Sunday, 16 December 2018

๐ŸŽ„ Review ~ The Snow Girls by Chris Mooney

November 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book 
It's been eleven years since Claire Flynn disappeared - abducted without trace from a snowy hillside, leaving her parents heartbroken.

Investigator Darby McCormick remembers the case. She knows there's only ever been one suspect, Father Richard Byrne, linked inconclusively to two similar disappearances.

Finally, terminally ill, Byrne is willing to talk. But he'll only talk to Darby.

She's expecting a confession - but what she hears is far more disturbing.

And it soon becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep this cold case on ice.

My thoughts about it..

This is the first time I have read any books by this author, so I come new to the character of Darby McCormick, who as a trained psychologist also works as an investigator, so, it would seem that she is ideally placed to help out with a cold case which involves the disappearance of six year old Claire Flynn, who disappeared one snowy night. It's coming up to the eleventh anniversary of the child's disappearance and when, Father Richard Byrne, the lead suspect in the case requests to speak only to Darby, it allows the investigation, once dormant, to take on a whole new lease of life.

This is the eighth book in the Darby McCormick thriller series and it's perfectly possible to read the story without having read the previous books as the author gives enough insight into Darby's character, so I soon felt as if I knew her and trusted her judgement. The story covers some dark stuff but it's all done with a fine eye for detail and the author's ability to weave a complicated tale made The Snow Girls quite a fascinating study into human nature. Told from Darby's perspective as the investigator and also from Mickey Flynn's viewpoint who, as the father of the missing girl, has his own demons to exorcise.

Like all psychological thrillers, this one is best read without any spoilers, that way the story evolves gradually allowing the clues to creep up on you. I really enjoyed trying to piece together all the clues and yet, there's a interesting twist to the ending which was a great reveal and not one I saw coming.

Like all book series I am sure that these US thrillers are best read from the start at book one, however, The Snow Girls certainly worked for me as a standalone.

Chris Mooney is the critically acclaimed author of Deviant Ways, World Without End, and Remembering Sarah, which was nominated for the Barry Award and the Edgar Award for Best Novel. He lives in Boston with his wife and son.

Twitter @cmooneybooks #TheSnowGirls

Saturday, 15 December 2018

๐ŸŽ„Blog Tour ~ Cuckoo by Sophie Draper

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting the final day of the Cuckoo blog tour 

29 November 2018

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

There’s a stranger in your home…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

My thoughts about it...

This spooky little story opens at the funeral of a woman who, it would seem, is not going to be mourned by either of her two step-daughters. Steph has made the journey from New York, meeting her younger sister Caroline for the first time for many years, and even though the sisters are now strangers there is a sibling bond between them which stretches back to the time they spent growing up at the isolated farmhouse in rural Derbyshire.

Almost against her better judgement, Caroline returns to the farmhouse to sort out her stepmother's effects and finds the house to be just as terrifying as she did when she lived there with her step-mother. The isolated nature of the farm, along with some very painful childhood memories, ensure that Caroline's stay at the house in charged with emotion and filled with an absolute terror of reliving past traumas.

I found Cuckoo to be a really interesting psychological thriller. It's proper scary in places, with noises and unexpected happenings in the house which seem to be beyond Caroline's control. The only bright spot in this rather dark tale is Caroline's burgeoning relationship with her neighbour, Craig, who came to her rescue with alarming regularity.

I read the book long and late in order to finish the story as I was quite enthralled in the melodrama that was constantly unfolding. I particularly enjoyed the references to some rather dark fairy stories, which were definitely not the cosy sort for children, and the long buried family secrets which were finally revealed took me by surprise.

Sophie Draper is a Derbyshire based author. Cuckoo is her first book and won the Bath Novel Award 2017. She also won the York Festival of Writing Friday Night Live Award 2017. A second book is due to be published later in 2019.

Twitter @sophiedraper9 #Cuckoo


Friday, 14 December 2018

๐ŸŽ„ Blog Tour ~ Friends Like These by Sarah Alderson

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be part of the  Friends Like These Blog Tour

Mulholland Books
13 December 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book and the invitation to this blog tour

There's no such thing as a perfect life.Only a perfect lie.

We all know someone like Becca. 

She has the job everyone wants, a designer wardrobe, a hot-shot lawyer boyfriend, holidays to exotic locations. 

And she flaunts her perfect life all over social media. 

It drove her colleague Lizzie mad, but she couldn't stop looking. They were never really friends - and yet Lizzie knew everything about her. 

Or did she? 

When chance, and a terrible mistake, pulls Lizzie back into Becca's orbit years after they lost touch, she'll realise that you can't always believe what you see online... and that finding out the truth might be the worst thing you can do.

My thoughts about it..

Although Becca and Lizzie were once work colleagues they weren't particularly close but years later, Lizzie discovers something online about Becca which turns both of their worlds completely upside down.

What then follows is a story which pulls you in from the start, and there's so much going on that I don't know where to begin without giving too much of the plot away but what I can say is that the book cleverly shows just how much people can be taken in by social media and how everything you see on the screen is not necessarily the true story.

The author writes well and has created a set of unstable characters, who have no redeeming features, and I think that's what makes the story so much fun to read. I read the book quickly over the space of an afternoon and evening. I think the story benefits from being read in quick chunks rather than drawing out the action, as once the second half of the book gets underway there really is such a lot going on that you need to keep your eye on the game.

Friends Like These is a tense and taut psychological thriller which kept me gripped from first page to last, and the surprise at the end, which I didn't see coming, was a great finish to a good story.

Friends Like These by Sarah Alderson, Mulholland Books 
eBook, publication 13th December.

Sarah Alderson is a British born, LA based author and screenwriter. She left the UK in 2010 to travel the world with her husband and then toddler daughter (a journey documented in her memoir Can We Live Here?). After living in Bali, Indonesia for five years, during which time she published seven young adult books, they moved to California, where Sarah now balances screenwriting for TV and films with writing novels. She also has a successful career as a romance author under the pen name Mila Gray.

Twitter @sarahalderson #FriendsLikeThese


Thursday, 13 December 2018

๐ŸŽ„ Review ~ Around the World in 80 Words by Paul Anthony Jones

October 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

From Monte Carlo to Shanghai, Bikini to Samarra, Around the World in 80 Words is a whimsical voyage through the far-flung reaches of the English language.

My thoughts about it..

Reading is always an adventure and, in Around the World in 80 Words, the adventure starts in London with a journey through the English language. Taking us from the derivation of the term, "Kent Street Ejectment", which I have to admit I hadn't heard of, but maybe Londoners have ๐Ÿ˜Š, through to being sent to Coventry, this absorbing etymological exploration, is a cornucopia of fascinating detail.

Like all readers, I have a curiosity with words, not just in speech and modern fiction, but also in the way our language has evolved, and of the diversity of the origins of words in our shared language.

This is one of those engrossing compilations which is easy to dip into and out of, picking a country or a word and then just letting the beauty of both, and the exemplary research, take you into the fascinating and complicated world of the English language.

Eighty stops, from London, to the Vire region of France, the source of the word Vaudeville, through to Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and all parts of Eastern Europe, from Colombo in Sri Lanka, home of Serendipity, to the Brazil nuts of Rio de Janeiro, there is such a wealth of information, not just about the words we have purloined from so many different cultures, but also in the way their use has changed and evolved over time.

I don't travel much, but that doesn't mean I'm not fascinated by different cultures and so the absolute appeal of Around the World in 80 Words, for meis that I've travelled thousands of miles and learned so much fascinating detail without ever having to ditch my cup of tea, or leave my favourite armchair.

Around the World in 80 Words is a perfect Christmas present for any wordsmith, linguist or book worm.

Since 2013 Paul has tweeted a new old word every day. After just six months, HaggardHawks had amassed more than 4,000 followers, been named as one of the best language-based accounts on Twitter, and had been profiled on The Huffington Post. It added its 5,000th follower in August 2014; its 10,000th in June 2015; its 40,000th in August 2017; and its 50,000th in June 2018. 

Supporters range from Stig Abel at the TLS to Susie dent on Countdown, and many famous names follow @HaggardHawks eg Jack Monroe, Rufus Sewell, Simon Blackwell, Robert Macfarlane, Sara Pascoe, Allegra Stratton and David Baddiel.

Twitter @HaggardHawks


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

๐ŸŽ„ Review ~A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews by Annie Darling


Harper Collins
November 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Star baker Mattie has hated Christmas ever since she had her heart broken on Christmas Eve. The only thing she hates more is the insufferable Tom, who has rubbed her up the wrong way since she started running the tearoom next door to his bookshop. So when Mattie and Tom are left in charge in the frantic festive days before Christmas, it might be cold outside but things are sure to heat up.

Can a bookshop full of romantic novels, a life-sized reindeer and a mistletoe kissing booth persuade two scrooges to fall in love with Christmas… and each other?

My thoughts about it...

I've loved these books ever since I read The Little Book Shop of Lonely Hearts, so to meet up again with some of the characters who have featured in these delicious rom-com novels is a real treat.

This time the focus is on Mattie, the talented pastry chef, who runs the Happy Ever After tea rooms and Tom who works in the Happy Ever After Book Shop. Normally, these two don't see eye to eye on anything but when circumstances throw them together, well, as you find out, anything can happen !

What delights me about reading these novels is the way that Annie Darling brings her characters to life with such warmth that you can't help but be drawn into their stories. I loved Mattie from the start, and even though her heart was broken one Christmas Eve and she still has reservations about the festive season, she still manages to make wonderful festive confections which sound delicious. There's even a recipe for Gingerbread Cupcakes at the back of the book! Tom is a whole different matter and it took me a while longer to warm to his character but there are reasons, as we discover, why he acts in the way he does. Add into the mix a delightful cast of characters, who add lots of quirky personality into the story, and you have all the ingredients for a fabulously festive read.

A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews is a heartwarmingly, gorgeous romantic comedy and is just perfect to read, with a gingerbread latte, in the run up to Christmas.



Tuesday, 11 December 2018

๐ŸŽ„ Fabulously Festive with Kathryn Freeman ๐ŸŽ„

In the run up to Christmas, I have wonderful author interviews to help get you into the festive spirit

Here's the fabulous, Kathryn Freeman

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog Jo, I’m looking forward to answering your fabulously festive questions! 

๐ŸŽ„What’s your earliest Christmas Memory? 

Waking up to the feel of something heavy around my feet. Then sitting up bolt upright and finding the stocking I’d put on the end of my bed was overflowing with presents. 

๐ŸŽ„Do you have any special Christmas Traditions? 

As children my brother and I were forced to sit around the table and sign our names on each Christmas card my mum and dad sent. Needless to say, it often descended into chaos. I vividly recall introducing the guinea pig to the table at one point. Naturally I made my husband and sons continue the tradition … the name signing I mean, not the guinea pig. 

๐ŸŽ„What’s your favourite festive carol or song? 

Santa got stuck up the chimney. I have a very fond memory of my son at nursery, aged three, yelling his way through it. His was the only voice all the parents heard. 

๐ŸŽ„Do you have a favourite festive film? 

Ben Hur, The Great Escape, Gone with the Wind … I know, I know, not very festive, but when I was a kid they were the films always scheduled over Christmas, so they were the films I remember watching. Given the choice, I’d go with Lovely Actually, but males outnumbered females 3 to 1 in my house so the choice is rarely mine. 

๐ŸŽ„What’s your favourite festive read? 

I love, love, love Nora Roberts and really enjoyed the two stories in Christmas in the Snow. 

๐ŸŽ„Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute? 

I aim to be organised, but I’m not good at it. For example, I buy presents in the sales when I see them over the year and put them in the trunk. Clever eh? But two weeks before Christmas I usually panic and buy presents I didn’t need because I forget what’s in the damn trunk. 

๐ŸŽ„Christmas tree – real or artificial? 

Real – it’s the smell. 

๐ŸŽ„Tinsel or Glitter? 

Neither – but there’s no such thing as too many fairy lights. 

๐ŸŽ„Christmas cracker or party popper? 

Cracker. Party poppers last two seconds. Between the jokes and the daft plastic toys, crackers give a whole meal time of entertainment. 

๐ŸŽ„Mince Pie or Yule Log? 

Both please. 

๐ŸŽ„Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey, Nut Roast Veggie or something a bit different? 

Always turkey, though it’s the stuffing I like best so I’d be happy with a plate of just that. 

๐ŸŽ„Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger? 

All of the above, but not at the same time. 

๐ŸŽ„A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television? 

We’ve tried games in the past, including a quiz on my books (not many marks were scored) and stick the bauble on Jenson Button (best not to ask … no, no, not the real Jenson, a cardboard cutout that usually sits by my desk). Sadly nineteen and twenty-one year old boys tend not to do what you want them to anymore, so it’ll be television for us this year. 

Choc Lit
October 2018

Would you swap sea and sunshine for tinsel and turkey? Gabby Sanderson is used to being let down – even at Christmas. Which is why she’s happy to skip the festive season completely in favour of a plane ticket and sunnier climes. But this Christmas could be different, because this time she might not be spending it alone. Can Owen Cooper charm Gabby into loving Christmas in the same way he’s charmed his way into her life, or is he just another person who’ll end up disappointing her?

Twitter @KathrynFreeman1

๐ŸŽ„Happy Christmas ๐Ÿ˜Š

Monday, 10 December 2018

๐ŸŽ„ Blog Tour and #Giveaway ~ Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

 ✻ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Seven Days of Us Blog Tour ✻

October 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

It's Christmas, and the Birch family is gathering for the first time in years.

Emma is elated at having everybody under one roof, but her oldest child, Olivia, is only home because she has nowhere else to go. She's just returned from treating an epidemic abroad and must stay in quarantine for a week - and so, too should her family.

For the next seven days, no one can leave the house and no one can enter.

It doesn't sound too hard. But a week with your nearest and dearest can feel like an eternity, especially when they're all harbouring secrets.

One of whom is about to come knocking at their door...

My thoughts about Seven Days of Us..

The Birch family like to spend the festive season at their Norfolk country home, and whilst certain traditions remain, like filling Christmas stockings and digging up the Christmas tree, they don't always spend time quality time together. This festive season is going to be very different, as they have to spend seven days together in complete isolation. The reason for this quarantine is that the elder daughter, Olivia, who for the first time in ages is spending Christmas with the family, has just returned from working as an medical aid doctor in Liberia, treating a deadly virus, known as Haag.

This forced isolation allows the family the opportunity to rediscover what's been happening in each of their lives but, very soon, the fragmentation of a family who don't really communicate with each other, comes to the fore and forms the basis for a fascinating look at the minutiae of family life. There's so much going on in the story, from the sibling rivalry between the sisters, particularly with Phoebe, who is just so flimsily materialistic compared to her ethically responsible older sister. Husband and wife, Andrew and Emma have their own complicated secrets which, when discovered, will have the power to change the family dynamic forever.

I enjoyed the story very much especially the multiple points of view, which help to give a fascinating insight into the innermost thoughts and feelings of the family as individuals. However, as we find out in the story, being in forced isolation doesn't always bring out the best in people, and the complicated journey of discovery they each travel, made the story, for me, quite a compelling read. 

There are some quite serious topics covered which are have an impact on the way the story evolves but there were also some lighter moments which made me smile. The Birch family with all their faults, flaws and failings could, very easily, be any family coping with life's problems.

Seven Days of Us is written with warmth, wit and compassion, bringing a whole new meaning to staying home at Christmas.

About the Author

Francesca Hornak is an author, journalist and former columnist for the Sunday Times Style magazine. Her debut novel Seven Days Of Us is published by Little, Brown. Little Island Productions has pre-empted TV rights to the book. Francesca's work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Metro, Elle, Grazia, Stylist, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Red. She is the author of two nonfiction books, History of the World in 100 Modern Objects: Middle Class Stuff (and Nonsense) and Worry with Mother: 101 Neuroses for the Modern Mama.

Twitter @FrancescaHornak



Thanks to the publishers 

I am giving away a copy of Seven Days of Us in this UK only giveaway