Thursday 30 April 2015

Review ~ The Wronged by Kimberley Chambers

Harper Collins
March 2015

The Wronged follows on from where the last book, Payback ended. Vinny is struggling to come to terms with another family tragedy, whilst young Vinny, a definite chip of the old block is trying to hide deadly secrets of his own. When Vinny is imprisoned for the part he played in the murder of an old adversary, the family , now under the protection of the other brother Michael, needs to keep up the status quo. But old jealousies fester and even with Vinny banged up inside, Michael doesn't find that  his life is any easier without his older brother's constant criticism.

As always, the writing is absolutely first class. The story comes vividly to life in such a way that the book soon becomes unputdownable and whilst there is no doubt that the Butler Family rule the corner of their world with total violence and a disregard for convention, there is also a fascination to find out just what they will do next. Unmistakeably, violence and treachery go hand in hand and even though you know this is fiction, you can't help but be drawn into the gritty and unmistakeable world of the Butler family. Family secrets are exposed, new wrongs must be made right and  old enemies need to be made aware of who exactly is in charge.

If you like gritty, realism with a story that is filled to bursting with exciting sills and thrills and with a strong family at its heart, then this is one of those addictive stories which you can't really afford to miss out on.

My thanks to Harper Collins for my copy of this book.


Wednesday 29 April 2015

Mrs Engels Blog Tour 2015 ......

Jaffa and I delighted to be playing host to the 

Book Blurb

Published by Scribe on 1 May 2015

In September 1870 a train leaves Manchester bound for London. On board is Lizzie Burns, a poor worker from the Irish slums, who is embarking on the journey that will change her forever. Sitting in the first-class carriage beside her lover, the wealthy mill-owner Frederick Engels, the vision of a life of peace and comfort takes shape before her eyes: finally, at nearly fifty, she is to be the lady of a house and the wife to a man. Perhaps now she can put the difficulties of the past behind her, and be happy?
In Gavin McCrea’s stunning debut novel, we follow Lizzie as the promise of an easy existence in the capital slips from her view, and as she gains, in its place, a profound understanding of herself and of the world. While Frederick and his friend Karl Marx try to spur revolution among the working classes, Lizzie is compelled to undertake a revolution of another kind: of the heart and the soul.

Wry, astute and often hilarious, Lizzie is as compelling and charismatic a figure as ever walked the streets of Victorian England, or its novels. In giving her renewed life, Gavin McCrea earns his place in the pantheon of great debut novelists.

My Review :-

The latter part of the nineteenth century saw great changes, not just from an industrial perspective, but also in the way low paid workers viewed the direction in which their lives were heading. For Lizzie Burns, an Irish mill worker from Manchester, life is never going to be easy. When she and her sister, Mary, attract the attention of wealthy mill owner Frederick Engels, life for both women is irrevocably changed.  Based on factual evidence, this fictional story of Lizzie Burns and her association with Frederick Engels is a fascinating story of two disparate people drawn together by circumstance, and yet, as their personalities coalesce, they forge a link which is both endearing and enthralling in equal measure.

Removed from her humble roots and taken to London, Lizzie sets up a substantial home with Engels, an arrangement which doesn't always meet with the approval of the London elite. At first, Lizzie seems like the proverbial square peg in a round hole, quick to anger, easy to cajole and yet filled with such a zest for life.  And, as she and Frederick get drawn further into society, and as Engel’s relationship with Karl Marx starts to develop, Lizzie finds herself drawn into the lively discussions which support the idea of radical social change for the working classes.

There is much to take in, not just with the well written account of Engels and Marx’s struggle to get their voices heard, but also in the way in which Lizzie is forced to re-evaluate everything she has once understood to be true. Time and place is captured perfectly and the rawness and the challenge of living in Victorian England comes gloriously alive. Lizzie is a worthy protagonist and is a strange contradiction of honest working class common sense and touching vulnerability. Reading her words is like being in the room with her, she’s feisty and funny, coarse and delicate, and so supremely flawed, that you want to both protect and chastise her in equal measure.

I loved it, and I am sure that Mrs Engels it will appeal to those readers who enjoy well written historical fiction.

GAVIN MCCREA was born in Dublin in 1978 and has since travelled widely, living in Japan, Italy and Spain, among other places. He holds a BA and an MA from University College Dublin, and an MA and a PhD from the University of East Anglia. He currently lives between the UK and Spain.

Follow on Twitter @GavinMcCrea

***Friday 1st May***

Celebrate publication of Mrs Engels by following #wheresmrsengels competition on Twitter

My thanks to the publishers for the invitation to take part in this exciting Blog Tour


Here's an amazing opportunity to win your own copy of Mrs Engels in this fabulous giveaway

**UK entrants only**

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Review ~ An Irish Promise by Isabella Connor

Choc Lit

Emerald Isle Romance #2

Art historian, Rachel Ford returns to the Irish village of Kilbrook, ostensibly to study a rare set of art murals in the local church. However, Rachel is seeking revenge on the childhood bullies who once made her life a misery. Changed, beyond recognition, Rachel is quickly able to ingratiate herself into local society, whilst the bullies, now adults themselves, have no idea that they are about to get their comeuppance. Australian actor, Finn Mackenzie arrives in Kilbrook to help his aunt with a local school production of A Christmas Carol. Irresistibly drawn to Rachel, Finn needs to address some problems of his own before he can risk making a commitment.

What then follows is a well written look at the effect that childhood bullying can have, not just  on the victim at the time, but also, of the effects that linger well into adulthood. What this story shows is that there are always two sides to every story and that judging people by their actions, isn't always the best way to react.

The story is written with warmth and sensitivity. The characters are believable, and whilst not always likeable, I can think of two in particular that I actively disliked, there is no doubt that they are all memorable in their own way. The charm of the Irish countryside comes alive and the small town mentality, of a town, where everyone knows everyone else's business, is explored in fine detail. Everyone sits well within the story, and as their lives are revealed,  it becomes obvious that there is far more to these characters than is at first revealed.

I really enjoyed An Irish Promise and look forward to the continuation of the Emerald Isle Romance series by this talented duo of authors.

My thanks to the authors for sharing their book with me.

About the authors

An interview with Isabella Connor can be found here


Monday 27 April 2015

Bloggers on the Blog ...Peggy Ann's Post

Bloggers on the blog

My latest feature showcases some of the best of the book blogging community. 

These are the unsung heroes who are constantly on the look out for new and exciting books 

and who give so generously of their time ,energy and expertise.

I am delighted to welcome

Peggy Ann

from the excellent blog

What makes you want to blog about books?

Because as Lucy Maud Montgomery says, 'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' That's me!

What type of book makes you happy?
Mysteries! Especially older ones.

Which book have you recommended the most?

The Highland Gazette Series by A.D. Scott

Which is the best book you received as a gift?

Anna and Her Mother by O. Douglas. A beautiful old copy sent to me by my friend in Scotland.

Which book has sent a shiver down your spine?
Blue Wicked by Alan Jones

How many books do you have, as yet unread, on your book shelves?

Since you asked I counted, 504 and that is just physical books, not counting all the ones in digital form! 

Tell me about a book you've read more than three times?
I've never read a book more than once beside the Bible.

What’s your idea of book heaven or book hell?

Book heaven is a used book shop with books piled high !

Book hell is when you realize you should have picked up that book at the used shop because you will never come across it again!

Where is your favourite reading place?

Curled up on the end of my re(a)d couch

What has been your favourite book of the far ?

At the Water's Edge by Sarah Gruen

Huge thanks to Peggy Ann for giving so generously of her time

Jaffa and I love visiting your blog

Long may it continue.


Sunday 26 April 2015

Sunday WW1 Poet....

The theme for this month's WW1 poems 


Literary Figures 

Those poets who are perhaps better known for their stories

D H Lawrence

1885 - 1930

Future War

After our industrial civilisation has broken, and 
the civilisation of touch has begun
war will cease, there will be no more wars.
The heart of man, in so far as it is budding, is budding warless
and budding towards infinite variety, variegation
and where there is infinite variety, there is no interest in war.
Oneness, makes war, the obsession of oneness

David Herbert Lawrence was born and educated in Nottingham,
During the First World War he was know for his anti war poems and is, of course, now recognised as one of our great English writers.

His novels include:

Sons and Lovers (1913)
The Rainbow (1915)
Women in Love (1920)
Lady Chatterley's Lover(1928)


Saturday 25 April 2015

Letters to the Lost Blog Tour 2015....

Jaffa and I am delighted to welcome

Author of 

Simon & Schuster
23 April 2015

Iona ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo....

What can you tell us about Letters to the Lost which will pique the reader’s interest?

I’m an out and out romantic, and Letters to the Lost is very much a love story. Or two love stories, really, as it’s a dual time frame book, with two sets of characters. It’s set in the 1940s – in wartime London – and in 2011, so I really hope that anyone who has an interest in the war and a weakness for a good old fashioned romance will enjoy it. It involves some unfinished business from the past, and a quest to resolve things before it’s too late.

What came first for you – the idea, the plot, the place or the characters?

Actually, the title came before anything else! The phrase Letters from the Lost came into my head one day, when I caught a glimpse of a handwritten letter on my daughter’s desk. I really liked the sound of it and wrote it down immediately, then couldn't stop myself trying to work out what story might lie behind it. I think the piece that slotted into place next was the location – the deserted house in the present day. I knew that the letters would arrive there, so I then had to find out who had sent them and why. From there Dan and Stella’s story really wrote itself, and the characters came to life for me.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing the story? How did you overcome it?

I wrote the whole of Dan and Stella’s story first, without stopping until I reached the end, and it really was lovely! I used to get in the shower in the morning and start thinking about the scenes I was going to write that day, and couldn't wait to get up to my office in the attic to get stuck in. I reached the end of their bit at about the same time as my daughters broke up for the summer holidays, and so I stopped writing altogether for the next month or so, and mulled over the present day story in my head. It felt like starting an entirely different book, so was fairly daunting, but once I reached the part when Jess finds the letters and the two stories started to merge I felt much happier. That was the most difficult bit – weaving the two strands together (in fact, I often wonder what masochistic instinct makes me write dual time frame books!) but I overcame it by planning everything out on a whiteboard (and then mostly ignoring it and writing whatever felt right at the time – but the planning made me feel better!)

What is your definition of writing Heaven? And writing Hell?

Oooh – lovely question! I think my definition of writing Heaven is time and space to Think. Of course (standard disclaimer) I adore my family, but the necessity of feeding them (three times a day!) and shopping for the food is the ultimate enemy of creativity. (I have a slight concern that on occasion I have wandered around the aisles of Sainsburys with an empty trolley actually muttering to myself). So, Heaven would be someone to plan, shop for and cook decent healthy food for us all 5 days a week. Actually, when I was writing Letters to the Lost, I had a week of writing heaven in Ironbridge in Shropshire. My middle daughter had a work experience placement at lovely Blist’s Hill and we’d rather underestimated the journey time from home, so the two of us stayed in a beautiful Landmark Trust house right beside the famous bridge. I dropped her off in the morning, then went back to the house for a whole day of writing, uninterrupted by laundry, cleaning or cooking, as we happily existed on ready meals and pub food. (It’s probably relevant to mention that there was no television or wifi there, either...)

Writing Hell for me is time pressure. Sometimes it’s not a linear process, and it’s really important to have the luxury of time to go back and change something, or slash whole swathes of words. It’s never an easy decision to make, but having the deadline clock ticking loudly in your ear makes it infinitely harder to make that call. I also think that books grow organically, and at certain stages of their development they just need time to... settle. At those times there’s no sense at all in rushing on and trying to beat a wordcount goal. Far better to put the kettle on, open a packet of biscuits and stare out of the window... (*EXCUSE KLAXON*)

Which writer do you admire most and why?

There are so many writers that I love and admire, and am inspired by. One of my all-time favourite writers, and my earliest influence was Jilly Cooper. I picked up my stepmother’s copy of one of her shorter novels (Imogen) while on holiday in France at the age of 10, and I absolutely devoured it. It was a total revelation. Up until then I’d only read children’s books, with overwhelmingly virtuous heroines, but here was a book about real people: funny and awkward and sexy and vivid. It was like getting a glimpse into a grown up world I longed to be part of. I still pre-order everything she writes.

Other writers I admire include Kate Atkinson for her effortless prose, which often seems to make me laugh while I’m still reaching for the tissues to mop up the tears, and Rosamunde Pilcher for her amazing skill at telling a story that totally transports you to a different world. I’m in awe of that power. (And having her provide a cover quote for Letters to the Lost was one of the most exciting and moving and amazing things ever. Totally incredible.)

What books are you reading at the moment?

I often have two books on the go – one for research, and one for pleasure. At the moment my research book is Up West, by Pip Granger, which is about life in Soho in the post-war years and is wonderfully absorbing as well as being informative. For bedtime reading, I’m deeply enthralled by Vanessa Lafaye’s brilliant Summertime which is utterly breathtaking, (sometimes quite literally, as the tension keeps building) and keeps me reading long after I should have switched out the light.

Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?

I do! I’m deep into writing book 2, which is set in the early 1950s (hence the research!). The war is over and the King has just died. It’s only a decade after the era I wrote about in Letters to the Lost, but it feels like an entirely different world; in many ways a more drab and depressed one than in wartime. And of course, it’s a love story!

My review of Letters to the Lost can be found here.

Huge thanks to Iona for sharing her thoughts so eloquently and to Hayley at Simon and Schuster  for her invitation to be part of this exciting book tour.


Friday 24 April 2015

Derby Book Festival 2015....

I am delighted to be able to share the details of the first ever

  Derby Book Festival.

The book festival, the first ever for the city, is the brainchild of Jenny Denton and Sian Hoyle, two avid readers, whose passion for books have inspired this huge event.

Jenny Denton, Liz Fothergill, Sian Hoyle

 The Festival is filled to bursting with exciting author events 

and is to be held from the

31 May - 7 June 2015

The Festival, which is a registered charity, will celebrate the joy of books and the power and pleasure of reading.  The ambitious programme will be held in venues across the city with over 60 book related events and activities for all ages and interests.

The programme includes best-selling, celebrated writers, including:

Michael Morpurgo at Derby Theatre on Sunday 7 June

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Michael Morpurgo

David Nicholls at QUAD Derby on Wednesday 3 June

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David Nicholls

Penelope Lively at the Cathedral Quarter Hotel for the Festival Lunch on Thursday 4 June

Event Image
 Penelope Lively

Simon Armitage at Deda (Dance Centre) on Thursday 4 June

Event Image
Simon Armitage

Katie Fforde at QUAD Derby on Friday 5 June

Event Image
Katie Fforde

Sarah Waters at QUAD Derby on Saturday 6 June

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Sarah Waters

James Naughtie at Derby Museum & Art Gallery on Saturday 6 June

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James Naughtie

There will also be a recording of BBC Radio 4's Bookclub with Jon McGregor on Friday 5 June.  

Event Image

With events from author talks, discussions, live performances, and workshops for budding writers to children’s book trails, storytelling, theatre performances and ‘Make It’ sessions, there’s something for everyone!  

It will also feature events of local and specialist interest including cycling, railways, photography, football and cricket. 

For full details of the programme visit:

Follow the event on social media

Twitter @DerbyBookFest

Facebook DerbyBookFestival

Go on be know you want too..


Thursday 23 April 2015

Review ~ Word Drops by Paul Anthony Jones

...A sprinkling of linguistic curiosities....

Elliot & Thompson
April 2015

I've long been fascinated by the power of words and can remember as a child, in primary school, being completely comfortable in English lessons when we were encouraged to do dictionary practice. Looking up the meaning of words is a still something I do on a regular basis, either by using a well thumbed Oxford English Dictionary, the quick reference facility on my Kindle or by browsing the cornucopia of online dictionary facilities.

So, to be asked to review a book, made up entirely of one thousand linguistic and etymological snippets that form one long interconnected chain, was a complete joy.

Word Drops is a language book which completely fascinates and as one word drops into another, a picture emerges, not just of the colourful and quirky use of language, but also of the unique power of words as they have evolved over time.

'Did you know that the bowl made by cupping your hands together is called a gowpen?

And speaking of bowls, the earliest known reference to bowling in English dates from 1555, when bowling alleys were banned by an Act of Parliament.

And that ties in nicely with the fact that the English called Germans "Alleymen" during the First World War....'

I absolutely loved this book. It's one of those hidden gems which sits quite comfortably on a book shelf until you need a little nugget of knowledge, and then once you dip into it you will be immediately be enthralled, not just by the goodies on offer, but also the way in which the book is presented. And as each fascinating fact drops into another one, very soon, the diversity and richness of language starts to enthral and really, I promise you, once started, you won't be able to stop to reading.

It would be a really special gift for someone, who, like me , loves the beauty of language, or for anyone who simply wants to know more about words which have long been abandoned.

And just to finish , I'll leave you with this snippet...picked at random from the book ...

The word happy in English is used three times more often in English than sad....

Have a happy day.

Paul Anthony Jones

Paul Anthony Jones is best known as a language blogger, He is the author of several books on trivia and languages including The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer, Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons and its sequel, Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire, He contributes regularly to the Huffington Post and Metal Floss as well as writing the Haggard Hawks Blog.

My thanks to Alison Menzies at Elliot & Thompson for my review copy of this book.


Wednesday 22 April 2015

Today my Guest Author is....... Melanie Hudson

© Melanie Hudson

A Yorkshire lass first and foremost, Melanie left her native county in 1994 when she joined the Royal Air Force as an Air Traffic Control Officer.
Melanie enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle awarded by her military career.  In addition to working at several air stations throughout the UK, she experienced an operational tour in the Balkans during the Kosovo Crisis in 1999, and served as air liaison officer with the British Army during their insurgence into Iraq in 2003.
In May 2004 she transferred to the Royal Navy Air Traffic Control Specialisation, the highlight of which was an exhilarating stint in HMS Invincible.  Melanie had a son in 2007, before retiring from military life in 2010, after which she moved to Dubai temporarily where she finally found the time to pursue her passion for writing.  She wrote the majority of her first novel, The Wedding Cake Tree, while sitting in a Japanese tea shop overlooking the Burj Kalifa.
Melanie is happiest when wandering in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands (pretending to be all mysterious and romantic). Melanie lives in Devon.

And especially for Jaffareadstoo, here's a lovely guest post
from Melanie....

As I type, I’m sitting in my favourite coffee shop in Bideford, Devon, and it’s publication day for my debut novel, The Wedding Cake Tree. This is a day I've been looking forward to for a very long time. The path to publication for any debut author is a story in itself, so I’ll briefly tell it to you all about mine…

In November 2010, having just retired from my sixteen year commission as a Royal Navy Officer, I moved to Dubai temporarily. It was the first time in my adult life I hadn’t had a job, so, unable to not my gainfully employed doing something (anything) I sat down and started to write a story that had been kicking around in my mind for quite some time. At first I was just writing to have something to do, but once I started to write, I couldn’t stop. It was lovely. Most people would probably spend their first few months in Dubai basking in the winter Arabian sunshine – but not me. I would daily de-camp to a café (the café in the book shop in the Burj Kalifa) and type away for hour after hour after hour – heaven. Every hour on the hour the Dubai Fountains would spring into life and dance away and I would briefly glance up and watch them from behind the café’s triple glazing. I’d had a stressful job for many years and it was truly lovely to just sit back and create something.

At that time I was writing for pleasure and genuinely had no intention of trying to achieve publication – to be fair, I wouldn’t even have begun to know how. And then, a friend sent me a link to the ITV/HarperCollins Peoples’ Novelist Competition, and on a whim I printed off the first three chapters of my embryonic novel, slid them into a buff envelope, sent them off to HarperCollins and thought nothing more about it. The following May I was notified that the novel had been shortlisted and all of a sudden there was a very real possibility that, if I won, my little project would suddenly become a published novel. I didn’t win. But the comments were so positive from the judging panel I began to believe that I might actually have written something that people (people who didn’t know me, that is) might want to read. So I paid to have a professional manuscript appraisal done (best money I ever spent), re-wrote the book, and then a friend of mine, self-published author Frankie Valente, helped me to self-publish on Amazon Kindle. To my surprise and delight the book became (almost) an overnight success. I was delighted. But even then I didn’t consider sending the manuscript off to agents because (and I’m going to be perfectly honest now) the thought of writing letters to hundreds of agents in the hope of one of them taking me on filled me with nothing but dread.

Then, one fortuitous, beautiful day, a lady I barely knew who had briefly moved to my village, popped in for coffee and we got to chatting about the book. She was a big fan of independent publishing company, Choc Lit, and encouraged me to contact them via their website in the hope of igniting some interest about the book. Something about Choc Lit (deep in my bones) felt right … and now, sometime later, my little book is published by Choc Lit, and my mum and dad can walk into their local bookshop and see it, and that is the best, best feeling in the world. And there you have it, my own little path to publication – why don’t you give it a go?

Choc Lit

Can a mother’s secret past provide the answers for a daughter’s future?

Celebrity photographer Grace Buchanan has always known that one day, she’d swap her manic day job for the peace and quiet of her beloved childhood cottage, St Christopher’s – she just didn’t expect it to be so soon.
At the reading of her mother’s will, she’s shocked to learn that she hardly knew Rosamund at all, and that inheriting St Christopher’s hangs on one big – and very inconvenient – condition: Grace must drop everything for two weeks and travel the country with a mysterious stranger – war-weary Royal Marine, Alasdair Finn.
Caught in a brief but perfect moment in time, Grace and Alasdair walk in Rosamund’s footsteps and read her letters at each breathtaking new place. As Grace slowly uncovers the truth about her mother’s incredible life story, Alasdair and Grace can’t help but question their own futures. Will Rosamund’s madcap scheme go to plan or will events take an unexpected turn?
An emotional, fun-filled and adventurous journey of a lifetime.

Buying Links:

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:

 Huge thanks to Melanie for sharing her thoughts so eloquently and to Lusana at Choc Lit for her help with this guest post.


Tuesday 21 April 2015

Lindsey Kelk - Blog Tour Announcement...

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of  Lindsey Kelk's

Always the Bridesmaid 

Blog Tour


Published on the 7th May



7 May 2015

Everyone loves a bridesmaid
(except Maddie, who’s perpetually asked to be one.)
Everyone loves a wedding
(except Maddie’s best friend, who’s getting divorced.)
And everyone loves the way Maddie’s so happy behind the scenes
(except Maddie herself.)
One best friend is in wedding countdown while the other heads for marriage meltdown. And as Maddie juggles her best chance at promotion in years with bridezilla texts and late-night counselling sessions, she starts to wonder – is it time to stop being the bridesmaid?


Monday 20 April 2015

Bloggers on the Blog...Being Anne

Bloggers on the blog

My latest feature showcases some of the best of the book blogging community. 

These are the unsung heroes who are constantly on the look out for new and exciting books 

and who give so generously of their time ,energy and expertise.

I am delighted to welcome



 the excellent blog

What makes you want to blog about books?

I’ve always loved books - my mum would tell you stories about finding me in the corner at parties, reading whatever had caught my eye. As a grown-up, I still love every moment I spend reading - if I could read 24 hours a day I would. Retiring in March 14 was the second best thing - now, if there’s a day when I really don’t want to move, no-one’s going to tell me off for reading a book all day. I’ve reviewed books for years on various sites, I just want to let people know about the books I’ve loved. Nothing gives me more pleasure than an author tweeting their delight about a review, or a follower telling me they enjoyed a book as much as I did. 

What type of book makes you happy?

If it has words and a story, I’m happy - and if I’m not enjoying it, I’ll give it 100 pages, set it aside, and move on!

Which book have you recommended the most?

There are authors I recommend again and again, but the single book I suspect I might have recommended the most is Matt Haig’s The Last Family in England. I don’t usually read books about animals and pets, but I thought this book was just so perfect - I’ve never looked at labradors (or spaniels) in the same way again.

Which is the best book you received as a gift?

This is a poignant one. I read English Literature at university, and came away with a vast library of classics - I had a flood at my house a few years ago (when I lived near Wigan), and lost them all. I mentioned it to an on-line friend, and said that the book I missed the most was an illustrated copy of William blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. My gifted replacement copy now has a very special place on my shelf and in my heart - rest in peace Penny. 

Which book has sent a shiver down your spine? 

I’m a bit of a wuss about shivers - my vivid imagination tends to turn them into nightmares. But I adore Stephen King… my all-time favourite was Gerald’s Game. His son, Joe Hill, is pretty good too - after reading his Heart-Shaped Box, I was afraid to leave the bedroom at night for quite some time! 

How many books do you have, as yet unread, on your book shelves?

If I say this quickly, it doesn’t sound as bad - over 2000, equally split between shelves and Kindle library. It’d be so awful to have nothing to read, wouldn’t it?

Tell me about a book you’ve read more than three times?

I just don’t - there are just so many wonderful new books published daily! A book I’ve read never returns to my shelves, unless it’s been signed by the author.

What’s your idea of book heaven or book hell?

“Book” and “hell” just don’t fit together for me… reading a book is always heaven!

Where is your favourite reading place?

I read everywhere (really… except the bath, I’ve never perfected that!). But my favourite place is on a horrible winter’s afternoon, in my favourite armchair in the lounge, with the cat snoring on my lap, scented candle burning, cup of tea and slice of cake to hand, classical or soft soul music playing in the background!

What has been your favourite book of the far ?

It’s been an excellent year so far, but I’d like to recommend The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin - I thought it was a quite wonderful and life-affirming read, and can’t imagine anyone not loving it as much as I did.

Huge thanks to Anne for giving so generously of her time.

Jaffa and I love visiting your blog.

Long may it continue.


Sunday 19 April 2015

Sunday WW1 poet....

The theme for this month's WW1 poems 


Literary Figures 

Those poets who are perhaps better known for their stories

Thomas Hardy

1840 -1928

Thomashardy restored.jpg

Channel Firing


That night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
We thought it was the judgement day

And sat upright. While drearisome
Arose the howl of wakened hounds:
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
The worms drew back into the mounds,

The glebe cow drooled. Till God called, "No;
It's gunnery practice out at sea
Just as before you went below;
The world is as it used to be:

"All nations striving strong to make
Red war yet redder. Mad as hatters
They do more for Christés sake
Than you who are helpless in such matters.

"That this is not the judgment hour
For some of them's a blessed thing,
For if it were they'd have to scour
Hells floor for so much threatening...

"Ha, ha. It will be warmer when
I blow the trumpet (if indeed
I ever do; for you are men,
And rest eternal sorely need)."

So down we lay again. "I wonder,
Will the world ever saner be,"
Said one, "than when He sent us under
In our indifferent century!"

And many a skeleton shook his head.
"Instead of preaching forty year,"
My neighbor Oarson Thirdly said,
"I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer."

Again the guns disturbed the hour,
Roaring their readiness to avenge,
As far inland as Stourton Tower,
And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge. 

Although well known for his Wessex inspired classic fiction - Thomas Hardy considered himself to be a poet and is now considered to be one of the greatest twentieth century poets.


Saturday 18 April 2015

Review ~ Wild Wood by Posie Graeme-Evans

Simon & Schuster
March 2015

Australian, Jesse Marley comes to the UK in 1981 to discover more about her background. An unexpected accident results in Jesse coming into contact with a neurology doctor, Rory Brandon, who is intrigued by Jesse and her ability to draw pictures of his family home in Scotland.

In 1321, the Dieudonné family, custodians of Hundredfield, are a Scottish/Norman borderland family, who are intrigued by a strange young woman, who comes into their home and who makes them question everything they once knew to be true. What then follows is a dual time novel which blends very different times frames in a story which alludes to the struggle women have had, throughout the ages, to be heard and recognised.

I have to admit to being rather disappointed with this story. I so much wanted to like it and yet found myself increasingly irritated by Jesse, to the point where I didn’t really care enough about what happened to her. The historical time flip, was for me the strongest part of the story, and, I’m afraid that even this failed to live up to my expectations. I thought the story was disappointing , and whilst I have long been a fan of this author’s work and have read everything she has written to date, I do feel that this story lets her down and isn’t as strong as her previous work.

The hint of a suggestion that this book compares favourably to Diana Gabaldon’s excellent Outlander is misleading. There is no link to be made, apart from the Scottish setting, as neither the strength of the story, nor the time frame bears any such comparison.

I hate being disappointed by a favourite author but as always make up your own mind , you may well find something in the story that I didn't , and that to me, is what makes reading such a fascinating adventure.

My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for my copy of this book.


Thursday 16 April 2015

Review ~ Into the Unknown by Lorna Peel

Tirgearr Publishing
5 May 2015

The story opens in 1939, as Kate Sheridan leaves her home and strict parents in rural Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle in London. This move allows Kate an element of freedom she has never had before, but England is on the cusp of war and London is no longer a safe haven. When Kate meets the devilishly handsome Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler during an air raid, the course of both their lives is changed forever.  What then follows is a story which follows the lives of both Kate and Charlie during the course of the war. They face many difficulties, and their love affair is subject to, not just the challenge of separation, but also bears the burden of parental disapproval and the heartbreak of loss on a grand scale.

Into the Unknown is a sympathetic look at the uncertainty of life during the Second World War.  The characters are believable; I found both Kate and Charlie to be worthy protagonists and enjoyed watching their characters grow in maturity as the novel progressed. Their individual wartime experiences are sensitively explored and their thoughts and feelings are both realistic and thought provoking.

I really enjoyed the story and was absorbed from the beginning in the way Kate and Charlie's lives progressed. I genuinely cared about what happened to them, and testament to the author’s storytelling skill, I read the book almost in one sitting, as I wanted to find out how the story progressed.

Well worth reading of you enjoy well written WW2 historical romances.

Lorna Peel

Into the Unknown will be published on 5 May 2015

My thanks to the author for sharing her book with me in advance of its publication


Wednesday 15 April 2015

Review ~ The Lady of Misrule by Suzannah Dunn ..

Little, Brown Book Group
7 May 2014
The Lady of Misrule is the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey, the enigmatic teenager, who, due to the dangerous plotting of her family, found herself in the unenviable position in 1533, of being declared Queen of England. With a reign that lasted only nine days, Jane soon found herself removed from power and was forced into imprisonment at the new queen, Mary Tudor’s, pleasure.

In The Lady of Misrule, the onerous task of supervising the deposed young Queen’s imprisonment, is Elizabeth Tilney, a young woman who has grasped the opportunity of escaping her own family, on the understanding that she will guard Jane and watch her every move. The two women are forced by circumstances to live in detention together although neither could be more different. Protestant and studious Jane, is in direct contrast to the more exuberant and staunchly Catholic, Elizabeth. And as the weeks of Jane’s imprisonment stretch out, Elizabeth is unwittingly drawn into the deadly politics between, Jane’s in-laws, the Dudley’s, whose dangerous meddling in the royal succession is the main reason why Jane is incarcerated.

The author has a distinct style of writing which I find rather refreshing. I enjoy the way she concentrates on her characters and whilst she never gives them twenty-first century traits, she does enrich them with a rather modern way of dialogue which can take a while to become accustomed. For me, the Tudor age comes alive with all the frightening possibility of living so close to the throne of England, and whilst the story and eventual outcome of Jane Grey's sorrowful young life is no secret, this book adds something of a new slant to the story and succeeds in showing the vulnerability of both Jane and her young husband, Dudley, who, by tragic circumstances are caught up in events far beyond their control.

This is a  commendable historical novel and one which I am sure will engage fans of Tudor history and also for those who enjoy well written historical fiction.

My thanks to Little, Brown Books and NetGalley for this advance copy of The Lady of Misrule.