Author

A former music industry executive and insomnia sufferer, Will discovered meditation after he used it to cure his own chronic insomnia. Will William’s meditation expertise is based on over 11 years’ experience training with renowned meditation masters across the globe. Will teaches classes and courses from his Beeja HQ in London and runs regular weekend retreats across the UK. Will leads a team of Beeja meditation teachers worldwide, and will be opening new centres in Berlin, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles this year. Will founded World Meditation Day which takes place on the 15th of May, and this year will be launching the new BEEJA meditation app. Will is also working with the OECD to introduce meditation to all primary and secondary schools globally by 2030, with a trial initiative rolling out in 2020, with 20 schools in the UK expected to take part.

@beejameditation #TheEffortlessMind



Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Blog Tour and Author interview ~ The String Games by Gail Aldwin

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host day two of this blog tour 

and to share an interview with the author 

Victorina Press
28 May 2019

My thanks to the author for inviting me to read her book and to take part in this blog tour

Hi Gail and welcome to Jaffareadstoo. What inspired you to write The String Games?

One of the worst experiences of my life was losing my three-year-old son for forty minutes on the beach at St Jean de Luz. I was rubbing sunscreen onto my daughter and when I looked up, he was gone. Although this episode ended happily it made me think about different possible outcomes, the vulnerability of little children in countries where they can’t speak the language, and the parental fear of losing a child. I decided this would be a good hook for novel readers but instead of telling the story from a parental perspective, I decided to explore the legacy of loss from the viewpoint of an older sibling.

Tell us three interesting things about your novel. 

😊 there are characters who are strung along, others who are puppets on string and those who need to cut the apron strings – string is the controlling metaphor of the novel

😊 it’s a three-part novel but I wrote the middle section last

😊in terms of structure and themes, The String Games has similarities with the Oscar winning film Moonlight

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

I started writing The String Games with an end in mind and could see the last chapter as if it were the closing shot to a film. However, the writing journey to get from start to finish was rather like entering a maze. Many chapters took circuitous routes, some paths led to dead ends where I had to backtrack, other chapters flitted around the outskirts and I needed to navigate a new path. When the first draft was completed, every subsequent draft (and there were many over the five-year period it took to finalise the novel) brought me closer to the heart of the novel and the completed story. 

In your research for The String Games did you discover anything which surprised you?

When I began the novel I also enrolled on an MPhil programme with the University of South Wales. I enjoyed the practise of creative writing alongside academic study so much that when the two-year course was over, I transferred to PhD. The String Games became the creative element of my submission and I wrote a thesis to accompany this. One chapter of my research looked at feminist theories about women writers. In “On Female Identity and Writing by Women”, Judith Keegan Gardiner describes the relationship between women writers and their female protagonists by use of the analogy “the hero is her author’s daughter”. This caused me to reflect on my relationship as a writer with my protagonist and to build greater understanding and empathy for her mother, who is quite a tricky character. 

What were the challenges you faced whilst writing this novel?

I am the sort of writer who wears the shoes of my characters. When writing about devastating events, it’s inevitable to feel something of the characters’ pain. To avoid this spilling into my everyday life, I’ve developed the habit of closing my workroom door whenever I finish writing. This helps to separate the experience of engaging with the tragic events in my novel from my life with my family. 

What do you hope that readers will take away from reading The String Games?

The String Games is a celebration of human resilience. It is possible for people to experience heart breaking events and become reconciled with those experiences. 

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

I’ve got into some very bad writing habits. The other day I started a writing task at 8am and didn’t leave my desk until 2pm when I was absolutely famished. My writing life spreads into all aspects of daily living like some amorphous creature. I always have several writing projects on the go at any time so it’s more a question of finding time to do the necessary that keeps a home functioning rather than the other way around. 

I share a desk with my husband and although he rarely works from home, his stuff takes up a lot of room. I pile all my notebooks and papers at one end and this has become my writing space. Once I’ve got my head down, it doesn’t matter that I’m in a tiny room. My writing takes me to many different locations. 

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

I write a blog called The Writer is a Lonely Hunter which includes lots of information about me, my projects, publications and events. I’m also part of a collaborative writing trio called 3-She. Together we write short plays and comedy sketches. We’re currently working on a show that will be staged as part of the Shaftesbury Fringe. I’m active on social media so please find me on Twitter and Facebook.

Social Media links:

Twitter @gailaldwin

My thoughts about The String Games..

It's every parents' worst nightmare to have a child disappear, I can well recall that heart stopping, gut-wrenching feeling when my daughter, then aged six, went missing for about half an hour and the sheer relief when she was found safe and well. 

The String Games reminds us of that feeling but it also cleverly focuses on the effects on the sibling in a missing child case, people who are, so often, overlooked, as so much emphasis is concentrated on the distress of the parents. Nim is only ten years old when her four year old brother, Josh, goes missing on a family holiday in France, and, whilst the impact of this devastating event on the parents is never underestimated, it is Nim's reaction to her brother's disappearance which becomes paramount to the story.

I found The String Games to be a very insightful family drama, which never over-sensationalises what has happened, but which looks introspectively into how much Nim suffered and of the grief and sense of loss that she carried with her and her need to have answers to so many unresolved issues. In a way The String Games is a rather poignant coming of age story as we witness Nim's constant search for resolution.

The author writes really well and the attention to detail and the authentic feel to the narrative make this a compelling and thought provoking read.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Blog Tour ~ Stolen by Paul Finch

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Stolen

16 May 2019

Lucy Clayburn #3

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

How do you find the missing when there’s no trail to follow?

DC Lucy Clayburn is having a tough time of it. Not only is her estranged father one of the North West’s toughest gangsters, but she is in the midst of one of the biggest police operations of her life.

Members of the public have started to disappear, taken from the streets as they’re going about their everyday lives. But no bodies are appearing – it’s almost as if the victims never existed.

Lucy must chase a trail of dead ends and false starts as the disappearances mount up. But when her father gets caught in the crossfire, the investigation suddenly becomes a whole lot more bloody…

My thoughts..

The first chapter gets the book off to a really good start and this exciting atmosphere never lets up until the dramatic conclusion which had me scrabbling back into the story to see if I had missed any important clues. There's so many twists and turns and genuinely heart stopping moments that my fingers turned the pages ever faster so that I didn't loose track of what was happening.

In the town of Crowley in Greater Manchester random people are going missing, they are simply there one minute and then gone the next and whilst the link between the missing takes a while to become a police investigation, when it does, Lucy Clayburn and her team have a real challenge in trying to keep one step ahead of an investigation which gets more and more complex as time goes on.

Those who are familiar with the Lucy Clayburn crime series will know just how this gutsy detective operates, she's feisty, resolute and brimful of curiosity, and certainly doesn't suffer fools, and throughout this complex investigation she is absolutely determined to get to the heart of the matter, even if that means going into some very dangerous situations. It was interesting to see that the complication in Lucy's past is developed further in this story and I have enjoyed working out the connection, especially with her estranged father, which adds another dramatic layer to what is, already, an exciting crime thriller.

The author writes really well and, using both his police experiences and his local knowledge, brings this gritty northern series to life in such a scarily realistic way. Stolen is particularly gritty, with some genuinely dark moments which, at times, makes for uncomfortable reading, but which add such fascinating drama to this fine continuation of the Lucy Clayburn series.

Lucy Clayburn Series

Strangers (Lucy Clayburn, #1) 34522381 42959331

About the Author

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 most successful works to date are the six-novel DS Heckenburg crime series, and the new Lucy Clayburn series, the first instalment of which, STALKERS, reached no. 7 in the Sunday Times best-sellers chart.

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

Twitter @paulfinchauthor #Stolen


Saturday, 18 May 2019

Blog Tour ~ Night by Night by Jack Jordan

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be part of the blog tour for Night by Night

2 May 2019

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

‘If you’re reading this, I’m dead.’

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink . But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed – a journal dropped at Rose’s feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won’t the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth. But she has no idea what the truth will cost her…

My thoughts..

What a roller coaster of a ride this turned out to be, from its dramatic opening, to its intricate middle and jaw dropping conclusion, there is never a moment when the plot doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat.

Rose Shaw is a really troubled soul and with very good reason as she has suffered more than enough tragedy in her life to justify her sleepless nights. At the start of the story, Rose feels that she has no purpose and we meet her with her family life in complete disarray. Late one night she inadvertently collides with a man who seems to be running away from something, in the aftermath of this altercation, Rose discover that the man had dropped a journal. Looking through this rather personal journal Rose discovers the story of a young man called Finn who has a nightmare of a story to share.

What then follows is a fast and furious psychological thriller which takes Rose to the very edge of despair and causes catastrophic rifts ,not just with her family but also with the local police force whose helps she seeks, but who seem intent to thwart her every move.

I thought that Night by Night was a really clever thriller, there are some genuinely sad moments which brought me to tears, and also some really dark situations which made me want to grab Rose and take her into safekeeping.

Thought provoking, hugely addictive, Night by Night kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through and, as this is the first book by this author I have read, it also introduced me to a wonderful new, and very original, writing talent.

Jack Jordan wrote his first novel at seventeen and self-published two e-book bestsellers, Anything for Her and My Girl, by the age of twenty four. He lives in East Anglia.

Twitter @JackJordanBooks #NightbyNight


Friday, 17 May 2019

Blog Tour ~ Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be part of the blog tour for Tick Tock 

2 May 2019
DSAllendale #2

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

In the city of Stoke, a teenage girl is murdered in the middle of the day, her lifeless body abandoned in a field behind her school.


Two days later, a young mother is abducted. She’s discovered strangled and dumped in a local park.


DS Grace Allendale and her team are brought in to investigate, but with a bold killer, no leads and nothing to connect the victims, the case seems hopeless. It’s only when a third woman is targeted that a sinister pattern emerges. A dangerous mind is behind these attacks, and Grace realises that the clock is ticking…

Can they catch the killer before another young woman dies?

The #1 bestseller returns with a breath-taking thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Kimberley Chambers.

My thoughts..

DS Grace Allendale's return to work in her home town of Stoke-on-Trent got off to a cracking start in Hush Hush which was the first book in this new crime series. In Tick Tock, DS Allendale once  again finds that she and her team of detectives have to keep one step ahead of a serial killer who is intent on targeting people who, seemingly, have no connection with each other.

The story gets off to a dramatic start and because of the emotional nature of the first case, which involves a teenage girl, Grace and her team are under huge pressure to close the investigation as quickly as possible. However, the creepy edginess and the realisation that the clock is ticking, and the many twists and turns in the plot, make this an incredibly difficult case to solve.

This is turning out to be such a great series, and with Grace Allendale's local connections adding interesting complications, there is never a moment when the tension isn't cranked up to a high level. The police procedural part of the story always feels totally authentic and I really enjoy watching how the investigative team set about cracking the, almost, impossible clues. The character detail is, as always, excellent, and there are some interesting observations into the mindset of the perpetrator which I won't spoil by giving anything away.

This crime series has such potential to run and run and I can't wait to see how Grace's character develops in future stories. If you haven't read the first book in the series then I would urge you to do so, but both books also work as standalone stories.

39929094 45436209

About the Author

Mel Sherratt is the author of eleven novels, all of which have become bestsellers. In 2018 she was named as one of her home town of Stoke on Trent's top influential people, she lives in Stoke on Trent with her husband and terrier, Dexter.

Twitter @writermels #TickTock


Thursday, 16 May 2019

Blog Tour ~ Crikey A Bodyguard by Kathryn Freeman

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the Crikey A Bodyguard Blog Tour

Choc Lit
23 April 2019

My thanks to the author, publishers and Rachel's Random Resurces for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour
She’s got the brains, he’s got the muscle …

When Kelly Bridge’s parents insist on employing a bodyguard for her protection, she’s not happy. Okay, so maybe not every woman is on the cusp of developing a vaccine against a potential biological terrorist attack – but crikey, it’s not like she’s a celebrity! 

Ben Jacobs flunked spectacularly out of school, so he knows his new client Dr Kelly Bridge spells trouble for him. But on a conference trip to Rome he finds things are worse than he thought. Not only is he falling for the brilliant scientist, he’s also become horribly aware she’s in grave danger. As they go on the run, dodging bullets and kidnappers, can he resist his feelings and keep her safe?

My thoughts..

Kelly Bridge knows stuff about viruses that no-one else does and the complex research she is working on has the potential to save many lives, however, the trouble is, this information is extremely sensitive and very dangerous if it gets in the wrong hands.. Against her better judgement, Kelly reluctantly agrees to her parents request to employ a bodyguard but constantly insists that she isn't in any danger. Her bodyguard turns out to be, Ben Jacobs, ex-special forces, tough, uncompromising and, with a glorious physique, which is extremely easy on the eye, however, for Kelly he's nothing more than an encumbrance. That is until the threat of danger becomes very, very real.

What then follows is an exciting, suspenseful story which has all the elements of a fast action thriller and yet, it also keeps intact this author's trademark of a lovely romantic story. There are some lovely light moments which made me smile but also there's a real darker element which is done extremely well and I must admit that my heart was in my mouth on more than one occasion, hoping that everything would work out for this feisty and determined scientist and her handsome bodyguard.

I've now read several of this author's novels and I am consistently impressed with the way she gets the balance of the story exactly right. The characters are always brimful of personality, the thrills and spills keep you guessing, and the passion fairly sizzles on the page.

There's so much to enjoy in Crikey A Bodyguard, from the edge of the seat situations that Kelly and Ben get drawn into, to the passionate 'will they, won't they' aspect of their burgeoning relationship. I loved it 😊

About the Author

A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero. 

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.

Social Media Links 

Twitter @KathrynFreeman1

@ChocLituk @rararesources

Amazon UK


Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Oh Crumbs (Open INT) 

*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.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

Jaffareadstoo is excited to host today's stop on The Never Game Blog Tour

Harper Collins
16 May 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour
From the bestselling and award-winning master of suspense, the first novel
 in a thrilling new series! 

Colter Shaw is an itinerate "reward-seeker," traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. When he learns of a reward for a missing college student in Silicon Valley, he takes the job. The investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of Silicon Valley and the cutthroat billion-dollar video gaming industry--and then a second kidnapping happens...and this victim turns up dead. The clues soon point to one video game, The Never Game, in which the player has to survive after being left abandoned. Is a madman bringing that game to life? If so, Shaw has to stop him before he strikes again...and before he figures out that Shaw is on his trail.

My thoughts..

Colter Shaw earns his living as a 'reward-seeker',  travelling around the US responding to those people who are so desperate to find their loved ones that they offer a substantial reward. A born tracker, Shaw enjoys using his considerable wits in order to find the impossible, and so, when he is summoned to Silicon Valley to find a missing student, he quickly realises that he has taken on a very complicated investigation. Shaw's personal sense of commitment demonstrates his steely determination to succeed where the local Joint Major Crime Task Force have failed.

The Never Game is the first of a new crime fiction series featuring Colter Shaw and as with any new series there is a certain amount of getting to know the lead character, so interspersed alongside the investigation are snippets of information about Shaw's background, and his childhood spent with his family in a remote area of California. Understanding his rather unconventional upbringing goes a long way to discovering just what makes this enigmatic character behave in the way that he does.

The story moves along at a cracking pace, from the mistrustful offices of the JMCTF, to the intricate politics of the video gaming world, Shaw tries his best to keep one step ahead of a perpetrator who seems intent on leaving as few clues as possible. Shaw's absolute meticulous attention to even the smallest of detail is one of the absolute strengths of the story, and the way he deals with the many twists and turns in the investigation, adds to the overall suspense of this fascinating crime thriller.

I know absolutely nothing about the video gaming industry, in fact, I'm not remotely familiar with a gaming console, or the lure of video gaming, but that really didn't matter as the gist of the story is soon picked up and very quickly becomes an absolutely compelling read.

Fans of this talented writer will be delighted with the way this new series has taken off and for new readers starting with The Never Game is a really good place to start to discover this talented author's writing.

Author photo Gunner Publications LLC

Widely recognised as one of the world’s greatest thriller writers, Jeffery Deaver has written over thirty bestselling novels including his first book The Bone Collector, which was made into a major motion film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

His new novel The Never Game is the first in an exciting new series starring enigmatic investigator Coltar Shaw. Combining high-quality writing with an action packed plot filled with twists and turns...

Twitter @JefferyDeaver #TheNeverGame


Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Review ~ Hard Pushed : A Midwife's Story by Leah Hazard

2 May 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my ecopy of this book

No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers… Welcome to the life of a midwife. 

Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.

My thoughts..

Having been a student midwife some thirty-plonk years ago I was fascinated to see if modern midwifery had moved on from my own time when midwives were overworked, underpaid and undervalued, and I am chastened to learn that in the intervening years since I took my first terrifying steps into the mysterious world of obstetrics, it would seem, however, that nothing much has really changed. Midwives still go without sleep, manage without a decent meal break, or a restorative cup of hot tea, in order to give the best possible service to a specialty which has always seemed to be the forgotten part of the health service.

I was immensely privileged to train as a student midwife and very proud of helping into the world brand new human beings, and I found that the same sense of pride and absolute commitment to duty comes across in Hard Pushed. The author has such a wonderful self-deprecating style, and absolutely tells it like it is, from the frustration and sheer slog of hard work, to the absolute joy, and yes, sometimes overwhelming heart break, but throughout the book all aspects of life are shown to be there, quite literally, warts and all.

I flew through this very readable book in the space of an afternoon, enjoying a well written memoir which put everything about what's happening in today's modern midwifery service into context. The descriptions are absolutely spot on, from the sick making terror of attending a complicated childbirth, to the absolute overwhelming pride in having an amazing skill which is so very precious and yet, so often undervalued.

There are several specific accounts of individual patients which the author encountered, and these are handled sensitively and compassionately and yet, they remind us so vividly of just what midwives are dealing with on an hour by hour, minute by minute basis. The author does use specific midwifery terminology and so, for those not familiar with obstetric jargon, these are explained at the end of the book.

Hard Pushed takes a look at our modern day maternity services by a midwife who has worked at the business end and who brings this specialty to life in a very passionate and thought-provoking way.

About the Author

Leah Hazard grew up in the United States and graduated from Harvard University before moving to the United Kingdom to pursue a career in journalism and the arts. The birth of her first child promoted her to change direction; she is now a midwife and continues to promote positive change in the maternity services

Twitter @hazard_leah #HardPushed


Monday, 13 May 2019

Blog Tour and Giveaway ~ A Long Shadow by Caroline Kington

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's stop on A Long Shadow Blog Tour

Lightening Books

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

When farmer Dan Maddicott is found shot dead in one of his fields, he leaves behind a young family and a farm deep in debt. Although the coroner records accidental death, village rumours suggest he has taken his own life so that the insurance payout can save his family from ruin. 

Dan’s wife, Kate, refuses to believe the gossip and is determined to prove to herself, and her children, that his death was an accident. But could it have been murder? Kate discovers a set of old diaries containing secrets that may reveal how Dan really died. 

Set against the backdrop of the farming crisis of the turn of the millennium, Caroline Kington’s absorbing family drama also tells the secret history of another resident of the farm, decades before, whose tragic tale will come to have major repercussions in the present day.

My thoughts..

Widowhood does not come easily for Kate Madicott as she is not convinced that her young husband's death was entirely an accident. Taking over the running of the family farm with all that entails gives Kate a glimpse into what has happened before, and with her present very much bound up with secrets of the past, Kate finds, to her cost, that there is so much more to Dan's death that she could ever have imagined.

I've really enjoyed this complex family drama and I soon became engrossed in the story of Watersmeet Farm and its place in the local community. The realistic characters add an authentic feel and the long shadow which is cast throughout the whole of the story is nicely explained and gives the story an edginess  and a real sense of mystery.

The huge farming dilemmas of the early part of the millennium is particularly well done and explains both the emotional and psychological effects of rural tragedy on the farming community and of the genuine terror of financial ruin and losing livelihoods which had been in families for generations.

A Long Shadow is a beautifully written family saga by a talented author who really knows how to keep the reader engrossed. The story draws you in from the beginning, with characters who soon become as familiar as friends, and who, you hope, will find the answers to the dark mystery which threatens to engulf them all. 

About the Author

Caroline Kington spent most of her working life in theatre and television, as a director, producer and founder of the fringe theatre company Antidote Theatre. 

Since the death of her husband Miles Kington, the columnist and broadcaster, she has posthumously published three of his books: a humorous memoir of his illness, called How Shall I Tell the Dog?; a collection of his columns and other writings, The Best By Miles; and a collection of his celebrated ‘Franglais’ columns that had not appeared in book form before, Le Bumper Book of Franglais. 

In her own right, she is the author of the Summerstoke trilogy of rural comedies. She insists that no character in the series is based on anybody from the small village near Bath where she has lived for many years. Nobody believes her. 

Her novel A Long Shadow had its origins in a feature she made for Channel 4 News at the turn of this century about the pressures on farmers as a result of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease.

Twitter @carolinekington


Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 50% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOURSHAD


Giveaway to Win 5 x PB copies of A Long Shadow (UK Only) 

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Review ~ The Swap by Fiona Mitchell

The Swap
18 April 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Two women. Two children. But whose is whose?

When two strangers, Tess and Annie, undergo IVF at an American clinic, their embryos are mixed up and each woman gives birth to the wrong child.

The women only discover the devastating error three years later. Tess wants to swap the children back; Annie doesn't. As the pair wrangle, neither of them expect what unfolds.

My thoughts..

Every parent's worst nightmare is the basis for this complex family drama which looks at what happens when two women are given the wrong fertilised egg during an IVF procedure.

The heart break and soul searching of such a complex issue is dealt with in a very readable way and I found that I had immense sympathy for both families, and especially of the psychological effects of the swap, on both Tess and Annie, the two mothers who only want what's best for their child - but, the question is, of course, whose child is whose, and therein lies the dilemma.

As a parent I can't begin to imagine the absolute terror that such a mistake would have on a family but the author very quickly gets into the emotional heart of the story and even though both families are very different in terms of nationality, one UK based, the other in Florida US, and with different financial security, one richer, one poorer, there is still that raw sense of disbelief when they realise that their children are not their children, Willow and Freddie, now three years old, are not who they thought they were.

The Swap is, by any stretch of the imagination, a really emotional story. It tugs away at your heartstrings, and I found myself contemplating over and over what would I have done in the same situation, and the truthful answer is I really don't know, and that's where the strength of this novel lies, in that it perfectly describes the doubts, the fears and the absolute scary moments of an ultimate nightmare and also reiterates the vulnerability and the sometimes awful unpredictability of trusting science over nature.

Fiona Mitchell is an award-winning writer and has worked as a journalist for many years. She spent almost three years living in Singapore and now lives in London with her husband and daughter.

Twitter@FionaMoMitchell #TheSwap


Saturday, 11 May 2019

Hist Fic Saturday ~ We Are Feminist ...

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's look at ...An Infographic History of the Women's Rights Movement

Illustrated: Rebecca Strickson

Foreword : Helen Pankhurst

Modern Books
28 March 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Alison Menzies PR for my copy of this book

Full of facts and figures, snappy quotes, events, infographics, statistics and key dates, We Are Feminist is a visual timeline celebrating 150 years of achievements of feminism..

My thoughts..

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those brave pioneers who campaigned so diligently, and often at great personal cost, so that woman would have the right to be considered equal to men. 

Beautifully illustrated, and with a foreword by Helen Pankhurst, the great grand-daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, there are a myriad snippets of information in We are Feminist, which enlighten, and which look at the role of women in an ever changing world. It is filled to bursting with lots of fascinating facts we never knew we needed to know, from the rise of feminism, in the pioneering first-wave of the movement in the 1840s, when the French term féminisme was adopted, through to the 2017 Women's March which was attended by 20 million protesters in more that 20 countries across the world.

Presented in a very visual style both the infographics and inspirational quotes certainly help to get the feminist message across in a readable and informative way.


I have found so much to enjoy in this little book - I was extremely impressed with the amount of information that it contained, and have enjoyed reading through, discovering things I never knew, and finding huge inspiration in the quotes from prominent women, both past and present. I particularly liked the way that the book shines a light on what can be achieved when we stand together.

"I raise up my voice - not so I can shout, but that those without a voice can be heard"

Malala Yousafzai

Twitter @modernbooks


Friday, 10 May 2019

Blog Tour ~ Mr Todd's Reckoning by Iain Maitland

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Mr Todd's Reckoning 

25 April 2019

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

Norman Bates is alive and well… He's living just next door

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath.

The father Mr Todd is at his wits’ end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home... with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry.

The son Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where?

The unholy spirit in the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

My thoughts..

When I read this author's previous book, Sweet William, I was impressed with the way he, very quickly, gets right into the complicated personalities of the characters he brings to life and, right from the start of this story, both Malcolm Todd and his beleaguered, son, Adrian are really quite memorable. There's a creeping menace which underlines the very ordinariness of their lives but which also reiterates that old adage that we never really know what's going on behind the closed doors of seeming respectability. There's anger and frustration and a whole heap of anguish which is brought to life with subtle hints and a real glimpse into the dark depths of a very complex individual.

It’s really difficult to do this book justice without giving anything away so I’ll concentrate on the author’s unique style of writing which is spare to the point of starkness and yet, there is a wonderful analytical observation about people and of the way that we only ever see what we want to see, and that even the most unremarkable of people can harbour the wildest secrets.

Mr Todd's Reckoning is a really dark, almost claustrophobic story, with some genuinely creepy moments that had me reeling in disbelief, and which made me stop to consider that nothing in life is ever as it first appears.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning is a very clever psychological thriller which is quite different from anything I have ever read before but which is made all the more special for being so unique.

Twitter @iainmaitland #mrtoddsreckoning