Wednesday 30 September 2015

A Book revisited ~The Glass Painter's Daughter by Rachel Hore

A Tale of three covers ...

It's an interesting concept, this idea of re-branding books by changing the cover, because what it does is attempt to re-invent the story for a new audience, and it's surprising to see just how the trend in book covers changes with the passage of time. 

When I was given a copy of The Glass Painter's Daughter to read for the Curtis Brown Book Group - my initial thought was ..oh, I've read that, and as I've also read some 600 books, or more,  since this one, truthfully,  I couldn't really remember the finer details of the story .

I hoped that my 2009 Goodreads review would come to the rescue....and it did....

Pocket Books
Here it is....

The Glass Painter's Daughter, whilst for me it wasn't quite as good as The Dream House and The Memory Garden, it is still a lovely read, with a fascinating dual time frame and some wonderful characters....I loved the descriptions of the different glass and would love to 'see' the Raphael window.....It has some wonderful angel quotes interspersed throughout the chapters...this one has always been a favourite of mine ....

It heads chapter 34...

We are never so lost our angels cannot find us.....

As you can see, I didn't write long reviews back in 2009. 

The Glass Painter's Daughter then went through another book cover change to look like this...


I'm not sure that this cover bears any resemblance to what the story is really about - it could be a totally different story...

And now in 2015, the cover has been updated again to look like this...

Simon &Schuster

I can see 'more' of the story perhaps in this cover. I get a sense of Fran, the central character, who is on a journey of self discovery, she very much a loner, self sufficient, purposeful and determined. I see her in this figure and am drawn into the journey she is undertaking. I like the shadowy church rising in the background. 

There seems to be a trend for stylized covers, a representation of what lies within, and this is almost like a story board drawing you into the concept of what's about to happen.

Book cover art is so important. As a reader, the first thing I notice about a story is the book cover.  I want to be drawn into the story, I want to look at the picture and imagine the journey I'm going to take and imagine the adventure waiting to happen.

I've given up on a book several times because I find the cover hateful - and several covers spring to mind but I won't do the authors the injustice of naming them here.

And now, the million dollar question - which, of the three covers, do I like the best.... I think it's this latest cover which I like because it makes the story feel more contemporary. I like the muted colours and the gentleness of the cover art.

So, what did I make of reading The Glass Painter's Daughter second time around...

Fran Morrison returns home to London when her father's illness forces her to abandon her successful music career. Entering Minster Glass, her father's glass making business, is like stepping back in time and for Fran it conjures memories of a past she would rather have kept hidden. When she and her father's assistant, Zac, are given a commission to restore a damaged glass picture, the angel revealed in the glass tells a fascinating story of love, both lost and won and of the tragedy and heartbreak of devastating loss.

It's a lovely, lovely story with an over riding gentle theme which gives the novel a heart warming feel. Whilst it can be considered to be rather a slow read, for me this works, as there is ample time to become comfortable with the characters and there is enough space in the narrative to enjoy the way the story unfolds. I liked the authentic way Victorian England was brought to life in Laura's story, but was equally beguiled by the present day dilemmas faced by Fran as she struggled to find her rightful place in the tantalising world of glass making. And as the past and present intermingle, both the similarities and differences between Fran and Laura's individual stories are brought to life. The angel theme which pervades throughout the story is nicely done and I particularly enjoyed the angel references which head each chapter.

It's a slow burner of a story which looks at the rawness of human emotion, with an overriding theme of redemption and hope.

We should pray to the angels for they are given to us as guardians

St Ambrose, De Vidius

My thanks to the Curtis Brown Book Club for my copy of this book to read.


Tuesday 29 September 2015

Review ~ Beyond the Sea by Melissa Bailey

Arrow Books
July 2015

Freya McPherson’s husband and young son disappear at sea in what looks like a freak accident. A year later, Freya returns to their light-house keeper’s cottage on a remote Hebridean island to try to pick up the pieces of her life again. But the cottage is filled with memories of happier times and Freya is haunted by dark and disturbing dreams, which blend, both her present and her past, and where she experiences such a huge sense of loss, that her life, on waking, is filled with despair.

This is a dark and disturbing story about the power of a mother’s grief, and of the overwhelming sense of desolation when everything in life seems to be without substance. Freya is a highly intelligent woman but, like all who are grief stricken and lonely, she lingers in a dark place, caught between hope and despair, and desperately clings to the possibility that one day she will get the answers to her husband and son’s shadowy disappearance. Interspersed within Freya’s tale, are snippets of seventeenth century letters which tell of another mysterious disappearance. In 1653, Oliver Cromwell sent a flotilla of ships to Scotland to dispel royalist support in the highlands. Soldier, Edward writes longingly to his lover, Josie, of his dreams and hopes for their future together, but then his ship, the Speedwell mysteriously disappears.

I was completely hooked on the story from the beginning and felt like I was really immersed in Freya’s life. The aching loneliness she feels and the unbearable lack of answers to so many questions makes this a story that reaches out to you, so that you get an emotional connection to the characters. I enjoyed the intermingled stories, and felt that the author did a great job in bringing two very different story strands together, so that by the conclusion of the story everything comes together nicely.

Beyond the Sea is a lovely mixture of past and present, with cleverly interconnected snippets of myth and legend, and is well worth reading , not just for the story, which is excellent,  but also for the way in which the stark beauty of the Hebrides come gloriously to life.

You can find an interview with Melissa Bailey - here.


The author in my spotlight is ...Melissa Bailey

I am delighted to introduce the author

Today she is talking about her latest book

Beyond the Sea

July 2015

Melissa ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for sharing your thoughts about Beyond the Sea...

Your latest novel Beyond the Sea is set in the Hebrides. How important is location to your writing, and did you visit any of the places you describe so vividly in your novel?
Setting is really important. Before I knew very much at all about the novel, I knew that it would be set in the Hebrides. It’s a wild, remote part of the world with ever changing weather and tides. It seemed to be the perfect location for my protagonist Freya, a woman grieving the loss of her husband and son – a true reflection of her loneliness and turbulent emotional landscape.
Glen More

A849 - view toward the Burg

I travelled to Mull to research some of the places that are mentioned in the novel. I took the ferry from Oban on the Scottish mainland to Craignure, the same journey that Freya takes in Chapter 1 of the novel. I then drove along the A849 to Fionnphort (the same route that Freya also takes), past towering Ben More and across the desolate glen at its feet. I passed Loch Scridain (the loch that Torin lives beside) and watched the sunshine turn its seawater from slate grey to brilliant blue.

Loch Scridain

I visited Knockvologan on the south of the island, waited until low tide, and then crossed the exposed white sand beaches of the tidal island of Erraid (the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped). I trekked past the now abandoned lighthouse keepers’ cottages and tried to imagine what it would be like to live on a tiny island like this, isolation complete when the sea rolled back in. From there, out in the vastness of the ocean, I caught sight of the ominous lighthouse, Dubh Artach, which gets a few mentions in the novel. I made a later visit to Skye and travelled to Neist Point lighthouse, one of the inspirations for Freya’s lighthouse in the novel. It’s built in an incredibly beautiful but immensely isolated spot.

Loch Linnhe Lighthouse
One of the Lighthouses used as inspiration for Freya's Lighthouse

Beyond the Sea is a story about sadness, secrets and folklore – in your research for the novel; did you discover anything which surprised you?
I found out so many strange things - from accounts of mermaid sightings, to vanishing lighthouse keepers, to the discovery of perfectly preserved objects that had been on the sea bed for nearly 400 years.
I came across a great literary anecdote when I was researching the Corryvreckan, the whirlpool between the islands of Jura and Scarba, which also features in the novel. I discovered that George Orwell (who went to Jura in 1947 to complete the first draft of the novel which would become Nineteen Eighty-Four) once nearly drowned in the whirlpool when he was caught out there in rough seas. He was ultimately stranded with his two friends and his three year old son on Eilean Mor, a skerry south of the whirlpool, when their rowboat capsized on it. They were later rescued by passing lobstermen. I also subsequently found out that Orwell’s one legged brother-in-law, Bill Dunn, was the first person to swim across the Gulf of Corryvreckan!

Another thing that surprised me was not only the sheer number of shipwrecks which have occurred in Scotland but as a result the number of lighthouses that were built around the Scottish coast (over 150 by the Stevenson family alone). I read a large number of interviews with lighthouse keepers about the realities of tending the lamp - tales of isolation, depression and the primitive conditions in which they had to live. One account told how the keepers on a tower far out at sea had two buckets for their daily ablutions - one was for washing; the other was their toilet which they emptied by flinging the contents off the top of the tower. So it was important to check the way the wind was blowing before doing so!

Where do you get your inspiration for a story from – are you inspired by people, places or do you draw purely from your imagination?
My books usually start with a single image which has taken root in my mind. In The Medici Mirror it was a darkened mirror. In Beyond the Sea it was a woman, Freya, her hair turned white in grief, standing on a beach, a lighthouse in the near distance behind her.
I then do huge amounts of research to help me find the story. For Beyond the Sea I read lots and lots of books on the Scottish islands - the history, the landscape, the sea, the people. Through this the strands of the novel began to emerge - the historical thread with its soldiers, storms and sea battles; Freya’s emotional and physical journey, the old keeper, Pol telling her stories of when he once worked at her lighthouse, her blind friend, Torin, possessed of the second sight common in the islands, giving her warnings along the way. I read fairy tales – the fabulous ‘Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend’ by Donald Mackenzie – and stories of magical islands, mermaids and dark Beira, the Queen of Winter began to feed into my story. And slowly but surely it all began to come together.

Beyond the Sea is your second novel, The Medici Mirror, being the first – did you feel more of an obligation to make this second book even better than the first?
Yes, without a doubt. I think every writer feels that way. Ultimately it’s not good to dwell too much on that as it can inhibit you. But you keep working away at it, hoping that you’re making progress, that you’ve learnt a lot from the mistakes you made in the first novel and that your writing is improving. But you never know for sure, so there’s always a large element of hope!

What do you hope readers will take away from your stories?
I hope with Beyond the Sea that readers will come away with a keen sense of place, of the beauty and magic of the Hebrides, and a desire to visit the islands and perhaps the places that are mentioned in the novel. I also hope they’ll be touched by the characters within that landscape, particularly Freya, and come away from the world of the novel with a sense of consolation. Finally, I found the stories from the Hebrides really fascinating - a rich combination of history, myth and fairy tale. I hope readers found them equally interesting and discovered a few things they didn’t know before!

What can we look forward to next?
I’m in the process of writing a third novel. I love dark topics - betrayal and black magic in The Medici Mirror, grief in Beyond the Sea. The next book focusses on madness.

All photographs by kind permission ©Melissa Bailey

Huge thanks to Melissa for sharing her inspiration so eleoquently. I really feel like I have visited this beautiful part of the world. 

My review of Beyond the Sea is here.

Melissa is very kindly giving away a copy of Beyond the Sea to one lucky UK winner of this giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck


Monday 28 September 2015

Review ~ Waiting for Wednesday by Nicci French

Waiting for Wednesday

Michael Joseph

This is the third book in the excellent Freida Klein series of psychological thrillers from the talented husband and wife writing duo, Nicci French. Waiting for Wednesday is an altogether darker story than the previous two books and picks up where book two, Tuesday's Gone ended, with psychotherapist, Freida, still recovering from her catastrophic trauma from the previous story. Supposedly recuperating at home, Freida gets in inadvertently drawn into the investigation into the murder of seemingly, ordinary mum, Ruth Lennox. 

As always, with these novels, Freida is quickly drawn into the very heart and soul of the story and the many twists and turns in the narrative really keep you gripped from beginning to end. The writing is excellent, with the stories getting stronger and stronger. I'm not sure that I can reveal too much of the plot without giving too much away, except to say that there are couple of dangerous episodes for Freida, and as always you start to fear for her well-being and peace of mind. The eclectic mix of characters who support Freida are again in full voice, I especially love the relationship Freida has with Josef, and enjoy reading about the vitriolic relationship she has with her nemesis and fellow psychotherapist,  Hal Bradshaw.

The murder at the heart of the story is well explained and the police banter between DCI Karlsson and his team feels authentic without being too procedural but it's also nice to get to know a little about the investigative team as people rather than just police officers.

My opinion is that you should read these stories in the order in which they were written, as to start mid series would detract from the overall effect and you would miss all the subtle nuances of the sum total of these excellent crime stories.

My thanks to Michael Joseph and NetGalley for my copy of this book.


Sunday 27 September 2015

Sunday War Poet...

The theme for this months poetry


The Soldier

The Broken Soldier


Katharine Tynan

The broken soldier sings and whistles day to dark;
    He's but the remnant of a man, maimed and half-blind,
But the soul they could not harm goes singing like the lark,
    Like the incarnate Joy that will not be confined.

The Lady at the Hall has given him a light task,
    He works in the gardens as busy as a bee;
One hand is but a stump and his face a pitted mask;
    The gay soul goes singing like a bird set free.

Whistling and singing like a linnet on wings;
    The others stop to listen, leaning on the spade,
Whole men and comely, they fret at little things.
    The soul of him's singing like a thrush in a glade.

Hither and thither, hopping, like Robin on the grass,
    The soul in the broken man is beautiful and brave;
And while he weeds the pansies and the bright hours pass
    The bird caught in the cage whistles its joyous stave.

Katharine Tynan 1861 - 1931

Born in Dublin, she was a poet and a writer. She was a leading member of the Celtic literary revival and a contemporary of W B Yeats,and the Rossettis.


Friday 25 September 2015

Review ~The Daughter's Secret by Eva Holland

27 August 2015

The Simms’s live in affluent middle class suburbia, they  have a good lifestyle, a steady income and settled family life, but this is all turned upside down when Stephanie, Rosalind and Dan’s, fifteen year old daughter, absconds with Nathan Temperley, her geography teacher. With their lives held up to scrutiny, and at the centre of a major police investigation, the Simms’s lives are about to change forever.

When the story opens, we meet the family, some six years later, when the phone call comes through that Rosalind has dreaded, that in eleven days’ time, Temperley will be released, early, from serving his prison sentence for his abduction of Stephanie. What then follows is a slow burner of a story which takes the story forward day by day, counting down to Temperley’s release date, whilst at the same time recounting the family’s back story in a series of cleverly constructed flashbacks.

What I enjoyed most about the book was that it didn’t over sensationalise the relationship between Temperley and Stephanie, and yet, you understand deep in your bones, that it was fundamentally abhorrent, and that the horror of what happened is present in every hidden nuance. And as the story is revealed piecemeal, we get a real sense of the damage done to vulnerable individuals and of how, years later, the family are still struggling to come to terms with what happened. Like all domestic noir stories, this one bites deep into the very heart of family life, it dissects values and scrutinises the minutiae of behaviour, and reveals chinks and cracks and hidden secrets which only serve to obstruct the family’s mental and physical long term recovery. Like all mothers, Rosalind, is determined to try to protect Stephanie at all cost,  but at what price?

The Daughter’s Secret takes a devastating family incident, and infuses the story with a heightened sense of that of a runaway train out of control. It is a really accomplished debut novel and was, quite rightly, chosen as the 2014 Good Housekeeping winner of the novel writing competition.

Eva Holland is a free lance copywriter and public relations consultant with a life long love of words and stories. She grew up in Gloucestershire and studied in Leeds before moving to London where she lives with her husband. The Daughter's Secret is her first novel.

Eva Holland

Visit Eva on her website
Find her on Goodreads
Follow her on Twitter @HollandEva

Amazon UK

Thursday 24 September 2015

Review ~ The Consul's Daughter by Jane Jackson

Accent Press

When Teuder Bonython becomes unable to run his beloved boat yard, his daughter Caseley takes on the daunting responsibility of keeping the business viable, but this is not an easy task for a young woman in Victorian England, and Caseley encounters many difficulties, which, at times, seem insurmountable. Her life becomes even more complicated when she meets, Jago Barata, the half Spanish captain of one of the Bonython ships, who’s brashness and audacity both appeals and frightens Caseley. Unprepared for the effect that Jago will have on her life, Caseley is determined to succeed in a male dominated world, with, or without, Jago’s interference.

I really enjoyed getting to know Caseley, whose determined personality confirms that she is no shrinking violet when it comes to business, but there was also a softer side to her personality, with an aching vulnerably, which, I thought, was nicely explored, and which became more evident in her dealings with Jago Barata. Jago is, from his detailed description, very easy on the eye, and I had no difficulty in being fascinated by him! He was a clever contradiction of being both fearless and tender at the same time.

The Consul’s Daughter is a lovely story. I enjoyed both the romance and the history, and felt that time and place was captured perfectly. I really felt like I was in the boatyard with Caseley and Jago, watching the ships arrive and cargoes being unloaded, with the tang of sea salt and the kiss of sea spray in the air. The author’s evident love of writing and her skill at story telling make the story both exciting, and realistic. The mystery at the heart of the novel has just the right amount of adventure to keep the story interesting and informative, and yet, it is in the relationship between Caseley and Jago where romance is allowed to take centre stage. I thought that there was a lovely blend of attraction and desire between Caseley and Jago, I enjoyed getting to know them as characters, and hoped that everything would turn out right for them.

The ending of the story lends itself nicely to a continuation of The Captain’s Honour Series and I look forward to reading more in future novels.

Jane Jackson

Follow Jane on Twitter @JJacksonAuthor
Find her on Facebook 

A professional writer for over 30 years, Jane Jackson has had 27 books published with world-wide sales topping ten million. Shortlisted twice for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, she has also taught the craft of Novel Writing at every level from Writers’ summer schools and Ad Ed to the MA in Professional Writing at University College Falmouth.

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


Wednesday 23 September 2015

The author in my spotlight is .....Victoria Saccenti

I am delighted to welcome to Jaffareadstoo

the author

Victoria Saccenti talking about her debut novel

September 15

"Destiny has the final word...."

Victoria ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thanks for spending time with us...

Hello, Jo and readers of Jaffareadstoo.  Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to speak about my novel, Destiny’s Plan.

Your debut novel, Destiny’s Plan, is set during the turbulent Vietnam War. What can you share with us about the story that won’t give too much away?

Despite appearances, Destiny’s Plan is not about war, it’s a story about love and spiritual growth in difficult times. Because of the decade, the Vietnam War cannot be ignored; it is a looming, constant presence. However, there is more, the period was rich and full of groundbreaking changes. As the narrative follows Raquelita’s footsteps, her challenges, defeats, and triumphs, the counter cultures of the era, such as drug experimentation, rebellion against the establishment, and the sexual revolution are also explored. 

Destiny’s Plan is a story about ill-fated love and duty to one’s country – in your research for the novel, did you discover anything which surprised you?

For years I believed the US government supported the troops in Vietnam with all its resources. Not quite. The propaganda was good, but when it came to arms provisioning, intelligence, and political alliances it was mostly a smoke screen. On the opposite side, the faith and dedication of the men in combat moved me to tears. The majority of those details fell on the cutting room floor. I may have found such revelations fascinating, but I didn’t want to bore readers with military minutiae.

Where did the idea for the characters come from and did you base any of them on people you know?

I worked for an international carrier for many years. In my travels, I watched young servicemen, in groups or alone, going back and forth on orders. More than once I wondered about their lives, their loves, their fears, and their beliefs. The idea sprouted there. For the rest, I suppose all writers inject into their stories what they know. I grew up in a Spanish-Latin environment. I used that as a reference for the interaction and conflict between mother and daughter.

Have you written the type of book you like to read and what would you say has influenced your writing?

Writing about the sixties was a total pantser event – as in people who don’t plan their books – but my characters required it and I had to adapt. I love historical fiction and complex, emotional stories that satisfy my Latin temperament, so yes, I wrote the type of book I like to read. I adore Dorothy Dunnett and Linda Gillard in English and Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel in Spanish, I can only hope something good from them stuck. 

When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?

I write best in my cave and in the morning, which can be difficult to manage when you have a home and a husband. My office is my refuge. I hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the door handle. The sign doesn’t always work.  

Destiny’s Plan is the first book in a proposed series – at this stage in your writing, do you know where the other books in the series are leading, or are you a…. “Let’s wait and see sort of writer”...?

Book two follows Marité’s story, Raquelita’s younger sister. It’s already plotted and planned. Not a pantser this time. However, due to the length of the novel, I have decided to split the book in two. I also have in mind a spinoff, shorter story, based on Richard, a surprisingly attractive character from Destiny’s Plan. 

How long do we have to wait before the second book is ready to be published?

If the writing and promoting gods cooperate, I should have Marité’s Choice, Part One ready to roll by spring of 2016.

Victoria, thanks so much for giving us such a thoughtful insight into Destiny's Plan. Jaffa and I wish you much success with your writing and hope you'll come back and visit us again soon.

Thanks again Jo, it has been a pleasure visiting with you. 

You can find Victoria :

On her Blog
On her Webpage
Follow her on Twitter @VictoriaSAuthor
Find her on Facebook

Buy links:

Barnes & Noble:
YouTube book trailer:   

August 2015

What's it all about :

When Raquelita Muro and Matthew Buchanan meet by chance on a Greyhound bus between Texas and Tallahassee, neither suspects Fate is about to take over.

Raquelita, a gentle girl under the heel of her abusive mother, finds this kind young man a miracle. Matthew, an idealistic young soldier, discovers this sweet-natured girl is an angel in need of a guardian. However, the next stop on Matthew’s journey is Fort Benning to report for deployment to Vietnam, while Raquelita’s destination is set at her mother’s whim. Regardless of the forces tearing them apart, they discover a way to secretly span the distance, to end up closer than ever. But Fate is rarely kind. The vagaries of war—and the unstable tempers of Raquelita’s mother—intervene, leaving both ill-fated lovers feeling there is no hope for their love.

Set in the turbulent era of the Vietnam War, Raquelita’s and Matthew’s story is one of love, loss, lost faith, shattered memories, deferred dreams and broken promises. Will Fate tear apart these two damaged souls, leaving them desperately alone forever, or will they finally overcome Fate, their bond stronger than they ever thought possible?

Take a look at the trailer for Destiny's Plan.

Happy Reading.


Tuesday 22 September 2015

Review ~ The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies.

Penguin Random House
August 2015

When nineteen year old Gwendolyn Hooper steps of the steam ship in Ceylon, she is excited to start married life with her handsome husband, Laurence. Life on the remote tea plantation is very different from her life in England, but Gwen is determined to make the most of her new life. Totally in love with Laurence, Gwen is puzzled when he appears to become secretive and distant and quite unlike the man she fell in love with, and added to the marital discord, is the appearance of Laurence's younger sister, Verity, whose bizarre possessiveness towards Laurence, makes it difficult for Gwen to be accepted as mistress of her own home.

Captivated and enthralled from the very start of the novel, I quickly became immersed in plantation life and saw that Gwen’s rather naïve outlook on life would make for compelling reading. Idealistic and filled with only kindness, Gwen tries to make sense of this rather archaic way of life and even though she doesn’t fully understand the running of the plantation, she is determined to make a difference. The story is beautifully written, with a true sense of time and place, and brings to life, not just the social history of Ceylon but also the fundamental changes which were happening towards the end of colonialism in the 1920s and 1930s. From the decadent house parties of the late 1920s, to the abject poverty of the plantation workers, I felt like I had stepped into Gwen’s shoes and experienced everything as she saw it. I wore her sumptuous flapper dresses with their beads and fripperies, and strolled with her and Laurence through the cool of the evening towards a lake where sparkled light glistened and danced.

The Tea Planter’s Wife is a story about contrasts, about what is right and proper, and of the great price paid by adhering to social and cultural expectations. It’s also about secrets and lies, of the huge burden of culpability and of the hidden dangers of deceit and overwhelming sadness. After reading this author’s previous book, The Separation, which I absolutely loved, I had misgivings that this one wouldn’t live up to expectations, but I am delighted to say that this book exceeded all my hopes. I was beguiled, immersed and completely overwhelmed by the power of the story and of my emotional connection to it.

A perfect accompaniment to a delicious cup of Ceylon tea, The Tea Planter's Wife is without doubt one of my reads of the year...

I am delighted to say that The Tea Planter's Wife has been picked as one of the Richard and Judy book club Autumn reads.

 My thanks to Celeste at Penguin Random House for my copy of this book and the 

to Kandula for the delicious Ceylon tea bags which accompanied the book.


Sunday 20 September 2015

Sunday War Poet ..

The theme for this months poetry


The Soldier

The Soldier Addresses His Body


Edgell Rickword

I shall be mad if you get smashed about,
we’ve had good times together, you and I;
although you groused a bit when luck was out,
say a girl turned us down, or we went dry.

But there’s a world of things we haven’t done,
countries not seen, where people do strange things;
eat fish alive, and mimic in the sun
the solemn gestures of their stone-grey kings.

I’ve heard of forests that are dim at noon
where snakes and creepers wrestle all day long;
where vivid beasts grow pale with the full moon,
gibber and cry, and wail a mad old song;

because at the full moon the Hippogriff
with crinkled ivory snout and agate feet,
with his green eye will glare them cold and stiff
for the coward Wyvern to come down and eat.

Vodka and kvass, and bitter mountain wines
we’ve never drunk; nor snatched the bursting grapes
to pelt slim girls among Sicilian vines,
who’d flicker through the leaves, faint frolic shapes.

Yes, there’s a world of things we’ve never done,
but it’s a sweat to knock them into rhyme,
let’s have a drink, and give the cards a run
and leave dull verse to the dull peaceful time.

Edgell Rickword

1898 - 1982

John Edgell Rickword was born in Colchester, Essex, England, where his father, George Rickword, was the town’s first borough librarian. He saw front-line action in France as a subaltern in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. 

He was wounded twice—losing the sight of one eye—and he won the Military Cross for distinguished service.


Saturday 19 September 2015

Review ~ Killing Eva by Alex Blackmore

No Exit Press

To be published  November 2015

What's it about:

Eva Scott is wanted . . . dead.

Witnessing a dramatic murder at London’s Waterloo Station has recalled events in Paris and Paraguay that previously shattered her world. The man’s last words on the station concourse awakened a history that Eva had thought long buried. But the past is about to be resurrected, in all its brutal reality.

Eva finds herself facing terrifying danger. A genetic coding key is keeping her alive – but foreshadowing her death. Inextricably linked to her survival is a plan to destabilise the structure of the global economy, and trusting the wrong person could prove fatal. . .

Fighting is futile. Escape is impossible. Survival is everything.

My thoughts :

When Eva Scott is confronted by a dying man at London's Waterloo station, she is ill prepared for the cataclysmic events which follow her. Always keeping one step ahead of danger is a difficult task,and for Eva, her entire future is irrevocably linked with a past she is trying to escape. The novel gets off to a cracking start and the intricacy of the plot develops really well, and as the story progresses you can't help but be taken in by this modern day thriller. There are lots of twists and turns in the story, and, almost like a jigsaw puzzle you have to piece the clues together, which is an absorbing task. 

When the puzzle starts to come together, I started to gel more with Eva's character, as I'm afraid at first, I didn't like her over much. And also, if I'm perfectly honest, I have to say that I struggled with the story and had to keep backtracking to try and make sense of where the plot was taking me. This is not because the story is badly done, far from, it's exceedingly well written, it's just that not having read the first Eva Scott thriller, Lethal Profit, I felt a bit lost by the references to what had happened previously, and I couldn't always understand fully just what Eva was coping with from the previous story.

However, my overall impression is this is a story from a very competent writer, who clearly spends a lot of time developing her characters and this shows in the strength of purpose that exudes from Eva, who is a feisty and determined protagonist. I am sure that readers who are following this series will be delighted with this continuation but for those new to Eva Scott, for greater enjoyment,  my advice would be to start at the beginning with Lethal Profit.


Alex Blackmore

               My thanks to Real Readers and No Exit Press for my review copy of this book.


Friday 18 September 2015

Review ~ The Doctor's Daughter by Vanessa Matthews


Marta Rosenbilt is the daughter of the prominent psychiatrist, Arnold Rosenbilt. Shaped by her father as his protégé, Marta is quite unconventional for a woman of her time, and in 1927 Vienna, to be unconventional is to incite not just curiosity but also to attract gossip and innuendo. Encouraged by a family friend, Dr Leopold Kaposi, to break away from her father’s stifling influence, Marta tries to become more independent of thought and action. When she has a chance encounter with a young medical graduate, Elise Salomon, the possibilities of friendship are attractive to Marta, but it soon becomes evident that Elise has some furtive secrets of her own.

What the follows is an absorbing story which looks at the struggle both Marta and Elise had in trying to succeed professionally. The darkness to the narrative is entirely in keeping with time and place and adds an authentic touch to the story. The many twists and turns in the story kept me guessing and I enjoyed reading about the early days of psychiatry, and the huge struggle that women had, generally, to prosper and thrive in a male dominated world.

It’s obvious from reading the novel that the author care passionately about writing and has developed her own unique style of writing. I am sure that this is just the start of a fascinating writing career and I shall watch how this develops with great interest.

Vanessa Matthews

Visit Vanessa on Facebook

Follow on Twitter @VanessaMatthews

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


Thursday 17 September 2015

Guest Post - Lucy Cruickshanks ~ Author of The Road to Rangoon..

I am delighted to welcome author Lucy Cruickshanks to the blog today 

and thank her for sharing  with us 

the  inspiration

Lucy Cruickshanks

for her latest novel

17 September 2015

Welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, Lucy. It's lovely to see you again...

What can you tell us about The Road to Rangoon?

I have a real love affair with Asia. My first novel, The Trader of Saigon, was set in Vietnam and my second was always going to have its heart in the region too. I hadn’t been to Myanmar before I started writing The Road to Rangoon, though I’d wanted to travel there for years. The country is only beginning to open up to tourism and the long-standing military dictatorship is undertaking embryonic reforms. Their society is poised on the cusp of change. I was conscious that if I didn’t visit soon, it might have transformed beyond recognition, so setting a novel there seemed an excellent reason to expedite my trip.

Before I went, I looked at the issues facing the country, searching for a story. Myanmar is a fascinating but troubled beast. Her history is replete with conflict, from the brawling kings of old, to the arrival of the Portuguese mercenaries, British colonialist and Japanese invaders in World War II, to the decades of dictatorship and civil war that followed, and the emergence and repression of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. There were opportunities for stories galore, but the gem trade captured my imagination above all else. As many as 90% of the world’s rubies come from Myanmar and their quality is unparalleled. They are as much conflict gems as Africa’s notorious blood diamonds, however, funding both the government and the insurgent ethnic armies who vie for control of their historic regional homelands. Many of the most valuable gemstones are from a single region, high in the rugged mountains of Shan State. Mogok is an area where violence, corruption, smuggling, trickery, secrecy and superstition reign, and it became an irresistible backdrop for The Road toRangoon.

Myanmar is a difficult place to research in. The country is staggeringly beautiful but its people have been made wary by decades of repression and human rights abuses. I’d read vicariously before I travelled there, but there’s no substitute for experiencing a setting yourself and hearing about life from the people who call it home. The Burmese are often understandably reluctant to talk about the past or politics, though, and I was always aware that to push a conversation may have been to endanger them as the government is so strict. It was frustrating at times, but I found the more I opened up about my own life, the more people were willing to talk about theirs too. There is a genuine desire to discover about the outside world, to compare their day-to-day experiences to ours and discuss the challenges they face. I learned to read between the lines, to listen to the unspoken sentences, the hints and subtexts, as much as the words that were actually said.

Throughout writing The Road to Rangoon, I felt responsible for portraying Myanmar and the Burmese people as sensitively and authentically as possible, but as a writer, that’s positive. It helps me keep believability at the fore of my mind. The story and the characters I’ve created in this novel are fictional, but the context through which they wade is real. Though I can only imagine what life is like living under a military dictatorship, I hope to have done their experiences justice, at least a small amount.

©Lucy Cruickshanks

Lucy Cruickshanks

You can find more about Lucy on her website

Follow her on Twitter @LJCruickshanks

Visit her on Facebook

Amazon UK

My thanks to Lucy for sharing the inspiration for her novel

and also to Corinna at Quercus Books for her help with this interview.