Tuesday 31 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ Girls' Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host the blog tour stop for Girls' Night Out 

Lake Union
24 July 2018

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

What's it about..

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

My thoughts about it..

Three friends who have been estranged decide to have some time away together in order to build bridges and repair their friendship. The beautiful resort of Tulum in Mexico is the setting for this girlie get-together but then one of the women, Ashley, goes missing after a girls' night out, leaving Natalie and Lauren to try and discover what has happened to their friend.

What then follows is the story of broken friendships, about friends who no longer know what the other's are thinking and it's about the race against time to find out why Ashley has disappeared. I enjoyed spending time in Mexico with this story, both the place and the characters are brought to life in an interesting way, whilst at the same time, keeping the excitement of the story alive in the imagination. The mystery at the  heart of the story is well thought out, with enough twists to keep you guessing.

I rather like the idea of two authors writing in conjunction, and this duo, who have been co-writing  for several books, blend together quite seamlessly, so that there never seems to be any jarring overlap when each individual author takes over the narrative.

Girls Night Out is a clever thought out and multi-layered contemporary mystery which works well as a summer read.

Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke is published in paperback and eBook on 24th July by Lake Union Publishing

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been best friends for over 25 years and survived high school and college together. They've co-authored four novels, including the bestseller THE GOOD WIDOW. Liz lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and five rescue dogs. Their next suspense novel, Girls' Night Out, is out July 24th, 2018.

Twitter @LizandLisa #GirlsNightOutBook


Monday 30 July 2018

Bicentennary ~ Emily Brontë 1818 - 2018

She burned too bright for this world.” 

― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Emily Brontë

Emily Jane Brontë was born on July 30th 1818 in Thornton, a suburb of Bradford. In 1820, she and her family moved to the small town of Haworth which snuggled into a corner of the wild Yorkshire Dales.

©Digital Images

Emily's father, Patrick took over as minister at the church of St Michael’s and All Angels and the Brontë family moved into the adjacent parsonage.

©Digital Images

Sadly, Maria, Emily's mother, died in 1821, leaving husband Patrick, and Maria’s sister, Elizabeth Branwell, to look after the children, Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell.

In August 1824 Patrick sent Charlotte, Emily, Maria and Elizabeth to the Clergy Daughters' School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire. Charlotte always maintained that the school's poor conditions permanently affected the girls' health and physical development, and hastened the deaths of Maria (born 1814) and Elizabeth (born 1815), who both died of tuberculosis in June 1825. After the deaths of their older sisters Patrick took Charlotte and Emily away from the school. 

When Emily was seventeen, she attended Roe Head Girls' School, where Charlotte was a teacher but managed to stay only a few months before being overcome by a longing for home.

Back at the Howarth Parsonage, Emily and her surviving siblings Charlotte, Anne and Branwell escaped into a fictional world, where they made up stories to entertain each other. These fictional escapades laid the foundation for what was to come.

Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights was first published in 1847 by Thomas Cautley Newby appearing as the first two volumes of a three-volume set that included her sister, Anne's novel, Agnes Grey. The authors were printed as being Ellis and Acton Bell; Emily's real name did not appear until 1850.

Wuthering Heights
Penguin Classics

Tragically, the Brontë family suffered the deaths of three of its members within eight months. In September 1848 Branwell died of an illness made worse by heavy drinking, although Charlotte believed that his death was due to tuberculosis. Emily became seriously ill shortly after Branwell’s funeral and died of pulmonary tuberculosis in December 1848. Anne died of the same disease in May 1849 and Charlotte died in March 1855 possibly of tuberculosis, or typhus.

©Digital Images

All these images were taken on a visit to Haworth were I spent time in the shadow of the Brontës, thus making the beauty of their literature come alive in my imagination.

“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind. And this is one: I'm going to tell it - but take care not to smile at any part of it.” 

― Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Follow the bicentennial celebrations on Twitter #Bronte200


Blog Tour ~ The Pagoda Tree by Claire Scobie

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be hosting today's stop on the blog tour for The Pagoda Tree

Tanjore, 1765. Young Maya plays among the towering granite temples of this ancient city in the heart of southern India. Like her mother before her, she is destined to become a devadasi, a dancer for the temple. She is instructed in dance, the mystical arts and lovemaking. It is expected she will be chosen as a courtesan for the prince himself.

But as Maya comes of age, India is on the cusp of change and British dominance has risen to new heights. Far from home the East India Company is acting like a country in its own right and the British troops are more of a rabble than the King’s army. The prince is losing his power and the city is sliding into war. Maya is forced to flee her ancestral home and heads to the bustling port city of Madras, where East and West collide.

In this new home, Maya captivates all who watch her dance, including Thomas Pearce, an ambitious young Englishman who has travelled to India to make his fortune. But their love is forbidden and comes at enormous cost. 

Weaving together the uneasy meeting of two cultures, The Pagoda Tree is a captivating story of love, loss, fate and exile in 18th-century India.

My thoughts..

Eighteenth century India is something of  a mystery to me but I was very quickly drawn into this colourful story which takes us right back in time to the story of Maya who is destined, as her mother before her, to become one of the devadasi, a temple dancer, well trained in the mystical arts.

However, times are changing and with the rise of British dominance, Maya soon finds that everything about her life is set to change. The Pagoda Tree is very much the story of what happens when two cultures clash especially when Maya comes into contact with an ambitious young Englishman who is enthralled by her personality and her way of life.

The author writes well and has clearly done a huge amount of research in order to bring both the place and its people so vividly to life. I enjoyed getting to know Maya and watching her progress from a young girl into a woman and even though her transition into adulthood is often fraught with difficulty, nevertheless she comes across as an interesting character with lots of personality.  Indian culture certainly comes alive in the imagination and its exotic location with all the sights, sounds and colour becomes an integral part of the story.

Overall The Pagoda Tree is an interesting and enlightening story about a time in history when prejudice flourished and cultures clashed, often with devastating consequences.

Claire Scobie is an award-winning author and novelist who has lived and worked in the UK, India and Australia. Her travel memoir, Last Seen in Lhasa, won the 2007 Dolman Best Travel Book Award. In 2017, she co-wrote A Baboon in the Bedroom with her mother, Patricia Scobie. Claire writes for numerous publications, including the Daily Telegraph and the Observer; teaches creative writing workshops in Australia, Asia and the UK; and in 2013 completed a Doctorate of Creative Arts at Western Sydney University. The Pagoda Tree is her first novel. 

Twitter @clairescobie #ThePagodaTree



Sunday 29 July 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered

Over the last four years of adding WW1 information onto my blog I have found lots of books really interesting so I thought it was time to share them.

The Western Front
BBC Books
I've had my copy since 1999.
The book that it was republished in 2008 with a new cover.

BBC Books

From the book:

For most British people, the First World War was the Western Front, the trench line stretching from the Swiss Frontier to the North Sea. It was there that the majority of nearly nine million British and Dominion soldiers who enlisted during the war served, and where most of the 947,000 who were killed met their deaths.

This detailed but accessible account covers everything from how the front was created and the experiences of the British Army in France, to the battle of Verdun and the last hundred days of the war. Holmes' concise and heartfelt narrative is illustrated with photographs, diagrams, maps and quotations that bring this inhuman four years of history to life.

In one of the best single-volume histories of the First World War available, Holmes skillfully clarifies the complexities of the Western Front, and highlights the political, military and human dilemmas of this, the most bitter and bloody of conflicts.

My thoughts:

The battles and events that shaped the war on the Western Front is complex and bloody. Many lives were lost on the battlefields of northern France and dreams of a better future disappeared amidst the  carnage and guns which echoed relentlessly, maiming, butchering and killing young men in the thousands.

The Western Front reminds us of their sacrifice.


Saturday 28 July 2018

His Fic Saturday ~ The Faithful by Juliet West

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's Go Back to .....1935

15 June 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

In the summer of 1935, sixteen year old, Hazel is left pretty much to her own devices as Hazel's father is on business abroad, and her mother, Francine spends time with her lover, Charles, in London. The seaside village of Aldwick has long been Hazel's home, and she is more than familiar with its dull routines but when a group of Oswald Mosley supporters arrive to spend a summer camp in the village things start to liven up considerably for Hazel, when, almost inadvertently, she gets drawn into the group. Amongst the Blackshirts, she comes into contact with are Lucia and Tom, two very different people, who are set to have a long lasting effect on her life. 

What then follows is a realistic coming of age story which is set in the tumultuous years in the run up to WW2. The rise of communism and the ideology of the fascist movement are explored in a very readable way, and bringing Hazel into contact with characters who support and then challenge this philosophy makes for fascinating reading. 

Beautifully written so that, as a reader, you quickly form an emotional attachment to the characters and from very early in the novel I really warmed to Hazel even though her youthful exuberance is tempered against the restrictions of the time in which she lived. Practically ignored by both of her parents and taught to fend for herself, Hazel has a natural resilience which is very reassuring and lends focus for what is to follow in her life. The other characters who add the necessary light and shade are so finely drawn that they seem very realistic, particularly, Hazel's mother, Francine, who has more than enough angst of her own to fill an entirely separate story. 

The Faithful is one of those fascinating multi-layered stories which focuses on, not just the difficulties of coming of age in a time when war was inching ever closer, but which also emphasises the complications of living in a challenging time when so much was left unsaid and people hid their thoughts and feelings from one another. It was a time when stigma and doctrine went hand in hand and to be living life in such a time was fraught with difficulties. 

Imaginatively described and beautifully researched, The Faithful takes us from the Sussex seaside to the battlefields of the Spanish Civil war and shares an emotional depth and resonance which lingers long after the story is finished.

About the Author

Juliet West worked as a journalist before taking an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University, where she won the Kate Betts' Memorial Prize. Before the Fall, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions novel-writing competition in 2012. Juliet also writes short stories and poetry, and won the H. E. Bates short story prize in 2009. The Faithful is her second novel. She lives in West Sussex with her husband and three children.

To find out more about Juliet and her writing please go to her website 

Follow on Twitter @JulietWest14 #TheFaithful

I am delighted to say that Juliet will be my guest on the blog on the 11 August 2018.

Friday 27 July 2018

Review ~ The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

Tinder Press

26th July 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

Audrey Hart is on Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people around her. The crofters, facing dire poverty after the clearances, are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories. But then the body of a young girl is washed up on the beach, and the crofters reveal it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They are sure the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.

My thoughts about it..

The folklore of our British Isles is in the fabric of our bones and in the call of the wind. And clustered around our firesides we hear, in the crackle of the wood, the whisper of the old folk and of the customs and traditions which shape our past, and which, if not for the teller of tales would have been lost a long time ago.

Audrey Hart takes up employment on the Isle of Skye, with Miss Buchanan, an enigmatic woman who is collecting the ancient folklore before the island stories are forgotten and in her search for the old tales, Audrey discovers that the islanders, whilst bound by their own sense of superstition, also hide dark secrets.

Imaginatively written, and so beautifully descriptive of nineteenth century life on the island, that the shrieking of the birds, and the drift of the copper brown dulse that litters the shoreline, comes gloriously to life. There's also a deliciously, creeping menace to the story which really draws you into this rather dark and dour place, and there is also a very strong impression that times are changing for these remote islanders. Over the 18th and 19th centuries the Scottish clearances decimated isolated communities, making the islanders who have remained on Skye, cautious and distrustful of strangers and averse to giving up their secrets easily.

The Story Keeper is a real tribute to the power of storytelling. It’s a generous nod towards the old keepers of our tales and customs who have for generations passed on cautionary tales of little men who wait in the woods and of fairies and spirits who seek retribution for our misdeeds.

Hauntingly beautiful from start to finish, The Story Keeper stays with you long after the last page of this story is turned and the book, with its beautiful cover, is gently placed down.

Credit: Lou Abercrombie

Anna Mazzola's first novel, THE UNSEEING, was published to critical acclaim in 2016. She is a criminal justice solicitor and lives in London with her husband and two children.

Twitter @Anna_Mazz #TheStoryKeeper


Thursday 26 July 2018

Review ~ Four by Andy Jones

Happy Publication  Day

26 July 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it about ..

One weekend towards the end of summer, charged on drink and lust and love and disappointment, two couples exchange partners for a single night. But the repercussions will last a great deal longer. Told from the perspectives of all four characters, FOUR is a book about love, secrets, friendship and fidelity.

Two Couples

One Reckless Night

My Thoughts about it...

This is one of those stories which begins in such a way that you can't help but think it's not going to work out well. Sally and Al have been married for seven years and when they go away for a weekend in Brighton with their shared friend, Mike and his new girlfriend, Faye, all is set for a drink and drug fuelled weekend. When lust for each other's partners rears its ugly head, there is so much to lose and it seems, not much to be gained from swapping bed partners for a night.

Four felt like a very modern story, peopled with characters who work in high stress occupations and who like to relax at the weekend, however, this foursome are about to find out, to their cost, that for any action, however superficial it may seem in the cold light of day, or drink and drug fuelled night, there are always going to be consequences.

At the beginning I wasn't too sure about any of the characters, in fact, I didn't like any of them very much but after a while, as they started to become more familiar, I began to care about what happened to them and hoped that everything would work out in the way they wanted it to do.

Four is a thought provoking novel which beautifully observes the vagaries of people. It’s about the struggle to maintain a failing relationship when couples seem to want different things, and it’s also about the lure of a tantalising temptation, which at first seems like a gift that can't be turned down, but which, on reflection, could so easily herald a downfall.

In one form or another Andy has always been a writer. At school he passed notes in class and scribbled rude words on lamp pots. At university he wrote a PhD in biochemistry and forged tickets to various balls, and as an advertising copy writer, he has written adverts for everything from baby food to booze. But it wasn't until he was well into his thirties that Andy started writing fiction, if he could write a letter to his younger self, it would urge him to stop messing around and get on with it. Four is his fourth novel, but it should probably be his tenth.

Twitter @andyjonesauthor


Review ~ The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh

Happy Publication  Day

26 July 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about...

Alex Fox knows there are lots of things she should be.

She should be the perfect wife to her chronically ill husband Sam, and the perfect mother to their two daughters. She should be excelling in her high-stress job. And she should be completing the demanding to-do lists she makes to keep herself on track.

Even if, just sometimes, she doesn't have time to breathe.

When Sam's condition worsens and Alex donates a kidney to save his life, her carefully scheduled existence starts to unravel - eventually forcing her to face up to a past that she has buried for years.

As the family she has fought so hard for threatens to fall apart, can Alex finally confront the mistakes that have shaped her - and rediscover what is most important in life.

My thoughts about it...

With every Katie Marsh book I have read, there is always, from the very start, an emotional connection with her characters which continues through the whole of the story.

In The Rest of Me we meet Alex Fox who, in order to save a life, has just donated one of her kidneys to her chronically sick husband, and whilst this altruistic gesture is made with all the love in the world, Alex doesn't bounce back quite as quickly as she thought she would. Add into the mix, her slow recuperation, a highly stressful career and two daughters who are each facing their own problems and you have the perfect ingredients for a complex family drama.

As always, the author draws you into the difficulties of family life, and piece by intricate piece we come to learn about what has gone on before, and of the problems which beset them in the here and now. How they cope individually with these problems forms the core of the story, which is quite heart-breaking at times.

Beautifully written with the author's trademark compassion and her unique ability to bring her characters alive in the imagination, The Rest of Me is one of those wonderfully immersive stories which takes you by the hand and leads you into heart of a family struggling to deal with the hand that fate has dealt them. How they come through it all makes for perfect summer reading.

Katie Marsh is one of the most talented voices in women's fiction. Her beiautiful life affirming stories about families and relatinships leave you aneting to hug the people you love just that lutte bit tigher, Her first three novels have sold over 230,000 copies.

Twitter @marshisms


Wednesday 25 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green

26 July 2018 eBook

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface...

Moments before she dies, Nicola's grandmother Betty whispers to her that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola's mother claims she was talking nonsense. However, when Nicola's daughter finds a bone while playing in Betty's garden, it's clear that something sinister has taken place.

But will unearthing painful family secrets end up tearing Nicola's family apart?

My thoughts about it....

Nicola's grandmother's shock revelation about there being babies at the bottom of her garden isn't taken very seriously as there are far more important things for Nicola to sort out in the aftermath of her grandmother, Betty's, death. However, when Nicola's daughter, Maisie is playing in Betty's garden she finds a tiny bone, which may, or may not, be significant, but which certainly cannot be ignored.

What then follows is a fascinating family drama which moves seamlessly between the present, and the past, and which gradually uncovers such a sad story that I found I was reading with tears in my eyes at the injustice of lives which have been so badly damaged by tragic circumstances.

Beautifully written, with a fine eye for even the smallest of detail, this clever intertwining of Nicola's life in the present, with that of her grandmother, Betty in the past, adds a truly personal feeling to the story. And so realistic is the narrative that I came to know Nicola really well and fully supported her actions. Thanks to the sensitive handling of the plot, I understood why she felt so compelled to uncover this devastating family mystery, even though it was tearing her family apart to do so.

The Last Thing She Told Me is one of those stories which really gets under your skin and quickly becomes absolutely compelling reading. It grabs your attention from the very first page and doesn't let go until the whole of this sad story has been played out.

An engrossing summer read.

Linda Green is the bestselling author of eight novels. she is an award winning journalist and has written for The Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and the Big Issue. Linda lives in West Yorkshire. 

Twitter @LindaGreenisms #The LastThingSheTold Me



Tuesday 24 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Memories of Us by Vanessa Carnevale

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be hosting today's stop on the blog tour for The Memories of Us

July 2018

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

One moment can change your life

When Gracie Ashcroft wakes after a crash with severe amnesia, she must choose whether to live a life through other people’s memories or to start a new life all her own.

Discovering her late mother left her an old flower farm, Gracie leaves her fiancé, best friend and the home full of forgotten memories behind, hoping to learn who she is now.

Torn between wishing she could remember and afraid of losing what she now has, Gracie starts to wonder: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?

My thoughts..

Our memories shape us, make us the people we are, and those who are meaningful to us know that the fabric of our lives is so often caught up in the importance of these cherished memories. When Gracie Ashcroft is involved in a road traffic accident, her memory is seriously impaired leaving her with no memory of her best friend, Scarlett or her fiancé, Blake, or her work as a designer. Finding the lost pieces of herself is difficult when her friends, in an effort to do good, share their recollections with her, but as Gracie points out these are not her memories.

In search of her own cherished memories, and in order to bring back some meaning to her life, Gracie returns to the almost deserted Flower Farm which once belonged to her mother, and which, on the surface, seems to be the perfect escape. What then follows is a story about discovering the important things in life, the joy and meaning to be found spending time outdoors, or in the vibrant colour of a bunch of sweet-peas, or in the making of new friends.

This is a really lovely feel-good story, well written, with just enough angst to make the aftermath of Gracie's recovery seem realistic, but with some lovely light touches along the way. The warmth of the Australian setting and the imagined aroma, and hidden meaning of beautiful flowers, make this a perfect summer read.

Vanessa Carnevale is a freelance writer based in Australia, who has contributed to The Green Parent, The Huffington Post, Muse, and Italy magazine, among others. Her debut novel, The Florentine Bridge, was published in 2017 by HQ in Australia. She was a finalist in the Best New Author category for the AusRom Today Readers Choice Awards 2017.

Twitter @v_carnevale #TheMemoriesOfUs


Monday 23 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ Between the Lies by Michelle Adams

✨Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's stop on the Between the Lies Blog Tour ✨

Headline Publishing Group
12 July 2018

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

The truth is hiding between the lies. 

What would you do if you woke up and didn't know who you were? 

Chloe Daniels regains consciousness in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. She doesn't recognise the strangers who call themselves family. She can't even remember her own name. 

What if your past remained a mystery? As she slowly recovers, her parents and sister begin to share details of her life. The successful career. The seaside home. The near-fatal car crash. 

But Chloe senses they're keeping dark secrets - and her determination to uncover the truth will have devastating consequences. What if the people you should be able trust are lying to you?

My thoughts about it...

In this suspenseful family drama I had no idea where the truth ended and the lies began but, believe me, there are lies aplenty in this dark, dark story which looks at the complexity of memory and of the confusion of recall. Chloe Daniels has been involved in a horrendous car accident but when she wakes after a month long coma, she has no recollection of what happened or indeed of how she came to be in the car in the first place. Living with her parents and sister in her childhood home is not the comforting place it should be and gradually as Chloe starts to remember so the nightmare begins to unfold around her.

The pace throughout Between the Lies is fast, but not furious, which gives ample time to let what's happening evolve in a realistic sort of way. However, there's always an impressive amount of attention paid to the emotional impact of Chloe's story. I felt very connected to her, and even though at times she's not always very easy to understand, there are far more dangerous people to keep your beady eye upon. 

I read through this book over the space of an afternoon in the garden, and so lost in what was happening on the page in front of me, I had to keep reminding myself to look up and listen to the birds for a few minutes in order to bring myself back to the peace and calm of the here and now. I read so many books in this genre that it's a real treat when one piques my attention and makes me sit up and take notice and I was genuinely surprised by the complexity of the narrative in Between the Lies, and of the ingenuity of the many twists and turns, with one twist, in particular, that I truly didn’t see coming 😉

I remember being impressed by this author's debut novel, My Sister and was eager to see in which direction this second book would take us. I'm thrilled that Between the Lies is every bit as good…if not better...than the first.

Michelle Adams grew up in the UK and now lives in Cyprus, where she works as a part time scientist. She read her first Stephen King novel at the tender age of nine, and has been addicted to suspense fiction ever since. BETWEEN THE LIES is her second novel following the acclaimed psychological thriller MY SISTER.

Twitter @MAdmaswriter #BetweentheLies



Sunday 22 July 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered

Over the last four years of adding WW1 information onto my blog I have found lots of books really interesting so I thought it was time to share them.

Forgotten Voices of the Great War
Ebury Press
In 1972 The Imperial War Museum began the task of finding the ordinary veterans and survivors of the First World War. This book records the experiences of the ordinary men and women of the Great War who share their stories in this fine collection of reminisces and recollections of what it was like to live during this troubled time in world history. 

From the mundane to the complex each of the stories have a special poignancy, not just because these brave people are now forever lost to us but also because their wealth of knowledge and experience will stand the test of time, and will be part of our collective history forever .

The book is divided into years from 1914-1918 and I've found it very useful in trying to experience just what was being seen, and of the myriad of emotions which, in so many cases, are heartbreaking and occasionally, strangely uplifting.

From an entry dated...July 18th 1918

Captain Reginald Thomas, Royal Artillery

"It was a magnificent sight as the French cavalry came out of the forest at Soissons. Their uniforms were all new, bright blue, every bit and spur-chain was burnished and polished; their lances were gleaming in the sun; and as the bugler blew the charge the horses went into the gallop in a fan attack-two regiments of French cavalry, They went along beautifully, magnificently, through the wheat field in the afternoon sun..."

The stories within Forgotten Voices of the Great War are taken from the sound archives of the Imperial War Museum and after hundreds of hours and unlimited access to the complete WW1 tapes, the author, Max Arthur and his researchers have created this unique insight into WW1 as related by those ordinary men and women who experienced it first hand.


Saturday 21 July 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Incendium Plot by A D Swanston

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...Elizabethan England

March 2018

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

In 1572, Elizabethan England is rife with fear, not just from the sporadic outbreaks of plague but also from the danger of insurrection and invasion. The Ridolfi plot which sought to place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne has just been thwarted and Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, has paid the ultimate price for his betrayal. Lawyer, Christopher Radcliff is in the Earl of Leicester's employ as his chief intelligencer and he is charged with the task of seeking out those who would threaten, not just the safety of the Queen, but also the stability of England.

When Radcliff discovers a new and deadly plot against the Queen, it is a race against time to search out those, both at home and abroad, who seek to destroy her.

The Incendium Plot is a really sleek thriller which has all the hallmarks of a great whodunit and set, as it is, against a backdrop of the glorious Elizabethan age there is much to enjoy, both in terms of historical background, which is beautifully authentic, and also in the sharpness of the investigative process. Radcliff is a likeable character, methodical, meticulous and with never a clue left uninvestigated, you feel as though you are in safe pair of hand as he moves stealthily through some very dangerous places and mixes with very undesirable characaters.

Historically accurate, as only good research shows, The Incendium Plot has all the necessary ingredients for a rollicking good historical adventure which moves effortlessly between France and England, and as Radcliff and his associates discover more about the darkness which threatens to overwhelm them, so the danger moves ever closer to home.The author writes this type of historical suspense very well and intersperses the story with a wealth of interesting characters, some act as spies and informers, whilst others add a colourful and lively glimpse into life in Elizabeth's England.

This is the first of two thrillers which will feature the adventures with Christopher Radcliff in his intelligencer role. The Incendium Plot certainly gets the stories off to a very good start.

A.D. Swanston

Andrew read a little law and a lot of sport at Cambridge University, and held various positions in the book trade, including being a director of Waterstone & Co, and Chairman of Methven’s plc, before turning to writing. Inspired by a lifelong interest in early modern history, his Thomas Hill novels are set during the English Civil Wars, and the early period of the Restoration. 

Andrew’s novel, Incendium*, was first published in February 2017 and is the first of two thrillers featuring Dr. Christopher Radcliff, an intelligencer for the Earl of Leicester, and is set in 1572 at the time of the massacre of the Huguenots in France.

*The Incendium Plot was first published in hardback as Incendium


Twitter @AndrewSwanston

Friday 20 July 2018

Review ~ Bad Twins by Rebecca Chance

Summer Sizzler

26 July 2018

My thanks to edpr for my copy of this book

What's it all about...

In a game where the ultimate prize is power beyond your wildest dreams, you should never underestimate your competitors, even if they are family . . . and, it turns out, twins can be the most dangerous rivals of all . . .

Bad Twins by bestselling author Rebecca Chance explores vicious sibling rivalry in this gripping thriller.

My thoughts about it..

When Jeffrey Sachs, CEO of the prestigious Sachs hotel chain, introduces his new fiancé to his grown up children, he also announces that he is going to step away from the company he has created and in six months’ time one of his children will be named CEO in his place. What is then unleashed is sibling rivalry on a grand scale and nothing and no-one will stand in their way...not even each other. And twins, Charlotte and Bella, fight dirtiest of them all..

Pure escapism from beginning to end, Bad Twins is a cheeky roller coaster of a ride through boardrooms and bedrooms, and shows in raucous detail the lengths that the Sachs siblings will go to in order to outwit and out manoeuvre each other. Power struggles, manipulation and dirty dealings all combine in this lively family drama.

There is no doubt that this author is the absolute queen of the glamorous thriller, with highly detailed sexual shenanigans playing out alongside some impressive back stabbing, Bad Twins is an absolutely perfect summer sizzler.

Born in London, Rebecca Chance read English Literature at Cambridge and wrote for various newspapers and music magazines before moving to Tuscany to focus on writing books. She has written several best selling novels including Bad Brides, Mile High, Killer Diamonds and Killer Affair. She lives in London with her husband and her interests include cocktail drinking, men's gymnastics and reality TV, including the Real Housewives.

Twitter @MsRebeccaChance #BadTwins

Bad Twins will be published by Pan on the 26th July 2018

Thursday 19 July 2018

Review ~ Call Billy by Sam McColl

May 2018
Call Billy is partly funded by a New Writers’ Bursary from the Scottish Arts Council.

My thanks to Cameron Publicity and Marketing for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

Edinburgh is meant to be a new start for the Gillespie family. Rachel has enrolled as a mature student at the university, while Andrew is spending more time with the kids. But Rachel’s ‘new start’ morphs into ‘new affair’ with fellow student Ryan. Or is it Stevie? 

Either way, her lover is not what he seems. When his past surfaces in the guise of a name on Rachel’s library ticket, the affair turns nasty. And then her teenage daughter unwittingly discovers the deceit and the family begins its spin into free fall.

My thoughts about it...

Rachel and Andrew Gillespie have recently moved from Oban to Edinburgh with their teenage children, ostensibly to make a new start. Rachel has enrolled as a mature student at the university where she embarks upon an affair with another student, whilst Andrew is left to spend more time with their children. Call Billy is an intriguing story which doesn't shy away from showing the difficulties which send the Gillespie family into a downward spiral, which then threatens the future stability of them all. 

The story gets off to a slow start, which I think is deliberate, as it gives us a chance to get to know the characters and to find out what makes them tick. And finding out what makes them act in the way that they do is a major part of the story. They're an odd bunch, to be sure, and it took me ages to warm to any of them, but as the story gets more involved, so I started to connect better with what was happening on the page. I'm being deliberately vague about what was going on, as to say too much would be to  spoil the overall drama of Call Billy which, to be honest, is best read with no spoilers from me.

I liked the author's writing style, which is sharp and sassy, and the Scottish vernacular gives the story an authenticity of speech which is helpful as it places the novel firmly in the here and now. There's an gritty edginess to Call Billy which I appreciated, and whilst it's not always an easy read, I admire the way in which the author has allowed the story to evolve at its own distinct pace.

I'm pleased to say that there are plans for the story to be continued...

Sam McColl was born into a family hushed by the threat of violence. Orphaned at 12, unable to grieve or understand her stolen childhood, she continued to recreate it - until she got help.

Since then she has worked with young people and addicts, and those who have had a rough time of it.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Blog Tour ~ In the Dark by Cara Hunter

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's stop on the In the Dark Blog Tour

12 July 2018

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

What's it all about...

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive. No one knows who they are – the woman can't speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before. The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. How could this happen right under their noses?

But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible. And that no one is as innocent as they seem...

What did I think about it ...

This talented author first came to my attention when I was introduced to DI Adam Fawley in Close to Home which is the first book in this crime thriller series, and what a roller coaster of a ride that turned out to be. So my expectations in this, the second book, were naturally high, and I'm delighted to say that once again the author has given us a lively, and it must be said, rather dark glimpse into what's been going on behind the closed doors of genteel, Oxford.

In the Dark reintroduces us the investigative team, led by DI Adam Fawley, and once again they have their work cut out in trying to discover the perpetrator of an absolutely heinous crime. The reasons why a young woman and a child were imprisoned in the damp cellar of a house in Frampton Road, Oxford, gets the enquiry off to an absolutely cracking start, and as the investigation gets under way so the net starts to pull ever tighter.

As fast action crime thrillers go, In the Dark  is up there with the best of the genre, taut, tight and tense from the start there is never a moment when the story doesn't grab your attention and to be honest, the attention grabbing starts as early as page one and doesn't let go until all the many twists and turns in the plot have been unraveled.

In the Dark is best read as part of the DI Adam Fawley crime thriller series so as to better understand the interplay between the detectives who make up this fine investigative team, but it's also easily enjoyable as a standalone read.

Cara Hunter is a writer who lives in Oxford, in a street not unlike those featured in her series of crime books. Her first book, Close to Home, was picked for the Richard and Judy Book Club and this is her second featuring DI Adam Fawley and his team of detectives.

Twitter @CaraHunterBooks #InTheDark