Sunday, 25 July 2021

☼Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Gail Aldwin

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼

Summertime is here 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author Gail Aldwin to our Summer picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

I love a scotch egg and a bit of quiche. Tomatoes and chunks of cucumber are compulsory. A slice of cake goes down well for afters.

☼What would you like to drink? We have white wine spritzers, locally brewed beer, traditional Pimms, sparkling elderflower cordial, or a thermos of tea or coffee.

Alcohol at lunchtime sends me to sleep so I better stick with a cup of tea, Earl Grey if you have it.

☼Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside or somewhere hot?

I do love a stomp through fields to find a picnic spot under the shade of a tree. The weather has to be warm or what’s the point?

☼Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

I’ll put the grub in my backpack and I’ll make sure we have ceramic mugs for the tea. I’ll carry the collapsible chairs, too.

☼Do you have a favourite place to have a summer picnic?

Anywhere off the beaten track suits me.

Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today?

As I’ve been reading lots of novels with child narrators, I think I’ll bring one of them along. Children love picnics. I wonder what eleven-year-old Harrison Opoku from Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English would make of this very British tradition? Being a new arrival from Ghana, I’m sure he’d have something to say about it!

☼Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

If only I could get a copy of The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan before its released in August. I spent the spring in Edinburgh and lived just around the corner from the Botanic, so I’m dying to read this novel.

August 2021

☼What is your earliest summer memory?

Paddling in the sea. My older sister was daring, she launched herself into the water and had to be rescued!

☼Do you have a summer music playlist? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

This is a dreadful admission, but I rarely listen to music. I prefer the company of spoken voices to song. My favourite summer song relates to a carefree time in my twenties – it’s got to be Loveshack by the B52s.

☼Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?

I always have a huge TBR pile, and I try to read books according to the date they are acquired. Some end up jumping the queue but I’ll enjoy a good novel whatever the season.

☼Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?

I’m a focused writer so summer or winter makes no difference to my writing schedule. I do like to write about summer in the summer and winter in the winter. I find it challenging to write out of the season I’m experiencing.

☼What can you tell us about your current book or WIP?

My second contemporary novel for adults was released in early July 2021. This Much Huxley Knows uses a seven-year-old narrator to shine a light on adult experiences. It was a joy to write and re-experience the joys, thrills, dangers and surprises of childhood. But now Huxley is out in the world, I’m working on a new novel. This time I’ve turned to crime fiction and I’m writing a dual timeline novel. Following redundancy in 2010, menopausal journalist Stephanie Brett investigates the earlier disappearance of a teenage, west country girl in a cold case podcast. Through the 1978 storyline, Carolyn Forster tells her own story of infatuation and exploitation.

Gail, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter handle: Twitter:

About This Much Huxley Knows

I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.

Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?

Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.

‘Read this and feel young again’ ­– Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride

‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did

‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas

Pre-order links

About Gail Aldwin

Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin’s debut coming-of-age novel The String Games was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020. Following a stint as a university lecturer, Gail’s children’s picture book Pandemonium was published. Gail loves to appear at national and international literary and fringe festivals. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset.

Gail, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @gailaldwin



Thank you for sharing your picnic with us today.

Follow on Twitter 



Saturday, 24 July 2021

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ Reputation by Lex Croucher

On Hist Fic Saturday 

Let's go back to ...Regency England

Bonnier Books UK
8 July 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Regency just got a little more rebellious...

Abandoned by her parents in favour of a sea view, middle-class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull dinner party she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy socialite and enchanting member of the in-crowd.

Through Frances and her friends Georgiana is introduced to a new world of wild parties, drunken debauchery, mysterious young men with strangely alluring hands, and the sparkling upper echelons of Regency society.

But high society isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the price of entry might be more than Georgiana is willing to pay . . .

 πŸ“– My Thoughts...

Georgiana Ellers is dying of ennui when she meets the effervescent, and fabulously wealthy, Frances Campbell at a dreadfully, dull soiree. From their first meeting, a lively friendship develops between the teenagers which launches Georgiana into a whole new strata of society, for, it would seem, that Frances and her acquaintances care nothing about social niceties nor do they feel the need to be restricted by the bounds of what polite society expects from young ladies and gentlemen of the Regency upper classes.

Reputation is a lively read and races along at full pelt and there's never a dull moment as Georgiana gets drawn further and further into a risquΓ© world of raucous behaviour, drugs, and copious amounts of alcohol. Those who love Regency romances, with an added bit of spice, will be immediately drawn into the story which brings the Regency world, with all of its stifling social restrictions, to life in a fun and very entertaining way.

Those who enjoyed watching Bridgerton on TV will find much to enjoy in this entertaining coming of age story. Jane Austen it certainly isn't but if you want a fun romp through a very different Regency world then I'm sure Reputation will appeal to your sense of fun.

About the Author

Lex Croucher is a writer, producer and You Tuber based in London, with over 100,000 followers across her social media platforms.

Twitter/lnsta: @lexcanroar

Youtube: /lexcroucher

Friday, 23 July 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Captivating the Cynical Earl by Catherine Tinley

Thrilled to be hosting a stop on this Blog Tour

Harlequin Historical
27 July 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book 
and to Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to the blog tour

The cool, aloof earl

And the enchanting lady

For Jack Beresford, Earl of Hawkenden, emotional entanglements are the path to pain. But when his brother brings his new wife and her best friend to his country home, everything changes. Lady Cecily Thornhill is both vibrant and beautiful, and Jack finds himself increasingly captivated by her sunnynature. Yet he must resist her charms, for in a month she’ll be gone unless his frozen heart thaws before then...

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Lady Cecily Thornhill is certainly no shrinking violet and when she meets Jack Beresford, the Earl of Hawkenden, at an evening soiree she is not surprised to find that her best friend's new brother-in-law is both arrogant and rude. The Earl's reputation for brusqueness is well known but Cecily is determined not to let him spoil her friend, Nell's happiness and wishes to smooth the relationship between the Beresford brothers. Lady Cecily agrees to spend time with Nell and Tom Beresford at their country home, but is little prepared for her reaction when Lord Hawkenden also arrives to spend time there with two of his hunting friends.

I really enjoy reading this author's historical fiction, her Regency stories which are so beautifully researched, never fail to entertain, and she always makes her stories come alive with lively conversation, a hint towards a trouble past and the sizzle of a will they, won't they romance. The setting, this time at a beautiful country home, highlights the attraction of the  countryside, whilst at the same time allows the customs and practices by which the elite of society lived, the restrictions of what was acceptable behaviour, and the subtle nuances of etiquette are all brought vividly into focus. It was interesting to observe how,  as Lady Cecily and Lord Hawkenden become better acquainted, so a flair of passion starts to ignite between them.

Captivating the Cynical Earl is a lovely Regency romance which has all the trademarks of this author's fine ability to recreate the social niceties of the Regency era, in an entertaining story of female friendship, brotherly rivalry, and the sizzle of an unexpected, romantic attraction.

About the Author

Catherine Tinley is an award winning author of historical romance. She writes witty, heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her first book,Waltzing with the Earl, won the Rita Award for Best Historical Romance 2018, while Rags-to-Riches Wife won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romance 2021.

She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance,and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, Sure Start, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now manages a maternity hospital. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog and can be reached at 

Twitter @CatherineTinley 



Thursday, 22 July 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Murder Box by Olivia Kiernan


Delighted to take part in this Blog Tour on Publication Day

22 July 2021

Frankie Sheehan #4

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

Some games can be deadly. At first, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan believes the murder mystery game sent to her office is a birthday gift from one of her colleagues. But when Frankie studies the game's contents, she notices a striking resemblance between the 'murder victim' and missing twenty-twoyear-old Lydia Callin. As Frankie and her team investigate, a series of grisly crimes connected to the game are discovered across Dublin city and Lydia's involvement with a shadowy network of murder mystery players becomes clear. On the hunt for Lydia's murderer, Frankie is drawn more deeply into the game. Every successful move brings her closer to the killer. But the real question is not what happens should she lose – but what happens if she wins.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

When a cleverly put together Murder Box game is delivered to the police incident room at the Irish GardaΓ­’s Bureau for Serious Crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan is under the impression that it is a gift for her birthday. Baffled by a real life investigation into the disappearance of a local celebrity, which doesn't appear to be leading anywhere, Frankie is eager for distraction but when a young woman is reported missing, suddenly the contents of the Murder Box take on a rather sinister meaning.

I thought the idea of the Murder Box was an intriguing way to open the story and pretty soon Frankie and her team find that this sinister box offers much more than they could ever have imagined. Before long, it's a race against time to discover more about those who are involved in this dangerous murder game before something happens and another person disappears from the city of Dublin.

I've met DCS Frankie Sheehan before and I am always impressed with the way she throws herself into the investigation, often putting herself, and her team, in grave danger, but as always, her grit and tenacity to get the case solved is to her credit. Frankie's relationship with her police partner, Baz Harwood, is an interesting one, they each have each others backs and yet in The Murder Box, Baz seems to be preoccupied and isn't always on top form, so the different dynamic between them is interesting to observe.

This clever author has now given us four thrilling adventures in which Frankie Sheehan and her team get to solve some really challenging crimes and whilst The Murder Box can be read comfortably as a standalone, as with all series it's best if you follow from the start and enjoy this talented author's intricately plotted crime novels.

About the Author

Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer living in the UK. She was born and raised in County Meath, near the famed heritage town of Kells and holds an MA in Creative Writing awarded by the University of Sussex.

Twitter @livkiernan #TheMurderBox

@quercusbooks @riverrunbooks

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell


Random House, Cornerstone
22 July 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim.

Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits.

The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah's friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place.

She never returns.

2019: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree.

'DIG HERE' . . .

A cold case, an abandoned mansion, family trauma and dark secrets lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell's remarkable new novel.

πŸ“– My thoughts...

Leaving her baby son with her mum, Tallulah heads off to the local pub with her boyfriend. All is well until the early hours of the morning when Tallulah's mum, Kim realises that Tallulah hasn't returned home and even though she traces her daughter's last known whereabouts, and despite an intensive police search of the local area neither Tallulah, nor her boyfriend, Zach are found. Two years later and Sophie is walking in the woods near to the property where she and her partner have just moved  and she comes across a mysterious message which opens up the cold case once more to scrutiny.

The Night She Disappeared is a powerful and compelling psychological thriller which grabs grabs your attention right from the opening prologue and doesn't let go for a single minute. It's quite a chilling story, especially in the description of Dark Place, an old mansion which features strongly and which not only adds an air of gothic gloom but also a sense of creeping menace. It's definitely one of those stories which is best read in one sitting and even though I was reading the book on one of the hottest days of the year I definitely felt an anticipatory chill in my bones as I read on to the startling conclusion.

The Night She Disappeared is Lisa Jewell writing at her absolute best in a powerful psychological thriller which will keep you guessing from start to finish.

Twitter @lisajewelluk #TheNightSheDisappeared


Tuesday, 20 July 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Distant Shores by Santa Montefiore


Delighted to be taking part in this blog tour today

Simon & Schuster
8 July 2021

Deverill Chronicles #5

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

Pure escapism on every page, The Distant Shores tells the story of a family torn apart, and the woman who will bring them back together.

Margot Hart travels to Ireland to write a biography of the famous Deverill family. She knows she must speak to the current Lord Deverill – JP – if she is to uncover the secrets of the past. A notorious recluse, JP won’t be an easy man to crack. But Margot is determined – and she is not a woman who is easily put off.

What she never expected was to form a close bond with JP and be drawn into his family disputes. Shouldering the blame for running up debts that forced him to sell the family castle, JP is isolated and vulnerable. With help from his handsome son Colm, it seems as though Margot might be the only one who can restore JP’s fortunes.

Will the family ever succeed in healing rifts that have been centuries in the making?

πŸ“– My thoughts..

The Distant Shores is the fifth book in the series of novels which have charted the progress, both good and bad, of the Deverill family, whose ancient family seat in Ireland is very much part of the story. In what could be the last book of the series, the author brings the story up to the 1980s with the arrival of a young journalist, Margot Hart, who is writing a biography of the Deverill family. Once the family home, Castle Deverill  has now been converted into a luxurious hotel and Margot has been a given the privilege of being the writer in residence as she sets about trying to make sense of the complicated Deverill history.

The Deverills have certainly had a chequered history and if you have followed this series from the start then you will be well aware of the family dynamics. In this latest book there is a sense of bringing everything together whilst at the same time allowing a glimpse of what has gone before. Margot has a difficult task ahead as not only must she gain the confidence of the current Lord Deverill, who has been a recluse for many years, but she must also overcome the animosity from other family members. The supernatural element to the story sits comfortably alongside what is happening in the present and allows the author the liberty of explaining what has gone before.

The author writes well and has obviously invested a great deal of time in bringing this series to life. The characters are many and varied, so it took a little time for me to get to know who was who and where they fitted into the family, but I enjoyed reading of Margot's involvement in bringing the past to light and the way that family, friendship and forgiveness is ultimately what matters.

Readers who have followed this series will find much to enjoy in The Distant Shores and whilst it can be read as a standalone story, I do think it makes more sense to start the Deverill Chronicles from the beginning and enjoy the intricate sense of family history which this author recreates so well. 

About the Author

Santa Montefiore was born in England in 1970 and grew up in Hampshire. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London. Santa’s books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and have sold more than six million copies in England and Europe.

Twitter @SantaMontefiore #TheDistantShores



Monday, 19 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Country Village Summer FΓͺte by Cathy Lake


10 June 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Emma Patrick's life is spiralling out of control. On the cusp of her 50th birthday, she suddenly realises that she doesn't have many meaningful relationships in her life. She's single, successful, living alone and thinks she's loving it, but being so focussed on work and always online means she's lost any real connection to people.

When Emma gets a call to say her ageing father is becoming increasingly confused, she decides that she should go back home to the countryside to spend some time with him. But returning to Little Bramble, the village she grew up in, after all these years, is filled with complications of its own and people she'd rather avoid.

As Emma starts to settle in to her childhood home, she finds herself loving village life - much to her surprise. When the opportunity to get involved in the running of the summer fete comes her way, before she knows it she's embracing jam making, cake baking and bunting. And with romance brewing, Emma begins to doubt the glamorous life in London that she worked so hard to build.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

If you imagine the quintessential chocolate box English village then Little Bramble would be right up there with the best of them. When Emma Patrick receives a call to say that her elderly father is ill she makes the decision to leave London and head back to her childhood home in Little Bramble. However, once back in the place where she grew up painful memories from her past start to emerge but as Emma is drawn back into village life so she starts to look towards a different sort of future.

I loved my first visit to Little Bramble in The Country Village Christmas Show so I was especially excited to return to this lovely place again, not just to meet up with old friends but also to make new friends, especially Emma, and the lovely Connor.

There's a real summery feel to this story especially as Little Bramble is gearing up to its annual summer fete so some of the story is taken up with the preparation and all the little niggles which go with putting on an event in a small village but also it's about the people who live there, some are more likeable than others but they all add their own individual charm. There are some lovely thoughtful moments between Emma and her father which make the story all the more heartwarming but it is in the will they, won't they relationship between Emma and Connor where the heart of the story lies.

The Country Village Summer FΓͺte is every bit as good as I wanted it to be, light, lovely and deliciously summery. It's the perfect escapist read for a blue sky, fluffy cloud sort of day.

About the Author

Cathy Lake is a women's fiction writer who lives with her family and three dogs in beautiful South Wales. She writes uplifting stories about strong women, family, friendship, love, community and overcoming obstacles.

Twitter @LakeAuthor