Sunday 29 June 2014

Sunday War Poet....

John William Streets


A Soldier's Cemetery

Behind that long and lonely trenched line
To which men come and go, where brave men die,
There is a yet unmarked and unknown shrine,
A broken plot, a soldier’s cemetery.

There lie the flower of youth, the men who scorn’d
To live (so died) when languished Liberty:
Across their graves flowerless and unadorned
Still scream the shells of each artillery.

When war shall cease this lonely unknown spot
Of many a pilgrimage will be the end,
And flowers will shine in this now barren plot
And fame upon it through the years descend:
But many a heart upon each simple cross
Will hang the grief, the memory of its loss.


John William Streets, known as Will, was an English soldier and poet of World War One. On July 1st 1916, after the Battle of the Somme, he went missing after going to the aid of a wounded soldier. His body was recovered in No-Mans Land some10 months later.

Before his death he wrote this poignant letter about the inspiration for his poems to the poetry publisher, Galloway Kyle:

“They were inspired while I was in the trenches, where I have been so busy I have had little time to polish them. I have tried to picture some thoughts that pass through a man’s brain when he dies. I may not see the end of the poems, but I hope to live to do so. We soldiers have our views of life to express, though the boom of death is in our ears. We try to convey something of what we feel in this great conflict to those who think of us, and sometimes, alas! Mourn our loss.”


Saturday 28 June 2014

Independent Booksellers Week 2014

Independent Booksellers Week is part of the Books Are My Bag campaign, and seeks to celebrate independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland. 

Go on - get involved and find an indie bookshop near you.

Here I am outside my favourite Indie Bookseller

Ebb and Flo Bookshop in Chorley, Lancashire


Thursday 26 June 2014

Review ~ The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me by Lucy Robinson

19th June 2014

Brilliantly Fresh
Gorgeously Romantic
Hilariously Funny

As a child Sally had to quietly hide her skill and love of opera from her unimaginative parents and when as an adult she takes a job as assistant dresser at the prestigious Royal Opera House, she never reveals that actually she can sing opera like the best of the best. Only her teddy bear Carrot and the inside of her wardrobe know just how good Sally’s voice really is. Going to New York, on an opera tour opens up the possibility of Sally actually pursuing her operatic dream, but there’s also the heady possibility of a love affair which could change her life forever.

This is a lovely, warm, witty and intelligent summer read which has all the possibility of becoming one my favourite of Lucy Robinson’s books to date. She has created, in Sally, a slightly quirky heroine who warms your heart from the beginning and in whose company you feel a rosy glow. You can’t help but want her to succeed in her chosen career and continue to hope that she finds love somewhere along the line.

Once I started to read, I found that the pages sort of turned themselves; it’s an incredibly easy read and nicely divided into operatic segments with some nice musical references threaded through out the story. This is one of those lovely summer reads which is best read in glorious sunshine with a glass of something cold nearby.

My thanks to Penguin Books and Real Readers for my review copy of The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me.

About the Author

Lucy Robinson


***Giveaway now closed **



Well Done 

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Review ~ Written in my own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon

Orion Books UK
10 June 2014

"In the light of eternity, time casts no shadow"

 Written in my Own Heart’s Blood continues where An Echo in the Bone left off. It’s 1778, and as the British army withdraws from Philadelphia, Washington’s army is in active pursuit. Newly returned from the dead, Jamie Fraser finds that life as a rebel General is not for the faint hearted, nor does he take his wife, Claire’s, reactionary marriage to Lord John Grey lightly. For the rest of the extended Fraser family and also for those characters left on the periphery, the vagaries of life continue to perplex, and as always there is much going on and many threads to pick up.

There are moments of high drama as both Jamie and Claire find that life is never going to be peaceful nor across the centuries is life any less stressful for Roger and Brianna, but what is important to remember is that all the pieces of this gigantic jigsaw puzzle seem to be finally coming together. There feels to be almost a sense of resolution as inevitably the story must finally face a conclusion. In fact, it’s almost akin to a homecoming as the younger generation are given the chance to take centre stage and believe me their stories are no less valiant. The past meets the present as we go backwards, or is it forwards in time to meet up with characters who together make up the sum of the book’s parts. Everyone has a role to play, and the minutiae of relationships is examined and perfected so beautifully, and each seamless transition is done with such confidence, that there is never a moment when the action doesn't totally absorb, from the inner workings of a rebel army, through to the finer points of using Roquefort cheese as an anti bacterial antibiotic.

As always the author delivers a whopping good read, as contained within the book’s 800 or so pages are plots, counter plots, ruinations, machinations, scenes to make you weep, scenes that will have you stamping your feet in irritation at the folly of men, and whole sections that will have you reading and then re-reading in order to clarify just what hidden meaning is concealed within each tantalising chapter, and with over 141 chapters, there is sometimes a lot of re-reading needed !

With brilliant observation the Outlander series continues to weave its magic and as the finer points of the twenty-first century blend into the background, I am enthralled, beguiled and totally absorbed, so much so, that when I am reading time simply ceases to exist, and I move effortlessly back to a place that I know well and with characters who are as precious to me as family. Of course, there is still much left unsaid and the book’s entirely appropriate finale lends itself to the continuation of the story.

And for the legions of Diana Gabaldon fans worldwide, book 9 can’t come quick enough.

And out of interest ~ The symbolic use of the eight sided Octothorpe on the book cover pays homage to the eight major characters in the book.

More about Diana Gabaldon on her website here and find her on Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Review ~ A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

It would seem that Lacey Flint has a morbid fascination for water and for the River Thames in particular. Her current penchant for wild water swimming in the gloomy waters of the Thames leads her to a gruesome discovery which will take her into the very dark and twisted world of missing women. Attached as she is to the marine police division Lacey should really know to leave the investigative policing to her detective colleagues, but from necessity Lacey and her nemesis, Dana Tulloch, have to join forces in order to plunge, quite literally, into the murky depths that hide beneath the waters of the hidden creeks and wharfs of London’s ancient river.

As we have come to expect from a Sharon Bolton novel, the action is fast and furious. No stone is left unturned and no detail is left unexamined and as always, the deeper into the story you venture, the more questions are left unanswered. Lacey commands your attention, she is the quintessential enigma. She has so many layers it’s like peeling an onion to reach into her heart and soul, and truthfully, I’m not convinced that we will ever truly find out what make this complex young woman tick. Her heart, as always, remains hidden, but at least in this story, she is granted a very short respite, with a couple of tender moments, which make you hope that one day she’ll be able to find some sort of comfort.

Maintaining a long running crime series requires investment both from the author and the reader and a real emotional bond needs to develop between the characters. There is no doubt that Sharon Bolton has created in Lacey Flint one of crimes most unfathomable protagonists, whose multi layered character really does drive forward these novels to such a degree that as I turn the last page and read the last word, I am already longing for the story to be continued in the not too distant future.

My thanks to NetGalley for my review copy of A Dark and Twisted Tide.

Published by Random House UK, Transworld publishers in May 2014.

S.J. Bolton

Monday 23 June 2014

BookADay ...part three

Great fun currently on Twitter with this initiative from @boroughpress


I'm joining in on twitter @jaffareadstoo

 I will also post my book choice on this thread.


Made to read at school


Hooked me into reading


Never finished it


Should have sold more copies


Want to be one of the characters


Bought at my favourite independent bookshop

Ebb and Flo Bookshop


The one I have reread the most often

Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

Would save if my house burned down

Without doubt this one

My signed 20th Anniversay edition

Sunday 22 June 2014

Sunday War Poet....

Alan Seeger

1888- 1916


I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air - 
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath -
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.


Alan Seeger was an American Poet who fought and died in WW1 during the Battle of the Somme serving in the French Foreign Legion He is most well known for having authored the poem, I Have a Rendezvous with Death, a favourite of President John F Kennedy. A statue modelled after Seeger is found on the monument honouring fallen Americans who volunteered for France during the war, located in Paris.


Thursday 19 June 2014

Review and Giveaway ~ Payback by Kimberley Chambers

Family. They’re supposed to watch your back. Not stab you in it.

Vinny and Michael Butler are two of the hard men of London’s East End, they rule the roost with a rod of iron and woe betide anyone who messes with their family. But for those they have crossed, revenge is a dish best served cold and the Butler’s are about to find out that payback comes when you least expect it.

This is my first Kimberley Chambers novel and at first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pick up the back story enough to enjoy this continuation which began in the previous book, The Trap. But I needn’t have worried because the author does a really good job of filling in the history of the Butlers and very soon into the story I became absorbed in this dark and gritty world of East End family politics. Neither Vinny nor Michael are in the slightest bit likeable as they have no reservations about dispatching people who get in their way but the inclusion into the story of their mother Queenie and their Aunt Vivian, and of their assorted girlfriends, wives, mistresses and children, allows us a tantalising glimpse into their softer side. Vinny adores his young daughter Molly, but when Molly goes missing, there is a whole list of people who hate Vinny enough to wreak this sort of vengeance.

Fast paced, gritty and very realistic, the story soon becomes a real page turner and the need to find out just what’s going on means that the pages fly by in the blink of an eye. The ending when it comes is a bit of a shocker but the conclusion does then lend itself to a continuation of the story in the next instalment – The Wronged – which is due in 2015. For Kimberley Chambers legions of fans, I am sure that 2015 won’t come quick enough but for new fans, like me, we have a whole back catalogue of delights still waiting for us.


**Enter this Giveaway **

For a fabulous chance to win a copy of Payback 

My thanks to Louise Swannell at Harper Fiction for kindly providing this giveaway copy

The Author in my spotlight is ....Kimberley Chambers

I am delighted to welcome to the blog

© by kind permission

whose latest novel

Payback is out in paperback today

Published 19 June

Harper Collins Publishers

This gritty and thrilling novel set in the seedy world of drugs, violence and poverty with all the ingredients of a fast-paced novel that will have you gripped to the very last word. 

PAYBACK reached no 1 in The Sunday Times bestseller charts on Hardback publication in January 2014. 


Kimberley ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.

 What can you tell us about Payback that will pique the reader’s interest?

 The story is based around a young child who goes missing. Molly Butler is as cute as they come, but her father has made many enemies in his lifetime. The truth about Molly's disappearance doesn't come to light until the very end of the book, and it's shocking to say the least !

Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

I've led a different life to most authors. I grew up in Dagenham where you had to be streetwise to survive. I also worked as a market trader in the East End for many years, so have always been surrounded by colourful characters. I find it relatively easy to create strong dysfunctional families like the Butlers. My family wasn't exactly normal. 

Do you outline the plot first, or do you let the story go wherever it takes you?

I usually have a beginning and an end. But nine times out of ten, I change my mind about the ending. I just tend to let the story go with the flow. As I finish a chapter, the next naturally springs to mind. For instance, I was going to kill Eddie Mitchell off at the end of The Feud. So glad I didn't as that trilogy has been very popular and without Eddie, it wouldn't have worked.

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

No. I prefer to create my own. 

What do you think makes a good fictional villain?

Keeping them real. Plus power, wealth, fear etc. It helps if they're good looking as well. I’ve had many of my female readers tell me they wouldn't kick the likes of Vinny and Michael Butler out of bed. Same goes for Eddie Mitchell. Male readers wanted to be him, and it's unprintable what the women said ;-) 

If Payback was optioned for a TV drama, who would you choose to play Vinny and Michael?

To be honest, I've never really thought about it. The reason being is if it ever went to drama, I probably wouldn't get much say in the matter. Vinny's quite sinister, so if it were up to me i,d opt for a powerful actor such as Tom Hardy. As for Michael Butler, I think Danny Dyer would play him rather well.

Can you tell us what you are writing next?

I've just finished The Wronged. It's another in the Butler series. Follows on from Payback and comes out early Feb.

Kimberley Chambers lives in Romford and has been, at various times, a disc jockey and a street trader. She is now a full-time writer and is the author of seven previous novels.
 For further information about Kimberly visit:


Thank you Kimberley - It's been a real pleasure to host this interview.

Jaffa and I wish you continued success with your writing.



Monday 16 June 2014

Review ~ Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

Penguin UK
May 2014

In Sisters of Treason, the author weaves together historical fact and fiction and brings to life the story of the enigmatic Grey sisters, who along with their more tragic sister, Jane, were forced to live within the shadow of the Tudor crown, and who were destined to leave their own mark on Tudor history.  In the aftermath of the execution of Lady Jane Grey, Mary Tudor’s court is a scheming hive of plot, counterplot and malice, and for the Grey sisters keeping close to the Queen is not a comfortable arrangement. However, keeping your enemies close is a theme which will reverberate throughout the reigns of both Tudor queens.

Told in the combined voices of sisters, Katherine and Mary Grey, and also of Levina Teerlinc, who is a court painter, we are given an insight into just what life was like at the centre of Tudor politics and of how both Katherine and Mary were always kept within a hair’s breadth of the Tudor crown. Both sisters lived a tragic life and this is sensitively and emotionally explored in a novel which covers both the reigns of ‘bloody Mary' and her more charismatic, but no less terrifying sister, Elizabeth.

There is no doubt that this new voice in historical fiction really knows how to bring the royal court alive in a believable and realistic way. Beautifully written and meticulously researched Sisters of Treason abounds with danger and political skulduggery, and offers a unique insight into a royal court where being a potential Tudor heir and female was fraught with danger and which ultimately would have no happy ending for any of the trio of Grey sisters.

 My thanks to Francesca Russell at Penguin Books UK and NetGalley for my copy of this book.


Elizabeth Fremantle holds a first in English and an MA in creative Writing from Birkbeck. As a Fashion Editor she has contributed to various publications including VogueElle,Vanity Fair and the Erotic Review. Sisters of Treason is her second book following on from Queen’s Gambit.


Sunday 15 June 2014

Sunday War Poet ...

Richard Aldington



Four days the earth was rent and torn
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death. 

The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.

The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes
And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue. 


Edward  Aldington, known as Richard, was an English writer and poet. Aldington was best known for his World War I poetry, the 1929 novel, Death of a Hero, and the controversy arising from his 1955 Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Inquiry. His 1946 biography, Wellington, was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Review ~ Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff

March 2014

Jenni is a ghost-writer who is entrusted by Vincent Tregear to write his elderly mother’s memoirs, but in order to meet up with Klara, Jenni must return to Polvarth in Cornwall, a place which, for Jenni, holds some very unhappy memories.

On the surface, Jenni and Klara have little in common and yet under Jenni’s gentle questioning a common theme of love, loss and a lifetime of regret starts to emerge. Gradually, the story of Klara’s family life in Java unfolds. We learn about her early life on a Javan rubber plantation, and of an idyllic childhood, spent with family and friends.  However, the Japanese invasion of the island during the Second World War changes Klara’s family forever and her incarceration in one of the notorious internment camps, with her mother and younger brother, is a forcible reminder of the evil that men do and of the fundamental need to survive.

Beautifully written, this sensitive and emotional read captures the stories of two very different women and yet manages to convey the extreme sadness of both their lives without ever resorting to over sentimentality. I am sure that reading groups will find much to discuss, not just about the emotional vulnerability of both women, but also of the history and circumstances which affected Java during the Pacific War in the Far East.

My thanks to newbooks for my copy of this book.

About the author

Isabel Wolff

Isabel Wolff's ten bestselling novels are published worldwide. 'Ghostwritten', set in present day Cornwall and on wartime Java, was published in the UK in March 2014; 'The Very Picture of You' was published in the UK and the US in October 2011. 'A Vintage Affair', was an 'Best of 2009' title and was shortlisted by the American Library Assocation for their Reading List awards (Women's Fiction).


Friday 13 June 2014

We Did It .....

Jaffa and I have managed over 100,000 views of a blog we thought no-one would ever read. 

Thanks for staying with us and do keep popping by for more reviews and giveaways...

We appreciate your company.

Thank you

For being part of our world of books.


Thursday 12 June 2014

BookaDay....part two

Great fun currently on Twitter with this initiative from @boroughpress


I'm joining in on twitter @jaffareadstoo

 I will also post my book choice on this thread.

I pretend to have read it

I honestly can't think of anything !!

Makes me laugh

An old favourite

Moonfleet by J Meade Falkner


Favourite fictional father

Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. -- Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never see you again if you do "

Can’t believe more people haven’t read it


Future Classic


Bought on a recommendation

There's a foxy Jaffa look a like on the cover


Still can’t stop talking about it


Favourite cover

 Too many choices but my current read has a lovely cover.


Summer read


Out of print


Made to read at school
Hooked me into reading
Never finished it
Should have sold more copies
Want to be one of the characters
Bought at my favourite independent bookshop
The one I have reread the most often

Would save if my house burned down

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Love is all you need - The Sophie King Prize

Love is All You Need, the story anthology from the winners 


This time, Sophie's competition for new romance writing attracted entries from all over the world, and the winning stories will be published digitally on June 11th and in print on August 4th.

Enjoy these 10 great stories with heart - the winning tales of love from The Sophie King Prize 2014, chosen by bestselling author Sophie King.

"...I picked those that surprised me and also left a lovely warm feeling. 
A bit like a love affair, really..."

Sophie King 


Meet 10 women, from different places, backgrounds and times, and each with a different experience of men and romance.

Their stories in turn hold the promise of romance, reflect on finding love, or show the lengths we'll go to for the special person in our lives.

An anthology of stories which are funny, thought-provoking, and thrilling, with characters you'll empathise with as they discover that ... Love is All You Need.

Stories by Alyson Hilbourne, Yvonne Eve Walus, Johanna Grassick, Pauline Watson, Melanie Whipman, Linda Triegel, Laurel Osterkamp, Helen Yendall, Mary Lally, Sherri Turner.

And will be available in print from the 11 August 2014

Published by Corazon Books


Tuesday 10 June 2014

At Last ...

At last my eagerly awaited copy can be plucked from the shelf.

Waterstones - Liverpool.

One of only two copies left on the shelf


Time Ceases.....


Outlander #8


It is June 1778, and the world seems to be turning upside-down. The British Army is withdrawing from Philadelphia, with George Washington in pursuit, and for the first time, it looks as if the rebels might actually win. But for Claire Fraser and her family, there are even more tumultuous revolutions that have to be accommodated.
Her former husband, Jamie, has returned from the dead, demanding to know why in his absence she married his best friend, Lord John Grey. Lord John's son, the ninth Earl of Ellesmere, is no less shocked to discover that his real father is actually the newly resurrected Jamie Fraser, and Jamie's nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for the woman who has just agreed to marry him.
And while Claire is terrified that one of her husbands may be about to murder the other, in the 20th century her descendants face even more desperate turns of events. Her daughter Brianna is trying to protect her son from a vicious criminal with murder on his mind, while her husband Roger has disappeared into the past....

My thoughts..

For the last week I have been chasing time in an effort to reacquaint myself with 18C America and have re-kilted An Echo in the Bone, which at over a thousand pages of tiny print takes a valiant effort but after a gap of four years in between books it really is essential to read back at least one book in this mammoth series before starting another epic adventure.

And this journey into Outlander life has been long anticipated....for the last four years I have known this book simply by Diana’s own soubriquet – MOBY- and with a supreme effort of will I have managed to avoid every tantalising excerpt she has posted on social media, not from any misguided belief that her enticing snippets would be mediocre but more because the anticipation of what is to be found between the actual pages acts as an incentive to avoid potential spoilers.

There is something very special about these books, so much so, I have to physically walk into a book store to choose my own copy. I know it would have been oh so easy to pre order this book so that it would arrive this morning neatly wrapped in brown packaging on my doorstep – but the magic for me is in the choosing – to pick that book, with that long anticipated cover, is a simple joy I relish. There is no other feeling quite like a Diana Gabaldon novel and only her most loyal fans – and believe me there are millions of us - and my friends in the Outlander Book Club who will know what I am talking about...

Time ceases when I open a new Diana Gabaldon book - I am immediately whisked aboard a rather superior time travel machine and as the 21st Century world around me fades into oblivion, the streets of 18C America come gloriously alive and I am reacquainted with friends I have grown to love and in whose company I am complete.

And the world was all around us, new with possibility was the last line of her very first book, and with every succeeding book, this author has never failed to deliver to us a sparkling new world of possibility...

Diana Gabaldon

 My review of Written in my own Heart's Blood can be found here ....spoiler free , of course !!


Sunday 8 June 2014

Sunday War Poet....

Julian Grenfell

1888- 1915

Into Battle

The naked earth is warm with spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s gaze glorying,
And quivers in the loving breeze;
And life is Colour and Warmth and Light,
And a striving evermore for these;
And he is dead who will not fight;
And who dies fighting has increase.

The fighting man shall from the sun
Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth;
Speed with the light-foot winds to run,
And with the trees a newer birth;
And find, when fighting shall be done,
Great rest, and fullness after dearth.

All the bright company of Heaven
Hold him in their high comradeship-
The Dog-star, and the Sisters Seven,
Orion’s Belt and sworded hip.

The woodland trees that stand together,
They stand to him each one a friend;
They gently speak in the windy weather;
They guide to valley and ridge’s end.

The kestrel hovering by day,
And the little owls that call by night,
Bid him be swift and keen as they-
As keen of sound, as swift of sight.

The blackbird sings to him, ‘Brother, brother,
If this be the last song you shall sing,
Sing well, for you will not sing another;
Brother, sing.’

In dreary doubtful waiting hours,
Before the brazen frenzy starts,
The horses show him nobler powers;
O patient eyes, courageous hearts!

And when the burning moment breaks,
And all things else are out of mind,
And Joy of Battle only takes
Him by the throat, and makes him blind,

Through joy and blindness he shall know,
Not caring much to know, that still
Nor lead nor steel shall reach him, so
That it be not the Destined Will.

The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air death moans and sings;
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
And Night shall fold him in soft wings.


Julian Henry Francis Grenfell DSO was a British soldier and poet of World War One.

He joined the army in 1910, and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in 1914.On the 13 May 1915, as a Captain in the Royal Dragoons, Julian was hit when, a shell landed a few yards from him and a splinter of the shell hit him in the head. He was taken to a hospital in Boulogne where he died of his wounds 13 days later with his mother, father and sister at his bedside. He was 27 years old and was buried at the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

The day after his death, together with news of his death, his most famous poem 'Into Battle' was published for the first time, in The Times.


Saturday 7 June 2014

Review ~ Don't stand So Close by Luana Lewis

Random House UK
Stella is a severe agoraphobic, cruelly entrapped within her home for several years, she only feels safe in her isolated world with her psychiatrist husband Max. Late one snowy night, a teenage girl turns up on her doorstep, frightened and alone, Stella is reluctant to accept this stranger into her home especially as her husband is away for the night, but even as she hesitates , you realise that whatever decision she makes, it will have profound consequences.

What then follows is a taught psychological thriller which takes in the vagaries of recall and of how we are all trapped by memories of the past.  The story unfolds from three perspectives and the author has used her considerable expertise as a clinical psychologist to weave to together both past and present and offers a story which has all the elements of surprise, combined with the juxtaposition of three unreliable narrators.

From any viewpoint this is not an easy book to enjoy nor could I say that I truly liked the story which started to emerge but what I can acknowledge is the deft way in which  the author controlled the narrative from its tentative beginning through to its dramatic and timely conclusion.

Should appeal to fans of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Sister by Rosamund Lupton and Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Hayes.

My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK / Transworld for my e-copy of this book.


About the Author

Luana Lewis

S.L. Lewis is a clinical psychologist and author of two non-fiction books (written under Sharon Lewis) An Adult’s Guide to Childhood Trauma (1999, Cape Town: David Phillip Publishers) and Dealing with Rape (1994,Johannesburg: Maskew Miller Longman). DON’T STAND SO CLOSE is her dรฉbut novel, a gripping psychological thriller about a reclusive psychologist who is forced to confront trauma from her past and secrets in her marriage.


Thursday 5 June 2014

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2014..

And the 2014

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction



Eimear McBride

Faber and Faber

A bit of blurb from Goodreads

Eimear McBride's debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator's head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn't always comfortable - but it is always a revelation.

I'm not an avid literary prize reader and if I'm honest I was sort of hoping that The Undertaking by Audrey Magee would be the I have to hold my hands up and say that I had never considered reading this one until the winning announcement was made last night. It's probably going to sit on my 'to be read sometime' wishlist, .....perhaps it's one for the library loan list.

A Girl is a Half Formed Thing has received mixed reviews on the book sites I frequent - some reviewers saying it's the best book they've ever read, through to the more critical reviewers who say that at 205 pages it's more of a novella rather than a novel and that the style of writing takes a bit of getting used always it's best to make up your own mind. Whatever you make of the book, winning such a prestigious literary prize is a great achievement and a huge boost for the author's credit given where credit is due...

This is it's opening paragraph....

For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. Mammy me? Yes you. Bounce the bed. I’d say. I’d say that’s what you did. Then lay you down. They cut you round. Wait and hour and day.

Intrigued .....?


~*Well done to the other authors ~*
who made the 2014 short list

Americanah_med burial-rites_med lowland_med

undertaking_med goldfinch_med


Wednesday 4 June 2014

The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry

Penguin Books UK

With the ebullience of youth, artists Harry and Robin immerse themselves in the colourful and decadent splendour of life in Tangier. When their baby Dillon is born he slots into their life with gratifying ease and yet, an overwhelming irresponsible act by Harry will have devastating consequences. In a momentary lapse of judgement, Harry leaves Dillon sleeping and unsupervised in their Tangier apartment during a devastating earthquake. When Harry returns home, both the building and Dillon are gone.

What then follows is a story about reparation and punishment as Harry seeks to atone for his reckless lapse of judgement and even as Robin tries to remain uncritical; her own culpability needs to be addressed. Returning back to their native Dublin, the couple seek to rebuild their lives, but however far they stray from the truth of that dreadful night in Tangier, Dillon remains in the shadowy recesses of both their minds. Harry’s refusal to believe that Dillon is dead is the driving force of this compelling story.

The story unfolds in alternate chapters and both Robin and Harry’s examination of what happened in Tangier makes for fascinating reading.  There are cracks and fissures in their seemingly stable marriage, and as the secrets and lies are gradually exposed, there really can be no hiding place for them.

The author does a really good job at keeping the tension both credible and tight, and as the mystery of what happened in Tangier gradually unfolds, the psychological damage inflicted remains a forceful part of the story.

I enjoyed it and look forward to more books by this author.

My thanks to Penguin Books UK and NetGalley for my copy of this book