Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Secret Keeper by Susan Lewis

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on The Secret Keeper Blog Tour

Arrow Publishing
9 August 2018

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

What's it all about..

You never forget your first love. Eighteen years ago, Olivia learned to live without Sean Kenyon. She moved on, building a life with her husband Richmond and their two children in the picturesque town Kesterley-on-Sea. But when Sean unexpectedly appears on Olivia’s doorstep, her world is turned upside down once more. As old feelings resurface, and new truths come to light, Olivia finds herself questioning everything. Is her husband really the person she thought he was? The past and present collide, and Olivia must uncover the truth before it’s too late. But if everyone is keeping secrets, how will she know who to trust?

What did I think about it..

Olivia and her husband, Richmond, seem on the surface to have the perfect marriage. With two teenage children, a lovely home and a successful business, their lives seem set on a perfect trajectory. But all is not as it seems in this paradise and when Olivia's first love, Sean Kenyon, unexpectedly appears back in her life, it unleashes all sorts of mayhem which threatens to change Olivia's life and that of her family forever.

The Secret Keeper is a beautifully written family drama which bears all the hallmarks of this talented author's ability to get right into the nitty gritty of family life. Olivia's story drew me in from the very beginning and I felt such huge sympathy for her as she battled her own demons alongside what was happening in her husband's complicated and messy life.

The tense atmosphere which starts to infiltrate the story adds a real sense of foreboding and as the story progressed I found that I was turning the pages faster and faster to try to discover just what was going on and so much wanted everything to work out well for Olivia and her family. The characters who dominate the story are an interesting bunch, some of them are not particularly likeable, but collectively they all add a lovely blend of light and some quite dark shade to the story.

The Secret Keeper is one of those intricate family mysteries which makes you thankful that your own family is really quite ordinary in comparison. It's definitely a perfect read for an afternoon in the garden.

Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of thirty-eight novels. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol. She lives in Gloucestershire.

Twitter @susandlewis #TheSecretKeeper


Blog Tour ~ Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the Bone Deep Blog Tour 

5 July 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and to Love Books Group for the invitation to be part of the blog tour
What's it all about..

What happens when you fall in love with the wrong person?

The consequences threaten to be far-reaching and potentially deadly. Bone Deep is a contemporary novel of sibling rivalry, love, betrayal and murder. It is a dual narrative, told in alternative chapters by Mac, a woman bent on keeping the secrets of the past from her only son, and the enigmatic Lucie, whose own past is something of a closed book. Their story is underpinned by the creaking presence of an abandoned water mill, and haunted by the local legend of two long-dead sisters, themselves rivals in love, and ready to point an accusing finger from the pages of history.

What did I think about it..

Told in alternating and quite compelling chapters Bone Deep exposes those deep and dark family secrets which have lain hidden for far too long. Mac, an elderly historian, is obsessed by an old story of two sisters whose fate seems to be intertwined with that of the old water mill which adjoins Mac's rural property. When Lucie is forced to flee her home she takes refuge as Mac's Girl Friday but soon the secrets which she is also keeping threaten to embroil the pair of them in some really dark goings on.

I really loved Bone Deep from the very beginning. There is a lovely mix of atmosphere; from light through to dark and all shades in between, and as the story gets deeper and deeper so the twists and turns in the story become ever more compelling. The author writes really well and has captured perfectly the rather creepy atmosphere of something not quite as it should be and there is a real sense of unease as the story starts to get deeper and deeper into the intertwining lives of Mac and Arthur her grown up son, and also of the complicated sibling dynamics which exists between Lucie and her younger sister, Jane. To say too much about what happens to them all and of how the story progresses would really be to give the game away, and Bone Deep is one of those clever psychological thrillers which should be read with no spoilers from me.

This is a clever and suspenseful story which plays havoc with your imagination and haunts your dreams for days after finishing the story.

Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Scotland. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. She returned to higher education her 40s, to study for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Dundee University. In 2016 she won Creative Scotland funding for a residency at Barry Mill, a National Trust for Scotland property. Her debut novel was Beneath the Skin (Polygon, 2016). She lives in Carnoustie.

Twitter @22_Ireland #BoneDeep



Monday, 13 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The White Cross by Richard Masefield..

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host  the first stop on The White Cross Blog Tour

Red Door Books
12 July2018

My thanks to the publishers and to Love Book Groups for the invitation to this blog tour
and also for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

‘A knight who isn’t skilled in arms can count for nothing in this world, remember that. It is your destiny to fight.’ 

With the words of his dead father ringing in his ears, Sir Garon leaves his new wife, Elise, and their green domain of Haddertun for blood and dust and disillusionment in Palestine. Meanwhile at home Elise is forced to fight for her survival and her honour in the brutal man’s world that is twelfth century England. Set against the backdrop of the Third Crusade and a villainous King Richard, The White Cross is a passionate and moving love story, and so much more – a thrilling and engaging novel that shines a fresh light on timeless issues of morality and faith and the futility of war.

What did I think about it..

I enjoy a crusade story and this one certainty packs a hefty punch as, coming in just at 530 pages, it certainly takes some committed reading time. It's a lively account of the relationship between Sir Garon, a crusader knight and his wife Elise. Garon's vivid recollections of the third crusade makes for interesting reading as does Elise's account of managing the couple's estate in her husband's absence. 

The story overall is divided into manageable sections with the narrative separated by the slightly unusual means of having different type-font for the main characters, a method which I found a little disconcerting at first, but as the story progressed I became more comfortable with the idea as it helps to place the characters very firmly in the story. Interspersed within Garon’s and Elise’s individual stories is that of Richard I, the Lionheart of our history, which depicts this enigmatic warrior king in an altogether more challenging light, and one which isn’t particularly flattering. That Richard is portrayed as selfish, vicious and arrogant is rather at odds with the image we have of a bounteous Crusader king whose chivalry and military success is the stuff of legend. But such is the way of historical fiction and it's interesting to have a different perspective.

The general historical feel of the story is good, and whilst there's a certain amount of colourful language, which may offend some, it certainly adds a realistic edginess to the story. The narrative flows throughout and there is enough historical detail to make the whole thing feel authentic. The author writes well and has an interesting turn of phrase. It is obvious that he has clearly done his research and this helps to bring time, place and history alive in the imagination.

A cousin of the poet, John Masefield, Richard has worked in a variety of spheres – as an actor and an adman, as a care manager and teacher at a school for disabled children and for many years as a livestock farmer. But always he has returned to writing. He is a regular speaker at literary and reading group meetings. He lives in Tenterden in Kent with his wife, Lee.

Twitter @RedDoorBooks #White Cross


Blog Tour ~ Kiss of Death by Paul Finch

Jaffareadstoo is really excited to host today's stop on the Kiss of Death Blog Tour

A Deadly Hunt

DS ‘Heck’ Heckenburg has been tasked with retrieving one of the UK’s most wanted men. But the trail runs cold when Heck discovers a video tape showing the fugitive in a fight for his life. A fight he has no chance of winning.

A Dangerous Game

Heck realises that there’s another player in this game of cat and mouse, and this time, they’ve not just caught the prize: they’ve made sure no one else ever does.

A Man Who Plays With Fire

How far will Heck and his team go to protect some of the UK’s most brutal killers? And what price is he willing to pay?

Could this be the end for Heck?

The Sunday Times bestseller returns with an unforgettable crime thriller. Fans of MJ Arlidge and Stuart MacBride won’t be able to put this down.

Don’t let them catch you…

What did I think about it...

The complex and convoluted investigation, code named Operation Sledgehammer, brings DS Mark 'Heck' Heckenburg into contact with a new partner, DC Gail Honeyford, who he worked with, some time ago, whilst on a previous investigation. Their new mission, as part of the Special Crime Unit, is to track down a number of cold cases and to discover the whereabouts of a vicious criminal who has evaded capture for far too long. This investigation is fraught with difficulty from the offset, and the complicated dynamics of working with Heckenburg makes for interesting reading.

I have to admit that this is the first book by this author I have read, and so to come into this crime series, at book seven, is perhaps not the best place to start. However, Kiss of Death works really well as a standalone novel, and whilst I have perhaps missed some of the more subtle references, particularly around Heck's complicated relationship with his boss, DSU Gemma Piper, there is no doubt that the overall complexity of both the plot and the characters works exceptionally well. Heck's rather maverick approach, and his often unorthodox investigative methods, help to give the story a realistic edginess. He’s definitely not a detective who plays it safe and that’s what makes this investigation so compelling.

The author writes with a credible authenticity which comes from his time as a police officer and also as a script writer for one of our most popular TV police dramas. This shows in the fine attention to detail and his clever ability to control a complicated plot without ever losing sight of the bigger picture. Kiss of Death is a very visual story, and is certainly something that I could, very easily, see played out as a TV drama, it has definite style and would work, really well, in terms of pace and tension.

The book concludes with a whopper of a cliff-hanger which I am sure will make regular followers of the series gasp out loud; it certainly leads the way for Book 8.

Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist, now turned full-time writer. He cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, The Bill, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation and for Dr Who.

However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers, crime and horror. His best known work to date is the DS Heckenburg crime series, the first three titles of which all attained official ‘best seller’ status.

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

Twitter @paulfinchauthor #KissofDeath


Sunday, 12 August 2018

WW1 Remembered...

The Battle of Amiens, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy, was the opening phase of the Allied offensive which began on 8 August 1918, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that ultimately led to the end of the First World War. (Wikipedia)

This week saw the commemoration of the centenary of the Battle of Amiens with a service of remembrance held in the cathedral at Amiens and attended by representatives from the allied countries and also relatives of those who had been caught up in this offensive. The story of the battle told through contemporary letters, diaries and poems was a poignant reminder of how deeply significant this battle was in the final push towards the end of the war.

Battle of Amiens. Cavalry passing through Beaucourt en-Santerre to attack Le Quesnel, 9 August 1918. Stereoscopic.

© IWM (Q 8198)

Battle of Amiens. British horse-Wagon convoy passing under the German Ortskommandantur (Town Major's Office) notice swinging across the road at Cayeux-en-Santerre, 9 August 1918, the day after its capture. Stereoscopic.

© IWM (Q 8232)

This poignant photograph was taken exactly 100 years ago today

Battle of Amiens. Prisoners taken by the French near Roye 

12 August 1918. Stereoscopic.

© IWM (Q 8230)

Around 1200 prisoners were captured

All these photographs are from the Ministry of Information First World War Official Collection by kind permission of the Imperial War Museum.

Voices of the First World War

The Beginning of the End


Saturday, 11 August 2018

His Fic Saturday ~ Author, Juliet West

On Hist Fic Saturday

I am delighted to introduce to the blog the Historical Fiction writer 

Juliet West

A warm welcome to you, Juliet. Thank you for spending time with us today. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.

I grew up in Worthing, West Sussex. I went to the local school and sixth form college then studied history at university. Afterwards I trained as a newspaper reporter and worked in Dorset and Hampshire before moving to London. It wasn’t until my mid-thirties, when I was married with three children and living back in Sussex, that I started to write fiction. I joined a local writing group and later took a creative writing MA at Chichester University, where I focused mainly on short stories and poetry.

Finally, in 2010, I started to write my first novel, Before the Fall. I didn’t have an agent and I certainly wasn’t confident that the book would ever be published. It was just a challenge that I set myself – I wanted to write a novel before I was 40. In fact, I finished in 2013 when I was 42! 

To my amazement I found an agent very quickly, and signed a contract with Pan Macmillan. Before the Fall was published in 2014 and The Faithful is just out in paperback.

Without giving too much away what can you tell us about The Faithful?

The novel is set during the 1930s and it’s a love story that follows the lives of Hazel and Tom, who are teenagers when they first meet in 1935. Tom is a Londoner who has been dragged along to a seaside camp organised by Oswald Mosley’s blackshirt movement. Tom wants nothing to do with the camp, but his mother supports Mosley’s fascists and insists he comes along for the ‘holiday’. On his first day in Sussex, Tom meets Hazel, a local girl who knows nothing about the blackshirts. There is an instant connection between Tom and Hazel, but their romance proves to be less than straightforward . . .

Hazel is the main protagonist of The Faithful. Tell us about her and why you decided to write her story?

When I looked at old pictures of the blackshirt camps held in Sussex between the wars, I was struck by the number of young women taking part and wondered what could have possibly attracted them to join the British Union of Fascists. I imagined that some of them might have been vulnerable in some way, and became easy prey to the clever propaganda of the blackshirts. Even if they didn’t embrace the politics, they might be seduced by the sense of belonging and the security that being in a ‘gang’ can offer (even when that security turns out to be illusory).

So the idea for Hazel’s character was really borne of that curiosity. Hazel is an only child of wealthy parents, but her mother, Francine, is totally disinterested in her and spends as much time as possible with her lover in London. When the novel opens Hazel is bored and longing for excitement . . .

Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them now that the book is finished? 

Once a book starts to take off the characters live in my head quite vividly, and they do feel real in many ways, because sometimes they surprise me and go off on tangents that are totally unplanned. I don’t think there’s anything mystical about this: when you sink into a chapter or a scene it’s natural that the subconscious begins to take over.

I have a fondness for every character in The Faithful – even the flawed ones. One of the challenges I enjoy is trying to pick apart the seemingly incomprehensible actions of people who are not necessarily ‘bad’. This is what I’ve done in both novels – tackled quite difficult, dark subjects, not to excuse them in any way, but to gain some level of understanding. 

The Faithful is set in the mid-1930s. In researching the background to the story did anything leave a lasting impression on you?

Hazel is sixteen when the novel opens, but I didn’t want her to be totally ignorant in terms of sex education. I wondered what books might be lying around (or stashed away) in the 1930s family home. I knew about Marie Stopes’ Married Love, but then I discovered Ideal Marriage by Theodoor van de Velde. This was published in 1926 and became a massive worldwide bestseller. Fair to say Ideal Marriage is quite an adventurous sex manual, and the emphasis is most definitely on women receiving their equal share of pleasure. We have this image that everything was terribly buttoned-up before the 1960s, but the success of Ideal Marriage shows this certainly wasn’t the case!

When combining historical fact with fiction it must be quite a challenge to get the balance right. How do you manage to achieve this without compromising on authenticity? 

I am quite careful about research, and try to weave actual events into the narrative, rather than invent fictional incidents to serve the plot. The real history can be so rich and fascinating that there’s no need to dream up fictional scenarios. Having said that, there are occasions when I’ll make a balanced judgement and include an invented (plausible) detail, such as a soldier’s helmet washed up on Aldwick beach after the Dunkirk evacuation. After all, I’m a novelist not a historian – creativity is allowed!

26 July 2018

As England is pulled towards war, the secrets within two families threaten to tear them apart, in the new novel from Juliet West, The Faithful . . . July 1935. In the village of Aldwick on the Sussex coast, sixteen-year-old Hazel faces a long, dull summer with just her self-centred mother Francine for company. But then Francine decamps to London with her lover Charles, Oswald Mosley's blackshirts arrive in Aldwick, and Hazel's summer suddenly becomes more interesting. She finds herself befriended by two very different people: Lucia, an upper-class blackshirt, passionate about the cause; and Tom, a young working-class boy, increasingly scornful of Mosley's rhetoric. In the end, though, it is Tom who wins Hazel's heart - and Hazel who breaks his. Autumn 1936. Now living in London, Hazel has grown up fast over the past year. But an encounter with Tom sends her into freefall. He must never know why she cut off all contact last summer, betraying the promises they’d made. Yet Hazel isn't the only one with secrets. Nor is she the only one with reason to keep the two of them apart . . . From the beaches of Sussex to the battlefields of civil war Spain, The Faithful is a rich and gripping tale of love, deception and desire.

Read my review of The Faithful here

Juliet West worked as a journalist before taking an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University, where she won the Kate Betts' Memorial Prize. Before the Fall, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions novel-writing competition in 2012. Juliet also writes short stories and poetry, and won the H. E. Bates short story prize in 2009. The Faithful is her second novel. She lives in West Sussex with her husband and three children.

Find out more about Juliet and her writing on her website 

Follow on Twitter @JulietWest14 #TheFaithful

 Huge thanks to Juliet for being my guest today and for sharing her thoughts about 

The Faithful

The Faithful is available to buy from Amazon UK and other good book stores

Friday, 10 August 2018

Cover Reveal ~ The Cornish Lady by Nicola Pryce

✨✨ Coming in March 2019 ✨✨

I'm delighted to be able to reveal this wonderful cover

Atlantic Books
7 March 2019

The Cornish Lady is the eagerly anticipated fourth novel in the Cornish Saga by Nicola Pryce

Cornwall : 1796 Educated, beautiful and the daughter of a prosperous smelter, Angelica Lilly has been invited to spend the summer in high society. Her father's wealth is opening doors but Angelica feels like an imposter and worries that the smoke from the smelter still clings to her clothes. As Angelica navigates the perils of high society, she finds herself drawn to coachman Henry Trevelyan. He has kind eyes and reads poetry but can he be trusted?

I'm really excited about this forthcoming novel as I've read and enjoyed the other three books in the series so I really can't wait to see how the story continues in this latest saga.

30167593 The Captain's Girl (Cornish Saga #2) The Cornish Dressmaker (Cornish Saga #3)

Nicola Pryce trained as a chemotherapy nurse before completing an Open University degree in Humanities. She is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. Together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure.


Facebook NicolaPryceBooks 

#CornishSaga #The Cornish Lady