Saturday 31 March 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Blog Tour ~ Shipyard Girls in Love by Nancy Revell

On Hist Fic Saturday I am delighted to welcome to Jaffareadstoo

Historical Fiction Writer

Why I write Historical Fiction

I came to this particular genre in a rather convoluted way in that I was asked by my publishers if I would like to come up with an idea for a saga series set sometime in the first part of the twentieth century. I had never really considered writing a novel set in a time other than the present day, but as soon as the idea was put to me, I knew instantly that I wanted to set the series in the throes of the Second World War. 

When I was a young girl I remember being fascinated by this particular period, and as soon as I started researching and writing The Shipyard Girls series, that fascination was reignited and as time has gone on, I have loved learning more and more about all aspects of the war. It really is a huge, multi-layered and complex part of our contemporary history and it feels as though the more I read about this extremely important time, the more there is to learn.

By setting The Shipyard Girls in Sunderland I’ve also ended up finding out so much more about the history of my hometown, especially its shipbuilding heritage. I had no idea it was once revered as ‘The Biggest Shipbuilding Town in the World’. I also didn’t realise that Sunderland played such an important part in winning the war by producing ships that were desperately needed for the transportation of food, fuel, and troops. And I certainly had no idea that women worked in the shipyards during both world wars!

The learning and research aspect of writing historical fiction is enthralling, but imaging how it must have been to live through such tumultuous and quite terrifying times is both exciting – and challenging. Living in fear of being bombed out of your own home, surviving on rations, worried about loved ones fighting on the front line... It’s such an emotive time to write about and really draws on all your creative and imaginative reserves.

So, although it was more a case of historical fiction choosing me rather than the other way round, I’ve become hooked!

Nancy Revell is the pen name of writer and journalist Amanda Revell Walton, and has worked for many national newspapers, providing them with hard-hitting news stories and in-depth features. She has also worked for just about every woman’s magazine, writing amazing and inspirational true life stories.

Nancy has recently relocated back to her home town of Sunderland,Tyne & Wear, with her husband Paul and their English Bull Mastiff, Rosie. They live a short walk from the beautiful, award-winning beaches of Roker and Seaburn, within a mile of where The Shipyard Girls series is set. The subject is close to Nancy’s heart as she comes from a long line of shipbuilders, who were well-known in the area. 

Twitter @arevellwalton #shipyardgirlsinlove

Arrow Publishing @arrowpublishing

Sunderland, 1941

Arrow Paperback
22 March 2018

My thanks to the author and publishers for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of the blog tour
With a brief break in air raids providing some much-needed respite from the war, things are looking up for head welder Rosie, who has fallen head over heels for Detective Sergeant Miller. But how long can their romance last in such uncertain times?

Life remains full of challenges for Gloria, who must face her abusive ex-husband and confront her own guilty conscience about baby Hope’s real father. The secret is tearing her apart but if she admits the truth, she will risk losing everything.

Both women are determined that their love and faith will be enough to keep the most difficult of promises, but nothing is as simple as it seems …

A huge thank you to Nancy for being such a lovely guest today 

and for sharing with us her love of historical fiction.


Please visit the other stops on the blog tour...

Friday 30 March 2018

Author Spotlight~ Victoria Saccenti

I am delighted to welcome back to the blog the author, Victoria Saccenti

Hi Victoria, thank you for spending time with us today. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author?

First and foremost, I want to thank you for inviting me to chat with you and your wonderful readers about my works. Truly, this is an honor.

My writing journey began many decades ago. I grew up in a home of avid readers. My parents had an extensive library, from Greek mythology, to the classics to modern works. I used to stare at the gorgeous leather bound books wondering when I’d be allowed to peruse the edge-gilded pages. Mom must have been watching, because the moment I learned to read, she placed in my anxious hands my own copy of The Mystery of the Black Jungle. The first volume of the Tigers of Malaysia Series, written by Emilio Salgari, Italy’s beloved writer of adventure fiction. There I was at the age of six, exploring the jungles of the Sundarbans in British India, my exhilarated imagination working at top speed. Subsequently, I wrote fantasies and fairytales to use during playtime with my sister and cousins. 

Growing up I kept a diary and a book under my arm at all times. When I was stationed in London with an international carrier, I returned to writing short stories, my favorite pastime. Some I sent to my mother included in weekly letters, others I’ve kept, and the rest I have lost during multiple moves.

Then years later, I was driving home from work at 2:00 in the morning, when the main character of my first book materialized—in my head, of course—demanding I write his story. I’m convinced most writers have a touch of schizophrenia. The next day, and completely out of the blue, a dear friend came up with a similar question. Since you love reading so much, why don’t you write a book? Kismet? Coincidence? Destiny? Maybe all three, and the rest is history, as they say.

For readers who aren’t familiar with your writing, what can they expect from the Destiny series?

They can expect a bit history, adventure, and romance. The series covers a period of nine years, from June 1967 through May 1976, with a backward jump to 1936.

Destiny’s Plan begins in 1967 at the height of the Vietnam War, the Hippie counterculture, free love and drug revolution, and the struggle for Civil Rights. A tumultuous period in the history of the United States, when established mores and traditions were shattered and new ones created. With books two and three, other conflicts surfaced, including mental and spiritual wounds, the consequences of an unpopular war, and abrupt societal changes. 

Tell us a little about the characters who inhabit the Destiny series and do you have a favourite character?

Even though the series is advertised as romance, it’s truly a family saga. The series narrates the life of the Muro sisters—born in the United States from Spanish parents—their family, and close friends. The sisters’ stories are at the forefront. Secondary characters are also developed, including their mother, Isabel, who grew up in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. 

I don’t have a ‘favourite’ character, I love them all and for different reasons. They’re like my siblings or my dearest friends. We have lived together for years. Each has brought something unique to the narrative. But if I had to choose, I would go for Xavier Manel Repulles, aka, Xavi. He surprised me the most. I thought I had him all figured out. He basically said, “You don’t know me at all.” He forced me to go back to the drawing board. 

Your books are very atmospheric – how do you ‘set the scene’ in your novels and how much research did you have do in order to bring the place and people to life.

Research. Wow. I spent months doing research. I first hit the jackpot when I discovered several TV news reports from that era. They were absolutely riveting. Before I wrote the Vietnam scenes I read five books and watched a film, a dramatization of an actual battle, which helped with visualization. 

I studied habits. People used to read. Books were entertainment. The school curriculum was by far more extensive. I also researched what existed and didn’t. Something as simple as a coffee maker or the wrong color in home appliances could ruin the authenticity of the storyline. In 1967, Neil Armstrong had not yet set foot on the Moon. Most of the technical advances we enjoy today have come out of the Space Age. 

All of the above helped me ‘set the scene’, feel the mood, understand the motivation, see the characters and their surroundings. I’m deeply grateful for the years I spent in Drama and Acting class, a minor interest. I had no idea that at some point in the future, exercises in the Stanislavsky’s method, where the actor inhabits a part would help with writing. 

When you started writing – did you always intend it to be a trilogy? And if so, did you know at the start where the story eventually finish?

I started out thinking of one book. I was halfway through Destiny’s Plan when the next story popped before my eyes. I discussed the possibility with my dear friend, as I was a little hesitant. The story-line is not perfect and tidy. The human condition can be a surprising roller-coaster. She encouraged me and I went for it. 

Your stories are very much ‘from the heart’. Does this take its toll on you emotionally, and if so, how do you overcome it?

Yes, it does take a toll. I cried three times with the first book. I wrote a scene in Destiny’s Plan that left me depressed for a full week. In the end, I chickened out and deleted it. I thought it would be too much for the readers. I’ve kept it. Perhaps one day I will write it back in. 

My remedy for the emotional upheaval is to pick up a book from a favorite author. I’m an immersive reader and going into someone else’s world pulls me out of mine. 

Now that the trilogy is complete, can we look forward to more stories from you?

Yes. And I’m pretty excited about this one. My current ‘work-in-progress’ is the story of a minor character from Destiny’s Plan. I liked him so much I ‘couldn’t’ leave him hanging. The book is completely stand-alone. However, the character appeared in 1968, which means I have to follow through with the timeline. 

The story is set in North Carolina’s Wake County, four years after the first high school was integrated and weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. I am involved in serious research, again. I guess my personal Calliope, she is the closest, gravitates to that sort of story. (wink)

A million thanks for this opportunity. I hope your readers will be attracted to the themes I’ve explored. Traveling to the past on the pages of the Destiny series could be fun.

Destiny’s Plan 

One empty bus seat. Two aching hearts. A future written by Fate…

When Raquelita Muro’s overbearing mother rips her and her little sister away from their beloved Papa, one tiny, rebellious corner of Raquelita’s heart is grateful that the bus is crowded, and the only seat left is out of Mama’s sight. Next to a handsome young man.

Michael Buchanan’s beautiful traveling companion is more than something pretty to look at before he ships out for Viet Nam. Deep in her sad, whisky-colored eyes he glimpses a new dream to replace the ones he’s leaving behind. It breaks his heart to leave Raquelita in her tyrannical mother’s hands, but she gifts him with a token of love and a tender promise to exchange letters in secret.

But their first, shy “hello” has reached the ears of Fate. Fate is in the mood to see how far it can push two lonely hearts—to the brink of temptation, desperation, and despair—before they break. Perhaps beyond any hope of healing…

Destiny’s Choice 

No one evades Fate. Especially when the escape route is cracked and full of holes.

As a naïve young woman, Marité Muro nearly drowned in a maelstrom of confusing emotions stirred by two very different men. One whose tortured soul tugged at her heart, another whose scorching touch made her innocent body want…more.

Four years in a Spanish prep school gave her time to gain perspective, and now she’s come home to Florida knowing what she wants. The one man she’s never been able to forget, and she’s ready to prove their age difference is no obstacle.

Viet Nam left scars on Brian MacKay, some visible, some invisible—and infinitely more dangerous. His war buddy’s sister-in-law has ripened into a tempting, irresistible woman, but she is forbidden fruit. Yet she challenges his resolve until, in a moment of weakness, his demons slip free.

Marité isn’t sure why the man who held her closer than skin is suddenly holding her at arm’s length, but she isn’t afraid to fight for him. Even when someone returns from the past who could destroy everything. Her home. Her family. And Brian’s love.

Destiny’s Way 

Destiny can show the way home...if it can navigate the shadows of Fate. 

Brian McKay’s love for Marité Muro burns with the heat of an eternal flame. But when he catches her cousin, Michael, forcing an unwanted kiss upon her, Brian’s jealousy comes dangerously close to flaring out of control.

In a moment of despair, he packs his bags and boards a plane for Round Rock, convinced Marité will be better off with anyone else. Someone younger. Someone who isn’t dragging around a crippling load of baggage—and PTSD-fueled demons.

Anger tears at Marité’s heart as she flees to her Abuela’s home. Anger at Brian for abandoning her so easily. At Michael for trying to reignite their past infatuation. Mostly, anger at herself for realizing too late that it’s past time to grow up, take responsibility for her own part in the debacle, and fight for the only man she’ll ever love.

But Fate has a few more tricks to play before Brian and Marité find the strength to reconcile. Some that haunt Brian’s war-torn mind. Another threatening from Michael’s dangerous ambitions. And one tiny, fragile miracle growing under Marité’s heart, with the power to heal their past and seal their future. If it lives long enough to draw its first breath…

Huge thanks to Victoria for being our special guest today. We have really enjoyed your company. Please come back and see us again soon 😃

More about Victoria


 Twitter @VictoriaSAuthor

Thursday 29 March 2018

Review ~ The F Word by Lily Pebbles

8 March 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Modern female friendship is the subject of this book which looks at the whys and wherefores of friendship and what makes some relationships last forever, whilst others are fleeting and disappear almost as quickly as they come.

The author writes with enthusiasm, taking us back in time to her first best friend made at primary school, and then through to those friendship groups made when older. Interspersed throughout are diaries entries and illustrations made when the author was younger and which highlight the trials and tribulations of girl groupings when boys start to come into the equation. I read through the sections quickly and enjoyed reading the author's thoughts about the various situations that girl friends often find themselves in, like arranging hen parties and what happens when, inevitably, female friends fall out with each other.

This recipe for friendship made me smile.

125g loyalty
140g empathy, melted 
2 cups of support
110g of trust
2 litres of self confidence
150g time

Throughout the book I was reminded of my own friendship groups. I've had some close friends for many years whilst others have been made in more recent times and with them all I know instinctively that if I ever needed any of them they would be there for me in an instant and vice versa. I think what this book emphasises is that it's not about how many female friends we have but rather it's the quality of those friendship groups, and of the love and understanding found in those close friends who have been with us through good times and bad.

In this confusing time of social media when everyone shares their data with hundreds of 'friends' online, perhaps it does well from time to time to stop and consider just how many are true friends. 

About the Author

Lily Pebbles has been blogging since 2010 and is one of the pioneers of the industry. She's amassed a league of loyal followers pf her blog and self-named You Tube channel for content that covers, beauty style and advice. Lily is the co-host of the hugely popular 'At Home With' podcast.

The F Word is her first book


Twitter @lilypebbles


Wednesday 28 March 2018

Blog Tour ~ Times and Places by Keith Anthony (GIVEAWAY)

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the Times and Places Blog Tour


My thanks to the author for my copy of this book
And to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to be part of this tour

Ten years after his daughter Justine's death, an anxious Fergus embarks on a cruise with his wife. On board, he meets a myriad of characters and is entranced by some, irritated by others and disgusted by one. These turbulent feelings, combined with a sequence of bizarre events, only lead to his increased anxiety.
In a series of flashbacks, Justine enjoys an ultimately short romance, a woman concludes she killed her and an investigating police officer is drawn into her idyllic world. Fergus, haunted by poignant memories, withdraws in search of answers.
Back on the cruise, Fergus reaches breaking point, fearing he has done something terrible. By the time the ship returns, his world has changed forever.
"Times and Places" spans Atlantic islands, the Chiltern countryside, Cornish coasts and rural Slovenia, all of which provide spectacular backdrops to a humorous and moving tale of quiet spirituality.

What did I think about it...

Ten years after the death of their only daughter, Fergus and Sylvie embark on a cruise around the beautiful mid-Atlantic. That Justine’s untimely and tragic death has affected them deeply is observed in the way that they quietly attempt to put their lives back together after this devastating loss. The story evolves slowly, highlighting certain moments in Justine’s life and with calm reflection allowing her short time on earth to play out in a meaningful way.

The author has a very gentle writing style which allows the emotional aspect of the story to have a profound effect. On some occasions the story reads like a travelogue as Fergus and Sylvie enjoy their Atlantic cruise, taking part in the activities on board ship and looking forward to their visits to different places and observing foreign cultures. Whilst at other times, the story seems almost like a gentle commentary on the vagaries of life, and of the unpredictability of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

All is not unhappiness though, as there are some nice splashes of humour amongst the sadness and I enjoyed reading about the other passengers on board the cruise ship, some of whom irritated Fergus with their pettiness and bad manners.

I enjoyed the alternate chapters which take us away from Fergus and Sylvie aboard ship and allow us more of a glimpse into the background of the story. And as characters flit into and out of the story during these chapters, so a broader picture is allowed to emerge.

I found Times and Places to be a remarkably insightful story with some spiritual references which slotted comfortably into narrative. I was impressed how the themes of love, loss and grief were handled in such a quiet and reflective way.

The Book Guild

About the Author

Keith was born and brought up in the Chilterns, to where he returned after studying French at university in Aberystwyth and a subsequent spell living in west London. He has a love of nature, both in his native Buckinghamshire countryside, but also in Cornwall and wherever there is a wild sea.

Keith has been lucky enough to spend time living in France, Spain, Belgium, Serbia and Croatia, as well as being a regular visitor to Germany, and languages were the only thing he was ever half good at in school. Since graduating he has worked in government departments, but between 2005 and 2008 he was seconded to the European Commission in Brussels and, thanks to a friend from Ljubljana he met there, has travelled regularly to Slovenia, getting to know that country well.

Keith's other great love is music and he plays classical and finger picking blues guitar, though with persistently limited success. He has always enjoyed writing, including attempts at children's fiction, and in 2016 he began work on his first full book with “Times and Places" the end result: an accessible, observational story, mixing quiet spirituality with humour, pathos and gothic horror, and setting it against a rich backdrop of the natural world

Twitter @keithAnthonyWS

Purchasing Links:


Giveaway – Win 3 x Signed copies of Times and Places (Open Internationall)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Blog Tour ~ Two Little Girls by Kate Medina

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's last stop on the Two Little Girls Blog Tour

Harper Collins
22 March 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

A gripping new thriller featuring the brilliantly complex psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn, who struggles with a dark past.

Two bodies on the beach. One killer out for revenge… 

Two years ago, a young girl was murdered while playing on the beach, a doll left by her side. DI Bobby ‘Marilyn’ Simmons failed to catch her killer and he’s been tormented with guilt ever since. 

So when another dead girl is found in the dunes, another doll, he knows this could be his only chance to silence his demons. 

Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn is called in to help with the investigation. But she’s being led into a web of lies and deceit by a new patient called Laura – a deeply disturbed woman who wants Jessie as her friend. 

When links emerge between Laura and the two dead girls, Jessie’s worst nightmare becomes reality. For in the dark world of a twisted killer, she begins to realize just how treacherous friends can be… 

My thoughts...

In Two Little Girls, psychologist, Jessie Flynn, once again has an emotional and difficult time. Her flawed personality really seems to hit home in this story and I was just as fascinated by the way the author weaves Jessie's personal demons into the proceedings, as I was by the actual crime story itself.

Working alongside DI Bobby 'Marilyn' Simmons, Jessie gets drawn into a particularly sad and rather complex murder investigation into the death of a young girl who has been found on a south coast beach. That there seems to be just one suspect lends an air of sharpness to the investigation, as you know, from reading the previous crime novels in this series that everything is not going to be quite so neatly tied together. Simmons finds that he is faced with an almost identical murder to that of a young girl some two years before when he failed to catch the killer. This time around he is he not going to let them get away with it a second time.

The dynamic between Jessie and DI Simmons is as complex as ever, they’re an enigmatic pairing, each as badly damaged as the other and yet, they work well as a team and I enjoy the times they join forces in the story. The brief glimpses into Jessie’s relationship with her boyfriend, Callan, are all too brief, I feel that there is so much to be explored in their relationship and I hope to see this evolve more over time.

The author writes with a fine eye for both crime, and character detail. I so enjoy trying to piece together all the jigsaw pieces of the puzzle, and several times I thought I had the way of things only to have my pondering shattered when something new was added to the mix. The mystery at the heart of the novel, as always, has a sharp combination of character and procedural, which works really well. And the dark side to the story, with the beguiling flashbacks into the past life of one of the characters, helps to give it that all important edginess.

Two Little Girls is now the third book in the Jessie Flynn series but can be read as a standalone novel. I think it is my favourite book of the series, to date.

Kate Medina has always been fascinated by the ‘whys’ of human behaviour, an interest that drove her to study Psychology at university and later to start a crime series featuring clinical psychologist, Dr Jessie Flynn. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and her debut novel White Crocodile received widespread critical acclaim, as did Fire Damage, the first book in the Jessie Flynn series. 

Before turning to writing full time, Kate spent five years in the Territorial Army and has lectured at the London Business School and the London School of Economics. She lives in London with her husband and three children.

Twitter @KateTMedina #TwoLittleGirls

Monday 26 March 2018

Blog Tour ~ From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on From a Low and Quiet Sea Blog Tour  

22 March 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book and to Random Things Tours
for the invitation to be part of this blog tour

From a Low and Quiet Sea is Donal Ryan’s most expansive book to date, partially set in Syria and partially in the familiar territory of rural Ireland.

Farouk’s country has been torn apart by war.

Lampy’s heart has been laid waste by Chloe.

John’s past torments him as he nears his end.

The refugee. The dreamer. The penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home.

Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.

My thoughts about it...

Beautifully written, with not an ounce of triviality, From A Low and Quiet Sea, is deceptively astute and lays bare the frailty of humanity in its most distinct form. Told in 4 parts, there seems little to connect the story of Farouk, the Syrian refugee, with that of Lampy living in rural Ireland who drives old folk around in his bus, and even less in common with the business man, John, who at the end of his life repents his past sins.

Three men with very different stories to tell, share the remnants of their lives in stark and contrasting stories which highlight their search for meaning and resolution.That their lives are all so very different, adds a subtle poignancy to the eventual coming together of all the loose ends which tether them, irrevocably together.

The author has a wonderful ability to spin a good tale. He is a magical weaver of words, bringing the narrative to life in such a beautifully controlled way, that there is never a word wasted or an emotion unexpressed. Deftly stitching together the whole process of storytelling and instantly connecting with your imagination, the characters come alive and are so sharply drawn they could be etched in glass and linger long after the story is finished.

From a Low and Quiet Sea says all that needs to be said in just 181 pages and even now, after finishing the story, it still gives me goosebumps.

About the Author

Donal Ryan is from Nenagh in County Tipperary. His first three novels, The Spinning Heart, The Thing About December and All We Shall Know, and his short story collection A Slanting of the Sun, have all been published to major acclaim. The Spinning Heart won the Guardian First Book Award, the EU Prize for Literature (Ireland), and Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards; it was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize, and was recently voted ‘Irish Book of the Decade’. His fourth novel, From a Low and Quiet Sea, will be published in March 2018. A former civil servant, Donal lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. He lives with his wife Anne Marie and their two children just outside Limerick City.

Do follow the other stops on the blog tour


Sunday 25 March 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Ordinary Lives of  the First World War

The 2018 Armistice Project seeks to commemorate the 888,246 British and Commonwealth Fallen of the First World War.

©John Barton

This Tommy represents John Hopkins, a member of our family, who enlisted with The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in 1914 and was posted to France in 1915. He was wounded in action on 11th May 1916 whilst they were in the trenches at Monchy-Breton. He arrived back in the UK for treatment two weeks later, 25th May, and remained there until 18th August 1916 when he was sent back to France. He then served in France for the next two years.

John Hopkins died of heart failure on 24th January 1919 and was laid to rest in Wigan Cemetery. He was 28 years old.

©John Barton

The profits from the sale of the Tommies will enable Remembered to support the following charities: 

The Royal Foundation :Heads Together, Walking With The Wounded

Combat Stress

Help for Heroes

The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation

Project Equinox: Housing Veterans

Twitter @Remembered2018


Saturday 24 March 2018

Hist Fic Saturday.....The Ocean Liner by Marius Gabriel

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ... 1939

Lake Union Press
20 March 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

The story opens in Le Havre, in 1939, and as war starts to infiltrate into Europe, the luxury liner, the SS Manhattan, takes on passengers who are bound for New York, and a safer way of life. All of them have stories to tell and secrets to keep, some of which are revealed even before the ship heads out into the Atlantic. 

The story focuses on several of the passengers, some are famous, like the composer, Igor Stravinsky  who is fleeing Europe for reasons of his own, and also Rose Kennedy, the stern matriarch of the American Kennedy clan heads home to the United States, taking her younger children, whilst leaving her husband, Joseph, and many secrets, behind in London. Cousins Masha and Rachel Morgenstern are also bound for New York, they are almost penniless except for a hidden stash of gemstones, which they have smuggled out of Germany when they were forced to flee for their lives.

However, even aboard ship safety cannot be guaranteed as deep in the shadowy depths of the ocean a German U-boat stealthily stalks the Manhattan.

This clever mix of using people known to history, there's even a young Elizabeth Taylor on board with her parents, and putting them alongside fictional characters works well, and helps to place the story in a specific time frame. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, particularly Rose Kennedy whose formidable personality intimidated everyone she came into contact with on board ship.

The story evolves quite slowly and is perhaps more character focused than dramatic, however, the inclusion of the events on board the German U-boat are rather more daring and the deadly nature of their intent adds some darkness to the story.

The Ocean Liner is a fascinating snap shot of a particular moment in history and the author has done  a commendable job of bringing this time alive in the imagination.

About the Author

Marius Gabriel served his author apprenticeship as a student at Newcastle University, where, to finance his postgraduate research, he wrote thirty-three steamy romances under the pseudonym Madeleine Kerr. Gabriel is the author of several historical novels, including the bestsellers The Designer, The Seventh Moon, The Original Sin, and the Redcliffe Sisters series: Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye and Take Me To Your Heart Again. Born in South Africa, he has lived and worked in many countries including Italy and Spain, and now divides his time between London and Cairo.

You can read a guest post by the author by clicking here

Twitter @Scribbler4Bread #TheOceanLiner

Friday 23 March 2018

Blog Tour ~ A Forsaken Friend by Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of A Forsaken Friend Blog Tour

Lakewater Press
21 March 2018

My thanks to the authors and Random Things Tour for my copy of the book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour


 No-one said friendship was easy.

Things can't get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad's factory isn't bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother's smallholding should do the trick - and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.

But then there's Declan, not to mention Duck's Arse back in Yorkshire...

It's not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend's ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up - except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy's opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren't as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee's juggling more roles - and emotions - than she ever imagined.

Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn't such a grand idea.

My thoughts ...

A Forsaken Friend starts where the previous book, A Falling Friend, left off and reintroduces us to the same characters who entertained us, first time around, with their antics. Time has moved on a little - Terri is in a precarious place, she has recently lost her job at the university, only to then have her father’s business go bust, so when her best friend, Lee, start a relationship with her ex-husband, Terri finally loses patience. However, Lee didn't start off wanting to get together with Dan, Terri's ex, and she still isn't sure she wants the relationship to go to the next stage of giving him a key to her house, but well, life has a funny old way of interfering in the quiet order of things.

With the two women's friendship on a very precarious footing there is an element of rivalry between the two and their frosty relationship is fun to read. I enjoyed reading of their petty jealousies and barbed comments. And yet, as the story develops,when Terri and Lee need someone to lean on, well, it just shows that when the going gets tough, strong friendship will invariably come to the rescue.

This talented team of authors write well and with great enthusiasm bring these lively characters to life. I really enjoyed watching where the story would take them this time around and found them just as feisty and determined in this follow up as they were in the first book. I especially liked having both Terri and Lee’s point of view, and the short and snappy chapters help to bring them, faults an all, to vibrant life.

I am always intrigued by a writing duo and spend some time trying to pinpoint individual writing styles. I can never work out which author writes which chapter but then, that really doesn’t matter as, collectively, the whole of the story is so well done that the writing appears seamless.

The Friends trilogy is set to continue and I hope we won’t be waiting too long for the conclusion.

About The Authors

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations. 

More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University. 

The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage). 

Their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, has been followed by a second book, A Failing Friend, in their Friends trilogy. 

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home. 

Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.

Sue and Susan blog about books at Book Lovers' Book List 

Twitter @SueF_Writer #ForsakenFriend

Twitter @wordfocus #ForsakenFriend

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Thursday 22 March 2018

Review ~ The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

22 March 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see..

My thoughts about it...

There's something perfectly ordinary about the families who live in Pleasant Court but under the surface of their orderly existence there is a whole bucket load of problems which are just waiting to be poured out. When the enigmatic, Isabelle Hetherington takes up a lease in Paradise Court curtains start to twitch and for the trio of friends, Ange, Fran and Essie, and their families, life will never be the same again.

The author captures the ennui of living in a small community. A place where everyone thinks they know what makes their neighbours tick, but what actually comes across is the fact that we never really know what is going on behind closed doors. She captures perfectly the art of always putting on a brave face for the neighbours, and of the irascibility of young motherhood when you long for a glass of wine and a good night's sleep.

I found The Family Next Door such a compelling story to read that I whipped through the book at top speed, pausing only occasionally look up in order to amble to the kettle to refresh my cup of tea. The story draws you in from the beginning and the author's ability to keep you turning the pages is nothing short of brilliant.The build up in done in a really subtle way so that when the skeletons start to emerge from their respective closets they come as something as shock. Discovering that the characters you have grown to like have so many secrets to hide, it soon becomes a real challenge to try to unravel all of their mysteries without loosing sight of them as people.

The more I connected with the characters, the more I found that I wanted to move into Pleasant Court just so I could observe all goings on at first hand, and believe me there are lots of shenanigans going on in this middle class suburb of Melbourne.

The Family Next Door is a real roller-coaster of a ride from start to finish and I loved reading it.

Sally Hepworth us the bestselling author of three previous novels, and a human resource professional.
She has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK and Canada. Since the birth of her children, she now writes full time from her home in Melbourne, Australia.


Twitter @SallyHepworth


** Published by Hodder & StoughtonToday**

Amazon UK

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Invisible Hand by James Hartley (GIVEAWAY)

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the The Invisible Hand Blog Tour 

Lodestone Books

My thanks to the author and Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to be part of this blog tour

The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeare´s Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

My Review :

Written for a young adult reading audience, The Invisible Hand explores the themes in Shakespeare's, Macbeth, thus making the story accessible and hopefully readable for a modern young audience for whom Shakespeare's more ponderous prose can often seem insurmountable.

I liked the idea of setting the story in a boarding school,with a young protagonist who thrives on adventure, and even though Sam is challenged by his time travel experience, and who wouldn't be alarmed about landing in medieval Scotland, there are lots of elements of surprise and more than a hint of danger to be found in the story overall.

The author writes well with his target audience in mind and neither patronises, nor protects them from the danger which is so often inherent in Shakespeare's work, and in particular in Macbeth. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story which are nicely done and enjoyed Sam's reaction, particularly to the witches...well, it wouldn't be Macbeth without them, would it ?

The Invisible Hand is the start of a series of young adult novels entitled Shakespeare's Moon in which different Shakespearean plays will be featured but with the continuity of the same boarding school setting. I'm looking forward to reading more.

James was born on the Wirral, England, in 1973 on a rainy Thursday. He shares his birthday with Bono, Sid Vicious and two even nastier pieces of work, John Wilkes Booth and Mark David Chapman. His mother was a hairdresser with her own business and his father worked in a local refinery which pours filth into the sky over the Mersey to this day. They married young and James was their first child. He has two younger brothers and a still-expanding family in the area. As an Everton fan he suffered years of Liverpool success throughout the seventies and was thrilled when his father took a job in Singapore and the family moved lock, stock and two smoking barrels to Asia. He spent five fine years growing up in the city state before returning to the rain, storms, comprehensive schools and desolate beauty of the Scottish east coast. Later years took he and his family to baking hot Muscat, in Oman, and a Syria that has since been bombed off the surface of the planet. James studied journalism in London and later travelled through Ireland, France, Germany and India generally having a good time, before finally settling in Madrid, Spain, where he now lives with his wife and two children.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter @jameshartleybks


Giveaway – Win 5 x Signed copies of The Invisible Hand with special Invisible Hand tactile pens (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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