Sunday, 20 January 2019

Review ~ ikigai & other Japanese words to live by by Mari Fujimoto and David Buchler

Modern Books
24 January 2019

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

This little book goes beyond the obvious - Ikigai and Wabi-Sabi - to provide concepts for all aspects of daily life. Perfect to dip in and out of, seven categories can be explored in any order and cover the benefits of courtesy, calm, gratitude and a reverence for the natural world. 

My thoughts...

There's something about this small but perfectly formed little book which really appeals to all the senses. Firstly, it's just the right size to hold comfortably and the beauty of its cover draws the eye, not just to consider the artistic effect of the negative space around the central image, but also to contemplate the classic beauty of the snow covered tree which helps to focus the attention on what's to come inside the book.

Harmony, Beauty, Nature, Mindfulness, Gratitude, Time, Respect

Divided into seven broad themes which can be explored in any order, each of the sections compliment each other in quite special ways. There is something profoundly beautiful to be found both in the words themselves and in the way in which they are presented, so that the idea of peace and tranquility is ever present.

After the boisterous activity of Christmas I found this book to be a real tonic. Each of the concepts struck a chord with me but I was especially drawn towards the Mindfulness section and the way in which each thought process is beautifully demonstrated in both words and pictures.

I found it best to read this book quite slowly, as it's not something to be rushed, it's rather more about the idea of considering what you are reading thus allowing the themes, as you read them, to perform their own sense of literary magic. I have a few books which I keep in my arsenal of books to treasure and without doubt, ikigai & other Japanese words to live by is one of those hidden treasures which everyone should have on their special book shelves.

Ikigai is warm and gentle, thought provoking and enlightening and a real oasis of calm in a sometimes deeply troubled world.

About the Authors

Enlightening definitions are provided by Mari Fujimoto, Director of Japanese Studies at Queens College, New York while Tokyo resident and Japanophile, David Buchler complements these with meditations on important themes in Japanese culture. The book also features traditional Haiku & imagery by internationally acclaimed landscape photographer, Michael Kenna. 

Twitter @modernbooks

Amazon UK

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Hist Fic Saturday~ The Magick of Master Lilly by Tobsha Learner

On Hist Fic saturday

Let's go back to ...1641

1 November 2018

In 1641, the country of England stands divided. London has become a wasps' nest of spies, and under the eyes of the Roundheads those who practice magic are routinely sent to hang.

Living in exile in the Surrey countryside is the Master Astrologer and learned magician William Lilly. Since rumours of occult practice lost him the favour of Parliament, he has not returned to the city. But his talents are well-known, and soon he is called up to London once more, to read the fate of His Majesty the King.

My thoughts about it..

There's an awful lot going on in this novel which looks not only at the way superstition and astrology was used to try to make sense of a world that was becoming increasingly dangerous, but it also covers the interesting and complex time which we associate with the English Civil War.

William Lilly is both a magician and astrologer who gets caught up in the momentous events of this time and who, it would seem, is able to accurately predict some aspects of future events, however, to do so in such a difficult time was not only dangerous but in some situations perhaps even a little foolhardy.

Whilst it took me a while to get into this story, and I'm still not altogether sure, even by the end of the story, that I really liked Master Lilly, and yet, there is no doubt that he was a fascinating character and the fact that he actually existed makes the story all the more interesting. Once I became more used to the author's distinct style of writing I found the novel to be an enjoyable and thought-provoking read and it was certainly interesting to have an altogether different interpretation of this, rather complicated, period in English history. 

The author writes well and it is obvious from the historical content within the story that a great deal of research has been done about the life of Master Lilly. All the sights, sounds and sensations of the seventeenth century come realistically to life which help to create a memorable atmosphere and some truly unforgettable characters.

Tobsha Learner was born and raised in England; she now divides her time between Australia, the UK and the USA. She is well known in Australia as an author and playwright.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Book Feature ~ The Darkest Hour Anthology, WWII Tales of Resistance

22 January

WW2. When the world falls to terror and tyranny reigns… far would you go to resist?

Would you risk your own life or the lives of the ones you love?

From a young Jewish woman in love fighting her way out of the Warsaw ghetto, to a Czech assassin rising above his fears for an attempt on a Nazi Hangman’s life, to a daughter who vows to avenge her family by taking down a Japanese commander, and a French boy's touching act of defiance no matter how small.

Come and get a glimpse of the invisible side of WWII - the Resistance, those who refuse to bow down to brutality.

Hold your breath and hope for the best in the darkest of times, when our heroes and heroines risk all to defy evil so the light of freedom will shine over their countries again.

The Darkest Hour Anthology, WWII Tales of Resistance includes ten never before published novellas by ten of today’s bestselling WWII historical fiction authors.

Bubbe’s Nightingale by Roberta Kagan
Catriona’s War by Jean Grainger
Reluctant Informer by Marion Kummerow
Killing the Hangman by Ellie Midwood
The Moon Chaser by Alexa Kang
Enemy at the Gate by Mary D. Brooks
The Occupation by Deborah Swift
Code Name Camille by Kathryn Gauci
Sound of Resistance by Ryan Armstrong

All proceeds will be donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

 in Washington DC 

My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this novella

I was approached by John R. McKay the author of one of the novellas which can be found in this anthology.

V for Victory tells the story of thirteen year old Charles Mercier who has a fierce determination to see his beloved Paris free of Nazi oppression.

There's a tendency to suppose that all resistance fighters during WW2 were adults but this novella shows that young people, who we would consider still to be children, had just as much passionate zeal when it came to fighting for what they believed to be right. Thirteen year old Charles Mercier is moved to dramatic action when one of his schoolteachers draws a V for Victory sign on the blackboard and so with a fierce determination Charles sets out to do his bit for the war effort.

For a novella, V for Victory packs a powerful punch both in terms of creating the scene, which it does very well, I especially enjoyed the vivid description of the German army's triumphant march along the Champs Élysées, and also in terms of story content which is filled with a real sense of both history and adventure. It's quite poignant in places which goes to show just how scary it must have been to live during this dark time in world history and how brave Charles was as he tried to put right some of the wrongdoings.

V for Victory is just one of the ten stories on offer in this anthology and from reading the descriptions of each of the individual stories I am sure that they all do justice to the subject of the resistance during WW2.

The anthology will be published on the 22nd January 2019 and is donating all proceeds to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. The collection will be available in this  for just a few months. It is available to pre-order now from Amazon UK

Twitter #darkesthouranthology

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Review ~ The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

24 January

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

A moving, funny, heartwarming tale of love and friendship, for anyone who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Keeper of Lost Things and Three Things about Elsie.

It's never too late to grow old disgracefully ...

Peggy Smart is a 79 year old pensioner who lives in the idyllically named Jacaranda Retirement Village, however, her life is anything but perfect, plagued by stubborn illness and frequent bouts of indecision, Peggy feels that her life is becoming as beige as her decor. And then, quite by chance her old school friend, Angie Valentine re-enters her life and soon Peggy's time at the retirement village is anything but dull. With a new lease of life, Peggy embraces everything about improving her life, and outlook, especially when it means she comes into contact with, Brian, a rather handsome widower.

This is a really lovely story about the way 'old age' very often becomes a weight around one's neck and, as this story so rightly proves you are never too old to have fun, make new friendships, or dare I say it, start new romances. The inhabitants of the Jacaranda Retirement Village are a really lovely lot, they made me laugh out loud in places, especially Peggy who has a charming way with words and is so reminiscent of lots of older ladies I looked after during my nursing career. She really could be anyone's neighbour, mother, granny or elderly aunt.

The author has captured the mood perfectly and the sunshine setting of Sydney really helps to create a lovely sense of atmosphere, so much so, I was really sorry to say good bye to Peggy and her pals but they left me with a lovely warm glow and also quite in tune with Peggy's philosophy, which is:

 " If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one "

Joanna Nell

Joanna is a multi award winning short story writer. She writes character driven stories of self discovery for women of a certain age by creating young a heart characters who are not afraid to break the rules and defy society's expectations. She lives in Sydney, Australia, where she works as a GP with a passion for women's health and care of the elderly. She lives with her husband and two teenage children.

 Twitter @Jo_nell_writer #JacarandaLadies

@HodderFiction @HodderPublicity

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Review ~ A Thin Sheet of Glass by Pippa Beecheno

Endeavour Media
My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Based on a true story, using real letters and personal accounts, this is a tale of love and courage beyond reason and against the odds. Caught in the turbulence of the 1930s, with Fascism on the rise, Jane Deering finds herself drawn into the underground world of the German Resistance. From Berlin to Madrid, she witnesses brutality and carnage, delving into a darkness that exposes her deepest insecurities. 

My thoughts about it..

In A Thin Sheet of Glass we follow the life story of Jane Deering, who is the author's great-aunt. Jane is a complex and deeply troubled woman, who we meet at various times in her life, from a childhood which is filled with insecurities, to an adulthood which is just as fraught, with all the added complications of wartime and its associated problems. 

It took me a little while to feel comfortable with the story and this is no criticism of the writing, which is very good, but it was more the way in which the story moved along through time as we start the story in 1940, when Jane is 26, but then jump back in time to 1914, and to something which happened before Jane was born. However, once I got used to the author style of writing, I found Jane's story to be quite compelling. Her struggle with mental health issues, and the way in which she was nurtured by her family and then finally, her treatment in hospital was profoundly moving, and it is all credit to the author that the emotional impact of this is so powerful.

A Thin Sheet of Glass is a difficult book to 'enjoy' as Jane's struggle with some very profound mental health issues makes for emotional reading and yet, at the same time, there is so much positivity to acknowledge in the book, and, in a thought provoking way, it really shows the love and care which Jane had from her family and friends.

There must be a tremendous amount of responsibility on the part of an author when undertaking a piece of fiction which is based on fact, particularly, when that factual evidence is based on the life of a member of your own family, I would then imagine that the weight of responsibility, and expectation, is even higher. All credit to the author for bringing her great-aunt Jane's life into the open with a story which more than does justice to her  memory.

Pippa Beecheno started her debut novel, 'A Thin Sheet of Glass', when her first-born was 18 months old, working during his naps. After re-drafting the novel a few times with the support of trusted friends and family members, she found a fantastic agent, Laura Macdougall, United Agents, and began the path towards publication. 

Twitter @PippaBeecheno

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Review ~ That Deplorable Boy by Jasper Barry

(Miremont Trilogy #2)

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book
The long-awaited follow-up to The Second Footman. 
A modern take on the nineteenth-century novel, set in 1880s’ France and full of period detail and atmosphere. 

No matter how deplorable Max Fabien appears there is something about this deliciously handsome boy which intrigues and captivates, and perhaps, dare I say it, enthrals even more in this second volume of the trilogy which began with The Second Footman.

In That Deplorable Boy we catch up with the Marquis de Miremont and his young lover when they are some years into their clandestine relationship. Miremont is as besotted as ever with his young protégé and yet, there are signs that perhaps Max has had his head, and affections, turned by other more interesting sexual conquests. Overwhelmed with jealousy, Miremont must not only cope with his feelings of rage towards the perfidity of his young lover, but must also contend with the dreaded arrival of his estranged wife and the interference of his elder daughter as Miremont prepares to launch his younger daughter into the maelstrom which masquerades as the crème de la crème of Parisian high society. 

The author writes so beautifully that, with the utmost charm, the glory of Belle Époque Paris comes gloriously to life, from the boudoirs and grand salons of the great and the not so good, the story never falters, and there is never a moment when you don’t believe, with absolute conviction, that you are walking along the same streets and boulevards as Max Fabien, tiptoeing in his shadow as he goes about his sometimes shady business. And what a fabulous character he is, this deplorable boy who charms you with a glance and then cuts you down like a knife through butter. 

The story is complex, filled with intricate detail of Max and Miremont’s life together and yet, at the same time, there is a real sense of historical authenticity in the way that the places, the people and the era blend together so seamlessly. There is no doubt that from the tip of its glorious cover, to the very last word, That Deplorable Boy is every bit as good as I knew it would be.

If you haven't caught up with this trilogy, then do start with The Second Footman and go back in time to the glorious Belle Époque and become acquainted with Max Fabien.


 About the Author

Jasper Barry graduated from Cambridge with a degree in English and has worked in advertising, then in journalism. Jasper lives in London with too many books and three obstreperous cats.

Twitter @JasperBarry2

Monday, 14 January 2019

Review ~ Love , War and Glory by Denis Olasehinde Akinmolasire


My thanks to Isabelle  for my copy of this book

Love, War, and Glory: three things which we all have seen, experienced or been a part of.

This book examines what these themes mean for everyday life through poetry and prose.

From dealing with heartbreak and finding your true love, to tales of warriors fighting never-ending battles, making dreams become a reality, overcoming the odds to finally reach your goal, to tales of supreme champions and the journey we all go through in life, you will find it in this book.

My thoughts about it..

The author uses his own feelings to share his thoughts about Love, War and Glory, three important concepts which have the ability to change the way we look at the modern world and the people who live in it. In this short collection of modern prose and poetry the author conveys his ideas about dealing with these concepts and writes with an interesting observational style.

I enjoyed dipping into and out of my copy of Love, War and Glory, as it is one of those compact editions which is easy to pick up at random and find something to read which is both interesting and thought provoking.  In the lull between one year and ending and another starting I found much to consider in this small volume and there were several passages which caught my attention particularly towards the end of the book, when this struck a chord with me " there will come  a day when we are not as fast as we once were....but that doesn't mean that's the end of you.." How true 😊

  About the Author

Twitter @lovewarandglory #lovewarandglory

Friday, 11 January 2019

Blog Tour ~ A River in the Trees by Jacqueline O'Mahony

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host one of today's stops on the  A River in the Trees Blog Tour

10 January 2019

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

Two women. Two stories. One hundred years of secrets. Everything I love about dual time stories is found in A River in the Trees which looks at two very different women whose stories overlap and interweave in a story of family secrets and hidden tragedy.

1919, and in West Cork, Hannah is living a bleak existence on the family farm. It's a life of hardship which is made all the more complicated by the family's involvement in the Irish War of Independence. Hiding a group of rebel fighters in the attic at the farmhouse puts Hannah and her family in grave danger from the notorious Black and Tans who will stop at nothing to apprehend the rebels and prevent insurrection. Hannah is attracted to O'Riada, the fanatical leader of the rebels, a connection which will have repercussions for  Hannah, and her family, for generations to come.

In 2019, Ellen is at a crossroads in her life. Unsatisfied by both her work and her relationship with her husband, Ellen returns to Ireland to discover more about her family history. What she finds when she starts to dig into the past is both poignant and shocking in equal measure.

Moving both forwards and backward quite seamlessly A River in the Trees is a beautifully written story about family secrets. It's about living in a time when families were divided not just by politics  but by the way the harsh realities of life influenced everything about their world and their place in it. Moving forwards a hundred years and Ellen's story shows her to be in a very different world but yet, the parallels still remain of troubled family dynamics and of relationships which are fractured beyond repair.

I started to read A River in the Trees at the start of this new year and by the time I was just a few pages into the story, I knew that this book, my first read of the year, was rather special. I turned the pages eagerly wanting to know more, not just about Ellen in the here and now but also about Hannah,  a true heroine, whose  desperately sad story will stay with me for a long, long time.

A River in the Trees already heads my ' Reads of the Year  in 2019 ' list.

Jacqueline O'Mahony is from, Cork, Ireland. She did her BA in Ireland, her MA at the University of Bologna, and her PhD in History as a Fulbright Scholar at Duke University, and at Boston College. She has worked as a writer, editor and stylist at Tatler, Vogue and the Irish Independent. 
She lives in Notting Hill with her husband and three young children.

Twitter @jacomahony #ARiverInTheTrees

@QuercusBooks @riverrunbooks

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Review ~ Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

Black Swan
28 December 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

During the eventful years of the suffragette movement, Matilda Simpkin was a fully fledged member of the organisation and has medals to prove it, but in the 1920s Matilda now finds that her life is uneventful. When she discovers something from her past it spurs her into action as she recognises that despite all the suffragette's hard work and the sacrifices they made, things remain largely unchanged, and girls are growing up without ambition. Matilda forms a girls club which she appropriately names the Amazons and sets to work instilling strong values into this group of young women.

It's interesting to see Matilda's character emerge as there are still glimpses of what she was like as a younger woman, idealistic, purposeful and driven by a strong sense of belief in the rights for women. The momentous time she spent as a militant suffragette has, without doubt, shaped her personality and the terrible losses she suffered have made her into the strong character who comes to life so forcibly in this novel. I think in Old Baggage we get to know and understand her so well, her character literally leaps off the page and comes to glorious life.

The eponymous old baggage of the story intrigued me as I wasn't quite sure what this referred to and yet, by the end of the novel I could well see how the term could be interpreted in several ways and was a clever play on Matilda's life and the complications she would always carry with her.

I found much to enjoy in reading this story, it's a charmingly eccentric and old fashioned glimpse into a forgotten world but with a powerful reminder of just what the women of the suffragette movement achieved against all the odds.

About the Author

Lissa Evans

Lissa's previous novel, Their Finest Hour and a Half was long listed for the Orange Prize and made into a 2017 britflick sensation Their Finest starring Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy. Her last novel, Crooked Heart was longlisted for the Bailey's Prize for Fiction . She lives in London.

Twitter @LissaKEvans #OldBaggage

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Review ~ Blood Queen by Joanna Courtney


My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Cold. Ruthless. Deadly. The myth of Lady Macbeth looms large. But behind the villainous portrait stands a real woman. This is her story . . .

My knowledge of medieval Scottish history is sketchy at best, as most of my understanding of this dark time comes from reading Shakespeare's tragedy. So, to be fair, my image of Lady Macbeth is that of Shakespeare's manipulative harpy, the deranged woman who was hell-bent on seizing power, urging her husband, Macbeth, to commit regicide.

In Blood Queen, an altogether, more realistic Lady Macbeth comes to life, cleverly merging fiction with what factual evidence is known about her and the times in which she lived. Interweaving the lives of Macbeth's Queen and Duncan's Queen, is inspired, as it gives a fascinating portrayal of two medieval women, whose lives were shaped, and destinies controlled, by the marriages they were forced to make. Both women are very different and yet, the connection between them is powerful, as is their unyielding love for their men who would be King.

In order for the story to feel authentic it cannot shy away from the inherent danger of living in a time when callous disregard for life was almost commonplace and so, there is a certain amount of violence in the story, after all Blood Queen is about a dangerous time, and of the paths chosen by ruthless men and ambition women. However, the author uses this sense of danger to heighten the tension and succeeds in allowing the characters to emerge with unique personalities, whilst at the same time creating a strong sense of their place in history.

The author writes well and uses her considerable skill as a historical fiction writer to bring time and place alive and it's obvious from reading the story that a huge amount of research has been done to make the story feel authentic. I found the family tree at the beginning and the author's notes at the end really useful and they helped to increase my understanding of what happened when, to whom and why.

Blood Queen is book one in a new series of books which will focus on the imagined lives of Shakespeare's most infamous queens, I'm already looking forward to seeing which queen is next on the list...

My reading table

Twitter @joannacourtney1 #BloodQueen


Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Review ~ The G I Bride by Eileen Ramsay


My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

When trainee nurse April suffers a personal tragedy during the London Blitz she decides to move to Cornwall where she hopes to find out more about her mother's family. Taken in by the kind hearted landlady, Mrs Teague, April starts to put her life back together again. Continuing her nurse training at the hospital in Truro and making new friends helps April to come to terms with all the losses in her life. Romance starts to blossom when April meets a dashing American GI, but she finds out, to her cost that the course of true love, particularly in wartime never runs smoothly.

I really enjoyed this WW2 romantic saga which has just the right amount of tragedy interspersed with some lovely romantic interludes. The characterisation is charming, particularly Mrs Teague, whose motherly care of April is truly heart warming. The excitement comes from the interaction between April and her nursing friends and the GI soldiers who are stationed in this small Cornish town.

The author writes this genre really well and whilst there are no real surprises to be had throughout the story, overall it's an entertaining and  heartwarming historical saga.

Eileen Ramsay was grew up in Dumfriesshire. After graduation she went to Washington DC, where she taught in private schools for some years, before moving to California with her Scottish husband. There, she raised two sons, finished her Masters Degree, fell in love with Mexico, and published her first short stories and a Regency novel. The family returned to Scotland where Eileen continued to teach and write and to serve - at different times - on the committees of The Society of Authors in Scotland, The Scottish Association of Writers and The Romantic Novelists Association. In 2004, her novel SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year award. Eileen is currently Chair of the Romantic Novelists' Association.

Twitter @BonnierZaffre

Monday, 7 January 2019

Review ~ Ten Poems about Walking from Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press
January 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this pamphlet

Poems that celebrate the joys of being on foot

There seems to be a natural connection between walking and poetry. For Wordsworth, the regular rhythm of walking was a stimulus to writing, and he said that “nine-tenths of my verses have been poured out in the open air."

This beautiful mini-anthology edited by keen walker and award-winning poet and translator Sasha Dugdale contains Wordsworth’s heart-stopping ‘Old Man Travelling’ alongside contemporary poems that capture the delights of a walk with a dear friend or of walking in solitude. There’s a poem about setting off through city streets to find a river and a heron, and another featuring a surprising encounter on the top of Helvellyn.

One by one then as a whole, these poems remind us that being on foot will always be one of the best ways of experiencing the world.

Poems by Matt Clegg, David Constantine, Sasha Dugdale, Choman Hardi, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Stephanie Norgate, MR Peacocke, Stephen Watts, William Wordsworth and Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch.

Cover illustration by Hugh Ribbans.

My thoughts about it..

There's something really comforting about putting on a pair of walking boots and taking to the walkways of our glorious countryside. The natural rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other and the absolute joy of simply being in the moment is one of life's pleasures. And after the excess of Christmas and New Year January is the perfect time for going out walking...

Photo: Jo Barton

This collection of ten stunning poems conjure the emotion of walking, either on a solitary walk or with companions, and whilst the beauty of the surroundings and the emotional connection to nature cannot be underestimated, what is also important to remember is the poignant reminder that walking is also, for some, a means of escape...

From Escape Journey by Choman Hardi

" They force you to crawl these mountains.
even if you are only 14.
Who made the first journey over them?
Whose feet created this track?"

As always, with these fascinating poetry collections, there are poems to make you smile and Climbing Helvellyn by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch certainly did just that :

" At the summit ten women on a chequered rug
staring at how far they'd travelled, had just begun
to pass round the cling filmed sandwiches as if they were 
transparent presents and point little silver flasks 
like wands at mountains still to climb"

And the poignant beauty of walk in a wood after a long loneliness by Stephaine Norgate will stay with me for  along time...

" you go into a wood, you find a place
where your father carved his childhood
there is the grain and the bole
the bark and the pen-knife's mark..."

Ten Poems about Walking is a diverse mixture - from the classic beauty of William Wordsworth's Old Man Travelling, to the decidedly more modern The Fall of Rebel Angels by Sasha Dugdale there is, quite simply, something for everyone to enjoy.

About the Publisher 

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, Sheep, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Connect: / @PoetryCandle

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Review ~ Beauty and the Brooding Lord by Sarah Mallory

Harlequin Historical
Saved from Disgrace - Book #2

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Serena Russington didn't make the wisest choice when she agreed to an assignation with a young man whose intentions weren't particularly honourable. Rescued from a situation that had every intention of turning nasty, Serena is fortunately saved from complete ruin by the taciturn Rufus Quinn, but with her reputation in disarray, Serena is faced with the option of either a life of permanent disgrace, shunned by respectable society, or agreeing to a marriage of convenience with the brooding Lord Quinn. Choosing the latter option makes for interesting reading and whilst Serena and Quinn's partnership is unashamedly romantic, only time will tell if they can make their complicated relationship work. Serena has been psychologically damaged by her ordeal at the hands of the unscrupulous rake but patience and understanding are Quinn's gifts to Serena and as the story progresses we get to understand just what makes this complicated man into such an all round good guy.

The vagaries of Regency society with all of its petty prejudices and social complications comes gloriously to life and once again this author has given us a story which is alive with romance and smouldering with brooding passion. The author does this genre very well and the lovely light and easy touch to the narrative makes this such a delightful story to read. I was enchanted by Serena and more than a little enamoured of Rufus Quinn who is a delightful leading man. I become so immersed in the story that I am sorry when it all comes to an end. I find that I am, as always, eagerly looking ahead to the next one.

It's worth mentioning that there's a wonderful link to the previous book with a mention of Russ and Molly who were the main characters in  The Ton’s Most Notorious Rake.  But don't worry of you haven't read this one as it really doesn't matter as Beauty and the Brooding Lord stands comfortably alone in its ability to charm and entertain.

Sarah Mallory was born in the West Country and grew up with a love of books and history. She has had over 40 historical novels published and won the Rona Rose Award from the Romantic Novelists Association in 2012 and 2013.

Twitter @SarahMRomance

Facebook as Melinda Sarah Mallory Hammond 

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Hist Fic Saturday ~ As the Women Lay Dreaming by Donald S Murray

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back in time

Saraband Books
8 November 2018

My thanks to the publishers and Ruth Killick Publicity for my copy of this book

It's 1936 and Alasdair and Rachel are sent by their grieving father to the Outer Hebrides – to the remote and strange Isle of Lewis. The children move in to the blackhouse home of their grandfather and experience a traditional way of life that is a world away from the Glasgow of their earliest years. They soon discover that their kindly granddad is a man unlike others. He thinks differently, has a strong creative streak and still longs for his beautiful first wife, who died too young. And there is one event that shapes him more than any other – the sinking of the HMS Iolaire, which claimed the lives of some 200 people on the very last leg of their long journey home from war.

My thoughts about it..

On the 1st January 1919 HMY Iolaire was bringing servicemen back from active service in WW1. With families waiting at the harbour disaster struck when the yacht sank just yards from the edge of Stornaway harbour with the loss of 200 lives. This was a tragedy of epic proportions, as this isolated Outer Hebridean community had already been greatly affected by losses during the war, and the area, already struggling to cope, never fully recovered. For some, especially those who called these islands home, life would never be the same again.

In 1936, some twenty years after the disaster, and following a family tragedy children Alasdair and Rachel Cruickshank leave Glasgow and are sent to live, with their maternal grandfather Tormod Morrison, on the Isle of Lewis. Tormod's compassionate and understanding nature helps his grandchildren cope with their own sense of grief, and yet, as the book progresses, it becomes obvious that Tormod's own sense of loss runs deep and colours everything about his world. Parts of the book are especially poignant, particularly Tolmod's journal entries from 1918 and yet, there is also a real sense of understanding, not just about the Hebridean way of life, but also about the beauty of really knowing the landscape which shapes your soul.

The book is a sensitive and compassionate look at the effects of this devastating tragedy on a small community and how the scars of such a disaster never really heal. The beauty of the Outer Hebrides and the often bleak landscape act a perfect foil for what is rather a sad story but which is beautifully explained by an author who knows how to bring the history of this community alive.

The Iolaire centenary commemoration took place on the Isle of Lewis on the 1st January 2019.  #Iolaire100

Photo Credit : Sandie McIver

A son of the Hebrides, Donald S. Murray is a writer and poet whose work has been shortlisted for both the Saltire Literary Awards and the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. His critically acclaimed books bring to life the culture and nature of the Scottish islands, and he appears regularly on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland. The author now lives in Shetland.

Twitter @DonaldSMurray #asthewomenlaydreaming



Friday, 4 January 2019

Review ~ The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

20 November 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
Number One New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn returns to the world of the Bridgertons with the third novel in her latest series

My thoughts about it..

When Poppy Bridgerton is abducted by pirates, she does not expect to find herself held against her will on a ship heading for the high seas and bound for Lisbon. The dashing Captain Andrew James Rokesby, is equally horrified when he finds Poppy is holed up in his quarters and although the gradual realisation of who she is takes him by surprise, he cannot allow any sentiment to get in the way of his mission. That the enigmatic captain has his own secrets is obvious from the start and yet, his instant rapport with the intrepid Poppy fills the story with a delicious sense of  dangerous adventure and illicit passion.

The author does this type of Regency romance/adventure really well and those who have followed the Rokesby series from the beginning will find much to enjoy in this third book. There is a nice sense of continuity, with references to some of the characters we have met before in books one and two of the series and yet,  for readers who are new to this author's work, this continuation can be read easily as a stand-alone as the plot is very easy to follow and the reference to previous characters are well explained within the context of the story.

I read The Other Miss Bridgerton over the space a couple of afternoons. The story has a nice blend of historical adventure, passion and excitement, everything, in fact, that I have come to expect from this talented author’s writing.

by permission of the author

Julia Quinn started writing her first book one month after finishing college and has been tapping away at her keyboard ever since. She is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe colleges and lives with her family in Colorado.

Twitter @PiatkusBooks

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Review ~ The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning

Harper Collins

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

A hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, VANITY FAIR, featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp

Beautiful, brilliant, ruthless – nothing can stop Becky Sharp.

Here are my thoughts..

Over Christmas I’ve managed to catch up with the TV adaptation of Vanity Fair in which the intrepid Becky Sharp manipulates her way through Georgian society. With the same kind of flair, this fun re-imagining of the original sees Becky Sharp transformed into one of those minor celebrities who make their name by appearing on a popular reality show. Always with an eye on the main chance, Becky is as unscrupulous as ever in her search for wealth and power.

The author has captured the essence of Becky Sharp and has used this to her advantage so that those who are familiar with the way the original story unfolds will see similarities and yet, those readers who come new to Vanity Fair will discover something fresh, witty and decidedly modern. The similarities to the original are cleverly crafted, keeping similar themes but updating the overall effect for a more contemporary audience of readers.

I know that re-imagining an original classic can be controversial, and perhaps those purists who love Thackeray’s original will not be over-enamoured by this recreation, however, I thought that The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp was entertaining and that as a fun, light-hearted story, about a modern day Becky Sharp, it worked just fine.

About the Author

Sarra Manning is an author and journalist, Her novels include Unsticky, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, and her latest The House of Secrets.

Sarra has written both adult and YA novels and has contributed to the Guardian, ELLE, Grazia, Stylist, Fabulous, Stella, You Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and is currently the Literary Editor of Red Magazine. Sarra lives in London.

Twitter @sarramanning


Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Review ~ The Survivors by Kate Furnivall

Simon & Schuster
November 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book.

Germany, 1945. Klara Janowska and her daughter Alicja have walked for weeks to get to Graufeld Displaced Persons camp. In the cramped, dirty, dangerous conditions they, along with 3,200 others, are the lucky ones. They have survived and will do anything to find a way back home.

But when Klara recognises a man in the camp from her past, a deadly game of cat and mouse begins. He knows exactly what she did during the war to save her daughter. She knows his real identity. What will be the price of silence? And will either make it out of the camp alive?

My thoughts about it..

Klara Janowska has so many secrets, they threaten to overwhelm her and yet, throughout all the heartache of her life, her priority has always been her daughter, Alicja, whose well being is beyond anything that Klara would endure for her safety.

The Graufeld Displaced Persons camp is marginally better that what Klara has left behind in Germany, and with bitter memories of her treatment at the hands of men who used and abused her, Klara's psychological scars run deep. When Klara discovers that a man from her past is now a resident at the camp, she is determined to protect both herself and her daughter from him, regardless of the cost, to both her safety and sanity.  However, for Klara and Alicja to succeed in this dreadful post-WW2 world, they need to learn how to survive.

The author writes well and always gives such a realistic historical view of the world that she creates so beautifully.I raced through this book with my heart in my mouth, never quite knowing what was going to happen next to Klara and her daughter. Both the bleakness of the internment camp and the constant sense of danger comes across so well that it makes for difficult and emotional reading. I particularly enjoyed reading the hints at Klara's back story which made sense of her erratic behaviour, whilst at the same time it gave some fascinating historical background into this very dark period in world history.

The Survivors is an atmospheric and tension packed novel which shows the absolute strength of survival, and of the overwhelming power of a mother's love when the need to protect her child from danger is all consuming.

Kate Furnivall is the author of eleven novels, including the international bestsellers, The Russian Concubine, The Liberation and The Betrayal. She lives in Devon.

Twitter @KateFurnivall



Tuesday, 1 January 2019

📚 Happy New Year of Books 📚

There are already some exciting books waiting on my review shelf

 and I can't wait to share them on Jaffareadstoo in 2019

 📚 January 📚

The Binding - Bridget Collins ( 10 January, Harper Collins)

The Suspect - Fiona Barton ( 24 January, Random House UK)

Blood and Sugar -Laura Shepherd Robinson ( 24 January, Pan McMillan)

39964740   39699779  

  📚 February 2019  📚 

Th Familiars - Stacey Halls ( 7 February, Bonnier Zaffre )

The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides - (7 February, Orion)

The Man I Fell in Love With - Kate Field ( 7 February, Avon Books Uk)

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 📚 March 2019  📚 

The Lost letter from Morocco - Adrienne Chinn ( 7 March, Avon Books UK)

M for Mammy by Eleanor O'Reilly ( 21 March, Two Roads)

TheMissing Sister- Diana Jefferies ( 21 March, Penguin Books UK)


 📚  April  📚 

Wykenhurst - Michelle Paver (4 April, Head of Zeus)

The Confession of Frannie Langton Sara Collins ( 4 April,  Penguin Books UK)

No Way Out - Cara Hunter ( 18 April,  Penguin Books UK)


📚 May 2019📚 

Six Tudor Queens: Anna of Kleve - Alison Weir


Wishing you Happy Reading in 2019

📚 📚 📚 📚 📚 📚