Friday 30 September 2016

Blog Tour and Giveaway ~ Legacy by Hannah Fielding

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the

Legacy Blog Tour

I am excited to be able to share an extract from Hannah's latest novel, Legacy

29 September 2016

The epic love story reaches its dramatic conclusion in Legacy, Book 3 of the Andalucían Nights trilogy. Love, intrigue and redemption under the scorching Spanish sun… A troubled young journalist goes undercover in Spain, and finds her loyalties tested when love and desire unearth secrets she hadn’t bargained for. Can love survive family legacies of feuding and tragedy, and rise like the phoenix from the ashes of the past? Legacy is a story of truth, dreams and desire. But in a world of secrets you need to be careful what you wish for...

"......Luna hesitated, pondering whether to go off in search of it. It wasn’t part of her plan. The distant frenzied notes vibrated on the night air, sending a delicious hum through her body. She had been to a few flamenco shows in Las Vegas and in other parts of the US, but had always wanted to see a live show in Spain. The sensible voice inside her head told her that she would have plenty of opportunity to see flamenco over the coming months, and that it was foolish to follow a whim when she should be getting back to the hotel, but right at that moment Luna was tempted to give in to her curiosity and follow the sound. In fact, something stronger than curiosity beckoned, something more alluring and seductive, that seemed to stir her soul – a call of enchantment drifting through the night air. In answer, she stepped quickly into the alleyway.

The sinuous passage was paved with cobblestones and was badly lit. It was empty, save for a few couples that stood in the shadows, absorbed in each other. Both sides were lined with the colourful façades and beautiful wrought-iron balconies of secretive houses, their drawn-down persianas and wooden doors jealously guarding the lives of their owners. Luna wondered about the hidden inhabitants, just as she had done a few years back when gliding in a gondola past the magnificent but eerie shuttered palaces of Venice. Here, just as in the streets of the Gothic quarter, the air was laden with fascinating smells; this time the piquant aroma of cooking mingled with wood smoke and the ozone of the sea.

With rising anticipation, and ignoring her better judgement, Luna moved along the narrow lane into deeper darkness. The distant music and the rhythmic clapping and tapping of feet came to her in waves; sometimes it seemed nearer, then farther away. A cat crept noiselessly out of the shadows, making her jump, and flashed its phosphorescent eyes before scampering away and disappearing into the small, gated entrance of one of the houses. Suddenly she was aware of the sound of her footsteps on the cobblestones and she felt a frisson of fear. She knew she was being reckless by persevering down this maze of dark alleys but, having gone so far now, she was not about to turn back.

Unexpectedly, at an abrupt bend in the narrow street, the sound of live, full-blooded flamenco music burst out once more, echoing through the night. It came from a nightclub a few yards away, its façade painted with warm sunny colours under the flashing fluorescent sign El Cabo de Oro.
Now, as she approached the tavern, Luna could clearly hear the loud clapping of hands, the olés, and the clinking of glasses. She hesitated outside the bright walls a few moments longer, a curtain of beads the only thing separating her from the exuberant sounds of the show.

Finally, she pushed it aside and went down the few steps leading into the dimly lit room below. Anti-smoking campaigns had obviously not reached this wild little world, she noted, engulfed by the hazy atmosphere.

Here, the cuadro flamenco sat in a semicircle on a platform at the far end of the room with that part open to the night sky. The troupe played its music at a fast tempo, while the audience clapped their hands and stamped their feet in rhythm on the tiled floor with cries of olé to encourage the young dancer. A girl was singing hoarsely, seductively, and her castanets marked their own syncopated rhythm.

Lamps on the red painted walls threw out a warm amber glow, illuminating an assortment of bullfighting posters, advertisements, and photographs of toreros and flamenco dancers.

On one side, to the right, stood a long, wooden bar lined with endless bottles of different shapes and colours and topped by a row of gleaming glasses. Tended by a scraggy-looking waiter chewing a quid of tobacco, most of the clientele sat on cane stools along the bar, eating tapas or drinking around low tables made from empty wine barrels. To the left of the stage, an arched roof opened out on to a walled patio, where small number of people sat drinking and chatting in the balmy evening air.

Luna made her way deeper into the room, looking for a table nearer the patio where she would be less affected by the fug of smoke. The tavern was packed. The audience was mostly men and what women there were, were all accompanied. Luna was the only single woman in the place, and it made her feel uncomfortable. She began to regret her rash decision. Back in New York she had never been to a bar alone, so why had she suddenly decided it was a good idea to do so on her first night in Barcelona? Her pale blonde hair and pearly complexion caused her to stand out starkly against the darker colouring of the Spaniards who filled the club.

There was a drop in the level of noise as she became an object of interest. Men’s eyes were drawn to her like a magnet. Some of them whispered to each other, casting sidelong glances. Women also stared, their eyes narrowing, reflecting quite a different sentiment altogether. The cuadro had stopped playing while the musicians sipped their wine and a new dancer emerged from the background to take over the lead. Luna stood at the side of the seated audience and glanced around. Maybe I should go back, she thought, feeling distinctly out of place.

And then it happened …"

©Hannah Fielding

Legacy by Hannah Fielding is out now (£7.99)

More about the Author can be found on her website by clicking here
Visit on Facebook
Follow on Twitter @fieldinghannah

Huge thanks to the author for allowing me to share this extract with you and to Alice at Midas for the kind invitation to be part of this blog tour.

Tour runs 29th September - 4th October.

And for one lucky UK winner I have a copy of Legacy to giveaway.

~* Good Luck*~

Thursday 29 September 2016

Review ~ The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots by Beatrix Potter, Quentin Blake (Illustrator) (Audio)

September 2016

"A serious, well-behaved young black cat, who leads a daring double life defeating vile villains."

When I was a little girl I had a much loved copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and I can remember the comforting feeling of snuggling under bed covers and having someone read the story to me. The comfort of listening to stories and particularly Beatrix Potter stories has not diminished over time and so when asked to listen and review The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots I jumped at the opportunity, as not only was this a chance to read a completely new story from a much loved author, but also an introduction to listening to stories via Audible.

The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots tells the story of Miss Katherine St Quentin, an intrepid black cat, known as Miss Kitty, who gets herself into all sorts of exciting situations. In a cunningly dangerous adventure she meets the notorious villain, Mr Todd, a foxy hunter with devilish charm and whose outward demeanour belies his deadly intent. Beautifully narrated by the actress, Helen Mirren, the story has an olde-worlde charm which is so reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and yet, there is freshness to the story which makes it feel surprisingly more modern than its more famous counterparts. Written in the years before 1914 it was never published, until now, and personally, I think that this story shows Beatrix Potter at her enigmatic best.

The narration of The Tale of Kitty in Boots lasts around 16 minutes which is a perfect length to listen to the story in one sitting and just enough time for even fidgety children to sit still. The rest of the narration which runs to over 56 minutes continues with the actress, Anna Friel reading five more classic Beatrix Potter tales and which need no introduction from me. 

They are :

The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck
The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
The Tale of Jeremy Fisher

Whilst both narrators are unique in their style of delivery, each individual tale was read with just the right amount of fun and gravitas, all beautifully spoken in a narration which was clean and precise. I especially enjoyed listening to Anna Friel sing Squirrel Nutkin's riddles so beautifully.

I know that there has been some debate around the Quentin Blake illustrations in The Tale of Kitty- In-Boots, which are so very different from Beatrix Potter’s more whimsical interpretation. Having 'listened' to the story I don't have a physical copy to look at, so I can't give an informed appraisal of the illustrations, except to say that what I have seen of the cover, I rather like Blake's depiction of Miss Kitty in her Boots.

Best Read with ...A glass of milk two chocolate digestive biscuits.

Helen Beatrix Potter was an English author, illustrator and conservationist who was best known for her children's books, which featured animal characters such as Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Jeremy Fisher, et al.

Beatrix Potter

My thanks to for the opportunity to listen to this book and also to Francesca at Midas for the invitation to get to know Miss Kitty-In-Boots. I think Jaffa is a little in love with Miss Kitty !


Wednesday 28 September 2016

My guest author today is ...Sue Shepherd

I'm thrilled to be able to welcome best selling author, Sue Shepherd back to the blog 

 Sue's Latest novel, Love Them and Leave Them is out now

Corazon Books
27 September 2016

A bit of blurb..

Love Them and Leave Them: Sometimes you have to leave the one you love … sometimes you’re the one who’s left behind. The new heartwarming and heartbreaking romantic comedy from the No.1 bestselling author of Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?

On his way home, Ed makes a split-second decision that changes the lives of all those who love him.

Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessie, is stuck in a job with no prospects, her dreams never fulfilled. It will take more than her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, and temperamental best friend, Coco, to give her the confidence to get her life back on track.

But what if Ed had made another decision? It could all have been so different …

Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessica, has a successful career, loving boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home. But when new clients, a temperamental Coco, and her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, walk into her life, Jessica’s perfect world soon starts to unravel.

Love Them and Leave Them is a story of love, families, friendship and a world of possibilities. Whichever decision Ed makes, the same people are destined to come into his daughter’s life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the mistakes of the past.

Another Us by Sue Shepherd

My second novel, ‘Love Them and Leave Them’ explores two possible outcomes of one split-second decision. I have to say, I am rather gripped by the concept that when we make these choices, we somehow create a parallel. It’s intriguing to think that there may be another me, living a different life.
As a family, a few years ago, we chose to up sticks and move to the Isle of Wight. It was a huge decision for us and it changed our children’s lives forever. But what if (yep I said it, I’m sorry, but sometimes it’s just the best phrase available), what if somewhere in a parallel world there are two other boys who didn’t move here? A different version of our children who are still growing up in our old house, who have different friends, who go to different schools, and who know nothing of our life by the sea.  I wonder - are they happy too?

Equally thought provoking is the possibility that somewhere there’s a version of me who simply never finished writing her first novel. God knows I put it down and picked it up a million times when my children were younger and time was short. Is there a me somewhere who doesn’t know the joy I now know of finishing a book and presenting it to the world? (Actually that bit is damn scary, but … you get the idea.)

George Michael sang of turning a different corner and never meeting the right person. How fascinating, how frightening. Are our lives really that fragile? My husband and I met through a similar chance, a decision made by someone I didn’t actually know caused me to change my plans. Those plans ultimately lead to me meeting the man who has loved me (and snored next to me) for 20 years. Surely that’s nuts, isn’t it? If I hadn’t met him, would I be with someone else right now? Would I be saying, ‘I can’t imagine my life without Fred in it!’ You can tell I’ve really given this whole phenomenon some thought, can’t you?

Ultimately, we are who we are, and we do our best. As much as I’m rattling on about it, and inviting you to think about the possibility that there could be another you, living an alternative life, in another part of the world, it really wouldn’t do to spend every moment wondering what we could’ve done differently. Regrets are pointless, they don’t allow us to move on. So I guess I’m saying we have to simply do what feels right at the time and then live with the consequences. We can rest assured that’s probably what the other us is doing right now too!

© by Sue Shepherd

More about Sue can be found on her website by clicking here

Follow on Twitter @thatsueshepherd

Find on Amazon UK

My thanks to Sue for this lovely guest post and also to Ian at Corazon Books


Tuesday 27 September 2016

The author in my spotlight is ...Catherine Law

I am delighted to welcome to Jaffareadstoo the author

Photo credit : David Berger

Hello, Catherine it's really lovely to have you as our guest on the blog today. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started as an author?

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to write. As a child I would always have my nose in a book and many hours were passed in my local library, browsing the shelves with a mixture of envy and adoration, immersed in the worlds that would open up for me as soon as I selected a book. I found myself creating my own stories just like the ones I had been drawn into, making little books out of pieces of paper stapled together and filling them with my tales. 

I progressed, as I reached my teens, by investing in a typewriter (manual of course, this was the 1980s!) It was at this point that I discovered the Brontes and knew that my course was set. I had to write and began tapping away at bodice rippers and gothic romances that would make me blush today if I hadn’t shredded the lot years ago. 

And so the long-haul began. My first book, A Season of Leaves – inspired by the true Second World War-time story of my great-auntie Ginge – was published in 2008. Before this, I’d spent many years attempting to write what I thought were reasonably mature contemporary novels. These early works, I see now, were all part of the steep learning curve, or an apprenticeship, that writers must navigate. When confidence was high I’d trawl through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook for names of suitable agents and publishers, send off submissions, enter ‘first novel’ competitions and then sit back to wait for the inevitable rejections to roll in. When confidence was low, I’d escape again into other people’s books – favourite authors are Kate Atkinson, Barbara Kingsolver and Mary Wesley – become inspired and start again.

In the meantime, I forged a ‘proper’ career as a sub editor on glossy home interiors magazines, and during this time had my first three novels published. I loved my job but, last year, I found myself in the position to be able to give up full-time journalism to concentrate on writing and pursue my dream. 

Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Map of Stars?

Bonnier Zaffre

The germ of the idea for Map of Stars crept up on me like a spy. I’d wanted to write about being on the ‘home front’ in the Second World War, tapping into characters living through terrifying times: ordinary people doing extraordinary things. If you stand on the cliffs at Dover, on the Kent coast, you can see France in the haze across a stretch of water that looks, in some lights, entirely swimmable. I was fascinated by what it must have been like to live here during the 1940s, in plain sight of the enemy and under the flight path of the bombers heading for London. 

I had the title for Map of Stars – created while I was ‘doodling’ with words – before I had the story. The plot was sparked by a news report about a mummified homing pigeon discovered trapped in a Kentish chimney a few years ago, complete with war-time message still strapped to its leg. And there was my story: my heroine Eliza receiving a cryptic message from her missing lover Lewis, twenty years after the war had finished. And from there her story ignited. 

Will you explain to us a little more about the plot without giving too much away? 

Set amid the turmoil of the Second World War, Map of Stars explores secrets, lies, loyalty and, of course, love. Eliza’s family is close to her childhood friend Nicholas’s family due to their fathers’ comradeship during the First World War. Everyone expects Eliza and Nicholas to marry and, as war breaks out in 1939, he proposes. However, when the enigmatic Lewis saves them both from the wreck of their car, Eliza is drawn to him and her guilt compels her to hurry up her wedding to Nicholas. After their marriage, the War Office takes over their home – a beautiful Kentish manor house – as a communications base, with Lewis as commander. Eliza falls desperately in love with Lewis but when she finally ends their affair, his attention is taken by glamorous local girl Jessica. The enemy is waiting just miles away across the Channel. However, for Eliza, dangers a lot closer to home threaten to jeopardise the safety of her country and destroy her life. 

How do you plan your writing, are you a plotter, or a see where it goes kind of writer? 

My approach is to create a scenario, characters, a setting and a ‘feeling’ for what might happen– and this often comes to me if I try not to think too hard. Ideas develop in a sort of organic way, when I’m not really looking for them, and I let all these images and thoughts ferment for a while. I sometimes have an idea of how I want the story to end, sometimes I don’t. I’m definitely a ‘see where it goes’ kind of writer, allowing the story to unfold before me as I write. At the moment I am planning my next book and panicking a little as I have intriguing characters and timeframe and nowhere to take them at the moment. But, I know that I need to relax and let my mind drift – and allow the magic of imagination to happen. 

Your book is a mixture of war and romance – how much research was needed to bring the book to life? 

I try hard to create a believable world for my characters. As I have not lived through the times that I am portraying – my books have so far been set in the Second or First World Wars – I have to track down the people who have. I devour real-life accounts of experiences of war, and I go to the places where I set my stories. I feel that I have to see somewhere to be able to bring it to life, and begin an emotional attachment with it. I have visited Normandy during the D-Day anniversary celebrations and the battlefields of the Western Front. Local museums are a goldmine of stories to glean ideas from; and most intriguing for me are objects preserved from the past, however humble. And visiting the great cities of Prague and Venice twice for research was wonderful! 

I want my stories to be credible and I need to do justice to the those who lived through traumatic periods and make the settings authentic and real. Newspaper headlines from the day are invaluable because they reveal what the public knew at that time (perhaps less than we do now). And snippets of information discovered by chance can set me off on a totally unexpected course. 

As an author, what is your favourite part of the writing/publishing process? 

I love every bit of it. From the early days of toying with a slowing evolving idea, when my story is my own private secret, through to the surprising plot twists half way through that seem to come from nowhere. Even the hard slog of getting it written is pretty enjoyable due to the rush of adrenalin when I am fired up and motivated. And nothing beats opening the box of newly published books delivered to my doorstep. But, best of all, I love to hear what my readers think of my novels – to receive encouraging feedback is priceless. 

What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book? 

I want them to feel that the story stays with them and is still continuing long after they’ve turned the last page. And that the characters go on with their lives. 

More about Catherine can be found her website by clicking here

Find her on Facebook and Twitter @cathmarialaw

Huge thanks to Catherine for spending time with us today and for sharing her thoughts about 

Map of Stars.

Thanks also to Carmen at Bonnier Zaffre for her help with this interview and for my review copy of Map of Stars. 

My review can be found by clicking here.


Monday 26 September 2016

The Author in my spotlight.... is Anna Belfrage..

Today I am delighted to welcome to the blog the historical fiction author

Anna is the author of several historical fiction novels.

 The first two books in  The King's Greatest Enemy series are out now.

27399615 30621973

Hi and welcome to Jaffareadstoo Anna. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started as an author?

“A little” is always relative, isn’t it? But very briefly I am Swedish, grew up in South America, attended English schools – and spent most of my childhood moping because I wasn’t born in medieval times (preferably as a rich somebody). So, seeing as I was stuck in the 20th century, I put pen to paper and transported myself back in time by writing stories. I am not sure those early efforts qualify as the start of a writing career, but I have been writing ever since… 

Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for The King’s Greatest Enemy Series?

I was eleven and had a somewhat choleric if passionate history teacher. He had a major thing about the Maya Indians – and about Edward II. Well, maybe not so much about Edward, whom he dismissed as a sadly weak successor to daddy Edward I, as about the lurid legends concerning how Edward II died. “Hogwash”, he’d say, before expending quite some time explaining just why it would be very, very difficult to kill someone with a red hot poker up their nether parts. 

Anyway, all of this made me read more and more about the period, and as a young teenager I stumbled upon Maurice Druon’s “Les rois maudits”, which is an excellent take on the period, albeit that it focuses on France rather than England. 

Will you explain to us a little more about the plot of this second book without giving too much away?


We are in 14th century England. Edward II is king, Roger Mortimer is disgruntled, royal favourite Hugh Despenser is nasty, Queen Isabella has had it, and in the midst of all this mess, my fictional protagonist Adam de Guirande with wife Kit have to navigate a political quagmire that can lead to death and ruin for them both.

When you start a new series do you have an idea where the series will finish, or does the story evolve as you go a long?

In this specific case, I had a very definite ending: late in the year 1330. That is not always the case, and my other series started out as “a book” and ended up being eight (with a ninth as WIP).

Your books are a mixture of historical fact and fiction, how much research do you do in order to bring the stories to life?

A lot. I read books about the period, biographies of the relevant people, etc. I end up being very distracted at times, like when I spent several days reading about the beguines, a fascinating religious lay order which offered a sort of haven to women who neither wanted to marry or commit to the life of a nun. (See? I’m still distracted by them…) 

Would you consider yourself to be a historian or are you more of a writer who likes history?

A writer who LOVES history and would dearly love to travel back in time to visit. 

What are the upsides and downsides of writing historical fiction?

The upside is that I get to spend a lot of time in the past – with my characters. The downside is that historical fiction is sometimes considered “difficult”, i.e. it may not attract quite so many readers. Personally, I think historical fiction is a very broad definition, encompassing all sort of genres which have one single thing in common: they’re set in the past. 

Who are some authors in your genre that inspire you?

Edith Pargeter, Sharon K Penman, Nigel Tranter, Elizabeth Chadwick, Sigrid Undset, Vilhelm Moberg (Swedish author)

What’s coming next in The King’s Greatest Enemy Series?

The next book Under the Approaching Dark is planned for late April 2017, with the final book in the series, The Cold Light of Dawn, coming either very late 2017 or early 2018.

27399615 30621973 

More about the author can be found on her website by clicking here

Follow Anna on Twitter @Anna_Belfrage or on her blog 

Find the books on Amazon 

Huge thanks to Anna for sharing the first two books in this series with me. 
Jaffa and I wish you continued success with your work and look forward to the continuation of the story in Under the Approaching Dark.


Sunday 25 September 2016

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

Teresa Hooley 

1888- 1973

A War Film

I saw,
With a catch of breath and the heart’s uplifting,
Sorrow and pride,
The ‘week’s great draw’-
The Mon Retreat;
The ‘Old Contemptibles’ who fought, and died,
The horror, the anguish and the glory.

As in a dream,
Still hearing machine-guns rattle and shells scream,
I came out into the street.

When the day was done,
My little son
Wondered at bath-time why I kissed him som
Naked upon my knee
How could he know
The sudden terror that assaulted me?….
The body I had borne
Nine moons beneath my heart,
A part of me…..
If, someday
It should be taken away 
To War. Tortured, Torn. 
Rotting in o Man’s Land, out in the rain –
My little son….

How should he know
Why I kissed and kissed and kissed him, crooning his name?
He though that I was daft.
He thought it was a game,
And laughed and laughed.

Teresa Hooley is a relatively unknown war poet, mostly recognised for her war poem, A War Film, which is thought to have been written after she saw a documentary type film, entiltled, Mons, in 1926. This poem was included in her 1927 published work Songs for all Seasons. 


Saturday 24 September 2016

F. Scott Fitzgerald's 120th Anniversary...(Audio)

Essential Picks From AUDIBLE To Celebrate

F. Scott Fitzgerald's

120th Anniversary

Saturday 24th September 2016 marks 120 years since the birth of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, most famous for his novel The Great Gatsby. From Jake Gyllenhaal’s narration of The Great Gatsby to the only novel by Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda, the editors at Audible have curated a selection of audio programmes exploring the best of the American Jazz Age.

The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Narrated by: Jake Gyllenhaal
£11.99 (free for Audible members)
Available at

F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic American novel of the Roaring Twenties, The Great Gatsby, is beloved by generations of readers and stands as his crowning work. This audio edition is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain).

Gyllenhaal's performance is a faithful delivery in the voice of Nick Carraway, the Midwesterner turned New York bond salesman, who rents a small house next door to the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. There, he has a first-hand view of Gatsby's lavish West Egg parties - and of his undying love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan.

After meeting and losing Daisy during the war, Gatsby has made himself fabulously wealthy. Now, he believes that his only way to true happiness is to find his way back into Daisy's life, and he uses Nick to try to reach her. What happens when the characters' fantasies are confronted with reality makes for a startling conclusion to this iconic masterpiece.

Tender Is the Night
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Narrated by: Therese Plummer
£16.09 (free for Audible members)
Available on

Published in 1934, Tender Is the Night was one of the most talked-about books of the year. "It's amazing how excellent much of it is," Ernest Hemingway said to Maxwell Perkins. "I will say now," John O'Hara wrote Fitzgerald, "Tender Is the Night is in the early stages of being my favorite book, even more than This Side of Paradise." And Archibald MacLeish exclaimed: "Great God, Scott...You are a fine writer. Believe it - not me."

Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s,Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick's harrowing demise.

A profound study of the romantic concept of character - lyrical, expansive, and hauntingly evocative - Tender Is the Night, Mabel Dodge Luhan remarked, raised F. Scott Fitzgerald to the heights of a "modern Orpheus".

Save Me The Waltz
Author: Zelda Fitzgerald
Narrated by: Jennifer Van Dyck
£16.09 (free for Audible members)
Available on

Save Me the Waltz is the first and only novel by the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. During the years when Fitzgerald was working on Tender Is the Night, Zelda Fitzgerald was preparing her own story, which parallels the narrative of her husband, throwing a fascinating light on F. Scott Fitzgerald's life and work. In its own right, it is a vivid and moving story: the confessions of a famous, slightly doomed glamour girl of the affluent 1920s, which captures the spirit of an era.

Experience the flappers, prohibition and romance of the Roaring Twenties through the stories of some of the best American writers of all time.

Author: William Faulkner
Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
£13.69 (free for Audible members)
Available on

A powerful novel examining the nature of evil, informed by the works of T. S. Eliot and Freud, mythology, local lore, and hard-boiled detective fiction, Sanctuary is the dark, at times brutal, story of the kidnapping of Mississippi debutante Temple Drake, set during the Prohibition era. She introduces her own form of venality into the Memphis underworld where she is being held.

The Sun Also Rises
Author: Earnest Hemingway
Narrated by: William Hurt
£13.46 (free for Audible members)
Available at

The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the story introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley.

Follow the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Author: Anita Loos
Narrated by: Patrice O’Neill
£10.89 (free for Audible members)
Available on

The delirious 1925 Jazz-Age classic that no less an authority than Edith Wharton called "the great American novel".

If any American fictional character of the 20th century seems likely to be immortal, it is Lorelei Lee of Little Rock, Arkansas, the not-so-dumb blonde who knew that diamonds are a girl's best friend. Outrageous, charming, and unforgettable, she's been portrayed on stage and screen by Carol Channing and Marilyn Monroe, and has become the archetype of the footloose, good-hearted gold digger, with an insatiable appetite for orchids, champagne, and precious stones.

Here are her "diaries", created by Anita Loos in the Roaring Twenties, as Lorelei and her friend Dorothy barrel across Europe, meeting everyone from the Prince of Wales to "Doctor Froyd" - and then back home again to marry a Main Line millionaire and become a movie star. In this delightfully droll and witty book, Lorelei Lee's wild antics, unique outlook, and imaginative way with language shine.

More details of how to listen and subscribe to books from AUDIBLE 

can be found by clicking here

F Scott Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940), known professionally as F. Scott Fitzgerald, was an American novelist and short story writer, whose works are the paradigmatic writings of the Jazz Age. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby (his best known), and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also wrote numerous short stories, many of which treat themes of youth and promise, and age and despair.

(Source : wikipedia.)

Prices correct at time if posting. Please check current prices. 


Friday 23 September 2016

A Fantastic Giveaway Opportunity...

Following on from Joanna Courtney's guest appearance on my blog yesterday 

I am delighted to be able to offer to 5 lucky UK winners

Two Books in her Queens of Conquest series

1. The Chosen Queen


A bit of blurb..

She holds the fate of England in her heart . . .

As a young woman in England's royal court, Edyth, granddaughter of Lady Godiva, dreams of marrying for love. But political matches are rife while King Edward is still without an heir and the future of England is uncertain.

When Edyth's family are exiled to the wild Welsh court, she falls in love with the charismatic King of Wales - but their romance comes at a price and she is catapulted onto the opposing side of a bitter feud with England. Edyth's only allies are Earl Harold Godwinson and his handfasted wife, Lady Svana.
As the years pass, Edyth finds herself elevated to a position beyond even her greatest expectations. She enjoys both power and wealth but as her star rises the lines of love and duty become more blurred than she could ever have imagined. As 1066 dawns, Edyth is asked to make an impossible choice. Her decision is one that has the power to change the future of England forever . .

2. The Constant Queen


A bit of blurb...

Elizaveta is princess of Kiev, but that doesn't stop her chasing adventure. Defying conventions, she rides the rapids of the Dneiper alongside her royal brothers, and longs to rule in her own right as a queen.

Elizaveta meets her match when the fearsome Viking warrior Harald Hardrada arrives at her father's court seeking fame and fortune. He entrusts Elizaveta to be his treasure keeper, to hold the keys to his ever-growing wealth - and eventually to his heart.

Theirs is a fierce romance and the strength of their love binds them together as they travel across the vast seas to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. In 1066, their ambition carries them to Orkney as they plan to invade England and claim the crown 

Thanks to the publishers Macmillan for this fabulous giveaway opportunity

Giveaway ends on the 30th September

**~Good Luck everyone ~**

Thursday 22 September 2016

The Author in my spotlight is .....Joanna Courtney

I'm really delighted to welcome back to Jaffareadstoo the historical fiction author 

Joanna Courtney

I am a huge fan of Joanna's first book The Chosen Queen and  was delighted to be given the opportunity to read and review, The Constant Queen which is her latest historical novel in the Queens of Conquest series.

22 September 2016
 A bit of book blurb...

Elizaveta is princess of Kiev, but that doesn't stop her chasing adventure. Defying conventions, she rides the rapids of the Dneiper alongside her royal brothers, and longs to rule in her own right as a queen.

Elizaveta meets her match when the fearsome Viking warrior Harald Hardrada arrives at her father's court seeking fame and fortune. He entrusts Elizaveta to be his treasure keeper, to hold the keys to his ever-growing wealth - and eventually to his heart.

Theirs is a fierce romance and the strength of their love binds them together as they travel across the vast seas to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. In 1066, their ambition carries them to Orkney as they plan to invade England and claim the crown

To celebrate the paperback publication day of The Constant Queen, Joanna has written a special guest post for Jaffareadstoo which outlines her thoughts about the pros and cons of writing a novel based on Anglo-Saxon history...

When it comes to writing about the pre-1066 era there is one huge issue – the massive gaps in our knowledge, not just of the events but also of the people, the attitudes and reasoning behind the big dates. There are very few primary sources from this period and those we do have are either sparse, contradictory or overly imaginative so we’re never sure what’s actually true. Historians have a field day debating what happened when and why, but for authors trying to establish a factual spine for their novel it can be a minefield. That said, however, whilst these big gaps in the facts are a frustration for a historian, they are also a gift for a novelist, for I can fill them in with imagination - or, rather, with responsible interpretation.

I cannot in my novels write exactly what did happen but it’s very important to me to write what could have happened. What dates we do know need to be accurate and I try to use what is reported of people to create characters who work in a convincing way. For example, we know that King Harold went rushing down to Hastings to meet William before he had really summoned full reinforcements. If he’d waited a few days he’d have been far more likely to win, so understanding why he took that call is vital to telling a good story.

This information gap is especially problematic for women. It’s rare for the births of such girls (or even boys) to be listed so we often have to work out what children people had by tracing them back once they pop up as marrying someone 18 years later. We can get a glimpse of names, the odd snippet of gossip, or a signature on a charter but there is little else. 

When learning about the three heroines of my Queens of the Conquest series - Edyth, Elizaveta and Mathilda - it’s been up to me to interpret their characters the best way I can. Elizaveta of Kiev, for example, is known to have sailed to the Orkneys with her husband Harald Hardrada when he launched his attack on England, presumably so she was there to hasten to his side when he claimed the throne. That, to me, spoke of a brave and adventurous woman and I shaped my Elizaveta accordingly.

When writing about Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans we are up against this tricky wall of a term - the ‘dark ages’. I hate it. They’re only ‘dark’ because we know so little about them; we are the ones in the dark. At the time, these people lived lives every bit as sophisticated, cultured and socially advanced as their later Tudor ancestors. Indeed, the intrigues and political conflicts around the dramatic events of 1066 were at least as complex as something like the Babington Plot. 

These people were not illiterate idiots with little more on their minds than ploughs and swords and ale. Their halls and churches were magnificent, albeit it mainly carved in wood so sadly lost to us now. Their law and government systems were highly developed and their clothing and particularly their jewellery was astonishingly intricate and elegant. Getting people to understand that, however, can be hard.

It was also a far wider world than people imagine. Water was the fastest means of travel, be it across seas or down rivers, and the Vikings in particular were masters of the water. In The Constant Queen the action moves from Medieval Kiev, to Constantinople, Norway, Iceland and, finally, the Orkneys and Stamford Bridge where Harald Hardrada met his sad end. Researching all these places took some doing but threw up wonderful settings for my characters. 

For example, Kiev in the mid eleventh century was an astonishing place – a vast walled city atop a huge set of hills with highly developed architecture, including magnificent halls, churches, fountains, and even huge brass statues. It was heavily influenced by Constantinople, a city of such riches that all contemporary chroniclers raved about it, and the river-route between the two was travelled by thousands every year. These people were not stay-at-home villagers with their nose in their corn. Traders swarmed all over Europe, spreading culture, goods and news and my high-born characters are a part of this connected continent. That makes them hard to research but exciting to write about.

Readers, myself included, love the Tudors for their glamour – they are historical ‘Dynasty’ as the wonderful if rather lurid program ‘The Tudors’ proved. I think there may be an underlying feeling that the sixteenth century is when people started to be recognisably like ourselves but that’s just not true. Evolution is a long and complicated process and for humans the 1000 years back to pre-1066 is a drop in the ocean. Yes, communication networks and transport and cooking/heating methods were different but people – the important part of any story – were still very much the same. Social norms were also different but the core emotions of love and fear and desire and ambition were surely identical and that’s what I look to explore in my novels – not the pedantic differences between then and now, but the exciting similarities.

So, in essence, the biggest ‘con’ of writing about this period is the lack of information we have about it, but conversely this is also its biggest ‘pro’ as it leaves room to create vibrant and hopefully believable stories. The Anglo-Saxon period was not a duller or ‘darker’ time than later periods and is no less fun to read about. I hope my novels can transport people back to a period they may know very little about and offer them both some new historical knowledge and, most importantly of all, gripping stories.

©Joanna Courtney

Find out more about Joanna on her website by clicking here

Follow her on Twitter @joannacourtney1

Huge thanks to Joanna for such an interesting and informative guest post and for sharing her thoughts about the pros and cons of writing about Anglo Saxon history.

The Constant Queen is published in paperback today and is available to buy online and from all good book stores.

My thoughts about The Constant Queen..

Before reading The Constant Queen, Elizaveta of Kiev and her husband, the Viking warrior Harold Sigurdsson, or as he is more commonly known, Harold Hardrada, were a complete mystery to me, and if I am perfectly honest neither of them ever appeared on my radar as historical figures I wanted to get to know, so what has been so refreshing about reading The Constant Queen is the fact that I am coming into a period of history which is completely new to me, and so, because of that, I could settle into the story without any preconceived notions of who did what, why and when.

When Harold Hardrada appears in Kiev, at her father's court,  in 1031 Elizaveta is still very young and even though in her early interaction with Hardrada,she shows a maturity beyond her years, there is still enough of the precocious child in her to want to run unbidden through the long corridors of the Kremlin. What the novel then goes on to explain is how the relationship between Elizaveta and Hardrada develops, and also of the initial conflict which occurs between Elizaveta and Hardrada's other spouse, Tora Torbergsdatter, who is always going to be her love rival for Hardrada's affections.

The story is so much more than just romantic historical fiction and even though it was interesting to see how the relationship between Elizaveta and Hardrada developed, it was also fascinating to learn the background behind Hardrada's later involvement in the Battle of Hastings. Beautifully researched and impeccably detailed this is one of those strong historical fiction novels which is impossible to power through, not because the story isn't interesting, as believe me it is, but because there is so much absorbing detail to take in. Sweeping between Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Orkneys, the novel opens up a historical period of which I had scant knowledge and which on closer inspection I found to be hugely compelling.

Writing about the strong women that history has overlooked seems to be the trademark of this talented historical fiction author. With effortless ease she infuses her female characters with such a strong sense of purpose that you can’t help but be drawn, quite forcibly, into their lives. And as the pages turn, you are transported back to the eleventh century, back to a dark and dangerous time when to be a woman in a man’s world was racked with danger.

Whilst it is possible to read either of the books thus far in the Queens of Conquest series as standalone novels, I think that there is much more to be enjoyed in reading both novels in order. I am sure that the third book in the trilogy about Matilda of Flanders will be equally compelling.

Best Read with.... Tankards of strong ale and generous slices of roasted duck

My thanks to the author for sharing her work with me and also to Jess at Macmillan for her help with Joanna's guest post and also for my review copy of The Constant Queen.