Tuesday 29 December 2015

Sunday 27 December 2015

Sunday WW1 Poet..

A fitting tribute to end this year's WW1 poetry

Hope you've enjoyed reading them.

Anniversary of the Great Retreat (1915)


Isabel C Clarke

Now a whole year has waxed and waned and whitened

Over the mounds that marked the grim advance;

The winter snows have lain, the spring flowers brightened,

On those beloved graves of Northern France.

Caudry, Le Cateau. Landrecies, are written

In our sad hearts with letters of flame,

Where our young dead still lie, untimely smitten,

In graves still unredeemed that bear no name.

And those who saw them spoke of the ‘boy-faces’

The English soldiers wore; they heard them sing

As they went forth to their appointed places,

Who when night fell lay unremembering….

O England, sing their fame in songs and story,

Who knew Death’s victory not Life’s defeat;

By their names written on thy roll of glory,

Who fought and perished in the Great Retreat!

These held they high tradition in their keeping

This flower of all a nations’ youth and pride

And safe they hold it still in their last sleeping;

They heard thy call and answered it and died…

And by those graves that mark their proud surrender

In days to come each one that lingereth

Shall sadly think of all their vanished splendour,

‘Contemptible’. But faithful unto death.

So we press forward, step by step redeeming

Each hallowed spot our dead have sanctified,

That we may whisper to them in their dreaming.

The Victory is ours because you died….


Thursday 24 December 2015

25 Random Facts About Me .....

I saw this idea on my friend Anne's Blog

Here's 25 Random Facts About Me 

What is your middle name?

My middle name is Anne – I am always very specific about the e

What is your favourite drink?

Darjeeling tea – piping hot, milk and no sugar

What is your Favourite Song at the moment?

White Christmas – the Bing Crosby version

What is your favourite food?

Fish ,chips, mushy peas – no salt or vinegar

What was the last thing you bought?

The last thing I bought for myself was a pair of Santa socks which were already half price 

What is your favourite book of all time?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

What is your favourite colour?

I’m a child of the seventies – so purple and orange not necessarily together or to be worn at the same time 

Do you have any pets?

The very lovely and very spoiled – Jaffa Pickle

What is your favourite perfume?

I have two – Noa by Cacherel and 24 Faubourg by Hermes 

What is your favourite holiday?

A magical,welsh seaside hideaway – those who know me know where this is…

Are you married?

Yes, to the same man for 36 years

Have you ever been out of the country?

I’m not an intrepid traveler, but yes, I have left these shores a few times to various destinations abroad.

Do you speak another language?

A smattering of very bad French – I now wish I’d paid more attentions to my French teacher,Mrs Tattersall, at the WGHS

How many siblings do you have?

I have two older brothers

What is your favourite store?

Most people would expect me to say a bookshop which indeed would be true, but my absolute favourite shop is John Lewis – they sell wool !

What is your favourite restaurant?

The Windmill at Parbold,Lancashire who make the best fish, chips and mushy peas

When was the last time you cried?

Just the other day, when I saw the devastation caused by the floods in Cumbria and because I know, first hand, just how hard people are working in the background to try and help

What is your Favourite Blog?

I have lots of favourite blogs, far too many to single out – they’re all wonderful and a huge inspiration

What is your Favourite Movie?

I have two – Love story (1970) and Babe (1995)

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What is your favourite TV Show?

Downton Abbey – I’m already in melt down because it’s the last episode of Christmas Day

Pc or Mac?


What phone do you have?

A basic Samsung – I am notoriously bad at answering my phone or texting, so I don’t need anything fancy

What is your favourite pastime?

Knitting/Crocheting ...oh ....and ....reading


Can you cook?

Yes, I can – I make excellent roast potatoes

Do you have any tattoos or piercings?

I have only one tiny piercing in each ear which I had done as a sixteenth birthday present. 
No tattoos.

I hope you've enjoyed reading these 25 Random Facts about me !!


Jaffa and I are are taking a little break now until the New Year - so until then

And Happy Reading 


Wednesday 23 December 2015

My Favourite Books of 2015...

And here they are

***Drum Roll ***

It's gets increasingly difficult every year to choose just a few books out of the many ....ahem....216 books at the last count .... that  I have read and reviewed, it's a bit like trying to pick a favourite child however, some will always linger just that little bit longer in my heart..so here they are...

Huge thanks to all the talented and gracious authors who have helped me to escape into a world beyond my own and who have taken me on the most extraordinary of adventures.

Here are my Favourite Twelve...in no particular order...

24875334 24979326 24485869

The Betrayal: A gripping novel of psychological suspense 23311224 The Mistake I Made

The Secret by the Lake I Let You Go Letters to the Lost

The Art of Baking Blind You, Me and Other People 24493717

Here are my twelve Honourable Mentions...in no particular order...

23449831 23074889 24485914

24378570 The Butcher Bird (Somershill Manor Mystery, #2) 26007369

25124092 23014749 23859607

23215458 25708878 25458371

  1. Sail Upon the Land by Josa Young
  2. Away from You by Kay Langdale
  3. If You Go Away by Adele Parks
  4. The Penny Heart by Martine Bailey
  5. The Butcher Bird by S D Sykes
  6. Angel Heart by Marie Laval
  7. The Other Half of My Heart by Stephanie Butland
  8. Naked by Eliza Redgold
  9. The House of Frozen Dreams by Sere Prince Halverson
  10. Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne
  11. Stasi Child by David Young
  12. The Loney by Andrew Hurley

Jaffa's choice


Many thanks for all your interest in Jaffareadstoo during this exciting year of books.

We hope that you'll follow our reading adventures in 2016

Merry Christmas


Tuesday 22 December 2015

My 12 in 12 for 2015....

As the end of my reading year approaches these are


12 in 12

Twelve authors who were new to me:

  1. David Churchill - Leopards of Normandy
  2. Colette McBeth - The Life I Left Behind
  3. James Hannah - The A-Z of You and Me
  4. Antoine Laurain - The Red Notebook
  5. Cesca Major - The Silent Hours
  6. Beth Miller - The Good Neighbour
  7. Fionnuala Kearney - You, Me and Other People
  8. Rebecca Muddiman - Gone 
  9. Marie Laval - Angel Heart
  10. Clare Coombe - Definitions
  11. Sharon Booth - There Must be an Angel
  12. Jo Bloom - Ridley Road

Twelve authors I have read before:

  1. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
  2. Phil Rickman - Night After Night
  3. Deborah Harkness - The Book of Life 
  4. Stephen King -Finders Keepers 
  5. Isabella Connor -An Irish Promise 
  6. Josa Young - Sail Upon the Land
  7. Jane Cable - The Faerie Tree
  8. Alison Morton - Aurelia
  9. Lesley Pearse -Without a Trace 
  10. Freya North - The Turning Point
  11. Rosie Thomas - Daughter of the House 
  12. The Missing Husband - Amanda Brooke

Twelve books that took me by the hand and led me into the past: 

  1. Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle
  2. The Chosen Queen By Joanna Courtney
  3. The Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull
  4. Dacre's War by Rosemary Goring
  5. The Butcher Bird by S D Sykes
  6. Treason's Daughter by Antonia Senior
  7. The Flax Flower by Amanda Maclean
  8. The Raven's Head by Karen Maitland
  9. Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
  10. The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements
  11. Bloodie Bones by Lucienne Boyce
  12. The House of Shadows by Pamela Hartshorne

Twelve books from authors I know will never let me down: 

  1. The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory
  2. The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths
  3. The Man in the Canary Waistcoat by Susan Grossey 
  4. We Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman
  5. Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsay Kelk
  6. The Family Divided by Anne Allen
  7. The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley
  8. The Liar by Nora Roberts
  9. Leaving Time - Jodi Picoult
  10. The Outlandish Companion Volume II by Diana Gabaldon
  11. Beyond the Sea by Melissa Bailey
  12. It's Not Me , It's You - Mhairi McFarlane

Twelve Books that had lingered far too long on my Book Shelf:

  1. The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones
  2. Cross Bones Yard by Kate Rhodes
  3. Eeny Meeny by M J Arlidge
  4. The Black House by Peter May
  5. Fallen Idols by Neil White
  6. The Girl With A Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson
  7. Tuesday's Gone by Nicci French
  8. The Stolen Child by Laura Elliot
  9. Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay
  10. The House on the Cliff by Charlotte Williams
  11. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
  12. The Woman in Silk by R J Gadney

Twelve Books that surprised me.....in a good way:

  1. The Good Girl by Fiona Neill
  2. A Way from Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax
  3. The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne
  4. The House of Frozen Dreams by Sere Prince Halverson
  5. Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea
  6. Dead Star Island by Andrew Shantos
  7. The Sisters by Claire Douglas
  8. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
  9. Wolf Winter by Cecelia Ekback
  10. Significance by Jo Mazelis
  11. The Boleyn King by Lauren Anderson
  12. A Dream of Lights by Kerry Drewery

Twelve books that I read for a Book Club:
  1. At Home - Bill Bailey
  2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley
  3. The Farm - Tom Rob Smith
  4. The Taxidermist's Daughter  - Kate Mosse 
  5. The Sunrise - Victoria Hislop
  6. Us - David Mitchell
  7. The Girl in the Red Coat - Kate Hamer
  8. Summer of Secrets - Sarah Jasmon
  9. A Better Man - Leah McLaren
  10. The Glass Painter's Daughter - Rachel Hore
  11. Last of the Wine - Mary Renault
  12. Only We Know - Karen Perry

Twelve books that led me into the world of crime and psychological suspense:

  1. Freedom's Child by Jax Miller
  2. The Jackdaw by Luke Delaney
  3. The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths
  4. Stasi Child by David Young
  5. Killer Plan by Leigh Russell  
  6. Black Wood by S J I Holliday
  7. Away from You by Kay Langdale
  8. In the Line of Blood by Ben McPherson
  9. The Daughter's Secret by Eva Holland
  10. The Liars Chair by Rebecca Whitney
  11. Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie
  12. The Last Pier by Roma Tearne

Twelve books that I borrowed from my local library:

  1. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
  2. The Edge of Dark by Pamela Hartshorne
  3. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
  4. The Winter Crown by Elizabeth Chadwick
  5. The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse
  6. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  7. The Liar by Nora Roberts
  8. The Penny Heart by Martine Bailey
  9. The Taming of the Queen by Phillipa Gregory
  10. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzia
  11. The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley
  12. The House of Shadows by Pamela Hartshorne

Twelve books I would like to see made into a movie:

  1. Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne
  2. The Daughter's Secret by Eva Holland 
  3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  4. The Cold, Cold Sea by Linda Huber
  5. The Life I Left Behind by Collette McBeth
  6. Th Silent Hours by Cesca Major
  7. The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah
  8. The House on Cold Hill by Peter James
  9. Wolf Winter by Cecelia Ekback
  10. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
  11. Second Life by S J Watson
  12. Freedom's Child by Jax Miller

Twelve Books I would like to read in 2016:

  1. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
  2. The Witches by Staci Schiff
  3. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
  4. Nelly Dean by Alison Case
  5. All Hallows at Eyre Hall by Luccia Gray
  6. Sleeper's Castle by Barbara Erskine
  7. The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #8)
  8. The Obsession by Nora Roberts
  9. The Jeweller's Wife by Judith Lennox
  10. Little Boy Blue by M J Arlidge  (Helen Grace #5)
  11. At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
  12. The English Girl by Katherine Webb

Thanks to Jo at The Book Jotter who inspired me to do my 12 in 12 book list ....

My twelfth and final category - the twelve books I have enjoyed the most will be revealed..

alongside the twelve honorable mentions...



Monday 21 December 2015

Review ~ House of Shadows by Pamela Hartshorne

December 2015

A few years ago, I had membership of the National Trust and spent a very happy year travelling between stately homes, wandering in and out of dusty rooms and tripping along the echoing corridors of Elizabethan long galleries, and I guess, there's always a tendency to stop and peer into shadows. The historian in me always wishes that the vestiges of a bygone era will, somehow, manifest itself, and I will get to see the shadowy occupants going about their daily business. However, having just finished House of Shadows, I'm not so sure that I would now want to look too closely into those shadowy recesses, for fear of what I would find lurking there.

Kate Vavasour wakes in hospital after a devastating fall, she has no memory of what happened or, indeed,of who she is. People come to visit her in hospital and  remind her that she is a young widow with a small son, but this means nothing to Kate, even her name feels wrong and as a tight band settles around her head, she begins to experience a life that has no reality in the here and now. Returning to Askerby Hall, a home she shares with her in-laws, Kate attempts to make sense of her surroundings, but Kate's memories, which are frighteningly real, belong not to the present, but to Isabel Vavasour , some four hundred years earlier.

House of Shadows is now the fourth book by this talented author that I have read, and as always, as soon as my eyes light on the first opening sentence, I know that she will not let me down. I'm guilty of reading her books far too quickly, telling myself at the start that I should take it slowly and savor each word, but of course I don't. I gallop through at speed and read until my eyes ache and I become immersed in a story that flits effortlessly between past and present, with neither timescale outshining the other and always with a real sense of purpose and readability. I am taken into a world that is believable, frighteningly realistic, and more than a little scary and even as Isabel and Kate's worlds start to collide, you can't help but want to believe that somehow it might work, that voices can speak to us across centuries, and that stories left untold will be finished, and that resolution for troubled souls can be achieved. 

Pamela Hartshorne has overwhelmingly cornered this niche in the dual time narrative genre. She is quite simply a master story teller, a weaver of words and her books are a joy to read. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Best read with a tankard of small ale and a trencher soaked with  rich, venison broth....

Pamela Hartshorne

Twitter @PamHartshorne


Sunday 20 December 2015

Sunday WW1 Poet...

Over the four weeks of December I will feature some of the Christmas poems of WW1.

The Fallen


Diana Gurney

Shall we not lay our holly wreath

Here at the foot of this high cross?

We do not know, perhaps a breath

Of our remembering may come

To them at last where they are sleeping,

They are quiet, they are dumb,

No more of mirth, no more of weeping,

Silent Christmas they are keeping;

Ours the sorrow, ours the loss.


Saturday 19 December 2015

Review ~ The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton

December 2015

What would you risk for your own success ?

The story opens in 2014, where we are introduced to one of the main characters, Josephine Grey. She appears troubled, given to soul searching moments of introspection, and so, when an email pings from Freya Seymour, a girl she once knew at boarding school, some eighteen years earlier, the troubled nature of Josephine's personality begins to manifest itself. We then return back in time to 1996, when Freya and Josephine were the sort of best mates who were joined at the hip, who knew everything there was to know about each other, who loved and laughed, hugged and cried and yet, as the highs and lows of both their lives start to be stripped away, secrets which have haunted them both, start to be revealed.

It’s an accomplished debut novel, there is fine attention to detail and setting the story in an all-girls boarding school, a place it must be said, I am not familiar with, is an interesting choice of venue. There is is a definite sense of the ennui which is all too easily manifested by girls being cloistered together, and of the petty squabbles, that can exist between teenagers, and especially girls, regardless of their background. The mystery at the heart of the novel is nicely explored, and there is the lure of fascination between two girl friends who, seemingly, share everything, to the exclusivity of anyone else.

Overall, it’s rather a slow burner of a story, and whilst the dénouement at the end explains why the friendship between these two girls has been allowed to degenerate, the secret which has tormented lives, whilst tragic, isn’t as venomous as I would have imagined, but I think, therein lies the strength of the story, that lives, and friendships, are often ruined for much less.

Best read with a Pizza Maguerita, heavy on the cheese… and bottle of icy cold , brain freezing, cherry cola.

About the Author

Rebecca Thornton previously worked as a freelance journalist covering a range of topics. She now devotes her time to writing and The Exclusives is her debut novel.


You can read Rebecca's five favourite boarding school stories here

The Exclusives is out now as an e-book. Published in paperback in April 2016

My thanks to Rebecca for sharing her work with me and to Becky Short at Midas PR for my copy of this book.


Friday 18 December 2015

Review ~ Only We Know by Karen Perry....

Only We Know
Michael Joseph

Only We Know opens in 1982, and in the searing heat of a Kenyan summer three children play happily in a local river. They are drenched with sunshine and filled with promise of eternal happiness, but before the day is out, something happens, which will have devastating consequences.

What then follows is cleverly put together suspense story which takes the concept of chance, and the uncontrollable nature of the passage of time, and weaves together a story which looks at the festering nature of silence and secrets. Thirty years on from that fateful summer in Kenya, and Nick, Luke and Katie are now sadly estranged from each other but that critical part of their lives is indelibly etched within each of them and when something happens, fate intervenes and inevitably, the mystery of that long ago summer starts to unravel.

I really enjoyed this story and read it almost in one sitting, as it’s one of those stories which tempts you to read on, to discover just a little bit more. It’s not an all action read , its appeal is much more subtle than that, but there is a nice sense of the intermingling of past and present, so that , as the story is exposed in greater detail, you can’t  help but be enticed  into a world of secrets and lies.

I first came across this talented writing duo with the publication of their first collaboration in The Boy Who Never Was, in 2014 and I am equally as impressed with this, their second book together.

Best read with a glass of smooth, Jameson whiskey, and a bowl of rich, Kenyan meat stew..

Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece.

Follow them on Twitter @karenperrybooks

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