Sunday, 22 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ An Echo of Scandal by Laura Madeleine

Delighted to be taking part in this exciting Blog Tour

The sumptuous and seductive world of Tangier in the early 20th century is a world where men make decisions and women follow. But Alejandra is determined to secure her independence, at any cost.

Black Swan
19 September 2019

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

In the dead of night, with blood on her hands, she made her escape. Accused of murder, Alejandra flees her home, escaping to the southern edge of Spain, where she faces a life of poverty and destitution. Seduced by the power of the rich and the anonymity that waits across the water in Tangier, Ale makes a bid for a new start. But it will come at a cost: a life of deception. Because Ale’s new friends want to know what she is running from, they want to know who she is and whether they can trust her. Fifty years later, a young American writer wanders the streets of Tangier, searching for inspiration. When he stumbles across a trace of Ale’s life, he finds himself tangled in a story of scandal, love and danger that has not yet reached its end.

What did I think about it..

Alejandra hasn’t had the best of starts to her young life, and when in 1928, she is accused of a heinous crime, she has little choice but to try and escape, however, leaving behind everything she has ever known in Cรณrdoba only makes her life all the more complicated.

Fifty years later in Tangier, Sam Hackett is a young writer who is down on his luck and struggling to make ends meet . When he comes across traces of a forgotten life he is suitably intrigued and sets out to discover as much as he can about the mysterious person he knows only by the initials A.L.

What I have loved about this novel is the way the author seamlessly moves from past to present and brings the heat and glorious colour of Tangier alive in a really exotic way. The sights, sounds and sensations of the market place, the spice, taste and texture of fabulous food, and the tantalising recipes for alcohol infused cocktails all blend together in a clever mixture of intrigue, mystery and danger.

Dual time stories are notoriously difficult to carry off but what works so well in An Echo of Scandal is the way that both time frames are equally compelling. I found that I was just at home in the 1920s as I was in 1978 and I looked forward to spending time with both sets of characters as they each live out the adventure which the author has created for them with so much flair and imagination.

An Echo of Scandal is a beautifully written historical novel by an author who knows how to hold the reader in the palm of her hand. The story is filled with both drama and passion and is gloriously authentic in every detail. I loved it ๐Ÿ˜Š

About the Author

After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge. She now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, eating cheese and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom.

Twitter @LauraMadeleine #AnEchoofScandal

@TransworldBooks @hannahbright29


Saturday, 21 September 2019

Hist fic Saturday ~ Blog Tour ~ Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt

On Hist Fic Saturday 

I'm thrilled to be hosting today's stop on this Blog Tour

In September 2019, to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, IWM will launch a wonderful new series with four novels from their archives all set during the Second World War – Imperial War Museums Wartime Classics. 

Originally published to considerable acclaim, these titles were written either during or just after the Second World War and are currently out of print. Each novel is written directly from the author’s own experience and takes the reader right into the heart of the conflict. They all capture the awful absurdity of war and the trauma and chaos of battle as well as some of the fierce loyalties and black humour that can emerge in extraordinary circumstances. 

Living through a time of great upheaval, as we are today, each wartime story brings the reality of war alive in a vivid and profoundly moving way and is a timely reminder of what the previous generations experienced. 

The remarkable IWM Library has an outstanding literary collection and was an integral part of Imperial War Museums from its very beginnings. Alan Jeffreys, (Senior Curator, Second World War, Imperial War Museums) searched the library collection to come up with these four launch titles, all of which deserve a new and wider audience. He has written an introduction to each novel that sets them in context and gives the wider historical background and says, ‘Researching the Wartime Classics has been one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on in my years at IWM. It’s been very exciting rediscovering these fantastic novels and helping to bring them to the wider readership they so deserve’

Wartime Classics
26 September 2019

My thanks to the IWM, Angela Martin, and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of this Blog Tour

Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt – a murder mystery about opportunism and the black market set against the backdrop of London during the Blitz. ‘With a dead body on the first page and a debonair RAF pilot as the sleuth, this stylish whodunit takes you straight back to Blitzed London and murder most foul. Several plausible suspects, a femme fatale, witty dialogue, memorable scenes and unexpected twists – it boasts everything a great whodunit should have, and more. Andrew Roberts.

My thoughts about it..

WW2 Flight-Lieutenant David Heron is recuperating after a war time injury and has chosen to spend his convalescence in his favourite boarding house in London. When he is rudely awakened with the strange news that the body of a man has been found in the garden everyone in Mrs Meake’s boarding house is immediately under suspicion. David, however, is determined to track down the perpetrator of this heinous crime even though it takes him into some very dangerous situations.

What then follows is an interesting whodunit which is very much in the style of the golden age of sleuthing. The characters take charge from the very start and whilst Flight-Lieutenant Heron is a suave and sophisticated sleuth, he is also very much an old fashioned gentleman, and his considered approach to crime investigation is a real breath of fresh air. However, his air of affability and general bonhomie is about to be tested to the limit as he delves further and further into the clandestine world of the black market.

Plenty Under the Counter is filled with twists, turns and numerous red herrings and is a fascinating snap shot of what it was like to live in wartime London. Written in 1948, there is a definite air of authenticity about it, particularly as the author is using her own experience of living in London during the war years, bringing a real sense of originality to what is, after all, quite a complex murder/mystery.

Plenty Under the Counter is a fascinating addition to the IWM Wartime Classic Collection and will, I’m sure, appeal to those readers who enjoy a good old fashioned crime novel. 

About the Author

Kathleen Hewitt was a British author and playwright who wrote more than 20 novels in her lifetime. She was part of an artistic set in 1930’s London which included Olga Lehman and the poet Roy Campbell.

Twitter @I_W_M #wartimeclassics



Friday, 20 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Jeweller by Caryl Lewis, Translated by Gwen Davies

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of this Blog Tour 

Honno Press
19 September 2019

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

That was the horror of love: your sweetheart could stick a knife into your eyeball and sharpen it a notch every chance they got.

Mari supplements her modest stock as a market-stallholder with the trinkets she acquires clearing the houses of the dead. Living in a tiny cottage by the shore – alone apart from a pet cat and the monkey, Nanw – she surrounds herself with the lives of others, combing through letters she has gleaned and putting up photographs of strangers on her small mantelpiece for company. Mari is looking for something beyond saleable goods and borrowed memories. As she works on cutting a perfect emerald, she inches closer to a discovery that will transform her life and throw her relationships with old friends into relief. To move forward she must shed her life of things past and start again. How she does so is both surprising and shocking…

What did I think about it..

Mari lives in her cottage by the shore with her cat and a monkey called Nanw. Mari supplements her income by running a market stall where she sells the vintage clothing and other trinkets she accumulates from helping her friend Mo who clears the houses of people who have died. Mari comes across as a rather sad character, she is prone to illness and introspection and there's an aura of grief and desolation surrounding her which adds to the overall ambiance of the novel.

The Jeweller is a quirky story which is made all the more interesting for having been translated from its original Welsh, a language which is as fascinating as it is lyrical, and the author's imaginative flair for story telling is complimented by the creativeness of just how strongly the story comes across in translation. It's an intelligently written character driven novel which explores the stifling power of family and of the meaning of friendship. As the story gets deeper it becomes obvious that Mari has a troubled relationship with those around her, often finding more comfort in the pieces of jewelry she collects and then polishes into something beautiful.

The Jeweller is about recognising the emotional pull of the past whilst having the strength to move forward into a more controlled sort of future.

Originally published as Y GEMYDD The Jeweller is published in English by Honno Welsh Women's Press.

About the Author

Caryl Lewis has published eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (Y Lolfa, 2004) won Wales Book of the Year in 2005. Caryl wrote the script for a film based on Martha, Jac a Sianco, which won the Atlantis Prize at the 2009 Moondance Festival. Her television credits include adapting Welsh-language scripts for the acclaimed crime series Y Gwyll/Hinterland.

About the Translator

Photo Credit : Keith Morris

Gwen Davies grew up in a Welsh-speaking family in West Yorkshire. She has translated into English the Welsh-language novels of Caryl Lewis, published as Martha, Jack and Shanco (Parthian, 2007) and The Jewellerand is co-translator, with the author, of Robin Llywelyn’s novel, published as White Star by Parthian in 2003. She is the editor of Sing, Sorrow, Sorrow: Dark and Chilling Tales (Seren, 2010). Gwen has edited the literary journal, New Welsh Review, since 2011. She lives in Aberystwyth with her family.

Honno is the UK’s longest standing independent women’s press and is based in Wales. 'Honno' is a Welsh word meaning 'that one (feminine) who is elsewhere'. For more information on this award-winning acclaimed small publisher, visit their website

Honno would like to thank the Welsh Books Council for all their support in publishing this title.

Twitter @honno #TheJeweller


Thursday, 19 September 2019

Publication Day Review ~ The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole

✨✨ Happy Publication Day ✨✨

Elliot & Thompson
19 September 2019

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

We love books. We take them to bed with us. They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday. We display them on our bookshelves or store them in our attics. We give them as gifts. We write our names in them. We take them for granted. And all the time, our books are leading a double life.

The Secret Life of Books is about everything that isn’t just the words. It’s about how books transform us as individuals. It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time. And it’s about why, even with the arrival of other media, books still have the power to change our lives.

In this illuminating account, Tom Mole looks at everything from binding innovations to binding errors, to books defaced by lovers, to those imprisoning professors in their offices, to books in art, to burned books, to the books that create nations, to those we’ll leave behind.

It will change how you think about books.

What did I think about it...

Any bibliophile will be excited about a book about books, and there's something very special about The Secret Life of Books, from the sumptuous red and gold beauty of its cover, to the very readable contents which explains everything you never knew you needed to know about books.

We know that books come in all shapes and sizes, from the pocket size Penguins of old, to the glossy majesty of coffee table books, they entice us with their words and pictures which promise a world full of magic and mystery. I'm not a great traveller, but from the comfort of my arm chair I can go forwards or backwards in time or I can take off and head to exotic locations, and I am able to do this thanks to the imagination of authors who share their stories with me. 

The Secret Life of Books is a wonderfully presented meander through the world of books, looking at what books actually do for us and how they transform us as individuals. And it's not just about stories or the facts contained within, it's about how books become books, how they are part of the treasure of our age - just think about the wealth of history and information which are contained within our libraries, and of the prestigious books and ancient texts which make up our shared history.

The author writes really well and brings his thoughts and feeling about books to life, capturing the very essence of the emotional meaning of books. There is no doubt that our world would be all the poorer without the absolute treasure of books and all the magic that they contain.

If there's a bibliophile in your life, The Secret Life of Books would be a great gift. It's published by Elliot & Thompson and is out today ๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ“–

About the Author

Tom Mole is a professor of English Literature and book History at the University of Edinburgh where he runs the Centre for the History of the Book. He has taught at Universities in the UK and Canada, and has lectured widely in Europe,Australia and North America. he has written or edited several volumes about books and literature, including What the Victorians Made of Romanticism, which won the 2018 Saltire prize for Research Book of the Year. he lives in Edinburgh with his wife and young daughter.

Twitter @ProfTomMole #TheSecretsLifeOfBooks


Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Review ~ The Colour of Things Unseen by Annee Lawrence

Aurora Metro

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

When Adi leaves his village in Indonesia to take up an art scholarship in Australia, he arrives in the bewildering Sydney art world, determined to succeed. Following his first solo exhibition at a smart art gallery, Adi dares to reveal his true feelings for his outgoing friend, Lisa, and a passionate relationship unfolds. But will their differing expectations of one another drive them apart?

This is a deeply felt love story between people — of different nations, cultures and religions – and the unseen impact of local and global events on individual lives.

My thoughts about it..

Adi lives in a small village in Idonesia and his life is not without tragedy but fortune favours the brave and Adi finds that his life is about to change when he is given the opportunity to study art, a subject he has an affinity with and undoubted skill.  Adi's love of art takes him far away from his home village and when he reaches Australia he finds a very different sort of world with a morality which takes some getting used too, especially, when it comes to painting nude life models in art classes.

The story of Things Unseen is the story of Adi's time in Australia and of the adjustments he must make in order to fit in with a culture with is completely alien to him, but then, he discovers the power of friendship, and no friendship comes greater than that of Marj, his landlady, who becomes a second mother to him. Throughout his considerable time in Australia, it seems that Adi is always trying to fit in,  and his relationship with his girlfriend Lisa is fraught with troubles.

I've found much to enjoy, in the way the author allows the story to evolve slowly so that it becomes so much more than Adi's life story, and whilst its focus is about about love, relationships and family, it's also about trying to belong in a place where you feel out of step with those around you.

The story of Things Unseen is an interesting first novel and I am sure that the author has more stories to tell, and will continue to go from strength to strength.

Annee lives in Australia and has an interest in exploring cross-cultural connection and the way identity shape-shifts in an unfamiliar place and culture. She has close friendship and family ties in Indonesia and was the recipient of an Asialink Arts’ inaugural Tulis Australian-Indonesian Writing Exchange in 2018. As a result, she had a six-week residency at Kommunitas Salihara in Jakarta and was invited to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Prior to becoming a tutor in literary and cultural studies at Western Sydney University in 2014, Annee worked as a writer, editor and community development worker in the areas of women’s health, human rights and social justice. Two of her publications include: I Always Wanted To Be A Tap Dancer: Women With Disabilities and (with Nola Colefax on her memoir) Signs of Change: My Autobiography and History of Australian Theatre of the Deaf 1973–1983. In 1981 she was founding editor of Healthright: A Journal of Women’s Health, Family Planning and Sexuality.
Annee has published articles in New Writing, Griffith Review, Hecate and Cultural Studies Review.

The Colour of Things Unseen is the author's debut novel.

Twitter @AuroraMetro

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Winner of the Glass Bell Award ~ VOX by Christina Dalcher


March 2019

Debut novelist Christina Dalcher has been awarded The Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2019 for her thoughtprovoking and suspenseful dystopian thriller VOX, which imagines a near future in which an evangelical sect has taken control of the US and women have been limited to speaking just a hundred words a day. 

VOX won against five other novels, including Belinda Bauer’s Booker-longlisted Snap, for the Glass Bell Award, which rewards ‘compelling storytelling with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised’ in any genre. 

Also shortlisted were Dalcher ’s fellow debut novelists Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott for Swan Song, a fictionalised account of the rise and self-inflicted fall of Truman Capote, and Heather Morris, author of the millioncopy bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz; M.W. Craven for his Gold Dagger-shortlisted Cumbrian thriller The Puppet Show; and Louise Candlish, for ‘property thriller’ Our House, which won the British Book Award Crime & Thriller of the Year 2019.

Dalcher was awarded the Glass Bell at a party held at Goldsboro Books in central London on the evening of Monday 16th September, receiving £2,000 and a handmade, engraved glass bell. The prize was judged by Goldsboro Books founder David Headley and his team at the bookshop. David Headley said: ‘Hard-won rights sometimes feel like a luxury that we can never take for granted, and VOX is an urgent and timely reminder of this. A terrifyingly plausible yet dazzling thriller which prompted passionate discussions during the judging, it ’s a story about the importance of communication, the power of language and a lesson that freedom is continually being fought for around the world. I set up the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award to celebrate stories like this – which challenge us, frighten us and stimulate us.’ Founded in 2017 by David Headley, Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, the Glass Bell Award is the only award to reward storytelling in all genres, from romance and crime to historical and speculative. The inaugural winner was Chris Cleave, for his extraordinary Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre), the moving and unflinching novel about the profound effects that the Second World War had on ordinary citizens back at home in Britain. Last year, the award went to John Boyne for his sweeping, poignant and comedic odyssey of post-war Ireland, The Heart ’s Invisible Furies (Transworld).

Review ~ Wonderland : An Anthology inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ  Happy Publication Day ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ 

From the greatest names in fantasy and horror comes an anthology of stories inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Wonderland: An Anthology
Titan Books
17 September

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
Join Alice as she is thrown into the whirlwind of Wonderland, in an anthology that bends the traditional notions of Lewis Carroll's classic novel. Contributors include the bestselling M.R. Carey, Genevieve Cogman, Catriona Ward, Rio Youers and L.L. McKinney.

Within these pages you'll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical. There's even a Wild West tale from Angela Slatter, poetry, and a story by Laura Mauro which presents us with a Japanese folklore-inspired Wonderland.

Alison Littlewood, Cavan Scott and Catriona Ward make the more outlandish elements their own, while James Lovegrove instead draws on the supernatural. Cat Rambo takes us to a part of Wonderland we haven't seen before and Lilith Saintcrow gives the legend a science-fiction spin. The nightmarish reaches of the imagination are the breeding ground for M.R. Carey's visions, while Robert Shearman, George Mann, Rio Youers and Mark Chadbourn's tales have a deep-seated emotional core which will shock, surprise and tug on the heart-strings.

So, it's time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking-glass or... But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you're already there, can't you see?

What did I think about it..

I remember listening to the story of Alice in Wonderland when I was a little girl but I only really understood the dark and brooding nature of the story when I read it as an adult. I think it was one of the first classics I downloaded onto my kindle, when e-copies were still an innovative idea. There's something strangely compelling about Alice's Adventure in Wonderland and no matter when you read the story it still has that strangely dystopian edge which is quite, quite, chilling.

In this anthology of stories, the idea of Wonderland is explored in detail. The stories, all written by authors at the top of their particular genre, allow a wider interpretation of the story in fantastical fiction which range from poetry, to prose, and back again. The nineteen interpretations all have Wonderland as their theme but the tales are all very different, some are inspired by history, others by poetry, as in the Jabberwocky, another by the wild, wild west and there's even a story inspired by Japanese folklore.

I've really enjoyed dipping into and out of this book, picking a story here and there and finding something which sparks my imagination in all of them. I have a couple of favourites, Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadburn, and Good Dog, Alice by Juliet Marillier, but, of course, all the others have something special to offer.

Wonderland is a clever anthology which doesn't seek to rewrite, what is after all, an absolute classic, but which rather gives us an absolute feast of clever stories which reinterpret Wonderland in all of its fantastical glory.

Twitter @Marie_O_Regan @PaulKaneShadow



Monday, 16 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ Dead Flowers by Nicola Monaghan

๐ŸŒ  Delighted to be part of this exciting blog tour ๐ŸŒ 

Verve Books
5 September 2019

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

She doesn’t trust the police. She used to be one of them. Hardened by ten years on the murder squad, DNA analyst Sian Love has seen it all. So when she finds human remains in the basement of her new home, she knows the drill. Except this time it’s different. This time, it’s personal...

What did I think about it..

Ex-DCI, Sian Love, now a DNA analyst, moves into a disused public house which once belonged to her uncle Rob. That she is now the owner of this building fills her with some trepidation especially when Elvis, her ex-police dog, who has been trained to search for cadavers, finds something suspicious in the cellar. This creepy start to the novel sets the scene for an unsettling mystery which flits forwards and backwards in time to when the pub, known as the Loggerheads, was a hive of nefarious activity in the 1970s.

The story is tight and complex and the author has done a great job of bringing both past and present to life in a realsitic sort of way. The 1970s was a very different time when both language and social aspirations had a certain edginess, and setting the book in Nottingham allows a certain amount of vernacular, which I'm not always keen on in novels, however,  the author does this local dialect well,  and it all fits in with the way the characters would have behaved at that time.

I enjoyed getting to know Sian Love, she's an odd character, rather feisty and argumentative one minute, then vulnerable the next, but there's always a complexity to her, and as the animosity she feels towards the police force starts to become more apparent, so the general feeling of unease starts to develop.  Her tenuous relationship with her partner, Kris who also happens to be a DI in the police force, adds an interesting dynamic to the way the connections within the story evolve.

Dead Flowers is a well written crime thriller which held my attention from first page to last. I can easily see Sian Love in other stories as her role as a DNA analyst would certainly lend itself to other complex crime cold cases.

Nicola Monaghan has lived and worked in London, Paris, Chicago and New York but returned to her home town of Nottingham in 2002 to pursue a masters in Creative Writing. She graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2004 with a distinction, and went on to write her first novel, The Killing Jar, set on the council estate where she lived as a child. This debut novel was highly critically acclaimed, and won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors' Club Best First Novel Prize and the Waverton Good Read. She has written several other novels, novellas and a collection of short stories. She also teaches Creative Writing at De Montfort University, and online at YouTube, Udemy and Skillshare. 

Twitter @nicolanovelist #DeadFlowers


Sunday, 15 September 2019

Review ~ Butterfly In Frost by Sylvia Day

Montlake Romance
27 August 2019

My thanks to Midas PR for my copy of this book

Teagan Ransom has finally settled in a place she can call home, spending time with new friends she adores, focusing on a fulfilling job, whilst reconciling the past and laying the groundwork for the future.

That is until Garrett Frost moves in next door. He’s obstinate and too bold, a raging and disruptive force of nature. Teagan recognizes the ghosts that haunt him, the torment driving him. Garrett would be risky in any form, but wounded, he’s far more dangerous. Tegan fears he could pull apart everything she has worked so hard to build, but Garret’s too determined…and too tempting.

Emotional and heartrending, Butterfly in Frost marks a brilliant return by global sensation Sylvia Day, the No.1 international multi-million bestselling author of the Crossfire saga.

What did I think about it...

Teagan Ransom and Garrett Frost are new neighbours but their relationship is far from settled and despite there being an uneasy truce between them, there is, at times, a smouldering attraction which threatens to engulf them. And as the story progresses and we get to learn more about Teagan and Garret so an interesting story starts to emerge. There are some great moments within the story and for those who have read the Crossfire series there are a couple of references towards the characters who featured in this best selling series.

Fans of this author's work will already know that she writes about alpha males and feisty females and Butterfly in Frost is no exception, with the erotic content fairly sizzling on the page, and yet, far from being merely gratuitous sexual encounters, her novels are invariably imbued with heat, heart and passion. Teagan and Garrett are both fascinating characters, each with their own particular brand of angst which the author explores and during the course of the story we find out just how damaged they have both been by life circumstances.

Butterfly in Frost is a quick read, more novella length than novel, but I think that the author says everything she needs to within the space of the story. However, I wouldn't be at all surprised, now that the author has tested the waters with Teagan and Garrett, to see a full length novel, about these two fascinating characters, to emerge at some point in the future.

Read an extract from Butterfly in Frost by clicking here.

About the Author

Sylvia Day is the No.1 New York Times, No.1 USA Today & No.1 international bestselling author of over twenty award-winning novels translated into 41 languages. With tens of millions of copies of her books in print, she is a No.1 bestseller in 28 countries. Sylvia served as the 22nd President of Romance Writers of America and presently serves on the Authors Guild’s Board of Directors. Sylvia’s work has been coveredin Time, Variety, People, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Associated Press, USA Today, and Entertainment Weekly.

Twitter @SylDay #ButterflyInFrost


Saturday, 14 September 2019

Review ~ The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The second book in the new Bellatrix collection

A creatively curated list of empowering diverse YA novels by leading female voices

43453718. sy475
Hachette Children Books
19 September 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

On the eve of her divining, the day she'll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn't understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate..

What did I think about it..

Stories about the brides of Dracula are not my usual genre but when approached to read and review this re-imagining of an old story by talented writer Kiran Millwood Hargrave, I was delighted to have the opportunity to read a version of a classic vampire story which is aimed at young adult readers.

Seventeen year old twins, Lil and Kizzy, are about to come of age and discover their fate in a divining ceremony  but then something catastrophic happens to their settlement and the twins are abducted and taken by force as the captives of Boyar Valcar who rules his community with cruelty and oppression. Lil and Kizzy, in mourning for all they have lost, are sent to work in the castle kitchens, however, their beauty and feisty nature brings them both to the attention of Boyar Valcar with disastrous consequences.

The author writes well, with an understanding of her target audience, and with imaginative flair for detail, she brings the story to life in lively detail. I enjoyed following Lil and Kizzy's adventures, and particularly Lil's close relationship with Mira, who is a fellow captive, and which adds a very different dimension to the story.

The Deathless Girls brings a nice awareness of the legend to a younger audience and allows a more modern day feminist approach with feisty young women who know their own mind. This is now the second book in the Bellatrix series of YA novels which continues the theme of re-telling a classic in a more modern way.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave is an award winning poet, playwright, and bestselling novelist. Her debut novel for children, The Girl of Ink & Stars won the Waterstones Book Prize and the children's Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. Her work has been long and short listed for several other major prizes, including costaAward and th CILIP Carnegie Award. The Deathless Girls is her first novel for Young Adults.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a graduate of Oxford and Cambridge Universities and lives by the river in Oxford with her husband and cat.

Twitter @Kiran_MH #TheDeathlessGirls


About Bellatrix

The Bellatrix collection aims to publish gripping, powerful YA novels by leading female voices. In literature as in life women past and present have countless stories untold, mis-told or simply unheard. The Bellatrix series will range from gothic, to thriller, humour to romance. Each story will be unique re-telling of a classic, given a feminist slant, and connected by one main goal - the passion and determination to tell the whole story.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Book Review ~ Moments: An Autobiography in Verse by Daphne Denley

Crumps Barns Studio

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

Like many of us, Daphne Denley is a fully signed-up apprentice of mid-life mayhem. She is a mother trying to adjust to her daughter’s grown up tastes. And she is a loving wife who has had her life turned upside down by her husband’s devastating diagnosis.

This collection of poems is an autobiography in verse. In turns heartfelt, familiar and beautifully observed, Daphne explores each of life’s Moments – and in the process shows us how, even in the worst of times, hope can return in the end.

My thoughts..

It's always a real pleasure to feature poetry on the blog, especially when that poetry is by a writer who shares the personal moments of her life in emotional poetry which is both heartwarming and heartfelt.

This poetry collection covers a whole range of emotions in reflective pieces which are scattered throughout and which take us on a journey through the poet's thoughts and feelings about what was going on in her life at the time of writing. And whilst this is a very personal collection, which has deep meaning for the author, the strength of the verses also struck a chord with me, and I felt like I was travelling alongside the writer on an intimate journey.

This collection of 55 poems covers a wide range of topics, from the beautiful simplicity of the opening poem, Sweet Dreams, about a mother with her baby, and as a new grandmother I can identify with its beautifully expressed sentiment, to the succinctness of the finishing poem Cheers, and in all the poems in-between there is something to enjoy in verses which are not overly complicated but which reflect those autobiographical moments in life which are so precious to us all.

About the Author

Daphne Denley is a poet and song-writer. This is her first published collection of poetry. She lives on the edge of Rodborough Common with her husband and daughter.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Review ~ NEXUS by Alison Morton (Giveaway)

๐Ÿ“– Happy Publication Day ๐Ÿ“–

12 September 2019

Roma Nova #4.5

My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this book

Mid 1970s. Ex-Praetorian Aurelia Mitela is serving as Roma Nova’s interim ambassador in London. Asked by a British colleague to find his missing son, Aurelia thinks it will only be a case of a young man temporarily rebelling. He’s bound to turn up only a little worse for wear.

But a spate of high-level killings pulls Aurelia away into a dangerous pan-European investigation. Badly beaten in Rome as a warning, she discovers the killers have kidnapped her life companion, Miklรณs, and sent an ultimatum: "Back off or he’ll die."

But Aurelia is a Roma Novan and they never give up…

What did I think about it..

Nexus means a connection which links one or more things and that is just what happens in this clever novella which fits expertly between AURELIA and INSURRECTIO in the Aurelia Mitela Roma Nova adventures, and those readers who have read these alternate history novels will certainly recognise some of the characters who bring this story to life.

We catch up with Ex-Praetorian, Aurelia Mitela in the 1970s when she is serving as Roma Nova’s interim ambassador in London. Living with her eleven year old daughter, Marina, and continuing her close relationship with Miklรณs, Aurelia's life should be on an even keel but then she has a conversation with Harry Carter, a senior intelligencer, who is deeply concerned about his son, Tom, who has been missing for three days. Once she learns more about Tom's disappearance, Aurelia is determined to do all she can to discover his whereabouts, but, in doing so, puts her family at risk, and herself in grave danger.

I rather like this idea of connecting existing novels with a well placed novella and the author does this really well, bringing such attention to detail that you don’t feel cheated by reading a shorter story which doesn’t meet expectations. NEXUS is packed with everything we have come to expect, strong and determined women, a central plot which is both dramatic and exciting and a whole host of bad guys who come straight out of central casting.

With her usual panache the author has given us another exciting Roma Nova adventure which is filled with all the trademark details we know and love about ROMA NOVA. Whilst, of course, it is completely possible to read NEXUS as a standalone story, I read this one comfortably over the space of an afternoon, however, my best advise would be to start at the very beginning and enter the Roma Nova of this talented writer’s imagination.

Author of INCEPTIO, PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO, AURELIA, INSURRECTIO and RETALIO Roma Nova alternate history thrillers, CARINA (novella) and ROMA NOVA EXTRA (short stories). NEXUS (novella) out 12 September

Audiobooks available for the first four of the series: click here 

Subscribe to the author's newsletter: click here   (Free ebook!)

Twitter @alison_morton #RomaNova

✨✨Thanks to Alison's generosity here's the chance to win an e-copy of NEXUS✨✨
 (open internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Love Child by Rachel Hore

๐ŸŒ  Delighted to host today's final stop on this exciting blog tour ๐ŸŒ 

Simon & Schuster
5 September 2019

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

London, 1917 When seventeen-year-old Alice falls pregnant, she is forced by her father and stepmother to give up the baby. She simply cannot be allowed to bring shame upon her family. But all Alice can think of is the small, kitten-like child she gave away, and how the father, a young soldier, so beloved, will never have the chance to know his daughter. Meanwhile, Edith and Philip, a couple unable to have children of their own, secretly adopt a baby girl, Irene, given up by a young unmarried mother. Irene grows up knowing that she is different from other children but no one will tell her the full truth. As two extraordinary stories intertwine across two decades, will secrets long-buried at last come to light?

What did I think about it...

Seventeen year Alice has no choice but to give up her baby for adoption as to bring up an illegitimate baby in 1917 is near on impossible especially when Alice cannot rely on her well-to-do parents to support her choice. This decision will affect Alice as she goes through her life and she never forgets the tiny baby she gave away.

Irene grows up knowing that she doesn't quite fit with her family and although she is cared for by her adoptive parents she senses that something just doesn't quite feel right and her life is a constant struggle to try to fit in.

What then follows is a really lovely story which spans the early years of the twentieth century and highlights the changing social situations for those who were left to pick up the pieces after the Great War. On the surface circumstances seem to offer more opportunities for women but as Alice discovers searching for independence is not always an easy path to take and her training as one of the first women GPs is fraught with both prejudice and misunderstanding. With a skilful hand and a fine eye for historical detail the author cleverly weaves together several story strands bringing everything together with such authenticity that I immediately felt as if I was part of Alice and Irene's troubled journey.

The Love Child highlights the dilemma of illegitimacy and of the social prejudice of the early twentieth century and brings to life a strong story of two women who have to learn to deal with the hand that fate has dealt them but they do so in their own indomitable style. The author has captured the essence of this troubled time, and writes so beautifully that it has been an absolute pleasure to read The Love Child. I enjoyed getting to know both Alice and Irene, and ultimately wanted everything to work out well for both of them, however, whether it does or not is for you to find out for yourselves. ๐Ÿ˜Š

The Love Child captured my attention from the very beginning and it quickly became on of those difficult to put down stories, so much so, I carried it from room to room, reading whenever I could find a spare minute. I’ve now read several of this author’s excellent stories and, without doubt, The Love Child is my favourite to date.

About the Author

Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is married to the writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons. Her latest novel, Last Letter Home, was a Sunday Times bestseller and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for 2018.

Twitter @Rachelhore #TheLoveChild



Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ A Matter Of Interpretation by Elizabeth Mac Donald

๐ŸŒ  Delighted to be part of this exciting Instagram and Blog Tour ๐ŸŒ 

A Matter of Interpretation
Fairlight Books
5 September 2019

My thanks to Fairlight Books for my copy of this book
and to Claire at Maxwell PR
It’s thirteenth-century Europe and young monk, Michael Scot, has been asked by the Holy Roman Emperor to translate the works of Aristotle and recover his ‘lost’ knowledge.

The Scot sets to his task, travelling from the Emperor’s Italian court to the translation schools of Toledo and from there to the Moorish library of Cรณrdoba. But when the Pope deems the translations heretical, the Scot refuses to desist. So begins a battle for power between Church and State – one that shaped how we view the world today..

What did I think about it..

A Matter of Interpretation is a complex historical story which takes a little while to get into as, initially, there's rather an abundance of characters to keep up with, however, once the narrative captured my imagination, I was definitely transported back to a rather unpredictable time in European history, and became involved in the complex struggle between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Papacy. The main protagonist of the story is Michael Scot, a monk, who is tasked with the job of translating the works of Aristotle, but when the Pope declares these translations heretical it opens up a complicated power struggle.

A Matter of Interpretation is a difficult story to try to explain, so I guess the answer to that is not to try, that way I don't give too much away, or do the author a disservice by explaining her creation in a way that doesn't do it justice. However, what comes across is the author's passion for this period in history and her unique writing style brings the medieval world alive in quite a literary way. Whilst the story is, of course, a fictional account, Michael Scot is known to have existed and the author takes the facts of his life and weaves them into a fictional tale of historical complexity.

A Matter of Interpretation is a well presented book with a sumptuous cover which reminded me of a beautifully illustrated medieval manuscript. It's also a commendable debut novel by a talented historical fiction writer.

About the Author

Born in Dublin, Elizabeth is an academic who lives in Italy, where she teaches English at the University of Pisa. She is a widely published author of short stories, essays and translations of literary works into Italian. A Matter of Interpretation is her debut novel. In her spare time, Elizabeth sings in the choir of the Scuola Normale, Pisa.

Twitter @bizzieauthor #MatterOfInterpretation



Monday, 9 September 2019

Blog Tour ~ Boxer Boys Collection by Nick Rippington

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the Boxer Boys Collection Blog Tour

Boxed Collection out 9th September

My thanks to the author and to Books On The Bright Side for my invitation to this blog tour

Some Family feuds just won’t go away… For 40 years the Dolans and the Marshalls have lived side by side on the same rundown housing estate in east London. While teens Gary Marshall and Arnie Dolan forge a close friendship, fighting constant battles to survive both on the streets and closer to home, the relationship between their parents is complicated and, at times, toxic. Gradually family secrets emerge which have their roots in the early 80s… and Gary and Arnie realise their entire upbringing was built on lies.

Here are my thoughts on Spark Out

Spark Out starts with real insight into what makes this crime fiction series so compelling. Written as it is with a fine eye for detail and a compelling turn of phrase, the author doesn't shy away from recreating a fairly bleak time in our history. A time when there was social injustice on a wide scale and where the growing discontent between the have and the have nots seemed to grow ever wider.

For 'Big Mo' Dolan, taking the Thatcherite philosophy of getting on his bike to find work opens up a whole new meaning to the term job seekers. Wanting to do right by his family and still earn the respect he thinks is his due, means that Mo has some difficult choices ahead of him, and this forms the basis of how his life starts to unfold in the rough and violent world where only the most craftiest of individuals can hope to survive with any sign of longevity.

I think that the author really gets to grips with this fierce and ferocious way of life. Always telling it like it is, there is, quite simply, no room for sentimentality in the world that Mo inhabits. Dark and gritty violence is sometimes the only language that the people in Mo’s world understand and the author brings this world to life in graphic detail. And yet, there is also a perceptive side to the story, particularly, in the way that Mo’s long suffering wife, Beryl deals with her relationship with her husband, and also the effect on Mo’s son, Chuck, who is doomed to be forever in his father’s shadow. 

The author has done a commendable job of bringing this destructive world to life whilst still maintaining the notion that the idea of family rises above everything else.

Dark and gritty, Spark Out continues this gangster series with characteristic style.

About the Author

NICK RIPPINGTON is one of the victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal you never hear about. 

As the newspaper’s Welsh Sports Editor, he was made redundant with two days notice when Rupert Murdoch closed down Europe’s biggest-selling tabloid in 2011. 

On holiday at the time, Nick was never allowed back into the building, investigators sealed off the area with crime scene tape and seized his computer, which contained all the secrets to his Fantasy Football selections.

Handed the contents of his desk in a black bin bag in a murky car park, deep throat style, Nick was at a crossroads – married just two years earlier and with a wife and 9-month-old baby to support. Options were limited but self-publishing was booming. Having hit on an idea for a UK gangland thriller taking place against the backdrop of the Rugby World Cup, in 2015 he produced Crossing The Whitewash.

The book was praised by many, received an honourable mention in the genre category of the Writers’ Digest self-published eBook awards and more than 25 five-star reviews on both sides of the pond. 

Almost two years after Crossing The Whitewash came the second in the Boxer Boys series, a prequel called Spark Out, which was released in paperback on July 1 and for Kindle on July 10, 2017. The book received an award for best cover of 2017 with the Chill With A Book website, along with a readers award, before receiving the IndieBRAG medallion from a prestigious site covering Independent writers and publishers throughout the world.

The third book in the Boxer Boys series Dying Seconds, a sequel to Crossing the Whitewash, was released in December 2018.

Married to Liz, Nick is now a full-time back bench designer on the Daily Star sports desk and has two daughters – Jemma, 36, and Olivia, 8. A Bristolian at heart, he lives near Ilford, Essex. In the past he has worked for the Sunday Mirror, Wales on Sunday and Media Wales in Cardiff as an executive editor.

Twitter @nickripp #BoxerBoysCollection