Saturday, 24 October 2020

Blog Tour ~ The Puzzle Woman by Anna Ellory

50867962
Lake Union Publishing
20 October 2020

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


Berlin, 1989. 

Siblings Rune and Lotte are awakened by Mama and told to follow her quietly into the night. Last time they snuck away from Papa, with Mama bruised and broken, they were back within a week. But this time they are starting a new life, Mama says—where nobody can hurt them again. 

Ten years later, the memories of their escape are blurry; Mama is long gone and the siblings are back at Papa’s house. But when they receive a mysterious notebook that seems to have come from Mama, Papa tears it apart. Could there be more to their past than they’ve been led to believe? With Rune paralysed by fear, Lotte takes their fate into her own hands. 

When she learns about the ‘Puzzle Women’ working tirelessly to reconstruct files shredded by the former secret police, she begs them to help her piece Mama’s story back together. But as Papa’s threats against both siblings escalate, can they unite to learn the full, brutal truth in Mama’s own words at last?

What did I think about it..

This is one of those stories which grabs you right from the start with an emotional connection to the characters, particularly, devoted siblings, Rune and Lotte, and which doesn't let go of your heart until the whole of this compelling story is told.

Beautifully written, with strong characteristaion and a powerful sense of time and place, we come to share in Lottie's quest as she tries to put together the pieces of ripped paper which make up her mother's journal. However, Lotte can't do this alone, so she enlists the help of the amazing 'Puzzle' women. A group of workers who have a special talent for reassembling shredded secret police files, piecing together the shards of lives which have been shattered and broken. 

Moving, silently and swiftly, forwards and backwards in time, between the momentous year of 1989 when Berlin's wall finally crumbled, to a time, ten years later, when Lotte and Rune are having to live with the frightening knowledge that their mother is gone from them. I know that I am being deliberately vague about the whole premise of the story but this is such a powerful read that I fear to spoil it would do the author a great disservice. More than once I read with tears in my eyes at the injustice that was meted out, not just to those who lived in the shadows of Berlin's secret police, but also of the abuse suffered by wives and mothers who were destroyed by their violent and uncaring men.

Whilst The Puzzle Women is about state injustice, domestic violence and abuse, it's also about love in all its many guises and, eventually, there's a sense of hope even when all the odds are stacked against you. This is not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination but it's so beautifully written that parts of it, I am sure will stay with me for a very long time.



About the Author

Anna Ellory is a former nurse from Bath. She completed an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where she was mentored by author Fay Weldon. Anna was inspired to write The Puzzle Women by her own experience of surviving domestic abuse, her research into the first women’s refuges in Europe, and the real- life ‘puzzle women’ who pieced together the Stasi’s shredded past.


The Puzzle Women by Anna Ellory is out now, published by Lake Union, priced £8.99 in paperback original.

Twitter @AnnaEllory #ThePuzzleWomen

@ed_pr

@AmazonPub



Friday, 23 October 2020

Blog Tour ~ Author spotlight ~ The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson by Lauren H Brandenburg

 

Delighted to host today's first Blog Tour stop


53120676
Lion Fiction
23 October 2020

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

It is said that something magical happens during the festival season in Coraloo, something unexplainable. People tend to be a little crazier, reckless. Maybe it's because it coincides the full moon, but Coraloo's constable, Roy Blackwell, is beginning to think it's something else. That said, Roy has other things on his mind, like marrying Margarette Toft. A controversial decision as the Toft and the Blackwell families have a hatred for one another that is older than the town itself. Tradition collides with superstition as the feuding families compete to organize the events surrounding the most talked about wedding in the history of Coraloo. Despite the array of minor catastrophes that ensue, and the timings clashing with a four-week long festival celebrating a legendary beaver, Roy and Margarette hold fast and declare they will do whatever it takes to wed. That is until Roy unearths a town secret - a murder involving a pair of scissors, an actor with a severe case of kleptomania, and the mysterious marriage of Innis Wilkinson. Can good come out of unearthing the past - or will only heartbreak follow?


**I'm delighted that Lauren has  joined us today on her blog tour**





Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Lauren. Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson? 

I would definitely say the first flash came from my mother. She made wedding dresses when I was a young girl. So, I have always had this vivid memory of my mother surrounded by laces and satins. I would just sit and watch as she made the most gorgeous gowns for friends and family. When I had to give Innis Wilkinson a reason to wear a pair of antique sewing shears, I knew that she too would have the same memory of her mother. 


How does The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson fit in with the previous book? 

The reader meets Innis Wilkinson for only a few short moments in The Death of Mungo Blackwell. Innis is the cleaning lady at the Coraloo Flea Market who wears these rather heavy sewing shears around her neck all of the time. We are also introduced to Roy Blackwell the town constable in Mungo, and for a brief, uncomfortable second meet who will become his fiancé, Margarette Toft. The rivalry between the two families is already well established by this point, however The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson can stand alone for the reader who has never read The Death of Mungo Blackwell. 


The sequel is sometimes considered more difficult to write – were there any challenges with this book, and if so can you tell us how you overcame them? 

Oh my goodness, yes! I had such a hard time with the second book as it took me nearly two years to truly find contentment with The Death of Mungo Blackwell and six months to turn out The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson. We had so much going on in our lives – a move, a change in schools – that at one point my editor said they felt I had lost my magic and I literally had to go back and rewrite entire scenes and fix my phrasing. For me, it was a bit personal. I not only had to take a deep breath and learn to rest, I had to figure out what that magic was. And for me, it had a lot to do with remembering my joy in writing – the art of storytelling. I also looked for a bit of inspiration in the things I found most lovely in the book, trying to dwell on those things so as to really bring about my voice… the magic. 


Your writing is very atmospheric – how do you ‘set the scene’ in your novels and how much research did you need to do in order to bring this book……. series to life? 

(Oh, thank you! What a lovely thing to say!) I actually study lots of images of British villages and landscaping. Even though I am not specific to Coraloo’s location, I really want my readers to wonder… I want them to imagine Coraloo forty-five minutes from whatever city they are closer to whether it be in the US or UK. There is something so absolutely charming about England, but I feel it important to pay homage to my Kentucky home. So, there is a lot of Kentucky traditions and flavour that pop into the book as well. I usually research as I go… the hard part is not getting so distracted! I look up lots of recipes and lovely places. That’s how I want Coraloo to feel to the reader – a lovely escape. 


Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they what you expected them to be? 

I miss them! And sometimes I feel a bit guilty about setting them aside to write someone else’s story. Usually my favourites will make a few fun appearances in the next book, just so my readers can see what they’ve been up to from one book to the next. And it’s funny, because my characters definity develop as I’m writing them – they become stronger, more comfortable in their own skin, finding virtue in their flaws. Often times the side characters surprise me the most, how they work themselves into the most important part of the tale. 


Tell us about your writing day - are you disciplined, strictly 9 til 5, or are you more of a have a cup of coffee and think about it sort of writer? 

I’m not exactly sure disciplined is the correct word… But I do thrive on routine. I quickly learned that a writer’s day is full of far more than actual writing – emails, marketing, blog posts, social media. And being a stay home mom adds another layer for my to-do list. I try to officially get started on my writing day after a bite of lunch. Then I usually start off with a bit of prayer and study. It calms me down and gets my mind in the right place. I can write a lot in a short amount of time – editing is my favourite layer of the process – so a messy first draft is totally acceptable. If I can write about 1,000 words, I feel I’ve done well for the day. And I think it was Stephen King who said something about stopping when you feel the plot really moving and not when you find it hard to type the next sentence. You want to “want” to come back to it the next day. That’s typically my goal. My other goal is to be present with my children when they come home from school. So, I try to be done a few minutes before they let out. 

Can you tell us if you have another novel planned? 

Yes… I actually have two more stirring in my brain that are set in Coraloo. One is about Pastor Donaldson who is referenced in The Death of Mungo Blackwell – his namesake informs one of the other characters that it was Pastor Donaldson who delivered him in the middle of the Coraloo Flea Market to an audience that tips rather well. We also get to see a bit more of Pastor Donaldson in The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson – after all, if there is going to be a wedding, we might need a pastor. And the second is about a lady known in town as Widow Melviney. I dropped a bit of a clue to her whereabouts in The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson, but you won’t hear much about her until Pastor Donaldson has his story told. But I really think you’ll like her… she has a bit of a thing for pirates. 



What did I think about The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson


I fell in love with the quirky town of Coraloo in the first book of this series which began with The Death of Mungo Blackwell and have been delighted to return there in this intriguing story about The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson which reunites us with some of the characters from the previous book but also gives us more of insight into the feud between the Tofts and the Blackwells which comes gloriously to life when Margarette Toft  and Roy Blackwell announce their engagement at a gathering of stunned relatives.

There's an old fashioned charm about these stories which help to fix them firmly in your heart. There's nothing at all to dislike and I find that I am reading with a huge smile on my face and in these troubled times that feeling is worth its weight in gold. For the time it took me to read about The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson, and what an intriguing story that turned out to be, I was transported into a world of quirky characters who get themselves into some improbable situations, all of which are made probable thanks to the author's skill in bringing them gloriously alive in the imagination.

There's intrigue, drama, fun and laughter, all wrapped up in a delightful story about love, friendship ...and family feuds.




Lauren H. Brandenburg is also the author of The Death of Mungo Blackwell as well as middle-grade series The Books of the Gardener. Lauren and her husband, Jamie, live in Nashville, Tennessee with their children.


Twitter @LHBrandenburg #TheMarriageofInnisWilkinson

@midaspr








Thursday, 22 October 2020

Mini Blog Blitz ~ Endless Skies by Jane Cable

 

Delighted to host one of the stops on this Mini Blog Blitz


Sapere Books
July 2020

My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel's random Resources for my copy of the book
and the invitation to this Mini Blog Blitz


After yet another disastrous love affair – this time with her married boss – Rachel Ward has been forced to leave her long-term position in Southampton for a temporary role as an Archaeology Lecturer at Lincoln University.

Rachel has sworn off men and is determined to spend her time away clearing her head and sorting her life out.

But when one of her students begins flirting with her, it seems she could be about to make the same mistakes again...

She distracts herself by taking on some freelance work for local property developer, Jonathan Daubney.

He introduces her to an old Second World War RAF base. And from her very first visit something about it gives Rachel chills…

As Rachel makes new friends and delves into local history, she is also forced to confront her own troubled past.


What did I think about it..

After a disastrous love affair, Rebecca Ward is advised to relocate from her home in Southampton, to take up a lecturer's post at the University of Lincoln. Once there she gets drawn into a mystery surrounding a proposed business project on a disused WW2 airbase. In Rachel's capacity as an archaeology specialist she is intrigued by what she discovers at the airbase and is soon determined to do all she can to unlock its secrets.

With her troubles behind her, Rachel begins to enjoy her life in Lincoln and makes some rather special friends, especially, Jem and his gorgeous dog, Toast, the rather handsome student, Ben, and lovely, Esther who lives in a local care home and who knows rather more about the WW2 airbase than at first appears. However, it is the charismatic business man, Jonathan Daubney, who comes play such an important part in Rachel's life. 

With echoes of the past seeping into the present there is a lovely sense of anticipation throughout the novel as we are left wondering just what Rachel will discover as she delves further into the history of the airbase and the secrets of those people, from the past, whose shadows seems to linger in the air. 

Beautifully written, as I knew it would be, as this author can always be relied upon to tell a good story. Endless Skies has all the right ingredients for an engrossing read, there's a smattering of intrigue, a hint of danger and a delicious sense of romance. The characters fairly zing with life, the setting is entirely authentic and, whether in the past, or the present, there is always a strong, and totally believable, sense of time and place. 

In these troubled times, escaping into a good story is my comfort and for the past few days I have been truly comforted by reading this lovely story about friendship, betrayal, intrigue and ultimately, love.



About the Author




I write romance with a twist, that extra something to keep readers guessing right to the end. While my books are character driven my inspiration is always a British setting; so far a village in Yorkshire(The Cheesemaker’s House), a Hampshire wood (The Faerie Tree), gorgeous Studland Bay in Dorset(Another You) and rural Lincolnshire (Endless Skies). 

I was born and raised in Cardiff but spent most of my adult life living near Chichester before my husband and I upped sticks and moved to Cornwall three years ago.I published my first two novels independently and have now been signed by Sapere Books. I am an active member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and contributing editor to Frost online magazine


Twitter @JaneCable #Endless Skies


Amazon UK currently on offer at 99p until the 23rd October

@rararesources

@SapereBooks









Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Blog Tour ~ A Conspiracy of Silence by Anna Legat (Giveaway)

 

Delighted to host one of today's closing stops on this blog tour



Headline Accent
15 October

#5 DI Gillian Marsh Series

My thanks to the author and Rachel's Random resources for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to the blog tour


When a body is found in the grounds of a prestigious Wiltshire private school, DI Gillian Marsh takes on the case. The young groundsman, Bradley Watson, has been shot dead, pierced through the heart with an arrow.

As the investigation gathers pace, DI Marsh is frustrated to find the Whalehurst staff and students united in silence. This scandal must not taint their reputation. But when Gillian discovers pictures of missing Whalehurst pupil, fifteen-year-old Rachel Snyder, on Bradley's dead body - photos taken on the night she disappeared, and he was murdered - the link between the two is undeniable.

But what is Whalehurst refusing to reveal? And does Gillian have what it takes to bring about justice?


What did I think about it...

When the body of a young man is found in the grounds of an exclusive boarding school it opens up a whole can of worms which on closer inspection causes DI Marsh and her investigative team a whole heap of trouble. Add into the mix the desperate search for a young pupil of the school who also went missing at the same time and before long this complex investigation is throwing up rather more questions than it does answers.

DI Gillian Marsh is now firmly established in her role as detective inspector and it's obvious that she doesn't suffer fools or allow anyone to get in the way of her investigation and that includes a belligerent headmaster who takes it as a personal affront when the detectives want to tear his school apart in their search for vital clues into the  murder mystery.

The story moves along at a cracking pace and the author keeps the momentum alive by adding in the occasional red herring but always with a fine eye for detail and a keen sense of mystery. I've really enjoyed being in DI Marsh's company as she pieces together all the clues, and the cracking conclusion to the story is definitely one I didn't see coming.

A Conspiracy of Silence is the #5 book in the DI Gillian Marsh series and whilst it can be read as a standalone story as with all book series it's always better to start at the very beginning.



About the Author




Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She read law at the University of South Africa and Warsaw University, then gained teaching qualifications in New Zealand. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.


Twitter @LegatWriter



@rararesources


Giveaway to win a DI Marsh series mug and the first four books in the series (UK only)



DI Marsh Series First four books Swimming with Sharks, Nothing to Lose, Thicker than Blood and Sandman.


 *Terms and Conditions UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below*


Rafflecopter


The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. 

Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which Rachel's Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.





Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Book Review ~ Wintering : A Season with Geese by Stephen Rutt

Elliot & Thompson
15 October 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

 

A celebration of winter and of the bird that heralds it; the perfect seasonal gift book for bird lovers

The arrival of huge flocks of geese in the UK is one of the most evocative and powerful harbingers of winter; a vast natural phenomenon to capture the imagination. So Stephen Rutt found when he moved to Dumfries in the autumn of 2018, coinciding with the migration of thousands of pink-footed geese who spend their winter in the Firth.

Thus begins an extraordinary odyssey. From his new surroundings in the north to the wide open spaces of his childhood home in the south, Stephen traces the lives and habits of the most common species of goose in the UK and explores the place they have in our culture, our history and, occasionally, on our festive table.

Wintering takes you on a vivid tour of the in-between landscapes the geese inhabit, celebrating the short days, varied weathers and long nights of the season during which we share our home with these large, startling, garrulous and cooperative birds.


What did I think about it..

It's that time of year when I look to the skies to see large skeins of geese flying south. I live in the north of England, reasonably close, well, as the geese fly, to a number of wetland areas. I like to imagine that they are heading off to spend their winter at one of those sheltered places. I've no idea the type of geese, but their honking cry can be heard even when they are a couple of hundred of feet in the sky above me.


Photo Credit: Digital Images



Wintering celebrates the migration of geese in a beautifully descriptive book which looks at all the reasons why they leave their summer breeding grounds to head south to warmer climes. We think of the British Isles as being a cold place over winter and yet the geese must find it positively balmy when compared with the desperate chill of the Arctic tundra, or the icy cliffs of Svalbard.  

The author shares his considerable knowledge with references to others who have also made geese their area of expertise and together they give a fascinating glimpse into the migratory life of this stalwart and rather belligerent bird. After an informative introduction into how the author came to live in Dumfries just as thousands of pink footed geese were making their annual migratory journey south, the book is then divided into easy to peruse sections which describe the more common geese, namely Pink-footed, Barnacle, Greylag, Brent, White-fronted and Bean, who are often found wintering in our countryside or in those areas which are managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

The author has a lovely way of bringing these birds to life in an almost poetic way, marveling at their ability to adapt and settle when conditions haven't always been to their advantage but with more considerate management their numbers are now increasing and we are so much the better for that. It also observes, not just the arrival of the geese, but also the natural beauty of the British Isles and the joy of the natural world in all weathers from the start of September when the geese make their noisy arrival, to April when they head back to the Arctic Tundra and the cliffs of Svalbard to start the cycle all over again.

I live very close to the Leeds and Liverpool canal and its a real joy to see geese making their home on the waterways. I think the Greylag are my favourite, their inquisitive faces and delicate orange beak make them endearing even when they honk and hiss for getting too close with the camera.



Greylag Goose
Photo Credit : Digital Images





About the Author

Stephen Rutt is an award wining writer, birder, naturalist and book reviewer whose work has appeared in EarthLines Magazine,Zoomorphic, The Harrier, Surfbirds, BirdGuides and the East Anglian Times. He is the recipient of the Roger Deakin Award from the Society of Athors for The Seafarers, his first book, which won the Saltire First Book of the Year in 2019. Stephen currently lives in Dumfries.


Twitter @steverutt #Wintering

@eandtbooks

@alisonmenziespr




Monday, 19 October 2020

Book Review ~ His Castilian Hawk by Anna Belfrage

 


Published 2020

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book



For bastard-born Robert FitzStephan, being given Eleanor d’Outremer in marriage is an honour. For Eleanor, this forced wedding is anything but a fairy tale.

Robert FitzStephan has served Edward Longshanks loyally since the age of twelve. Now he is riding with his king to once and for all bring Wales under English control.

Eleanor d’Outremer—Noor to family—lost her Castilian mother as a child and is left entirely alone when her father and brother are killed. When ordered to wed the unknown Robert FitzStephan, she has no choice but to comply.

Two strangers in a marriage bed is not easy. Things are further complicated by Noor’s blood-ties to the Welsh princes and by covetous Edith who has warmed Robert’s bed for years.

Robert’s new wife may be young and innocent, but he is soon to discover that not only is she spirited and proud, she is also brave. Because when Wales lies gasping and Edward I exacts terrible justice on the last prince and his children, Noor is determined to save at least one member of the House of Aberffraw from the English king.

Will years of ingrained service have Robert standing with his king or will he follow his heart and protect his wife, his beautiful and fierce Castilian hawk?


What did I think about it...


Robert Fitzstephan is rewarded for his loyalty to his King when he is given the plentiful lands that surround Orton Manor, but it's not just the manor he receives, Robert also gets to marry the manor's custodian, the beautiful, Eleanor d'Outremer. However, the relationship is difficult from the beginning, as not only does Robert have to come to terms with an arranged marriage to a teenager he didn't need, or plan for, but he must also try to keep his temperament mistress under control.

What then follows is a lively medieval adventure which takes us from the border lands of Wales, to the sumptuous, and often brutal, court of King Edward I. The thirteenth century world comes gloriously alive as all the difficulties of a King at odds with his  people comes sharply into focus. The ferocity of Edward I's campaign against the Welsh is well documented as is the King's quest to eradicate all evidence of Welsh ancestry. 

In this authentically portrayed story, the plight of the Welsh is described in a forceful and realistic way which doesn't shy away from describing the brutality of a medieval war. However, His Castilian Hawk is not all about war, politics and power, there's also a sparkling love story at its heart, which has its fair share of delicious passion, insane jealousy and deep seated resentment. 

The story has everything I have come to expect - thwarted romance, passionate response, and more than enough medieval politics to keep me enthralled and totally involved in a medieval world of danger and intrigue, a world which this clever storyteller recreates so beautifully.

Beautifully written and impeccably researched, His Castilian Hawk is the start of a passionate medieval adventure which has all the trademarks of this talented author's love for the medieval world. The story is set to continue with The Castilian Pomegranate in 2021 - I can't wait to find out more about Robert and Eleanor's passionate adventures.😊


About the Author



Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. 

More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.


Twitter @abelfrageauthor









Sunday, 18 October 2020

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Nicola Pryce

 

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo






🍴I'm delighted to welcome, author, Nicola Pryce to our Sunday Brunch today🍴






🍴 Good morning, Nicola, What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch? 

Jo, I’m not bringing you any food, I’m taking you out. You’ll need your walking boots on and bring a stick as we’ll be setting off early on my favourite walk along the coast path from Fowey to Polkerris. It’s 4.8 miles. When we arrive, you can choose whatever you like but I think I may go for the homemade soup and a gluten free roll. I better warn you though – it’s a very steep climb after our brunch and another five miles back, so best not to have anything too heavy. 


🍴 Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz? 

I think I’ll order some tea but let’s be honest, it’s smuggling country and they do a wonderful hot rum toddy! 


🍴Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio? 

If the weather is fine, we’ll be on the terrace of the Rashleigh Inn, and if it’s wet we’ll be sitting by the window looking out over the sandy beach of Polkerris. 





🍴Shall we have music playing in the background? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you happy? 

No music. If we’re outside we’ll be listening to the waves and cries of the seagulls and if we’re inside, we’ll be listening to the crackling of the fire. 


🍴Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today? 

I’ve invited Jane Slade to join us. She lived in Polruan (which is just across the river from Fowey) and was the inspiration behind Daphne Du Maurier’s first book The Loving Spirit. In the late 1800’s her husband was a boat builder and named a fruit schooner after her. Daphne de Maurier came across the old boat and was drawn to the ship’s figure head which now rests outide Ferryside where she wrote the book. After her husband died, Jane Slade took over the running of the shipyard and proved to be a very sucessful business woman. I can’t wait to talk to her about the shipyard and what Polruan and Fowey were like in the second half of the 1800’s. The Loving Spirit is not one of my favourite of Daphne Du Maurier’s novels but it did inspre me to make my own character, Rose Pengelly, a ship builder’s daughter. Back in 1793 it was unheard of for a woman to run a shipyard and I believe Jane Slade was the first. It will also be very interesting to hear what Jane has to say about how she is depicted in The Loving Spirit. 







🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch? 

As we walk along the coastal path we’ll stop for a while in Polridmouth Cove which is the inspiration behind my favourite book Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. We can read the description of the cove and the dramatic goings on in the boathouse as we sit on the beach. I love the book and I love Polridmouth Cove so we’re in for a treat. 


Polridmouth Cove


Polridmouth Cove




🍴When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet! 

When I’m writing I find it hard to have another strong voice in my head but over the years it has got easier and I read a lot for pleasure. I read most nights before I go to sleep but I prefer reading during the holidays when I can happily read all day. I prefer historical fiction and detective novels and I never read books set at the same time and place as my own books. If I’m honest, my reading of books has changed since I’ve been writing; I look at the structure more now and character development. The book I would like to read has been sitting on my shelf for several years now – The House on The Strand by Daphne du Maurier needs careful reading and I haven’t had time to commit to it yet. 


🍴What’s the oldest book on your book shelf? 

My godfather sent me a beautiful edition of Evelina by Fanny Burney in 1970. It is illustrated by Hugh Thompson and was printed in 1903. I absolutely adored it as a teenager and it remains one of my most precious possessions. It must have influenced me over the years. I love the book and often re-read it, though I have a modern copy to prevent this one from getting damaged. Evelina was first published in 1778 and is a cracking read. Jane Austen is said to have been influenced by Fanny Burney. 





🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels? 

Where we’ve been walking – along the south coast of Cornwall. My husband and I have been sailing into Fowey and Polruan for twenty-five years and the walk we have just done is the path my heroine takes in The Cornish Dressmaker. I base all my stories on real places, and I search through the archives in the Records Office (now based in Kresen Kernow in Redruth) for the facts behind my inspiration. They say you don’t have to write about where you know, but I really couldn’t write my stories without following in my characters’ footsteps. I’ve been to every inn I mention, every cove they find themselves in, every house they live in, and every path they walk along. 


🍴Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer? 

Definitely winter! But the strangest thing is, I can’t settle to write a new book in the same place as I’ve written another. I have to write it in a different place, be it kitchen, dining room or bedrooms! I have an office now and I’ve had to change the position of my desk to write my present novel. 


🍴When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing? 

If I’m writing to a deadline I’m very focussed. I prefer to finish well before the deadline though as I need time to revisit the book after a long enough break. It’s a double-edged sword – if you have a deadline you have the pressure of meeting it, but if you don’t have a deadline, you have the pressure of not knowing if the book is going to be accepted. Deadlines certainly focus the mind. 


🍴Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs? 

In my case it’s having copies of my other books to hand, an absolute belief in the story I’m writing, enough quality time to write, and the ability to ignore everything else that needs to be done! 


🍴What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress? 

My latest novel is the fifth in my series. It takes place in 1798 and follows my heroine, Amelia Carew, as she struggles between her new found love for a young physician, Luke Bohenna, and her old love for her fiancé, Midshipman Edmund Melville, who has returned to England having been declared dead. It is available from November. 



Corvus
5 November 2020 
Amazon



Cornwall, 1798.

Eighteen months have passed since Midshipman Edmund Melville was declared missing, presumed dead, and Amelia Carew has mended her heart and fallen in love with a young physician, Luke Bohenna. But, on her twenty-fifth birthday, Amelia suddenly receives a letter from Edmund announcing his imminent return. In a state of shock, devastated that she now loves Luke so passionately, she is torn between the two.

When Edmund returns, it is clear that his time away has changed him - he wears scars both mental and physical. Amelia, however, is determined to nurse him back to health and honour his heroic actions in the Navy by renouncing Luke.

But soon, Amelia begins to question what really happened to Edmund while he was missing. As the threads of truth slip through her fingers, she doesn't know who to turn to: Edmund, or Luke? 


More about Nicola


Nicola Pryce trained as a nurse at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. She loves literature and history and has an Open University degree in Humanities. She's a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. She and her husband love sailing and together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure. If she's not writing or gardening, you'll find her scrubbing decks.

Pengelly's Daughter is her first novel, then The Captain's Girl, The Cornish Dressmaker, and The Cornish Lady. A Cornish Betrothal will be published in November.

Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Historical Writers' Association 



🍴Nicola, where can we follow you on social media? 🍴


Twitter @NPryce_Author


 Instagram: nicola_pryce_author 




Thank you so much for inviting me to join you, Jo. I’ve really enjoyed our brunch together. If you like, we can walk to Polperro next time and stop off in the smuggling cove, Lansallos Bay, where Celia lands after Captain Arnaud Lefèvre drops her off in The Captain’s Girl.


Thanks so much, Nicola, for joining us for Sunday Brunch 

It's been great fun!


Follow us on Twitter @Jaffareadstoo

#SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo






Saturday, 17 October 2020

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Devil's Crossing by Hana Cole

 

On Hist Fic Saturday


Let's go back to ...1212


Sharpe Books
2020

My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this book


1212. The Chartrain, France.

Gui is a troubled priest who has been shielding his secret family for years.

Agnes, his beloved, is a falsely-accused heretic he rescued from the Inquisition’s pyre.

Their son Etienne, unaware of his father’s true identity, is coming of age. Tired of his lowly shepherd’s life, he seeks adventure. The Crusade is the perfect opportunity to prove himself to the world. He has no reason to suspect the men offering him passage overseas are not what they seem.

Discovering that Etienne has been sold into slavery, Gui and Agnes set off to find him. If Gui is ever to tell his son the truth, he must give up his comfortable compromises and fight the battle of his life against the institution he has served devoutly.

Meanwhile, Agnes guards a secret of her own; she must face her past in a confrontation with the venal Amaury, Lord of Maintenon, that will either set her free or claim her life.

If they are to save their son and expose the slave trade, they must risk everything to overcome the powerful enemies who will stop at nothing to protect their positions and silence them.


What did I think about it..

The Devil's Crossing is a fascinating glimpse into a period of history that I hadn't heard of before, namely, The Children's Crusade which took place in France and Italy during the tumultuous early years of the thirteenth century. 

Gui and Agnes live, from necessity, a quiet life, each have secrets they would rather not expose and it breaks Gui's heart not to be able to acknowledge that Etienne is his son for these are dangerous times and there are those who seek to do Gui, Agnes and Etienne great harm.

The author writes well and brings this forgotten period in history alive in a very readable and thrilling way. There is much to take in both in terms of plot and malice and there's an array of decidedly villainous characters who make your blood run cold. Throughout the story there's a real sense of danger especially as we get drawn further into the story of the crusade and Gui and Agnes's desperate search for Etienne, who, inadvertently, gets himself caught up in a situation which will lead them all into grave danger.

Complex, intriguing, and with a real sense of time and place, The Devil's Crossing is a dark and dramatic story by a talented new author. It's definitely a story which will stay with me for quite some time.


About the Author


Hana Cole is a novelist and historian. Born in Essex to an Anglo-Italian family, she studied Economics at the London School of Economics and Medieval History at Oxford where she gained her Masters. After living in Turin for several years, she travelled widely in the Middle East and India before returning to the UK. She has worked as a film subtitle translator, financial analyst and a yoga teacher. She now lives in Manningtree, Essex, with her husband, daughter and two cats.


Twitter @HanaScribe

@SharpeBooks










Friday, 16 October 2020

🎄Blog Tour ~ Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest

 

🎄Delighted to host one of today's stops on this festive Blog Tour🎄


Pan Macmillan
15 October 2020

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


The friends return in a moving story of love, bravery and hope set in 1940 – a guaranteed winter warmer full of festive spirit. Bestseller Elaine Everest is the author of the much loved Woolworths Girls saga series. 

It’s late 1940 and the war feels closer to home than ever for Rose Neville and her staff at the Lyon’s Teashop in Margate. The worry of rationing hangs overhead as the Nippies do their best to provide a happy smile and a hot cup of tea for their customers. When a bombing raid targets the Kent coastline, Lyon’s is badly hit, throwing the future of the cafe into jeopardy. The light in Rose’s life is her dashing fiancé Captain Ben Hargreaves and she’s busy planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new stepdaughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother? When Rose’s half-sister Eileen makes contact, it seems that Rose’s dreams of having a sibling are coming true at long last. But her friends begin to suspect that she’s hiding something… As the wedding draws near, the bombings intensify, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . 


What did I think about it..

This is such a lovely story and it's not overly festive so that it can be read at any time of year and yet there is a lovely Christmas finale which warmed my heart. 

The story starts in 1940 with a dramatic prologue which had me pondering throughout the story just how Rose and her mother, Flora could have found themselves in such a dangerous situation but the author very cleverly fills in all the missing pieces as the story concludes. Meeting up with Rose, Lily, Katie, and of course the indomitable Flora has been a real treat as we pick up where the first book, The Teashop Girls, left off. These stoical young women who work at the Lyons Tea Room in Margate have more than their fair share of drama especially when the town is targeted by enemy bombardment and most of their time is spent hunkered down in the air raid shelters. 

Throughout it all there is a real sense of camaraderie and everyone just seems to pull together and gets on with what needs doing. I especially loved the introduction of Lady Diana, Rose's soon to be mother-in-law, who despite her posh status, is far from being standoffish and soon brings her own special charm to to the Sea View guesthouse. Whilst Rose features strongly in the story it's not all about her and the other characters soon get their moments to shine, it was especially lovely to catch up with Mildred and Anya again.

Christmas with the Teashop Girls is a really lovely continuation of this WW2 saga. There's a genuine feeling of love and empathy from all the characters and the overriding sense of wartime spirit comes across in a heart warming story about love, life and friendship.


Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest is out now, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £7.99 as paperback original.



About the Author




Elaine Everest is from North West Kent and she grew up listening to stories of the war years in her home town of Erith, which features in her bestselling Woolworths Girls series. A former journalist, and author of nonfiction books for dog owners, Elaine has written over sixty short stories for the women's magazine market. When she isn't writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Hextable, Kent. She lives with her husband, Michael and sheepdog Henry.


Twitter @ElaineEverest #TeashopGirlsChristmas

@panmacillan

@ed_pr








Thursday, 15 October 2020

Blog Tour ~ City of Ghosts by Ben Creed

 


Delighted to host today's Blog Tour stop on Publication Day


Welbeck Publishing Group
15 October 2020

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



Some crimes will haunt you forever… Leningrad, 1951. 

Amid the endless darkness of a Russian winter, echoes of the devastating wartime siege and the menace of Stalin’s terrifying rule loom over the city. Revol Rossel – once a gifted young violinist destined for a brilliant career – is now a state militia cop. One night, five frozen corpses are found neatly arranged on railway lines cutting through the bright snow. The gruesome scene soon transports Rossel back to his former musical life – and to the brutal heart of the Soviet establishment – to the time when his dreams were shattered. Assailed by ghosts from his past and with the MGB breathing down his neck, Rossel must solve the mystery of the bodies on the tracks before he himself falls victim. But in Leningrad, some crimes will haunt you forever… 

What did I think about it..

City of Ghosts gets off to a dramatic start with the discovery of five frozen corpses on a remote railway line, and for state militia cop, Revol Rossel, the search is on to discover a killer, or killers, whose modus operandi is decidedly gruesome. Setting this rather bleak story amidst the brutal Soviet regime of the 1950s lends a shadowy and dangerous air of menace to what is a tightly packed crime thriller. 

Rossel is an interesting protagonist, his chequered past haunts him and whilst this lends an air of mystery, it also creates within him a sense of vulnerability making his character all the more susceptible to hurt. There's a lot of tense action in the novel and from the offset it's apparent that there is more to the discovery of the five corpses than at first appears and it would seem that Rossel is thwarted at every part of the investigation. Uncovering the truth isn't going to be easy for him especially when he gets drawn into vivid reminders of parts of his past which cause him great distress.The tension mounts as the story progresses and as Rossel starts to uncover a dreadful truth so the race is on to find the perpetrator.

City of Ghosts is a tightly written crime thriller which has all the necessary elements to keep you guessing. The post-war soviet uncertainty is captured well and the air of mistrust which affected daily life comes across with a genuine air of authenticity. I particularly enjoyed the musical references, the reasons for which become apparent as the story progresses.

Whenever I know the story has been written by a duo of writers I try to pinpoint individual writing styles and I am pleased to say that in City of Ghosts the writing is seamless and I didn't notice any alterations in style, or pace, throughout the whole of the story. City of Ghosts in the first book in a proposed trilogy.


About the Author


Ben Creed is the pseudonym for Chris Rickaby and Barney Thompson. City of Ghosts is the first book in a gripping trilogy and has sold in multiple international deals. 

Chris Rickaby spent twenty years working in advertising and copywriting. He started his own marketing agency, Everything Different, which he left a few years ago to focus on writing. He has written and produced various TV programmes for ITV and FIVE and created an award-winning crossplatform novel called Shuffle. Chris is from and still lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. 

Barney Thompson Before diverting to a career in journalism, Barney harboured ambitions of becoming a conductor and studied under the legendary conducting professor Ilya Musin at the St Petersburg Conservatory. He has worked at The Times and the Financial Times, and is now an editor and writer at the UN Refugee Agency. 


City of Ghosts by Ben Creed is out now, 

published by Welbeck, priced £8.99 as paperback original.


Twitter #BenCreed #CityofGhosts 

@WelbeckPublish

@ed_pr