Thursday 31 August 2017

Blog Tour ~ When the Future Comes too Soon by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the 

When the Future Comes Too Soon Blog Tour

I'm really thrilled to introduce the author of When the Future Comes too Soon

Selina Siak Chin Yoke

Credit :AM London

Hi and welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Selina. Tell us a little about yourself as an author. 

My aims as an author are simple: first, to touch emotions; secondly, to entertain, and to do both intelligently. I’m an author who takes risks in my writing. The way I use dialogue to enhance the sense of place in my debut novel was a risk. Writing a second novel that is so different from the first was another risk. But I made these choices because I thought they would be the best way to immerse readers in the world I wanted them to be in. 

How long have you been writing and what got you started? 

I began writing out of desperation and a cherished dream. In 2009 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After finishing chemo, when I thought I should be well, I felt truly awful. Post-chemo depression was worse than the chemo itself. Nothing improved until, on the advice of a counsellor at the cancer charity, MacMillan, I wrote my first short story. It soon became clear that I had a lifetime of stories inside me. With every word I wrote I could feel my energy returning. Writing saved my life. 

What inspired you to write When the Future Comes Too Soon, and what can you tell us about the story that won’t give too much away? 

When the Future Comes Too Soon is set during WWII in Malaya. It was a dramatic time, when the country was occupied by Japanese forces. Yet what happened during the war in Southeast Asia is often overlooked; people know about WWII mainly through what happened in Europe. I wanted to show readers what those years were like for an ordinary Malayan family – without sensationalising or trivialising the experience. 

Are you a plotter...or ...a start writing and see where it takes you sort of writer? 

It depends on what I’m writing. On short pieces, I take the ‘let’s see where this leads’ approach. But for a novel, I anchor the story on key events. While I don’t write every aspect of the plot out in detail, I do have the story outline and chronology written out. 

What were the challenges you faced whilst writing this novel? 

Society has strong feelings about what women, especially if they’re married with children, should or shouldn’t do. I knew that the ending of this novel is unexpected, and could alienate some readers. My challenge as an author was to make them sympathetic to my protagonist in spite of what happens. 

Whilst researching the novel, did you discover anything which surprised you? 

I learnt a huge amount about Malaysian history that I never knew before and yes, there were aspects which surprised me; in fact, they shocked me. If I disclose them, though, I’ll give too much of the plot away! Let’s just say that I think some of the historical events may shock readers too. 

What do you hope that readers will take away from When the Future Comes Too Soon? 

That the experience of war in Asia, though quite different from that in Europe, was no less brutal, and what happened to Malaya did not cover colonial Britain in glory; betrayal can take many forms; and diamonds are made under pressure. Sometimes, only in extreme circumstances do we discover what we’re really made of. 

How can readers discover more about you and your work? 

The best way would be by subscribing to my blog – But if readers want only to receive news about new books or appearances, they can simply subscribe to my website, or follow me on any of my Amazon, Facebook or Goodreads author pages, or on Twitter. The respective URLs below:

Twitter @siakchinyoke

I’m also on Instagram, though not that active yet!

 My thoughts about When the Future Comes too Soon

Amazon Crossing
July 2017

I was profoundly moved emotionally by this novel which gives a real insight into the effects of the war in Asia, a subject about which I am woefully lacking and even though I frequently read novels set during WW2, this most vital chunk of war time history seems to have passed me by.

The story is complex and as such needs careful reading so as not to miss any of the finer points which are narrated by Mei Foong, a  young woman who goes to desperate lengths to ensure her family's survival, when everything around her has changed beyond recognition.

The author writes with an authoritative voice and whilst she allows the cultures and the clashes of the time to speak most eloquently, she never loses sight of the important issues, or of the effect on people as they try to go about their daily lives. The connection to the place and its people is written with remarkable insight and I felt immediately drawn to the characters  and to their situations.

Whilst When The future Comes Too Soon follows The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds in the Malayan series, it can comfortably be read as a stand alone story and is no less powerful.

My thanks to the author for her insight into the writing of When The Future Comes Too Soon 

and also to Olivia at Midas pr for the invitation to be part of this blog tour.


Wednesday 30 August 2017

Summer Read 2017...Meet me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Headline Review
May 2017

What's it all about..

Love is in the air in St Carys, but you'd never know it - the people of this seaside town are very good at keeping secrets...

The man Clemency loves belongs to someone else. She has to hide her true feelings - but when she ropes in an unsuspecting friend to help, wires start to get crossed.

For the first time in Ronan's life his charm has failed him in winning over the woman he wants. Loving her from afar appears to be his only option.

Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend, but something isn't quite right. And now a long-buried secret is slowly rising to the surface.

The truth has a funny way of revealing itself, and when it does St Carys will be a very different place indeed.

What did I think about it..

St. Carys is one of those quintessential Cornish seaside resorts which is brought to vibrant life in this modern story of love lost and of love regained.

Filled with an abundance of quirky characters who soon get right into your heart so that you can't help but make an emotional connection with them, and ultimately, want best possible outcome for all of them. Clemency is such a lovely protagonist, she made me smile especially in her relationship with Ronan, and also in the quirkiness of her volatile relationship with her stepsister, Belle.

Meet me at Beachcomber Bay is a hugely enjoyable modern day love story which covers interesting themes about families, and also of the effects of love and loss. The story grabs your attention from the opening page and doesn't let up until the story reaches its fitting conclusion.

Overall this is a perfect summer read with more than enough light and shade to make the story all the more memorable.

Find out more about the author by visiting her website 

My thanks to the publishers for my review copy of Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay


Tuesday 29 August 2017

Summer Read 2017...The Thousand Lights Hotel by Emylia Hall

Headline Review
July 2017
What's it all about..

When Kit loses her mother in tragic circumstances, she feels drawn to finally connect with the father she has never met. That search brings her to the Thousand Lights Hotel, the perfect holiday escape perched upon a cliff on the island of Elba. Within this idyllic setting a devastating truth is brought to light: shaking the foundations upon which the hotel is built, and shattering the lives of the people within it.

A heartbreaking story of loss, betrayal, and redemption, told with all the warmth and beauty of an Italian summer.

What did I think about it..

For Kit losing her mother is devastating but to then learn that her beloved mother has kept a huge secret from her makes that loss doubly difficult for her to rationalise. Escaping to the Italian island of Elba in search of clues to her identity takes Kit not just on a journey of personal discovery but also opens up a whole new world of possibility.

A Summer Read master class springs to mind in this wonderfully evocative story which takes the reader effortlessly to the delightful island of Elba and into the best room of the house in the gloriously named Hotel Mille Luci.

I was utterly entranced by this novel from the start, not just because its glorious Italian setting is just so perfectly described that you feel like you are sitting on the terrace with Valentino and his guests, gently sipping Aperol spritz in bowl shaped glasses, but also because the author captures so perfectly, Kit's feeling of grief and loss. Her sense of betrayal when she learns the secret of her past is both poignant and memorable.

There is so much I want to say about The Thousand Lights Hotel but to do so would completely ruin the joy of discovering this truly lovely story. However, what I will say is that this author's writing just continues to go from strength to strength, not just in terms of character and description but also in the way the reader becomes part of the novel, so that the emotional bond between writer and reader is one of complete ease. There are no jagged moments when the story doesn't work and the world that is so lovingly created shines through with every well written word.

A few years ago, I remember being completely bowled over by Emylia Hall's debut novel and still treasure my special copy of The Book of Summers.  I knew then that I was seeing the emergence of a wonderful talent which continues to shine just as brightly as the thousand lights of this very special hotel.

About the Author 

Find more about the author on her website

Follow on Twitter @EmyliaHall #ThousandLightsHotel

Headline @headlinepg

My thanks to Headline for my review copy of The Thousand Lights Hotel


Monday 28 August 2017

Summer Read 2017 ~ The Little Kiosk by the Sea by Jennifer Bohnet

6 June 2017

What's it all about..

Meet Sabine, desperately fighting to save her little kiosk from closure whilst turning down her friend Owen’s proposals, time and time again.

Cue Harriet, returning to Dartmouth after thirty years, haunted by the scandal that drove her away and shocked by a legacy that threatens her relationship with her journalist daughter.

Enter Rachel, the mysterious newcomer who has an unexpected chemistry with a local widower, and who sets in motion a chain of events she could never have predicted…

What did I think about it..

From the very start of this lovely story I was taken right into the very heart of the community who live in this coastal harbour town, and felt immediately immersed in the way Sabine runs the little kiosk by the sea organising the boat trips run by her friend Owen, and of how everything in Sabine's life is about to be altered forever by the arrival of a couple of facea from her past.

This light and easy read blends all that is good in summer writing. A lovely seasidey feel to the story is combined with more than enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. I enjoyed the drama of what was going to happen when all the secrets were finally exposed and think that the author did a great job of weaving together all the different story strands, so that when everything finally comes together there is a real sense of everything coming full circle.

Family drama, combined with long buried secrets all combine to make this a lovely summer read.

More about the author can be found on her website

Twitter @jenniewriter

Read an interview with the author by clicking here 

My thanks to the HQ for my copy of The Little Kiosk by the Sea

Sunday 27 August 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

I enjoy reading books set during WW1 which cover as wide a range as possible. 

In August I will share more of my favourites

Battlefields of the Western Front 1914-1918
One Hundred Years on 

Written by Simon Doughty

Photographs by James Kerr

Helion & Company

The landscape of the Western Front has changed beyond recognition in the one hundred years since the First World War however, there are still remnants of the horror to be found in the fields and furrows and in the shadowy recesses of small villages who shield the worst of their memories in their gently rolling fields and quiet copses.

But look more closely and you will see that beneath the surface the scars and wounds remain, forever etched on a landscape that will always bear the burden of so much loss and destruction.

This is a stunning book with perceptive prose and evocative images...


Saturday 26 August 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Secret of Summerhayes by Merryn Allingham

I am delighted to introduce a new regular feature

His Fic Saturday will focus on all the lovely historical fiction which comes my way. 

There will be novels which are newly published, others which have been published in the last twelve months, and some which have lingered on my book shelves for far too long.

 A real mixed bag ranging from historical sagas, romances, and adventure through to the pageant of  medieval worlds with kings and queens. From the Battle of Hastings WW2.

Let's go back in time....

27 July 2017

What's it all about..

Summer 1944: Bombed out by the blitz, Bethany Merston takes up a post as companion to elderly Alice Summer, last remaining inhabitant of the dilapidated and crumbling Summerhayes estate. Now a shadow of its former glory; most of the rooms have been shut up, the garden is overgrown and the whole place feels as unwelcoming as the family themselves.

Struggling with the realities of war, Alice is plagued by anonymous letters and haunting visions of her old household. At first, Beth tries to convince her it’s all in her mind but soon starts to unravel the mysteries surrounding the aristocratic family’s past.

What did I think about it...

When Canadian soldier, Jos Kerrigan arrives at Summerhayes in April 1944, he and his fellow officers are preparing for a secret invasion of France. Living in basic conditions at this beautiful old country house estate in Sussex and walking in its overgrown gardens offers Jos an antidote to the terror of what is happening just across the English Channel in Northern France.  When Jos meets Bethany Merston, a spark of attraction is lit between them but in these dark and gloomy war time days, romance is far from either of their minds.

What then follows is a continuation of the story which began in The Buttonmaker's Daughter and reintroduces us, several years on, to some of the characters who we first met in that novel. It was interesting to see how time had left it's mark on Summerhayes and for those who haven't read The Buttonmaker's Daughter, the author fills the gaps really nicely so that the two stories continue to develop quite seamlessly.

The Secret of Summerhayes is  a lovely story written by an author who is able to carry her readers into a forgotten age with comparable ease. There is much to like about how about the story develops, with interesting descriptions of the soldiers preparing for the invasion of France on D-Day and of the shadow of  uncertainty that everyone lived in during these momentous late days of WW2. Within the story there are some quite dark moments but these are combined with lovely romantic interludes which help to give the story its light and shade.

There is certainly scope for this series to continue as I would love to be able to meet up with the characters in peacetime to see how Summerhayes survives in post war Britain.

A lovely summer read, perfect for an afternoon in the garden.

You will find my review of The Buttonmaker's Daughter by clicking here

More about the author can be found on her website 

Twitter @MerrynWrites

My thanks to Phoebe at Midas pr for my review copy of The Secret of Summerhayes


Friday 25 August 2017

First Remembered Read ~ Horror Novel

Those of us who read, and who are influenced by books, tend to squirrel away our memories of all the stories we have read over the years. 

And yet, there is always that one special book tucked away in the far corner of your mind which reminds you just why you love reading so much…

During July and August I've invited a few friends to share their First Remembered Read

๐Ÿ˜ˆ This week we are talking ....horror ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

I'm thrilled to welcome to Jaffareadstoo

Lainy, blogger at So Many Books, So Little Time

My first horror was IT by Stephen King, I was a kid and had no business reading such a book at such a young age but it kicked off a love affair with reading and horror, I have never looked back. 

I loved watching horror on the TV, back then it was black and white Dracula with Christopher Lee or the slow B&W zombie movies, I have no idea how I got my hands on such a book but I was sucked in.  Like the movies only you get to read and see your own "movie" at your own pace.

Back then it was a difficult time growing up in the conditions we did, reading was a way to completely escape, more so than zoning into a movie.  You could take the book outside with you or curl up with a pillow under the bed, I loved doing that.  The dog would come under too, on a really good day we would secret a picnic of snacks under there too!

I loved it, I re read it again in 2010 and gave it 5 stars.

Not only do I still have a copy of it (hardback 1987 edition), I also have a kindle version of it too.  So funny I picked this email up today, on the way home from our trip I had left my book in my bag in the boot of the car.  The weather was vile so I picked up my mobile and opened the kindle app on it.  I started reading IT on there as the movie remake is out next month and I want to reacquaint with it.  I also watched the original movie a while back with Tim Curry.  When I got home today I dug out my hardback copy and it was the perfect excuse to get my newest bookmark out. 

Since blogging and all the online book clubs I find I have mostly been reading review books, crime, psychological thrillers, chick lit and not read horror in such a long time.  I love books that get you on the edge of your seat.  I am only 130 odd pages in and already we have spooky, supernatural, abuse, friendship, love, death, homophobia.  Whilst the heart of the book is horror there are so many branches and themes and I think reading it as an adult you get a different take on the book.  Still going to be freaked out, Pennywise is such a creepy horrible entity who wouldn't be!  

Helen, blogger at Life of a Nerdish Mum

A lot of people my age started out on Goosebumps books, but I was a Point Horror girl. I still remember the first one that I read and I still own my copy now, it’s battered and beaten but I still love it and will be keeping it until it falls to pieces. (I’d share a pic but some of my books are packed up due to us moving soon).

That first Point Horror was The Cheerleader by Caroline B. Cooney. I picked it up from the library initially, the cover caught my eye with the blood stained shoe and discarded pom pom, which I can still see vividly without even having to look it up! I then bought my own copy at W H Smiths with book vouchers I had won at school. I had enjoyed it that much. It’s weird remembering so much detail, but this book really stands out in my reading history. I remember feeling scared while reading it, but enjoying the feeling and wanting to read on to see what happens. It was what started my love affair with horror.

I don’t read as much horror (or watch it) now as I did following reading The Cheerleader, but I do still enjoy picking up a Point Horror or Goosebumps book if I see one at the library that catches my eye.

Gordon, blogger at Grab This Book

My first horror, I can remember it so clearly as I had held the book in my hand every Saturday for several weeks before I bit the bullet and finally bought it. I should explain…

It was in the late 1980’s and although I was just 14 I had landed my dream job, I was working Saturdays in the local bookshop.  I quickly found that a weekly wage and a generous staff discount were two of the best things to bestow upon a bookworm. It also helped that paperbacks were usually priced around £3.99.

One of my duties in the shop was to dust the books and polish the shelves. I had responsibility for the paperbacks and this included a sizeable horror section. After weeks of shaking down The Exorcist, riffling the pages of Jaws and admiring the quantity of output of King and Koontz I could not resist the lure of trying one of these books. But which one?

I wanted one which would not be too creepy. I did not know if I could actually read through a horror story without freaking myself out. After weeks of deliberation (and plucking up my courage) I went for Pet Sematary. I read it over the couple of days and if I am honest, I was a bit underwhelmed. But I wasn’t terrified in the way I had worried I may be. The next week I bought Cujo, The Shining and Lightning by Dean Koontz. I inhaled them and I spent the next 12 months on a horror book reading binge: King, Koontz, Hutson, Laymon, Herbert.

Pet Sematary is remembered fondly as the book which introduced me to horror stories but, almost 30 years later, I still don’t consider it to be one of Stephen King’s best. Some stories from that horror binge of 1989/90 stay with me to this day and they rank highly amongst all the books that I have ever read…Phantoms (Koontz), The Rats (Herbert), The Dead Zone (King).

One book has never been bettered. I first read it in a wooden cabin in a Norwegian forest, miles from the nearest town, and I maintain that the remoteness of that cabin only increased my terror levels while I read.  IT. By Stephen King.  A masterpiece.  If you only read one book this year, make it that one. 

I am Gordon of Grab This Book (  I still read horror novels to break up my constant intake of crime thrillers and horror reviews do appear on my blog.  If you want a new horror recommendation then the best I have read recently is Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt – that messed with my head…Beware the Witch. 

Whopping big thanks to Lainy, Helen and Gordon for sharing the memories of their first scary story

Hope they have whetted you appetite for a bit of horror.

Huge thanks to all the authors and bloggers who have taken part in this fun feature over summer.

I am sure that you have enjoyed reading these book memories as much as I have

 and hope they have sparked a few memories for you all too.

Happy Reading 


Thursday 24 August 2017

Blog Tour~ The Way Back to Us by Kay Langdale

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop

Kay Langdale’s new novel explores how a marriage can fracture - ‘the conscientious ploughing of furrows and then the lifting of heads to see, with mild surprise, a pathway of completely opposing directions.’

August 2017

What's it all about..

Anna and Tom have two young children, Isaac and Teddy. When Teddy, aged one, is diagnosed with a life limiting illness, Anna devotes herself to caring for him full time while Tom becomes increasingly absorbed in his career.

Motherhood for Anna quickly becomes a state of siege; with Teddy requiring constant vigilance and what seems like an army of health workers scrutinising her every move. Swamped by her responsibilities, and unable to acknowledge the impact that Teddy’s diagnosis has had on her personally, the first casualty of the situation is her marriage. The second is Isaac, who, watchful and sensitive, regards his mother and his brother with an equally solicitous eye.

With Tom increasingly finding himself marginalised and inadequate, he and Anna reach a point when neither of them is able truthfully to say what they think or feel. And, captivated by the sunny vivacity of his work colleague Eliza, Tom begins to question whether having a very ill child makes considering leaving a marriage more morally culpable.

It is only when Anna realises the danger her marriage is in that she is forced to process the impact that Teddy’s diagnosis has had upon her, and Tom has to recognise his share of the blame.

In The Way Back to Us, Anna and Tom are faced with very particular, amplified circumstances in a novel which, at heart, explores the complexities of modern marriage and parenting.

What did I think about it ...

Modern marriage and parenting is the focus for this first person narrative driven novel which explores how living with a child with a profound disability can have a devastating effect on a marriage, especially when that child's life limiting disease completely takes over family life. Meeting with Tom and Anna and their children Isaac and Teddy shines a spotlight on this difficult subject.

Gradually we meet all four characters in the novel, who in their own words explain just what is going on in their lives. I found this way of telling the story particularly interesting and especially looked forward to Teddy's narrative which brought to poignant life the difficulties he experienced, and how he coped with living in his own limited way. I felt really sorry for Tom and Isaac who, so often, seemed to be floundering, no longer the focus of Anna's attention as all her energy went into keeping Teddy safe from harm.

The Way Back to Us highlights in a very readable way the struggles and difficulties families face on a daily basis when all too often they are fighting a system which hinders more than it helps. There is no doubt that Anna is Teddy's champion, battling for him every single step of the way but at what cost to her own well being and that of her marriage. She struggles to cope but feels that she can't back off for a single second because if she does Teddy will suffer. I think for me one of the saddest sentences came towards the end of the novel  when Anna admitted to her husband, Tom, that, "I can no longer see where Teddy stops and I begin..."

The Way back to Us is a powerful and poignant story which tackles a sensitive and difficult subject. It’s a story which will resonate with anyone who has a child with a disability or life limiting disease but, I think that it will also act as a timely reminder to the rest of us to never make assumptions because we never truly know what's going on in other people's lives or indeed of how we would cope in similar circumstances.

©John Cairns
Kay Langdale is the author of five novels: Away From You, Choose Me, Her Giant Octopus Moment, What the Heart Knows (Rowohlt, Germany) and Redemption (Transita; published as If Not Love by Thomas Dunne Books.
She taught twentieth century literature at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford and worked as a copywriter in a brand development consultancy. She is married, has four grown-up children and lives in Oxfordshire

Twitter @kaylangdale #TheWayBacktoUs

My thanks to Jasmine at Hodder for her invitation to be part of this blog tour and for my copy of

 The Way Back to Us.


Wednesday 23 August 2017

Summer Read 2017 ~ The Girl With the Make Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

Rokesby #2

What's it all about...

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie...

I told everyone I was your wife..

What did I think about it..

Cecilia Harcourt pretends she is married to the handsome officer who she carefully looks after, not because of any romantic feeling she has for him, you understand, but out of necessity in order to help find her brother, Thomas who is missing. What then follows is a light and easy to read romantic adventure which continues in the same style as Julia Quinn's other historical novels.

There were times when I had to suspend belief, especially when the subterfuge on Cecilia's part got a little too far fetched especially when she continued with the charade for far longer than was really necessary, but hey ho, after all, this is romantic fiction. Edward Rokesby makes a fine romantic hero, dashing, chivalrous and with bags of charisma, that he struggles with his overwhelming attraction to Cecilia is in keeping with the way the author portrays his character. All of which makes the inevitable "can't keep his hands off her " scenario all the more enjoyable to read ๐Ÿ˜‰

Overall, I thought that the story was entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the deliciously romantic frisson of excitement in the "will they, won't they" aspect of Cecilia's and Edward's burgeoning romance, which adds a smidgen of passion.  As escapist romantic historical fiction this story ticks all the boxes and I am sure that fans of Julia Quinn's writing will it snap up along with all the other books in her romantic historical series.

This book is the second in the Rokesby series which started with Because of Miss Bridgerton. It can, of course, be read a standalone novel.

You can find out more about the author on her website by clicking here 

My thanks to Clara at Little Brown Books for my review copy of The Make Believe Husband


Tuesday 22 August 2017

Summer Read ~ Summer at Hope Meadows by Lucy Daniels


What's it all about...

Based on the globally bestselling Animal Ark series. 

Newly-qualified vet Mandy Hope is leaving Leeds - and her fiancรฉ Simon - to return to the Yorkshire village she grew up in. There, she will help out in her parents' surgery whilst they're short-staffed. Mandy's life has always revolved around her work with rescued animals, and Welford offers an opportunity to work with creatures of all sizes, from hedgehogs and puppies to farm stock and even wild deer.

But rural Yorkshire is very different to the hustle and bustle of a big city. Mandy must work hard to be accepted by the close-knit village community, and convince them of her abilities as a vet - especially Jimmy Marsh, the gruff owner of the local Outward Bound business, with whom she just can't seem to get along.

When some long-neglected animals are discovered in a critical state on a nearby farm, Mandy is determined to prove herself as a confident and fearless vet. When it comes to protecting animals in need, she's prepared to do whatever it takes..

What did I think about it ...

As a young teenager I was fascinated by the James Herriot series on TV and went on to read some of James Herriot's books which delightfully recall his lively adventures as a young vet in Yorkshire.

Summer at Hope Meadows follows this tradition and gives us a lovely story of what it's like to be working with animals and travelling around the beautiful Yorkshire countryside. I have to admit to not being familiar with the Animal Ark series of children's books, so I come to this new adult series with no preconceptions of what I want the characters to be like.

I think that the author has done a great job of bringing the stories up to date and felt completely at ease with the way the story unfolded. I enjoyed getting to know newly qualified vet, Mandy Hope, as she returns to the small Yorkshire village of her childhood. But leaving behind a progressive city veterinary practice and returning to rural work is both difficult and challenging for Mandy, especially as her boyfriend, Simon, isn't very supportive.

I really enjoyed this lovely romp through the glorious Yorkshire countryside and enjoyed reading of the challenges that Amanda faced as she set about helping her parents, both vets, who are struggling to cope with the demands of their aptly named, Animal Ark veterinary business. I thought that the medical aspects of the story were particularly well done, which reflects on the author's own experiences as a qualified vet herself.

I especially loved the interaction between Mandy and her best friend, James, who is facing heartache of a very different kind and of course, the animals themselves tug away at your heartstrings, especially the gentle shire horse, Bill and the damaged collie, Sky.

Summer at Hope Meadows is a really lovely summer read and the start of a promising new series of books which I am sure will delight readers.

Best Read with...Tea and scones from James' tea shop in York

About the Author

Lucy Daniels is the collective name for the writing team that created the bestselling children's book series Animal Ark. Hope Meadows is a brand new Lucy Daniels series for adult readers, featuring the characters and locations that were so beloved of the original series.

This new title, Summer at Hope Meadows has been written by a new author called Sarah McGurk who has the advantage of being passionate about the animal ark series and also a fully qualified vet.

My thank to Jenni  and the team at Hodder for my review copy of Summer at Hope Meadows


Monday 21 August 2017

Review ~ The Monster's Daughter by Michelle Pretorius

MPH Books 2017
Mellville House
Paperback now released 27 July 2017

What's it all about..

Somewhere on the South African veldt, 1901: At the height of the Boer War, a doctor at a British concentration camp conducts a series of grim experiments on Boer prisoners. His work ends in chaos, but two children survive: a boy named Benjamin, and a girl named Tessa.

One hundred years later, a disgraced young police constable is reassigned to the sleepy South African town of Unie, where she makes a terrifying discovery: the body of a young woman, burned beyond recognition.

The crime soon leads her into her country's violent past a past that includes her father, a high-ranking police official under the apartheid regime, and the children left behind in that long ago concentration camp.

What did I think about it..

The novel opens in 2010 where we meet one of our protagonists. Alet is a young police officer who has been sent to the small South African town of Unie following a professional misdemeanour. Suspicious of a woman police officer the locals don't take kindly to Alet and she faces small town prejudice which hampers her investigation into the death of a young woman.

Travelling back in time to the early 1900s, we meet Tessa Morgan who senses that she is different but who lives a fairly sheltered existence with her father Andrew Morgan who was once a soldier caught up in the Boer War conflict.

On the surface neither of these stories should have any real connection but gradually as the jigsaw puzzle starts to slot together, we begin to understand the links between a modern day South African police officer and a series of uncomfortable experiments which happened over a hundred years ago during the Boer War.

Initially, I found the novel difficult to get into until I had found some emotional connection to the characters which took a little while to sit easy with me. However, by about a third of the way into the story I found that the finer points of the plot became easier to follow. In many ways this is a slow burner of a story and one which requires concentration and an ability to just go along with the story wherever it leads.

The author writes well and explains the South African history and landscape as only a true South African can. Combining dark historical fiction with a chilling modern day murder mystery is an inspired idea which, in The Monster’s Daughter, comes together in a shattering conclusion.

About the Author

Michelle Pretorius was born and raised in South Africa. She received an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago and is currently a PhD candidate at Ohio University. She has written for a number of publications, including Bookslut, Word Riot, and the Copperfield Review. She is a recipient of the John Schultz and Betty Shiflett prize and lives in Athens, Ohio.

My thanks to Nikki at Melville House books for my review copy of The Monster's Daughter


Sunday 20 August 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

I enjoy reading books set during WW1 which cover as wide a range as possible. 

In August I will share more of my favourites


Set before and during the Great War, BIRDSONG captures the drama of that era on both a national and personal scale. It is the story of Stephen, a young Englishman, who arrives in Amiens in 1910. His life goes through a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experience of the war itself.

Birdsong is s deeply moving and beautifully written account of Stephen Wraysford's journey from his first arrival, in 1910, to the industrial French town of Amiens, to his meeting with the beautiful wife of his host, Azaire, and to his later involvement in the conflict that would rip Europe apart.

Birdsong forms part of Sebastian Faulk's French trilogy 

1743996 7902726


Saturday 19 August 2017

Close to Home ~ Thank you

In October 2016, I started my Close to Home feature in order to highlight authors who are based in the north of England, literally close to home. Since then I've been privileged to work with 44 amazing authors who have embraced the idea of sharing what's so special about the north of England and have shown this love in an array of eloquent guest posts and enlightening interviews.

I am immensely grateful to them all for their enthusiasm and for sharing their love of the north and for explaining just how this marvellous northern landscape shapes their writing.

Click on the author to discover what makes the north such a special place for them...

Karl Drinkwater
Liz Bower
Jo Hollywood
Deborah Swift
Marie Laval

A D Garrett and Helen Pepper
John R McKay
Kate Field
Lyn G Farrell

Cath Cole
J Carmen Smith
Ian Skillicorn

Paula Martin 
Martin Edwards
Paula Daly
Cath Staincliffe

Sarah Jasmon
Caroline James
Debbie Johnson
June Taylor

Nicci Rae
Kate Rigby
Pauline Barclay
Claire Brown

Barbara Copperthwaite
Gina Kirkham
Claire Coombes
Carys Bray
Sue Featherstone

Amanda Brooke
Caroline Wallace
Beth Underdown
Kirsty Ferry

Jan Ruth
Helena Fairfax
Melinda Hammond
June Francis

Rebecca Mascull
Sharon Booth
Elizabeth Ashworth
Susan Pape
Susanna Bavin

Helen Steadman
Alyson Rhodes

 A whopping big  to everyone who has taken part in Close to Home 

Jaffareadstoo couldn't have done this without you all.

Close to Home will be back sometime in the future bringing you lots more fabulous Northern Writers


Friday 18 August 2017

First Remembered Read ~ Historical Novel

Those of us who read, and who are influenced by books, tend to squirrel away our memories of all the stories we have read over the years. 

And yet, there is always that one special book tucked away in the far corner of your mind which reminds you just why you love reading so much…

During July and August I've invited a few friends to share their First Remembered Read..

I'm thrilled to welcome to Jaffareadstoo

The Passionate Brood by Margaret Campbell Barnes

As a young reader, in that difficult transition between child and adult - no YA in those days - I picked up a book in my local library called The Passionate Brood. It was the cover that took my eye: two knight jousting with all the colour of heraldry, of banners and pavilions and ladies watching their knights fight for the glory of victory in the tournament. I doubt it was very accurate but the image appealed. I also remember my mother looking askance at the title - we were far more innocent in those distant days - but the book came home with me.


It is a Plantagenet story of the family of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, particularly of King Richard I, packed with all the romantic elements of high chivalry. It is also unashamedly romantic in bringing Berengaria onto the scene, as well as the character of Robin Hood. And I loved it. The elegant style and marvellous detail brought these characters to life, even though they lived more than six hundred years ago. They were real and engaged my emotions, living with me in all their passion, their loyalties and betrayals, as I devoured the book. Their conversations drew me in to their joys and their sorrows. I wept with Berengaria when King Richard met his death at the end. 

At that time it did not matter to me that there was no evidence for the romance, or for these particular origins of Robin Hood. The world that The Passionate Brood opened for me was simply magical. It has never lost its fascination.


The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

I have no doubt at all that this book ignited my love of hiding away in the past, and I quickly graduated to Goudge’s historical fiction for adults – a full collection of which I was thrilled to find on my mother’s bookshelves. My mother died when I was ten, and having this shared love of a particular novelist means a great deal to me.

I re-read “The Little White Horse” every year, and also at times of stress as I find it reliably calming and reassuring. I made the mistake of recommending it to a book club, and they tore it to shreds, pointing out the clumsy religious imagery which had gone – indeed, still goes – right over my head. I learnt from this and have avoided both the “Moonacre” television series and the film “The Secret of Moonacre”, which are based on the novel, in case things are not as I have always pictured them in my imagination. I once saw a very handsome hardcover edition in a bookshop, but nothing would tempt me away from my much-sellotaped, worm-eaten little paperback.


Huge thanks to Anne and Susan for sharing the memories 

of their First Historical Read with me today.

Next week : My First Horror Novel