Sunday, 30 June 2019

Review ~ Death by Dark Waters by Jo Allen

44300196
Aria
9 May 2019

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read her book

The first in the gripping, Lake District set, DCI Jude Satterthwaite series.

When a grass fire flares on a lakeside fell during a hot, dry summer, what looks like an accident turns out to be arson — and, when the body of a child is discovered in a burned out building, Jude and his team are faced with a murder inquiry. The child’s father is a businessman with many enemies and a deep-rooted mistrust of the police — but is the death of his son enough, or are must more innocents die to satisfy a killer’s thirst for revenge? And will Jude’s analytical mind and Ashleigh’s intuition combine to catch the killer before it’s too late?

What did I think about it..

The story starts with one of those menacing grass fires which can so easily get out of control except this one culminates in a suspected murder. The detectives, led by DCI Jude Satterthwaite, have few clues to go on in their quest to find out more about the tragically young victim, and that’s where the strength of the story lies as we get to watch the investigative team put together the pieces of the puzzle.

As this is the first book in a proposed series, the author uses the novel to flesh out the main characters, especially Satterthwaite, and as we start to get to know something of his rather troubled past, so we begin to understand a little more about this enigmatic, and rather, taciturn detective. The other characters who play their own individual roles, especially DS Ashleigh O’Halloran, a new recruit to the investigative team, add their own brand of light and shade.

I think that Death by Dark Waters is a good start to this new series, especially as the potential for further police procedural investigations is high.. The author writes well and keeps the momentum of the story alive, with good attention to detail, interesting characterisation, and a complex mystery to keep you guessing.

With its setting against the dramatic backdrop of the English Lake District Death by Dark Waters certainly gets the series off to a good start and I look forward to seeing where this series takes us to next.


Jo Allen is the author of six contemporary romance/romantic suspense novels published by a small independent publisher (Tirgearr) and a further three self-published romantic suspense novels. She is a member of the Crime Writers Association. I’m also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, for whom I am a reader for their New Writers’ Scheme.

Death by Dark Waters is out now in e-book or paperback and is published by Aria Fiction.


Twitter @JoAllenAuthor

@Aria_Fiction



Saturday, 29 June 2019

My Six in Six...



And here we are at the end of June already and half way through my reading year



So here are my 6 in 6... in no particular order

Six new authors to me:

Joanna Nell
Victoria Sellman
Anna Sayburn
Vivienne Shannon
Caroline Kington
Anna Smith


The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village



Six authors I have read before:


Julia Quinn
Amanda Brooke
Rosie Howard
Jill Marsh
Mel Sherratt
Liv Constantine



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Six books from authors I know will never let me down:


Maybe This Time - Jill Mansell
The Newcomer - Fern Britton
Bladesmith - Melinda Hammond
That Deplorable Boy - Jasper Barry
A Summer to Remember - Sue Moorcroft
The Strawberry Thief - Joanne Harris


A Summer to Remember


Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past:


Blood Queen -Joanna Courtney
The Cornish Lady - Nicola Pryce
The Conviction of Cora Burns - Carolyn Kirby
Anna of Kleves - Alison Weir
Belle of the Back Streets - Glenda Young
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock - Imogen Hermes Gowar


The Cornish Lady (Cornish Saga #4)


Six books that led me into a life of crime:


The Village of Lost Girls - Agustin Martinez
The Puppet Show - M W Craven
Blood Orange - Harriet Tyce
Apple of My Eye - Clare Allan
#Taken - Tony Parsons
The Last Widow - Karin Slaughter


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Six books that left a lasting impression on me:


A River in the Trees by Jacqueline O'Mahoney
The Familiars - Stacey Halls
The Forgotten Village - Lorna Cook
Wakenhyrst - Michelle Paver
Under the Rock - Benjamin Myers
Concert - Hannah Fielding


The Familiars



Happy Reading



Thanks to  Jo at the Book Jotter for this idea


Friday, 28 June 2019

Review ~ The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan



✲ I'm really excited to share my review of this compelling thriller 


42080644
Century
27 June 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Seven-year-old Jocelyn loves her nanny more than her own mother.
When her nanny disappears one night, Jo never gets over the loss.
How could she vanish without saying goodbye?

Thirty years on, Jo is forced to return to her family home and confront her troubled relationship with her mother. When human remains are discovered in the grounds of the house, Jo begins to question everything.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks at the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again as, one by one, she discovers her childhood memories aren’t what they seemed.

What secrets was her nanny hiding – and what was she running away from? And can Jo trust what her mother tells her?

Sometimes the truth hurts so much you’d rather hear the lie.

What did I think about it..

Jocelyn has returned to the home of her childhood, a place where her fractured relationship with her mother dominates, and even though Jo is now an adult, the memories of the time when her beloved nanny disappeared are still very much at the forefront of her thoughts.  When a discovery of human remains is made near to the family home, it opens up a whole bucket load of secrets which have been hidden for over thirty years.

Whilst weaving together some really deep family troubles the author does a great job of setting the scene and brings the rather uneasy life of the Holt family at Lake Hall to vibrant life.The underlying theme of creeping menace never really goes away, as all the way through the novel you never quite know who is telling the truth. Filled with an abundance of very clever twists and turns, The Nanny really kept my attention from start to finish. I was genuinely surprised by some of the twists which I never saw coming and that's all credit to this author's clever ability to keep you guessing.

The Nanny is a great summer read and one that will definitely keep your attention whether you're having a lazy afternoon in the garden, or whiling away long hours on a flight to somewhere hot and sunny.


About the Author

Gilly Macmillan is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar-nominated author of What She Knew(aka Burnt Paper Sky) The Perfect Girl, Odd Child Out and I Know You Know.

Gilly grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She studied history and worked at the Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery in London before starting a family.

Gilly has since worked as a photography teacher and she knows writes full time. She lives in Bristol with her family.


Twitter @GillyMacmillan #TheNanny





Thursday, 27 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou



I'm delighted to host the blog tour stop for this debut book


No Exit Press
20 June 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of the tour


Two sisters. One fire. A secret that won't burn out.

The Grayson sisters are trouble. Everyone in their small town knows it. But no-one can know of the secret that binds them together.

Hattie is the light. Penny is the darkness. Together, they have balance.

But one night the balance is toppled. A match is struck. A fire is started. A cruel husband is killed. The potential for a new life flickers in the fire's embers, but resentment, guilt, and jealousy suffocate like smoke.

Their lives have been engulfed in flames will they ever be able to put them out?

Steeped in intrigue and suspense, Sister of Mine is a powerhouse debut; a sharp, disquieting thriller written in stunning, elegant prose with a devastating twist. Fans of Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies and Shari Lapena's The Couple Next Door will be utterly absorbed by this compulsively readable novel.


What did I think about it..

Sister of Mine is a roller coaster of a read which starts with an dramatic opening chapter which sets the scene for a taut and rather dark psychological thriller. Penny and Hattie are as close as two sisters can be, they have grown up in a small Canadian town and share a close familial bond however, the secrets they keep, both from the townsfolk, and from each other, are always set to engulf them.

The author writes well, with particular attention to her characters which I found really interesting. It must be said that neither sister have many likable personality traits, in fact, one of them becomes quite unlikable as the story progresses, but all credit to the author for keeping me emotionally connected to both Hattie and Penny, even though they didn't always act in the way I expected.

A creeping menace shadows the story, and whilst it's a quick read, just about 250 or so pages,  and I'm not going to spoil it by revealing the plot, it's certainly not short on either content or on the power of its dramatic domestic noir story line. I was hooked from the start and I devoured the story in one sitting as I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next in the complicated lives of these two enigmatic siblings.

Sister of Mine is a really exciting debut novel which looks at the complicated bond of sisterhood and of the lengths that some siblings will go to protect themselves ...and those they love.






Laurie Petrou has a PhD in Communication and Culture, and is an Associate Professor at Ryerson’s RTA School of Media in Toronto, where she is also the Director of the Masters of Media Production program. She has given several TEDx talks on subjects including gender and rejection. Laurie was the inaugural winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award in 2016, a prize that honours unpublished work featuring female protagonists, for her novel Sister of Mine. She now lives in a small town in Ontario wine country with her husband, a wine maker, and their two sons.



Twitter@lauriepetrou #SisterOfMine

@noexitpress

#RandomThingsTours




Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Summer Read ~ Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop



43884141
Headline
30 May 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
Those Who Are Loved is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Themis is part of a family bitterly divided by politics and, as a young woman, her fury with those who have collaborated with the Nazis, drives her to fight for the communists. She is eventually imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri, and has to make a life or death decision. She is proud of having fought, but for the rest of her life is haunted by some of her actions. Forty years after the end of the civil war, she finally achieves catharsis.

Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity of Greece’s traumatic past and weaves it into the dynamic tale of a woman who is both hero and villain, and her lifelong fight for justice.


My thoughts..

I'm always a little bit excited when I get the chance to read one of this author's fine stories and so I eagerly started Those Who Are Loved one sunny afternoon in the garden. From the start of the story I was transported to the Greek city of Athens and into the life story of Themis Stavridis, who on the occasion of her birthday in 2016, looks back over her eventful life when she was a young girl growing up in  a very troubled 1930s Greece. Themis and her family suffer great personal hardship as the political climate, particularity during the German occupation, and then later during the civil war unrest, wreaks havoc on the lives of ordinary people.

As always, the author gets right into the heart of the matter and there's such a sense of history that I became quite immersed in the story of Greek politics, something I'm ashamed to say that  knew very little about. I always associate this beautiful country with endless sunshine and happy summer holidays and yet during the tumultuous years of the 1930s and beyond, Greece was a very different country.

There's a wonderful theme of family which runs throughout, not just from those who are bound to us by blood but perhaps, in times of great adversity, it's more about those who become family simply because of the situation they find themselves in, and there is no doubt that Themis, who undergoes great personal hardship, comes to rely on the friends she makes in times of great danger. I won't spoil the story by explaining just how difficult her life becomes, but there were definitely several times I found that I was reading with a huge lump in my throat as I read of Themis' later ordeals whilst incarcerated on the islands of exile.

Such is the skill of the author that every novel she writes is filled with passion and a real love of bringing history alive. Those Who Are Loved, whilst a little bit heavy going in places, is definitely a  wonderful immersive story ,by a talented author, which is perfect for a long, lazy summer read.




About the Author




Victoria Hislop read English at Oxford, and worked in publishing, PR and as a journalist before becoming a novelist. She is married with two children.

Twitter @VicHislop #ThoseWhoAreLoved

@headlinepg






Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Review ~ M for Mammy by Eleanor O'Reilly



42597396
Two Roads
March 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
Meet the Augustts: a loving, Irish family who, like all families, are a bit complicated. But they are bound together by their love for each other and the way their words shape their world.

Things become even more complicated when the mother has a stroke, and the force of nature who is Granny Mae-Anne comes to try and take charge to keep the family together.

She has a job on. There's the son Jacob with all his words trapped in his head by The Autism, the father Mickey struggling to express himself at all, and Jenny, the daughter, quietly writing it all down to try and make sense of it.

My thoughts..

M for Mammy is quite a different sort of story which offers a powerful message about the bond of family and of the drama of holding everything together when it seems as if the world is falling apart.

The Augustts are a loving Irish family who have their share of family problems but they are somehow muddling, as best they can, through life. Told in a series of clear voices a story emerges of a family on the brink of  significant change especially since early on in the book, mum, Annette Augustt, suffers a debilitating illness and Granny Mae-Anne, the family matriarch, with a heart of gold, and penchant for apple crumble steps into the brink, keeping the family together in her own inimitable style.

M  for Mammy is an interesting story, parts of which I thought worked better than others as some of the narrative is a little bit over long in places, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of this lovely story. I thought the characterisation was excellent, especially little Jenny who I loved from the start, especially her written composition about A Good Day which opens the book,  her description of eating chips with her dad and little brother Jacob, fairly sizzled on the page. Jacob's autism is particularly well done and I heard his voice loud and clear, however, Granny Mae-Anne was, for me, the glue that kept the story together, and, believe me, every family needs a granny just like her!

M for Mammy is a good debut novel and I look forward to seeing what the author does next.


About the Author

Eleanor O’Reilly is a teacher of English and Classical Studies in Co. Wexford who has just completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Having first started writing five years ago, she has received several literary prizes, including the 2015 RTE Francis McManus Radio Short Story Award and the 2013 William Trevor International Short Story Award, and has been shortlisted for several others, including the 2016 Colm TΓ³ibΓ­n Literary Award.

She lives in a small town on the east coast of Ireland with her husband and daughter.

Twitter @eoreillyauthor

@TwoRoadsBooks




Sunday, 23 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain (Translated by Emily Boyce)


Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Vintage 1954


42255096
Gallic
20 June 2019

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

When Hubert Larnaudie invites some fellow residents of his Parisian apartment building to drink an exceptional bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, he has no idea of its special properties. The following morning, Hubert finds himself waking up in 1950s Paris, as do antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob from Milwaukee, who's on his first trip to Europe. 

After their initial shock, the city of Edith Piaf and An American in Paris begins to work its charm on them.

But, ultimately, they need to work out how to get back to 2017. And the key lies in a legendary story of the vineyards of Chȃteau Saint-Antoine..


My thoughts..

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could take a drink from a vintage bottle of wine and cross through time, back to the glorious era in which the grapes were harvested and bottled, and that's just what happens in this lovely story which takes us, thanks to a vintage bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, back in time to the Paris of the 1950s, and to all those lovely people who made this vibrant post-war city such a joyous place to live.

The story starts with a disappearance, and then whisks us forward into 2017 Paris to meet up with four eccentric neighbours who find themselves living at 18 Rue Edgar-Charellier. This disparate group of characters who, collectively have very little in common will, in the course of the story, have the adventure of a lifetime.

This is such a wonderfully quirky story that it is easy to just sit back and enjoy just how it all unfolds. To allow the author's clever writing to transport you back to a bygone time is such a joy, especially as we spend time in Paris when it was a less frenetic city. Back to a gentler time when there were tiny bistros tucked away and fruit sellers on street corners who had time to stop and chat. It was also a city where the great and the good loved to visit, so it's wonderful to have the fleeting opportunity to meet up with the likes of Salvador Dali, Audrey Hepburn, Hubert de Givenchy and Edith Piaf.

Vintage 1954 is a hidden gem and the most perfect summer read, especially if you are visiting Paris but it would work equally well sitting in the garden, preferably with a glass or two of Beaujolais close to hand 🍢


Antoine Laurain is a wine-lover, journalist, and antique collector. Born and bred in Paris, he is the author of bestselling novels The President’s Hat (a Waterstones Book Club pick) and The Red Notebook. His books have sold over 155,000 copies in English and Antoine’s work has been adapted for French TV, translated into 14 languages, and won the Prix Relay des Voyageurs amongst others.


Twitter @BelgraviaB  #Vintage1954

@ed_pr


Saturday, 22 June 2019

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Diary of Margery Blake by P J Roscoe


On Hist Fic Saturday


Let's go back to ...1853



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

The harshness of 19th century life for women as seen through the eyes of a young bride. Margery Blake is nothing but a pawn in family affairs, and her marriage is seen as a good match. Margery has no power, or control over her life and endures her husband's rights to her body in order to produce an heir. Margery soon realises 'husband' is merely another title for owner, beater, brute, bully and evil. She finds friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

My thoughts..

We have the romantic notion that living in the Victorian era was generally a time of pretty young ladies waiting eagerly for a man to take their hand in marriage and then lead them into a life of conjugal bliss.

In The Diary of Margery Blake we are introduced to the spirited Margery when we are given leave to read her highly descriptive diary entries, in which we are privy to her thoughts and fears as she embarks upon an arranged marriage. As the story progresses, and continuing in diary format, we get to know Margery’s intimate thoughts about her marriage to Captain John Harrison. And just what happens in this tumultuous marriage forms the basis of this interesting historical saga.

The author certainly brings this feisty young woman to life and I read the diary entries almost like a voyeur, learning about the struggles and fears and, it must be said, of the difficulties which Margery faces on a daily basis.

The difference between the sexes is very much at the forefront of this novel, especially in a time when women had relatively few rights and no say at all in where their lives would take them. Well written and with a strong and authentic voice The Diary of Margery Blake is one of those stories which paints a dramatic picture of a bygone time and which makes you glad to have been born in a more enlightened time when women have the opportunity to go wherever life leads them.



P J Roscoe is the the author of supernatural, historical novels for adults and faerie books that teach children morals. And is the 2017 Winner of the Marie M Irvine Literary Excellence Award for Historical fiction.



Twitter @derwenna1





Friday, 21 June 2019

Review ~ The Best of Crimes by K C Maher

Red Door
23 May 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Ben at Cameron PR for my copy of this book

An unconventional love story that will challenge your most entrenched ideas of right and wrong

Walter, a child prodigy who now works on Wall Street, considers himself a father figure to Amanda, his daughter’s best friend and the only child of a neglectful single mother. But when he loses his job and his wife leaves him, taking their daughter, his relationship with Amanda enters a precarious new stage.

Walter struggles to give her the affection and guidance she desperately needs, without succumbing to her budding sexuality. In the year before she enters high school, these two lonely souls will transform each other as Walter breaks out of his emotional shell and Amanda blossoms into adolescence.


My thoughts..

Unusually, the story opens with an ending, which then takes us back in time so that we get to learn much more about Walter Mitchell, and the way his life played out before we get to the dramatic scenario which opens this unusual love story. I use the term 'love story' rather than romance as I think this book crosses the boundaries and makes you question the difference.

Amanda is the best friend of Walter's thirteen year old daughter Olivia. The girls' are the same age but that's where the similarities end. Olivia has everything her heart desires and yet, she still wants more. Her friend Amanda, is far more vulnerable, as she has been forced, by the indifference of her selfish mother, to fend, very much, for herself.

Throughout the story I was reminded, of course, of Nabokov's Lolita, there's the same sense of experimentation, and the urge, not to shock, but to challenge the perception of what is considered appropriate behaviour. Pulled by an attraction that defies convention, Walter is increasingly drawn towards Amanda and not in an entirely paternalistic way. There is no doubt that even though Walter's intentions are honorable, his emotional connection to Amanda crosses the divide between what's appropriate and what's not acceptable between an adult man and a prepubescent girl.

The author writes well and whilst I didn't entirely enjoy all of the story I commend the author for tackling a difficult subject and for writing a thought provoking and unusual story about a complex relationship between two sad and lonely individuals.








K.C. Maher grew up outside of Chicago and has been writing fiction all her adult life. Her fiction and journalism has appeared in US and UK magazines online and off. Now that her children are grown, she writes more than she sleeps. The Best of Crimes is her first published novel. K.C. Maher lives in New York.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ A Cornish Summer by Catherine Alliott


Delighted to be hosting today's stop on A Cornish Summer Blog Tour


Penguin Random House
13 June 2019
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book 
and the invitation to take part in this blog tour


Flora’s been in love with her husband for twenty years. The only trouble is, he’s been married to someone else for the past fifteen. When she’s invited to spend the summer in the shady lanes and sandy coves of Cornwall, it should be perfect – except she’ll be staying with her former mother-in-law, Belinda.

And when she gets there, she discovers that she’s not the only one who’s been invited.

Can Flora spend the summer playing happy families with her oblivious ex-husband, the woman who stole his heart, and the mother-in-law who might have had a hand in it? As the weeks go by, she soon discovers that there may be even more at stake than she thought…


My thoughts..

When single mother Flora gets an invitation to spend the summer in Cornwall she is apprehensive about staying with her ex-in laws, however, the thought of beautiful beaches and a stay in an idyllic cottage helps to overcome her fears, that is, until certain unexpected guests alter Flora's peace of mind.

It's a bit slow to start, but once the story started to take off, I really enjoyed reading about this lovely Cornish summer. Flora's interaction with the other characters, particularly her ex-father in-law Roger, made me laugh, however, it is her fractured relationship with her domineering ex-mother-in-law, Belinda, where some of the real problems lie. There's such a lot going on in the story and whilst I can't say much without giving too much away there's a lovely authentic feel to the story and the author has infused all her characters, and there's quite a lot of them, with some quirky personality traits which makes them all such fun to get to know.

This is a complex family drama about all those angst ridden problems which seem to beset a modern family, we have, ex in-laws, second wives, mistresses, half siblings, old friends, new friends, lost love and new love and all with Flora firmly entrenched in the heart of all the action.

A Cornish Summer is a lovely warmhearted story and whilst its a bit of a slow burner, and overall it's quite a long story, I do think that this lends itself to being a good summer read and ideal for those lazy afternoons in the garden or on the beach.




Catherine Alliott is the author of fifteen bestselling novels including About Last Night, My Husband Next Door, A Rural Affair, One Day in May, The Secret Life of Evie Hamilton, and Wish You Were Here. She lives with her family in Hertfordshire.



Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Review ~ Ten Poems about Horses from Candlestick Press



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



Candlestick Press
19 June 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this poetry pamphlet
Poems that capture the beauty and magic of horses

The poems in this selection take us on an exhilarating canter through our friendships with horses. Along the way, we meet an edgy stallion waiting for his winter bale and a pony picking her way across paddocks after having her hooves trimmed:

“…she sidled through the silver air
pretending to shy at shadows
each hair of her coat
standing upright with joy.”

from ‘The Grey Pony’ by Dorothy Hewett

There are also encounters of a quieter kind – a moment lingering at a field gate as horses decide whether to come over and say hello. The poems beautifully illustrate that humans and equines are always equals. We can learn as much from them as they from us.

Alison Brackenbury is an award-winning poet who has kept and loved horses for most of her life.

Poems by Alison Brackenbury, Jane Commane, Tony Curtis, Sally Goldsmith, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Jen Hadfield, Dorothy Hewett, Geoffrey Holloway, Maxine Kumin and Robert Wrigley.

Cover illustration by Lizzie Ginbey and Barry Tottle.

Donation to Bransby Horses.

My thoughts...

Just a couple of weeks ago I watched a beautiful bay mare, with a glorious blonde mane, gambol and frisk in the sunshine. The horse was simply stunning, beautiful, so graceful, and filled with the simple joy of being alive, in perfect harmony with nature.

In this collection, Alison Brackenbury has made a clever selection of ten poems which bring to life this animal who has walked alongside us for so many centuries. With over a million horses in the UK trying to find ten poems which encapsulate this beloved friend must have been a mammoth task! But there are some real beauties:

Rebuke by Geoffrey Holloway

"...You stand etched in sunlight,
then slowly canter down;
wind ruffling the russet nap
of your coat, turning
your mane spiky..."

Last Horse by Alison Brackenbury

Once from long rides where hit hills rolled
to sun's glare, she would drift away.
Now, tail a flare, a melt of gold
she moved to me as at first day..."

Reading Ten Poems about Horses has made me smile and brought back happy memories when, as a teenager, I spent many Saturday's in a local stable, learning to how to ride and care for these wonderful animals.

As always, these beautifully presented poetry pamphlets make lovely gifts, and this one is absolutely perfect for those who love horses, however, with such a glorious selection to choose from, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.


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


Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter


Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Last Widow


Harper Collins
13 June 2019


Will Trent #9

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

It begins with an abduction. The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end…they find nothing. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air.

A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, medical examiner Sara Linton is at lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer’s day is broken by the wail of sirens.

Sara and Will are trained to help in an emergency. Their jobs – their vocations – mean that they run towards a crisis, not away from it. But on this one terrible day that instinct betrays them both. Within hours the situation has spiralled out of control; Sara is taken prisoner; Will is forced undercover. And the fallout will lead them into the Appalachian mountains, to the terrible truth about what really happened to Michelle, and to a remote compound where a radical group has murder in mind

My thoughts..

It's been such  a thrill to be be reacquainted with Will Trent and Sara Linton and as always, the story lives up to every one of my expectations. The Last Widow sees Will and Sara as close as ever as a couple, and yet, in this story, because of dramatic circumstances, they spend very little time together. However, such is the strength of their relationship, that you feel the extraordinary emotional pull of their connection even when they're apart.

The Last Widow bears all the trademarks of this author's exceptional writing talent with an opening which had me, quite literally, on the edge of my seat, and as the excitement builds there is never a moment when the story doesn't leave you reeling.  The plot is very topical and, it must be said, rather brutal both in terms of its characterisation and in the way that the author gives us a very plausible situation, highlighting, in a frighteningly realistic way, the toxic rise of hatred and prejudice.

It's perfectly possible to read The Last Widow as a standalone story as the author includes enough information about her main characters so you are able to invest in their situation but of course, this is such a fabulous series that it's better to have followed both Sara Linton's story in the Grant County series, and likewise, start at the beginning of the Will Trent series, and in that way you can apprentice the joy of watching the characters develop in confidence, and of the sheer excitement in experiencing their collective crime dramas.

I raced through The Last Widow over a couple of days simply because I couldn't put the story down without wanting to discover just how this tense, taut and fabulous thriller eventually played out.

I hope it won't be too long before we meet up again with Sara and Will, the ending certainly lends itself to another exciting continuation, hopefully in Will Trent #10 😊




Karin Slaughter is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe. her 19 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant Sunday Times bestselling novels, Pretty Girls, The Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her.


Twitter@SlaughterKarin #The Last Widow

@fictionpubteam






Monday, 17 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ A Random Act of Kindness by Sophie Jenkins



Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on  A Random Act of Kindness Blog Tour


43833200
Avon
13 June 2019

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

Fern is too busy making sure other people feel good about themselves to give much thought to her own happiness. But somehow, without her noticing, life has run away from her.

Suddenly, Fern realises her vintage clothes business is struggling, and the casual relationship she’d always thought she was happy in doesn’t look so appealing.

But sometimes, karma really does come through. And when Fern goes out of her way to help 85-year-old Dinah, little does she realise their new friendship will change her life.

Dinah may have troubles in her past, but she’s lived and loved to the full. Can Dinah show Fern that even the smallest acts of kindness can make the world a better place?

My thoughts..

Fern is struggling to get her vintage clothing enterprise up and running but that doesn't stop her from being one of those kindhearted people who are only too happy to help someone in distress. When Fern goes to the aid of Dinah, a feisty and determined octogenarian, she doesn't realise how both of their lives are going to be changed by this encounter.

What then follows is a lovely heartwarming story about the power of kindness and the simple beauty of letting other people into your life. The story is filled with some wonderful characters of mixed ages and backgrounds, who all bring such an array of emotion to the story that whenever any of them appeared on the page it brought a smile to my face. There are some genuinely funny episodes which had me laughing out loud and also some poignant moments which made me think about the connections we have we each other, whether from the complexity of a long term marriage, the pain of bereavement, or the break up of a relationship that wasn't going anywhere.

The author writes well and brings the story to life in a cheery sort of way. I particularly liked the headers for each chapter which highlight a piece of vintage clothing and which allowed me to see each item in a sumptuous way. The descriptions made me want to visit Fern's Camden Market stall to see her vintage clothing collection for myself.

A Random Act of Kindness is a lovely warmhearted story which leaves you smiling, making it an ideal summer read.



About the Author

Sophie Jenkins is a serial joiner of writing groups and workshops and a prolific short story writer. To encourage her creativity, she regularly enters half-marathons and trains by running from her home in North London to Fortnums for breakfast, with a notepad.


Twitter @SophieJenkinsUK #ARandomActofKindness


@AvonBooksUK





Saturday, 15 June 2019

#IndependentBookShopWeek 15-22 June 2019




15 February - 22nd  June 2019

Independent Bookshop Week (IBW), the annual celebration of independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland taking place from 15-22 June, has announced that Hachette UK will continue their longstanding support of IBW as lead campaign sponsor for 2019, with a special ‘OiBW’ Limited Edition Bag (inspired by the iconic Oi books), authors Cressida Cowell, Patrick Gale, and Ben Aaronovitch touring bookshops across the country, and much more.

Cressida Cowell and Patrick Gale

 

Katherine Rundell and Ben Aaronovitch

 


Run by the Booksellers Association as the key summer element of the Books Are My Bag campaign, IBW aims to raise awareness on the role of independent bookshops in their communities. It is designed to drive book lovers into their local bookshop during IBW and beyond.

This year’s IBW will celebrate holiday reading, bookshop tourism, and Bookshop Heroes.


OiBW Limited Edition Bag

Hachette Children’s Books will be producing a special OiBW Limited Edition Bag exclusively for IBW, featuring illustration inspired by the much-loved and hugely successful series of picture books by Kes Gray and Jim Field. 



Author Tours - The 2019 campaign will include tours of award-winning authors across the country.

Hachette Children’s Books will be touring How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell with the paperback of The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic, which is published on 13 June. 

Headline will be arranging a series of special musical events with Sunday Times bestseller Patrick Gale, for the paperback of Take Nothing With You. 

And author and screenwriter Ben Aaronovitch will tour bookshops across the country, which will also have the opportunity to order an exclusively signed independent bookshop edition of The October Man.

Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury) will release a powerful short essay for adult readers on the importance of children’s literature exclusively for IBW. Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise explores how children’s books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination and create new perspectives on the world. During IBW, Katherine will be visiting independent bookshops around the UK, talking about her essay as well as her new adventure story for children The Good Thieves.

Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns at the Booksellers Association, said “This year’s IBW is already looking bigger and better than ever. We’re hugely excited to have Hachette continuing as our lead publishing sponsor in 2019, and extremely grateful for the incredible support we’re receiving from across the publishing sector, from all our partner publishers. Publishers have been full of ideas for IBW 2019 and we look forward to revealing more about this year’s plans in the coming months!”

Ben Aaronovitch commented: “I love a good independent bookshop, nowhere else can get the same sense of cosy familiarity coupled with the excitement of never knowing what you're going to find on the next shelf. I think, like libraries, that they are cultural resource we will lose at our peril.”

Visit your Indie Book shop and find your next read 

To keep up to date on IBW 2019 follow the latest developments via social media: 


Twitter  @BooksAreMyBag #IndieBookshopWeek



Thursday, 13 June 2019

Blog Blast ~ The Lemon Tree Hotel by Rosanna Ley



Jaffareadstoo is excited to be part of the 


Publication Day Blog Blast for The Lemon Tree Hotel


44284868
Quercus Books
13 June 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this Blog Blast

In the beautiful village of Vernazza, the Mazzone family have transformed an old convent overlooking the glamorous Italian Riviera into the elegant Lemon Tree Hotel. For Chiara, her daughter Elene and her granddaughter Isabella, the running of their hotel is the driving force in their lives.
One day, two unexpected guests check in. The first, Dante, is a face from Chiara's past, but what exactly happened between them all those years ago, Elene wonders. Meanwhile, Isabella is preoccupied with the second guest, a mysterious young man who seems to know a lot about the history of the old convent and the people who live there. Isabella is determined to find out his true intentions and discover the secret past of the Lemon Tree Hotel.

My thoughts..

When a handsome face from the past arrives at the beautiful Lemon Tree Hotel, the owner, Chiara, is faced with a dilemma as the guest, Dante Rossi, rekindles memories which Chiara has kept hidden for over forty years. The beautiful Lemon Tree Hotel, once a convent during the tumultuous years of WW2 also has its secrets and another mysterious guest at the hotel seems determined to uncover the hotel's hidden past.

The author is the queen of the multi-generational novels and writes about the places and the people which so much love and attention to detail that they very soon become as familiar as friends. I loved spending time with this family, getting to know those people who calls this lovely place home. Chiara, although quite the matriarch, has an air of sadness around her, and then there's her tempestuous daughter, Elene, who manages the kitchen and produces the most wonderful meals, and Chaira's granddaughter, the lovely Isabella, who is about to discover some dark secrets about the hotel she loves.

The Lemon Tree Hotel is a wonderful summer read and one that soon grabs your attention making it absolutely perfect for a long, hot afternoon in the garden, or lazing poolside  with  an ice-cold drink. Filled with all the beauty of the Italian Riveria, the sunshine of the olive groves and the delicious citrus aroma of the lemon trees, the story envelops you in a glorious story of lost love and mysterious secrets.



Rosanna Ley works as a creative tutor and has written many articles and stories for national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea. 

Twitter @RosannaLey #LemonTreeHotel

@QuercusBooks

@MillsReid11






Wednesday, 12 June 2019

On this Day ...



Anne Frank was born on the 12 June 1929. She died while imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen, just three months before her sixteenth birthday.


♡ Today  would have been her 90th birthday ♡


The Diary of a Young Girl
Puffin

A deeply moving and unforgettable portrait of an ordinary and yet an extraordinary teenage girl.

First published over sixty years ago, Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl has reached millions of young people throughout the world.

In July 1942, thirteen-year-old Anne Frank and her family, fleeing the occupation, went into hiding in an Amsterdam warehouse. Over the next two years Anne vividly describes in her diary the frustrations of living in such close quarters, and her thoughts, feelings and longings as she grows up. Her diary ends abruptly when, in August 1944, they were all betrayed.


“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” 

Anne Frank

πŸ’”πŸ’”πŸ’”πŸ’”

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ 10 minutes and 38 seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak



43706466
Penguin Random House
Viking
6 June 2019

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

'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...'

My thoughts..

Tequila Leila is such a wonderful name for this memorable character who, from the very start of the novel, is so forceful that, even in her dying moments, she literally leaps off the page as she revisits some of the special moments in her life. Rather unusually, we know the fate of Tequila Leila right from the start, she's a prostitute in Istanbul, and her body is literally dumped in a metal rubbish bin as inconsequential as a piece of trash.

In the last 10 minutes and 38 seconds of her death in this strange world we are privileged to travel in Leila's mind over some of her most significant memories, from the feeling of salt on her skin as a newborn, to the strong dark taste of cardamon coffee in the brothels of Istanbul and the bitter, chalky  taste of soil - so many scents, sights and tastes make up this remarkable story of a strong woman whose life circumstances just simply got the better of her.

The author writes powerfully about a country and culture she knows well, and brings such a vibrant potency to the story that right from the start of the novel you are immersed in the life of this pulsating city.  In turns poignant and uplifting, happy and immensely sad, haunting and beautiful, this is a tribute to the city of Istanbul, to the power of friendship, the heartbreak of loss, and of the enigmatic people who call this part of the world home.



Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages.



Twitter @Elif_Shafak #10Minutes38Seconds

@VikingBooksUK

@PenguinUKBooks