Sunday 31 May 2015

Sunday WW1 Poets...

The theme for this month's WW1 poetry 


Rupert Brooke

1887 - 1915

Rupert Brooke

(v) The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
   That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
   In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
   Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
   Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
   A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
      Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
   And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

      In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke wrote this series of poems entitled The Sonnets in the autumn of 1914 following the outbreak of the First World War.

He died from an infected mosquito bite in April 1915 on a French hospital ship on his way to Gallipoli and is buried in an olive grove on Skyros in Greece.


This rather lovely wood carving of a WW1 Soldier has recently been installed in a local park.

It's by Cheshire wood carver Andy Burgess

The Soldier
Alexandra Park, Wigan
©Picksipics, 2015


Saturday 30 May 2015

Review ~ Elizabeth I and her Circle by Susan Doran

Oxford University Press
June 2015

The inner circle of courtiers who surrounded Elizabeth I during her momentous reign is the focus of this beautifully written book, which aims to put the personal into the myth and legend which all too often surrounds this charismatic Queen of England.

Not only does the book look at Elizabeth's personal relationships with her limited family, namely her father and elder sister, but it also shines the spotlight on the interactions Elizabeth had with those courtiers who have come to symbolise the first Elizabethan age, particularly the brightest and best of her statesmen, men like Burghley and Walsingham and adventurers like Raleigh, whose far reaching expertise ensured the overriding success of Gloriana.  The well documented effect that Elizabeth had on certain male courtiers is described in some detail, but perhaps lesser known and beautifully highlighted, is the influence that Elizabeth had on the women of her court, particularly those she treated as maid-servants.

If you enjoy Tudor history and want to add another well written and easily readable version of the Elizabethan age to your collection then this book would be a welcome addition to any bookshelf.

My thanks to NetGalley and Oxford University Press for my copy of this book.


Review ~ Victorian Fairy Tales : Edited by Michael Newton

Oxford University Press

I love Victorian Fairy Tales and this volume contains a selection of some of the finest stories. Nestled amongst the better known tales lie some hidden gems which fire the imagination and feed the soul and anyone who loves Victorian melodrama will be as beguiled as I was with the contents. There is a good selection on offer , from the well known by the great and the good of the Victorian literati, to some lesser known works, which sit equally as comfortably side by side with the greats.

The book has been thoughtfully complied with a fine eye for detail. The stories are mixed and varied and the  comprehensive introduction by Michael Newton places the stories into the context of their time. If you enjoy well written short stories which contain elements of mystery, pure melodrama and more than a hint of the paranormal then I am sure that you will find this beautiful book as intriguing as I did.

The cover is sumptuous and looks like it could have stepped straight out from a roll of William Morris wallpaper.It really is one of those books that you could find yourself dipping into and out of at whim and  it would be a stunning addition to any book shelf. 

My thanks to Oxford University Press and NetGalley for my copy of this book,


Friday 29 May 2015

Today my guest author is...Ali Chrisp

I am delighted to welcome Ali  to Jaffareadstoo


From the age of three I have always had pets, and when I started writing Home Comforts I couldn’t contemplate creating the characters without including a few furry friends. In the book, Jo and her son, Tom own a large ginger and white cat, a border terrier, a three-legged rabbit and two guinea pigs, which are based mainly on pets that I’ve owned.

Since joining Twitter I’ve noticed that many authors state in their  profiles that they ‘love cats’ or ‘love dogs’; a few others declare a passion for guinea pigs and rabbits, and it made me wonder how these much-loved animals affect their owners’ writing habits.  Are they a help or a hindrance? Last year we bought our first dog, Lola the labradoodle, and we also own a feisty tabby cat called Winnie. Both of them are valued members of the family and, in my experience, have a very positive influence on my writing as well as other areas of my life.

Every morning, whatever the weather, Lola has to have a long walk, so lounging around in my dressing gown and procrastinating are not on the agenda. Instead, I get plenty of exercise and fresh air to kick-start my day and improve my motivation. Writing can be a bit isolating so a quick natter with other walkers is fun and gets my thoughts flowing. Sometimes I have my most creative ideas when I’m out marching through the fields and have to scribble them down as soon as I get home.

When I’m writing, Lola is great company and cocks her head on one side attentively when I am muttering to myself or reading parts of my manuscript out loud. Unlike Winnie, she has a short attention span and wants to be let in and out a lot more.  I think of this as a positive, however, because it forces me to get up and move around as recommended by my back surgeon! Always the clown, Lola can certainly relieve any boredom, but can also be distracting if she keeps plonking a slobbery ball or other toy in my lap. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any positive aspects to the bad smells she makes but it’s a small price to pay!

Winnie tends to fulfil a slightly different role because she is so relaxing. Who needs meditation when you can listen to the loud, steady purr of a contented cat or stroke its soft, silky fur? Whatever mood I’m in, I’m always cheered up by her miaowed greetings and her small furry body weaving around my ankles. Once I settle down to write, she curls up into a beautiful little ball and stays like that for several hours; I only have to glance at her to feel at peace. Sometimes it can be a bit too relaxing and I have to fight the urge to nod off! On the other hand, I soon liven up when she wakes up and pads across my keyboard, typing gobbledegook and causing me to lose any unsaved work.

At times she can be distracting, especially when she paddles defiantly at the window until I get up and let her in.  I wouldn’t mind, but she’s got a perfectly good cat flap. Her unexpected absences can also affect me - if she hasn’t put in an appearance for breakfast, I find it difficult to concentrate until I see her trotting across the front lawn and hear her announcing her arrival.

I have only scratched the surface of whether Lola and Winnie make good writing companions, but in a nutshell they certainly have a positive impact on my physical and mental well being, and provide me with entertainment, comfort and inspiration.  I’d be interested in hearing about your own experiences, whatever type of animal you own.

Lola and Winnie

Corazon Books
May 2015

A laugh-out-loud comedy about families, friendship and romance.

Jo Longford's life takes an unexpected turn when her bosses wrongly accuse her of stealing from a client. Suddenly, she needs to find a new job and a new home for herself and ten-year-old son, Tom. Not to mention their small menagerie of badly behaved pets.

Her selfish mum isn't much help; obsessed with keeping up appearances, nothing her daughter does is ever good enough for her. But at least Jo can rely on best friend Val for support. They've been getting themselves into mischief since they were teenagers, and that includes joining a cringeworthy dating agency and an eventful school reunion. Some things never change!

Life certainly doesn’t get any easier for Jo. Will she be able to fend off her sex-mad landlord – a retired businessman who struts around in Lycra and thinks he’s God’s gift to women? Are her new employer and quirky clients at the Handy Jobs Domiciliary Care Agency all they seem?

And will Jo ever be able to sort out her chaotic love life when two equally unsuitable men gatecrash her world?

Home Comforts is a heart-warming tale with a cheeky twinkle in its eye.

My thanks to Ali for this charming guest post
and to Ian at Corazon for his help with this interview.

Great Stories with Heart


Thursday 28 May 2015

Review ~ Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring

16 June 2015

Dacre’s War is set in the border lands between England and Scotland. It’s a shadowy place where old memories lie deep, and when Adam Crozier, the head of a powerful border family learns that Thomas Dacre, now Warden General of the English marches and one of the most powerful men in England, is responsible for his father’s death, the possibility of vengeance lies heavy on Crozier’s mind.
Dacre’s War is the sequel to the book ‘After Flodden’ and sees a welcome return of some of the characters who featured heavily in the first novel. The writing is good, the plot complex and convoluted and the vivid portrayal of life in the early part of the sixteenth century is well explained. Beautifully reminiscent of a dark and dangerous time, the novel cleverly combines fascinating story-telling with acknowledged historical facts, and immerses the reader in a tale of revenge and retaliation on a grand scale. Whilst, at the same time, the story brings to glorious life, the dangerous heartlands of the border country, a land used to brutal and bloody fighting, and a place where life was cheap and the settling of old scores was the overriding principle of survival.

Overall, this is a commendable continuation of the story and although easily readable as a standalone novel, for greater enjoyment the books are best read in sequence.

My thanks to and Polygon for my copy of Dacre's War

I read this book as part of the Lovereading review panel and other reader reviews can be found


Wednesday 27 May 2015

Today my guest author is ...Gilli Allan

Gilli Allan

Gilli Allan started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon Art College.

She didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead she was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing her dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when she was at home with her young son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two novels were quickly published, but when her publisher ceased to trade, Gilli went independent.

Over the years, Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in her Gloucestershire village. Still a keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli is particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher - Accent Press. FLY OR FALL is the second book to be published in the three book deal.

Accent Press
May 2015

"Wife and mother, Nell, fears change, but it is forced upon her by her manipulative husband, Trevor. Finding herself in a new world of flirtation and casual infidelity, her principles are undermined and she’s tempted. Should she emulate the behaviour of her new friends or stick with the safe and familiar?

But everything Nell has accepted at face value has a dark side. Everyone - even her nearest and dearest - has been lying. She’s even deceived herself. The presentiment of disaster, first felt as a tremor at the start of the story, rumbles into a full blown earthquake. When the dust settles, nothing is as it previously seemed. And when an unlikely love blossoms from the wreckage of her life, she fears it is doomed.

The future, for the woman who feared change, is irrevocably altered. But has she been broken, or has she transformed herself? "

Read an extract from Fly or Fall....

Engineered by her husband Trevor, Nell Hardcastle and family have moved house to a town where they know no one. They’ve been there only a few months when Nell meets Felicity Jackson. Fliss seems intent on taking Nell under her wing and she arranges a meeting at the home of another friend, Katherine Hunt, to introduce them. 

Nell is surprised at the tone of the conversation. Her initial reaction, early on in the encounter is described here:

Surely the unguarded and intimate nature of their conversation was not meant to be shared with a stranger? I knew one of these women only slightly and the other I’d met just under an hour ago. Yet here I was, in this beautiful house, in a part of the country I was still unfamiliar with, a slightly embarrassed audience to their giggly, girly confessions.....

....A mill race flowed alongside Katherine Hunt’s house. Though traces still remained, the mill wheel was no longer attached to the side-wall. Outside, an old red-brick outbuilding, with wide double doors, was surely big enough for three cars, and there must have been a room above the garage as exterior steps led up to a side-door beneath the roof.

The interior matched the external impression of the converted watermill. Two red setters lay prone in a patch of sun near the French windows. When I’d first entered the sitting room, one of them raised its head, emitting a low rumbling growl. At its mistress’ reassurance it lay its head down again, bestowing a desultory lick on the ear of its companion in passing.

Katherine’s hair was a sleek tawny blonde, which hung thick and gleaming to her jaw; her make-up was immaculate but discreet. The lines of her figure were long and smoothly modelled; she moved with the suppleness and grace of the very fit – at ease in her Jaeger casuals, in her ‘Homes & Gardens’ house. The realisation that she was not particularly good-looking was delayed, coming almost as a surprise. She certainly had none of the obvious prettiness of Felicity Jackson.

I wondered why these women were such close friends – on the face of it they seemed very different. Physically, Felicity was shorter, more delicately boned than Kate, and her elaborately made-up face was haloed by a stiff web of highlighted curls. She was also younger and more extrovert in dress and personality. An expression of my mother’s popped into my head. A working class woman herself, Beryl had strong views about respectability. She’d have characterised Felicity as a bit flashy, and probably no better than she ought to be; while Katherine had class. There was no other word for it, even in my lexicon; she offered us wine when anyone else would have offered coffee. In the face of all this sophistication, and as a complete stranger to her elegant home, the flippant tone of the conversation jangled. And with nothing whatsoever to contribute I felt trapped in the unwilling role of voyeur. I looked back towards Felicity.

‘It’s not as if you haven’t had a very tempting offer recently. Well worth the risk,’ Felicity continued, with an exaggerated wink. Katherine smiled, ruefully.

‘I instantly regretted turning him down. Only it’s a tad embarrassing having to say, “Oh, hang on a minute, can I have another think about your leg-over proposition?”’

‘He didn’t put it like that, did he?’

‘No, but it amounted to the same thing. But glorious though the experience is bound to be, or so you assure me...’

‘Mmmm,’ Felicity groaned, then waggled her tongue. ‘Believe me.’

With raised brows and shake of her head at her friend, Kate continued. ‘...It can’t be such an ego boost when we both know how many others he’s sniffed round.’

‘Do you mind?’ Felicity said.

‘I’m sorry, but how else does a man hone his skills except by doing the rounds? Anyway, I’ve missed my chance, he’ll probably settle down now.’

‘A leopard doesn’t change his spots. Have you seen her? Don’t understand the attraction, myself. But, we’re not being very fair to Eleanor.’ She turned to me with a little smirk. ‘You don’t know who we’re talking about, unless...? Have you met him already? You are getting Bill to do up your house, aren’t you? You know, William Lynch. Man for all Reasons? I gave you his card.’

‘Oh, Mr Lynch. So far I’ve only spoken to him on the phone.’

‘Ooh,’ she exclaimed with a theatrical shiver. ‘Exciting, isn’t it? Having work done on the house.’

Surprised, I laughed ‘Like banging your head against a brick wall. Great when it’s over.’

‘Oh, no, I love it. I adore having workmen around. I’m dead jealous of you.’

‘Jealous?’ It astounded me that anyone could find enjoyment in the upheaval, the dirt and mess, the mistakes and tardy corrections; the men who failed to arrive on the appointed day and who then failed to phone and explain why. ‘...When they do come, they’re late, then they disappear again halfway through the afternoon.’

‘You’ll have none of that malarkey with Bill and co.’ Felicity said with a wink.

The circumstances of our move were now reiterated briefly for Katherine’s benefit. Unlikely that either of these women would understand my unease at the amount we’d realised from the sale of the house, or my regret at moving to their town. Instead, I turned the story into a comedy. I described how I’d panicked on discovery that the inheritance tax was due before we could realise any money; how the bank, which had only ever been a disembodied and reproving voice in letters about overdrafts and late payments, suddenly became helpful and assigned us a financial adviser; and how Trevor managed everything, with our new best friend giving us every assistance. The tax was paid and the house sold for an amount I could still scarcely credit.

‘Why haven’t I got any wealthy relations who could pop off, leaving me mega bucks, and mansions. No one’s filthy rich in my family, and anyway they’ve all got squillions of kids. It’s not fair.’ Felicity said, pouting.

‘My mother had no money and the house was a small, end of terrace. I still can’t understand...’

‘If I had the choice I’d live in London,’ Felicity continued, blithely ignoring my continuing mystification. ‘But why on earth did you move here?’......
© Gilli Allan. All rights reserved.

My thanks to the author for sharing her latest work with Jaffareadstoo

Fly or Fall is available now and is published by Accent Press


Tuesday 26 May 2015

Review ~ We Are all Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman

Ebury Press
21 May 2015
Rowan Coleman has delivered a beautiful story about love and loss, death and dying and the overwhelming value of dignity and respect.

Stella Carey is a hospice nurse with first-hand knowledge that life is sometimes filled with regret. Hopes and dreams are shattered when faced with mortality and yet, even as her patients face their death, Stella offers a nugget of hope.  During her night shifts, Stella writes the letters her patients want her to deliver after their death, and as she does so, she discovers that deep within ourselves we all have a still, small place, where hope and resolution can often find peace.

The story is told from multiple points of view; we meet several characters who all have their own hopes and fears and through their letters we find out much more about them as people. Everyone has secrets, some people have told whopping great lies; whilst others have hidden things from those they love, but ultimately, when time becomes a precious commodity, the need to explain, is paramount and all consuming.

We Are all Made of Stars is beautifully written from start to finish. All the characters exude warmth and charm; some tug away at your hearts strings more than others, whilst some people we never meet, and yet, through their letters we are allowed a privileged glimpse into their innermost feelings. The story would not be complete without any of them.

It should be a sad book, but it isn’t. True, it is gut wrenchingly emotional in places, but it’s also warm and loving, sensitive and funny, with some beautifully observed moments that are so special they take your breath away. It is all the wonderful things I have come to expect from this talented author and I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

Just read it.

I was invited to read this book as part of the readers review panel.

You can find out what the reviewers thought about this book   ~ Here

My thanks to and Ebury Press for my copy of this book.

Rowan Coleman


Monday 25 May 2015

Bloggers on the Blog.....Beadyjans Books

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


Jan Lambert

 from the excellent blog

What makes you want to blog about books? 

I love to talk about what I’ve read but none of my close family or friends read the kind of books I enjoy. Blogging helps me share my thoughts and engage with others with similar tastes and helps make reading not such a solitary pleasure as it would be if I weren’t able to share what I thought and felt about my latest reads. 

What type of book makes you happy? 

Would it be weird to say I’m happiest when a book makes me cry, (or get angry or shout out loud?) Anything which is well written enough to engender strong emotions in me gives me enough of a buzz to flood me with happy hormones. 

Which book have you recommended the most? 

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, it’s my desert island book, it has enough characters and sub plots going on, for at least some part of it to appeal to most readers and it would stand up to several re-readings as it’s such a huge and wonderfully engaging read. 

Which is the best book you received as a gift? 

I don’t often receive books as gifts, but one I really treasure is a copy of For the love of Wildlife an autobiographical book about the wildlife reserve Harnas in Namibia, signed and presented to me by Marieta Van Der Merwe the owner during a wonderful visit, its more than a book it’s a lifelong memory. 

Which book has sent a shiver down your spine? 

It takes quite a lot to scare me literary wise, but I did find the stupendously dark psychological thriller Who Are you by Elizabeth Forbes had me looking over my shoulder a few times. 

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

Oh crikey, they’re not just on my bookshelves and in cupboards but I read a lot of ebooks, and my kindle, ereader and laptop are all bursting with many, many, hundreds of books I just can’t get around to. 

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

I haven’t – life’s far too short to read any book more than once, and I’m not a fast reader so once I’ve finished a book it’s very unlikely I’ll re-read it. 

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

Hmm I take it you mean type of book? Heaven is a tense psychological thriller, in a dark domestic setting, with a strong female protagonist I can relate to on some level and a situation I’d hate to be in, and it’s almost certainly written in first person (not that I’m fussy or anything). 

Book hell is anything whose blurb begins “Retired police sergeant ….” Or “Feisty CIA officer …” (or with a title beginning 50 shades of ….) 

Where is your favourite reading place? 

Apart from in bed where I get most of my serious reading done, anywhere warm, comfortable and quiet where I can curl up undisturbed with my book, preferably with a ready supply of good coffee, so my local coffee shop is used to seeing me in a quiet corner glued to my e-reader. 

What has been your favourite book of the far ? 

Strangely, although I love psychological thrillers best of all and I’ve read a few great ones so far already this year, the book which really made an impression on me was Bird Box by Josh Maierman an unusual, scary, post-apocalyptic fantasy which thoroughly intrigued me. 

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

Jaffa and I love visiting your blog

Long may it continue.


Sunday 24 May 2015

Sunday WW1 Poet...

The theme for this month's WW1 poetry 


Rupert Brooke

1887 - 1915

Rupert Brooke

(iv) The Dead

These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
   Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
   And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
   Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
   Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.
There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
   Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,

   A width, a shining peace, under the night.

Rupert Brooke wrote this series of poems entitled The Sonnets in the autumn of 1914 following the outbreak of the First World War.

He died from an infected mosquito bite in April 1915 on a French hospital ship on his way to Gallipoli and is buried in an olive grove on Skyros in Greece.


Saturday 23 May 2015

Death Wish by Megan Tatye


In Search for the meaning of Death. She'll find Life

Scarlett Blake returns to Twycombe in Devon, ostensibly to find out why her seventeen year old sister, Sienna, would take her own life.  The place is filled with memories of when Scarlett and Sienna were younger and would spend the holidays with their grandparents at the beach resort. The bitter sweet memories of this time remain but nestling under the surface are the dreams and realities which threaten Scarlett’s peace of mind, and which, when she delves further will shed light on rather more than Sienna’s untimely demise.

Aimed at young adults, this age–appropriate story looks at life and love and of the consequences of our actions and how they affect other people. Nicely written with a fine eye for detail, the author has captured the mood of a place with dark secrets and yet, there is contrasting light to the shade and it is peopled by characters that remain with you.

I am sure that young adult readers who enjoy paranormal stories will find much to enjoy in this coming of age novel.

My thanks to the author for sharing her work with me.


Review ~ Sophia's Secret by Julie Ryan

A Greek Island Mystery

After an absence of over twenty years, Kat returns to Greece, with her own small daughter, ostensibly, for her mother’s funeral. Kat has painful memories of her childhood and struggles with the unsolved mystery of why she was sent, aged seven, to live with her aunt Tigi, in England. Never seeing her mother again has been painful for Kat, and the Greek island of her childhood, where she grew up, is filled with memories of a past she can barely remember. And yet , returning to the island, Kat finds that some secrets, long buried, need to be revisited, and as her grandmother starts to share her memories of the past, Kat discovers things about her family and friends that she could never have imagined.

This is a story about Greek island life and of the convoluted mysteries which can linger for generations, the repercussions of which, all too often, reverberate down through time. The story is allowed to evolve slowly and as the hidden secrets of the characters start to emerge, so the appeal of the place and its people come alive in the imagination. The clandestine feelings of long buried secrets linger throughout the novel and there are more than enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you entertained right to the end.

I think that it’s a lovely book to load onto your Kindle to pack away in your suitcase – I can almost  taste the retsina, hear the cicadas and smell the bougainvillea.. 

It's worth noting that this is the second book in the Greek Island Mysteries and whilst there is some overlap of characters from Jenna's Story, Sophia's Secret can be comfortably read as a standalone novel.

Follow the author on Twitter @julieryan18

My thanks to the author for sharing her work with me. 


Friday 22 May 2015

Guest Author....Alison Morton

Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre – regular and reserve Army, RAF, WRNS, WRAF – all over the globe.

So busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…

But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women

Now, she lives in France and writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines.

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series
 shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year

PERFIDITAS, second in series
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
 finalist in 2014 Writing Magazine Self-Published Book of the Year

SUCCESSIO, third in series
Historical Novel Society’s indie Editor’s Choice for Autumn 2014
– B.R.A.G. Medallion
Editor’s choice, The Bookseller’s inaugural Indie Preview, December 2014


Today Alison is sharing with us her latest novel in the Roma Nova series

Late 1960s Roma Nova, the last Roman colony that has survived into the 20th century. Aurelia Mitela is alone – her partner gone, her child sickly and her mother dead – and forced to give up her beloved career as a Praetorian officer.

But her country needs her unique skills. Somebody is smuggling silver – Roma Nova’s lifeblood – on an industrial scale. Sent to Berlin to investigate, she encounters the mysterious and attractive Miklรณs, a known smuggler who knows too much and Caius Tellus, a Roma Novan she has despised and feared since childhood.

Barely escaping a trap set by a gang boss intent on terminating her, she discovers that her old enemy is at the heart of all her troubles and pursues him back home to Roma Nova

Alison, welcome back to Jaffareadstoo 

Thank you for having me on your blog today, Jo and Jaffa. I love visiting you both!

A reader asked me the other day how long I took to write my books.  Well, it’s been not quite six years since I typed the first scene of INCEPTIO, the first Roma Nova story, although it was March 2013 before it was published. The second, PERFIDITAS was out the following October and SUCCESSIO, which completed that trilogy followed in June 2014. Sound very fast, doesn’t it? But Roma Nova has been bubbling away in my head for decades. When it burst through in late 2009, Roma Nova the country was fully formed and its inhabitants developed as characters. Then I had to learn the craft of writing novels!

History runs in my veins. When I touch a piece of Roman concrete, pick up a Samian ware dish or stare at a first century fine mosaic, I am spellbound. The modern mini-state of Roma Nova and its inhabitants are real to me – I’ve lived there for years.

In the city

I’ll come clean. I’ve travelled through much of Europe and walked across fields, through towns and up mountains similar to those in Roma Nova. I’ve smelt pines, touched olives and grapes in warm sunshine and know what it’s like to freeze in a European winter in the middle of a military exercise, so the lives of my heroines Carina and Aurelia draw something from my own. Combined with this, I’ve devoured thrillers since I could read and always liked to outthink the book’s author. When I couldn’t, it was a huge pleasure. I vowed that if I wrote books, I would write ones that surprised, or not at all.

green fields_sm
North of the City
Jaffa asked me how I held it altogether over three and now four books. The answers are managing change, a reasonably good memory and a large folder of spreadsheets.

Firstly, managing change… My novels progress in time; the characters mature as life hands them trouble, challenges, conflicts and dreadful choices. They marry, gain promotions, have children, form new friendships and discover unwelcome things about themselves, but also strengths and virtues they never dreamed about. Sometimes they just have to endure. This is what we all have to do in life, but perhaps not at the adrenaline level of Carina and Aurelia!

The memory question… This simply comes from being immersed in Roma Nova for so long! If I have the slightest doubt about a meeting a building or a character’s hair colour, I go back and check in previous books. Luckily, in the digital age, this is a matter of seconds. 

And spreadsheets… These are especially useful for tracking ages, births, marriages and deaths of the characters, particularly in relationship to each other. Nobody wants an eleven-month pregnancy or a thirteen-year-old father! A glance at the spreadsheet will tell you exactly how old all the characters are at a given point in the series.

AURELIA, although the fourth book in the series, starts a new three book cycle within the Roma Nova series, so new readers can start here.  The next book in the series is half drafted and the one after that is planned out. And there is still so much about Roma Nova’s heroines that I have to tell you…

You can find my review of AURELIA here

My thanks to Alison for this guest post and for sharing her inspiration for AURELIA with us today.

Alison is very kindly offering a fabulous copy of AURELIA to one lucky winner.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of


Easy peasy entry

 What name would you give to your imagined world and why?

The best comment chosen will win.

**Open Internationally **


Leave your comment below and don't forget to leave a contact email
so I know where to find you.

Giveaway closes : 29th May 2015


This competition is now closed.