Friday 31 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ Perfect Silence by Helen Fields

๐ŸŒŸJaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's stop on the Perfect Silence Blog Tour๐ŸŒŸ

Avon Books
23 August 2018
DI Callanach #4

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

What's it all about..

When silence falls, who will hear their cries?

The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin.

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby.

After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?

My thoughts about it..

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach, both detectives with the Major Investigation Team (MIT), are called to the outskirts of Edinburgh to a particularly nasty crime scene. A brutally injured young woman has been found by the roadside with injuries so horrific that the detectives are shocked and saddened by what they have discovered.

What then follows is a fast action crime thriller which, not only involves the MIT in the hunt for a brutal killer with a particularly nasty mind, but also someone in the city is targeting the drug users and the homeless and branding them in a particularly horrific way. With the investigation into both crimes moving at a swift pace, Ava and Luc need to do everything they can in order keep the team focused and ahead of the game. However, when another young woman's body is found with similar injuries the pressure is on to find the perpetrator before any more young women die in such a heartless way.

If you enjoy fast action crime stories, then there is much to enjoy in Perfect Silence and even if you haven't read the previous three books in the series, it's very easy to pick up the story and to understand the dynamics of the investigative team. For those who are familiar with the MIT's inner dynamics, there's all the usual lively banter which we have come to expect from this group who work in such a high pressured environment. Ava and Luc continue to work well together and that gives the novel its underlying strength, and yet, I also enjoy the way Ava interacts with her volatile boss, DS Overbeck, and her mischievous banter with DS Lively, all of which help to give this dark story some lighter moments.

This is a great crime series and in the hands of this skilful writer it continues to go from strength to strength. The twists and turns in the plot kept me guessing right until the end and  I am sure that there's enough scope for this series to continue for a long time yet.

The DI Callanach series is set in Scotland, where Helen feels most at one with world. 
Helen and her husband now live in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Twitter @Helen_Fields #PerfectSilence


Thursday 30 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ Smart Moves by Adrian Magson

✨Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's final stop on the Smart Moves Blog Tour✨

The Dome Press
16 August 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my invitation to be part of this tour and for my copy of the book

What's it all about..

For international trouble-shooter, Jake Foreman, losing his job, house and wife all in one day is the kind of problem he can’t solve. And when an impulsive move lands him in even deeper water - the kind that could lose him his life - he decides it’s time to make some smart decisions. 

The trouble is, knowing the right moves and making them is a whole different game. And Jake, who has been happily rubbing along in a job always suspected was just a shade away from being questionable, finds it all too easy to go with the flow. 

Now he’s got to start learning new tricks - and fast. If he doesn’t, he could end up dead.

My thoughts about it..

Jake Foreman's day starts off badly and gets worse, culminating in being thrown out of his own house by a bunch of squatters. What then follows shows just how Jake's life, once reasonably settled, takes a very different turn. Jake is very much a man's man, and yet there is an air of vulnerability to him which I found quite endearing and I warmed to his character, sometimes with a sense of incredulity at some of his smart moves, but throughout the book I found I was smiling at his escapades. He's a bit hapless really, getting into situations that he sort of falls into without thinking, and I think that's what makes Smart Moves such an enjoyable read as you are never quite sure what is going to happen next in Jake’s eventful, mixed up life.

I read Smart Moves quite quickly, it's an easy read in many ways, and yet, is filled with some wry observations about the sheer doggedness of life, and the fact that Jake keeps going regardless is part of the story’s overall charm. There’s lots going on, and as the story gets more and more sinister it’s interesting to see just how Jake’s character develops and becomes stronger and more confident.

The author writes well and has created in Jake Foreman a memorable and likeable character who I could quite easily see in future novels. The distinctive easy style certainly entertains from its light hearted beginning to its satisfying ending.

About the Author

Adrian Magson the author of 22 crime novels and spy thrillers, featuring Harry Tate, Inspector Lucas Rocco and Gavin and Palmer. He writes regularly for national and international magazines and has also published a self help book for writers. He lives in the Forest of Dean.

Visit the author's Website

Follow on Twitter

Connect on Facebook

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Roald Dahl Collection

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of this Blog Tour to celebrate

 ✨ Roald Dahl Day ✨

which is coming on the 13th September

World famous for his children’s books, Roald Dahl began his career as a writer of short stories and is widely considered as a master of this form. Bizarre and amusing by turns, these dark comedies are justly famous for their surprise endings and their rogue gallery of crooks, cheats and schemers. The stories show Roald Dahl at the height of his powers as a writer of adult fiction, combining black comedy with sly social satire. They are stylishly plotted, vividly characterised and made unforgettable by their breezy cynicism, presenting a hilariously bleak view of human nature.

Re-collected for the first time since Roald himself put the books together, LUST, MADNESS, DECEPTION and CRUELTY bring together some of his most dark and twisty tales under the subjects of human nature he found so fascinating. The stunningly thought-provoking jacket art work compliments this perfectly, and comes courtesy of British artist, Charming Baker.

Charming Baker has had a string of international sell-out shows. His fans include Damien Hirst, British collector Frank Cohen, gallerist Harry Blain and New York dealer Alberto Mugrabi. His juxtaposition of nostalgia with sex and death is grown-up and playful, his work simultaneously beautiful and intentionally bothersome. His work has been described as ‘a kind of romantic melancholy that is very British. And sometimes the melancholy turns out to have sharp claws. The pictures make you sit up and examine your conscience.’ These sensibilities could equally be describing Roald Dahl’s approach to his domestically dark adult short stories, making Charming and Roald Dahl the perfect collaborators for these new collections.

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

Lust - Tales of Craving and Desire

To what lengths would you go to achieve your heart’s desire? In these ten tales of maddening lust Roald Dahl explores how our darkest impulses reveal who we really are.

My thoughts:

Deepest secrets, desires and fears are all expertly controlled in this collection of ten short stories which take us deep into the passionate heart of yearning for something which is, quite often, beyond our reach. From the first story, Madame Rosette, which features two hapless military men on the look out for  a lustful diversion in 1940s Cairo, through to the intriguingly titled last story, Nunc Dimittis, there is never a moment when each story doesn't draw you in. Expertly written and beautifully observed, I loved every word of Lust.

Madness - Tales of Fear and Unreason 

Our greatest fear is of losing control – above all, of losing control of ourselves. In these ten unsettling tales of unexpected madness Roald Dahl explores what happens when we let go of our sanity.

My thoughts:

Cool and calculated these ten tales of madness make your blood run just a little bit cooler and with each successive story the creepy feeling starts to get stronger and stronger. I loved this collection of dark tales and whilst the stories span quite a timeline - between the 1950s and 1970s - they still feel quite current, even though it must be acknowledged that to find a room in a Bath guest house for five and six would be nigh on impossible.  However, as it's proved in The Landlady, this is no ordinary guest house !

Deception - Tales of Intrigue and Lies

Why do we lie? Why do we deceive those we love most? What do we fear revealing? In these ten tales of deception Roald Dahl explores our tireless efforts to hide the truth about ourselves.

My thoughts:

The ten tales of deception are so expertly controlled by this skilful story teller that reading each of them is like experiencing a master class in how to misbehave. Beautifully observed and quite stark in places there isn't one of these tales which doesn't leave you with a smile on your face at the incredulity of some of the situations which Dahl conjures like a magician. The Umbrella Man with his fool proof scam, and the wonderfully named Mr Botibol, who looked like an asparagus, are amongst my favourites.

Cruelty - Tales of Malice and Greed 

Even when we mean to be kind we can sometimes be cruel. We each have a streak of nastiness inside us. In these ten tales of cruelty Roald Dahl explores how and why it is we make others suffer .

My thoughts:

The complex side of human nature comes alive in this collection of rather dark little stories which each have a deliciously nasty edge to them. I find it very easy to tune into Roald Dahl's darker side, although his dark side has a real uncomfortable feeling to it. I loved reading revolting rhymes to my children, however, to have this book of ten stories all based around the theme of cruelty, makes reading it rather a more grown up experience. It's difficult to pick out a particular favourite but I loved the twist to Royal Jelly and Poison made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

About the Author

Roald Dahl was a spy, ace fighter-pilot, chocolate historian and medical inventor. He was also the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and many more brilliant stories. He remains the World’s No.1 storyteller.

More about the author can be found by clicking here

Twitter #RoaldDahlDay

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker

Happy Publication  Day

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be part of the blog tour for The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room by Emily Bleeker
is published in paperback and eBook on 28thAugust
by Lake Union Publishing

My thanks to the publishers and ed public relations for my invitation to the blog tour and for my copy of the book

A gripping and suspense filled domestic noir about a mother, her missing daughter and the dark secrets that engulf them.

What's it all about..

Ever since her husband’s death collided with the birth of her daughter, postpartum depression has taken hold of Veronica Shelton. She can’t sleep, can’t work, and can’t bear to touch her beautiful baby girl. Her emotional state is whispering lies in Veronica’s ear: You’re a bad mother. Your baby would be better off without you. But not everything can be reasoned away by Veronica’s despair. Can it?

After all, the break-in at her house happened. The disturbing sketches she found in her studio are real. So is the fear for her daughter’s safety—especially when Veronica comes home to a cold, silent nursery and a missing baby.

As she turns from victim into primary suspect, Veronica realizes that only she can find her daughter. Authorities aren’t helping. They’re only watching. Veronica’s concerned mother has suddenly vanished from her life. And a new friend seems to be keeping secrets from her too. Now, reality is waiting for Veronica in a dark place—because someone’s mind games have only just begun...

My thoughts about it..

The Waiting Room is one of those clever suspense stories which compels from the first chapter with an introduction which is both stark and dramatic. Our introduction to Veronica stems from a vivid beginning in which she loses both her husband and young baby and as she sinks lower and lower into postpartum depression so her story starts to gain momentum.

I was quite fascinated by Veronica, mostly she exasperated me but when her story is finally revealed I realised just how cleverly the author manipulated my emotional response to Veronica's character. Trying to decipher just what’s going on in Veronica’s troubled mind makes the story all the more fascinating, that she is deeply troubled by the effects of her life is obvious from the first however, just how deeply she is affected only comes to light as the story progresses. This clever convoluted psychological suspense story certainly keeps you guessing and makes sure that you are concentrating especially when the plot veers off in a completely different direction towards a conclusion, which it must be said, I didn’t see coming.

The Waiting Room is an exciting story written by an author who knows how to build up the necessary tension without ever losing sight of the overall integrity of the story. I read the book quickly as I needed to know just how Veronica was ever going to find resolution for her troubled past, but, of course, whether she does, or not, is for you to discover for yourself.

Author Emily Bleeker is a Mormon from the Chicago suburbs. She’s a former teacher who was inspired to start writing after surviving a rare form of cancer.

Twitter @emily_bleeker #thewaitingroom


Monday 27 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ 11 Missed Calls by Elisabeth Carpenter

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for 11 Missed Calls

26 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 all about..

Here are two things I know about my mother:

1. She had dark hair, like mine. 

2. She wasn’t very happy at the end.

Anna has always believed that her mother, Debbie, died 30 years ago on the night she disappeared.

But when her father gets a strange note, she realises that she’s never been told the full story of what happened that night on the cliff.

Confused and upset, Anna turns to her husband Jack – but when she finds a love letter from another woman in his wallet, she realises there’s no-one left to help her, least of all her family.

And then a body is found…

My Thoughts about it..

11 Missed Calls is the story about family secrets which have been buried for far too long and when those secrets threaten to come to the surface, life will never be the same for those who have been affected by a mystery which spans over thirty years. When her mother, Debbie, disappeared whilst on holiday, Anna was just a baby and for all of her life she has lived with the shadow of her mother’s disappearance and the belief that her mother was dead. Brought up, with her brother, by her father and her step mother Monica, who happened to be Debbie’s best friend, makes Anna’s story all the more complex. The story is split into two frames, that of the present and the past, and we get two different points of view, that of Debbie in the nineteen eighties, and Anna in the present. 

The author writes this type of domestic noir well and controls the dual time aspect of the story with skill. I enjoyed the parts of Debbie’s story which are set in the 1980s as this brought the era alive in the imagination. In the present, Anna’s pain and confusion as she gradually learns the secrets of her mother’s past is written with a sympathetic eye for detail. Parts of the story felt a little bit slow, but I think that was quite deliberate in order to give this character-driven family drama the necessary time for the story to be revealed gradually.

11 Missed Calls explores those dark secrets which families try to keep buried but then, as we gradually discover, everyone has a reason for their actions. This complex family drama goes a long way to establish the truth so that Anna and her family can finally have the truth and some resolution. How they get there is for you to discover for yourself...

About the Author

Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family and has been awarded a Northern Writers' Award bursary from New Writing North, and she was long-listed for the Yeovil Literary Prize (2015) and the MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015).


Twitter @LibbyCBT #11MissedCalls


Sunday 26 August 2018

WW1 Remembered..

Listening to Classic FM on the radio this morning I heard again this beautiful piece of music.The Banks of Green Willow composed by George Butterworth.

I was reminded that this piece was composed in 1913 when Butterworth was on active service on the Western Front.,

George Butterworth joined the British Army as a private in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry but later accepted a commission as a subaltern in the 13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry where he was promoted to temporary Lieutenant. He was awarded the Military Cross in August 1916 but did not live to receive it. He was shot by a sniper at the Battle of the Somme on the 5 August 1916 and his body hastily buried where he fell, at the side of the trench. Tragically, his body was never recovered, but his name is inscribed on Thiepval Memorial.

Butterworth's music dates between 1910-1913 with this, The Banks of Green Willow, perhaps his most poignant work , which was composed in 1913.

You can listen to recordings of The Banks of Green Willow on You Tube.


Saturday 25 August 2018

His Fic Saturday ~ By Sword and Storm by Margaret Skea

On Hist Fic Saturday

Lets' go back to ...France, 1598

11 July 2018

My thanks to the author and the publisher for my e-copy of this book

When the first book in the Munro Scottish saga was published in 2012, I became fascinated with the story of the violent feuding between two prominent sixteenth century Scottish families and since then I have followed this saga with great interest. With each continuation it’s been interesting to see the progression of the characters and to observe just how far the story has come since its inception. The connection between all the characters has been built with such intricate precision and a unique eye for historical accuracy that real historical figures blend seamlessly alongside fictional characters each of them adding their own distinct personality to the overall effect of the story.

This third book of the saga, By Sword and Storm, is aptly titled as not only are there disagreements aplenty, but there is also action across the sea as the Munro family are living in Paris where, in the aftermath of French religious wars, Adam Munro is now a colonel in the Scots Gardes serving King Henri IV. When Adam saves the life of the King, the Munros find that, once again, their fortunes are set to change when they become involved in the intricacy of life at the French court. The description of the splendour of the royal court is wonderfully described, and I enjoyed seeing just how the Munro family would adjust to this very different way of life. As you would expect in this Scottish saga, Scotland is not forgotten, and the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, so vital to the story, continue to feud and fight. As always, this is so accurately researched that it adds such a distinct sense of history bringing sixteenth century Scottish politics and plotting alive in a very readable way.

Whilst By Sword and Storm comes to a natural conclusion, there is always a possibility that the story could be revisited at a later time and it would be no less fascinating for taking a break. It’s worth mentioning that even though each story can be read as a standalone, the saga is best read from the beginning to appreciate just how the story and the characters progress through time.

There is no doubt that the author has brought this period to life in her own distinct style, ensuring that the world of sixteenth century politics with all its passionate complexities once again takes flight in the imagination.

Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the 'Troubles', but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders.

Awarded the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best First Time Author 2014 and Historical Fiction Winner in the Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People's Novelist Competition for her debut novel Turn of the Tide, the sequel A House Divided was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016. The third book in the series, By Sword and Storm, was published in July 2018. 

Katharina: Deliverance is the first of two novels based on the life of Katharina von Bora, the escaped nun who married Martin Luther. She is passionate about well-researched, authentic historical fiction and providing a 'you are there' experience for the reader.

An Hawthornden Fellow and award winning short story writer - recent wins include, Neil Gunn, Chrysalis Prize, and Winchester Short Story Prize. Placings and listings include Rubery Short Story, Historical Novel Society Short Story, Mslexia, Fish - Short Story and One Page Prize and the Matthew Pritchard Award. She has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.



 Twitter @margaretskea1


Friday 24 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Cold Cold Sea by Linda Huber

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on The Cold Cold Sea Blog Tour

My thanks to the author and Love Book Group Tours for my invitation to be part of this blog tour

What's it all about..

They stared at each other, and Maggie felt the tightness in her middle expand as it shifted, burning its way up… Painful sobs rose in her throat as Colin, his face expressionless now, reached for his mobile and tapped 999.

When three-year-old Olivia disappears from the beach, a happy family holiday comes to an abrupt end. Maggie is plunged into the darkest nightmare imaginable – what happened to her little girl? Further along the coast, another mother is having problems too. Jennifer's daughter Hailey is starting school, and it should be such a happy time, but the child is increasingly moody and silent. Family life has never seemed so awkward, and Jennifer struggles to maintain control. The tide ebbs and flows, and summer dies, but there is no comfort for Maggie, alone now at the cottage, or for Jennifer, still swamped by doubts.

 ✨I am delighted to be able to share this tantalising extract from The Cold Cold Sea ✨

A glint in the sand caught her eye, and she crouched down. It was a beautiful pink shell, exactly like the one she’d found yesterday. She eased it out from under a thick strand of brown seaweed and brushed it gently with one finger. It was covered in sand; it wasn’t nice to hold like the other one. She looked round for someone to help, but her dad was right along the beach with his back to her, staring at something up towards the hotel. She hesitated for a moment. The sea was just nearby. She would wash the shell herself and then she would take it home and give it to her granny. She smiled at the idea. 

The sun was hot on her shoulders as she turned towards the water. It was difficult to rush along the loose sand; coarse grains were rubbing the skin between her toes. Nearer the ocean the beach firmed up and she stopped to empty her sandals. It was the only thing she didn’t enjoy about the beach, the way sand got everywhere. 

What she liked best, of course, was the sea. It was like magic, the way the colour changed all the time. Today it was shining blue in the sunshine, sparkling like the jewels in her mother’s ring. She giggled as her toes met the first of the baby waves fizzing up the beach. 

The water was cold but it was silvery-clear, rushing up round her ankles and pulling her in to play. She bent over and swirled the shell in the sea. Immersed in her task she rubbed and rinsed and rubbed again, oblivious to the cold water creeping up her legs. The shell was cleaning up nicely. It would look so pretty on her granny’s windowsill, lined up with all the other shells they’d collected last year.

Satisfied with her work, she stood up straight, jerking in surprise when she saw that the water was up over her knees now. She could feel the waves swirling round her legs, pulling her this way and that. It felt as if she was wobbling on a trampoline. It would be easier if there was someone to hold her hand. She looked back at the beach.

Both her parents were tiny figures in the distance now, much too far away to hear her if she called. The sea was right here, teasing her. She giggled again as the wash from a distant motorboat slapped and tickled against her thighs. This was better, it was fun again now.

Further out the waves were white-tipped and rolling towards her, and she remembered the picture book she and Daddy had read just before coming here. A fairy tale princess had caught a beautiful white horse on a wave, and rode away to the place where the sea joined up with the sky. If only she could do that too. She stood on tiptoe and walked a few paces to see if there were any white horses nearby.

Quite suddenly the water was deeper, and it was freezing cold too; it was splashing right up over her tummy. A larger wave almost lifted her off her feet and she cried out in panic, sobbing when she realised that she had dropped Granny’s beautiful shell. Tears hot on her cheeks and teeth chattering, she struggled to regain her balance, then waded a few steps in the direction of where the shell had vanished. 

But the shell was nowhere to be seen. The water took hold of her again, pulling at her and pulling and all at once it was right up to her chin and there were no white horses at all, just cold cold water. It got in her eyes and nose and in her mouth, too, when she tried to shout for help. 

Salty water was burning in her nose and pulling her down; the sea was filling her up and washing her away and she couldn’t stop it. The whole world was getting smaller… it was so cold. She was floating in cold white water now, just floating, and then suddenly everything was – gone.

Extract: By kind permission of the author

Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Currently she teaches one day a week, and writes psychological suspense novels and feel-good novellas with (most of) the rest of her time.

Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty short stories published in women’s magazines. Several years later, she turned to psychological suspense fiction, and her seventh novel, Death Wish, was published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.

Linda’s latest project is a series of feel-good novellas, set on the banks of Lake Constance and just minutes from her home in north-east Switzerland. She really appreciates having the views enjoyed by her characters right on her own doorstep!

Twitter @LindaHuber19 #TheColdColdSea


Thursday 23 August 2018

Review ~The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

14 June 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

When Emily meets Adam she knows he is the One.

That together they can deal with anything that is thrown at them.

But lurking in the shadows is another woman, Pammie.

Emily chose Adam, but she didn’t choose his mother.

There’s nothing a mother wouldn’t do for her son, and now Emily is about to find out just how far Pammie will go to get what she wants...

My thoughts about it..

Well, this one took me by surprise !

This is a real roller coaster of a story which starts off with cracking prologue. And then its fairly innocuous beginning lulls you into a false sense of security, but don't be fooled as very soon the story grips like a vice and it quickly becomes completely addictive reading. I'm only sorry that's it's languished on my book shelf for a few months, but, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining, and because of my tardiness, I'm in time to share my thoughts about The Other Woman just as the book has its US publication ๐Ÿ˜‰

I'm not saying anything about the plot except to share the teaser of an explanation which is from the blurb at the back of the book. All I will say is that I devoured The Other Woman in less than half a day as I quite simply couldn't put it down, always wanting to read just a little bit more in order to find out just what was going on in the life of Emily and Adam, and that of the other woman in Adam's life, namely his mother, Pammie. And believe me , there's plenty going on...

Beautifully written from start to finish, this fast paced domestic noir has a dramatic plot which is as tight as a bowstring, it's no surprise that this debut novel was highly sought after by several publishers. If you want an absolute corker of a thriller then my advise is to read this without spoilers, that way you'll be as stunned as I was when the final denouement comes. 

Without doubt one of my reads of the summer..

Sandie Jones is a freelance journalist and has contributed to the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Woman’s Weekly and Hello magazine, amongst others. If she wasn’t a writer, she’d be an interior designer as she has an unhealthy obsession with wallpaper and cushions. She lives in London with her husband and three children.

Twitter @realsandiejones #TheOtherWoman #bewareofPammie


Wednesday 22 August 2018

Blog Blitz ~ The Last Plantagenet? by Jennifer C. Wilson

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be involved in the 3 day Blog Blitz for The Last Plantagenet?

My thanks to the author and to Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to be part of this Book Blitz

And here's a fabulous guest post from the author Jennifer C. Wilson

Thank you so much for being part of my blog blitz today; I hope you and your readers enjoy The Last Plantagenet?

There cannot be many writers who get to attend a funeral service for their leading man. Even fewer when you narrow that down to historical fiction writers. Yet, in March 2015, that’s exactly where I found myself. Granted, at that point he was only the leading man in two unpublished manuscripts, but still. Since then, Richard III has featured in three of my published novels, two Kindred Spirits tales (Tower of London and Westminster Abbey), and of course, The Last Plantagenet?

I had only entered the ballot for tickets to be part of things, feel a little involved in a dig and debate which seemed to be sweeping the nation. Having ‘discovered’ Richard in the historical sense several years before, it was fascinating to see the historical figure I’d become so intrigued by dominating the news, shelves filling up with new books, and more documentaries than you could shake a stick at. Then, even when the gold-rimmed envelope appeared in my postbox, I simply couldn’t believe it. Ok, so I had to Google what Compline actually was, but regardless, I was going to be attending it, and that was just amazing. 

In the end, the whole weekend felt like a festival, not a funeral. There were lectures, demonstrations (historical, not confrontational), the unveiling of the coffin, the hearse’s procession… Leicester was full of white roses, with such a buzz in the air. 

As we all took our seats for the service, and watched the procession follow the final few hundred metres to the Cathedral, there was a strange mix of emotions. Clearly, due to the setting, and occasion, there was an element of a sombre atmosphere, but then, nobody could truly be sad – it’s not as though anyone had been expecting to find him alive, after all. So there was almost a happy edge to proceedings, a celebration of having found our man, and bringing him the dignity he had been lacking for so long. 

Afterwards, back in the hotel, I thought about the two tales currently loitering on my hard-drive. For The Last Plantagenet?, I suddenly realised I had my ending, the final couple of scenes which had, to date, eluded me. I started making notes, and found I couldn’t stop. Notes on edits I needed to make to what I had written so far, ideas to explore for the rest of the plot, and even poems came flooding out (although, luckily for you, not all of the latter ever made it out into the world!). Once I was home, those notes hit the laptop, and Kate’s adventures in time began to come to life. 

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was the first to make it into the wild, as it were, published by Crooked Cat Books just seven months later, in October 2015, but thankfully, The Last Plantagenet? made it too, self-published and released on Richard’s birthday, 2nd October, in 2017. 

I doubt either would have happened if I hadn’t been so lucky in that ballot. 

It’s almost enough to have made the stress of picking an outfit worthwhile… 

Crooked Cat Books

The fireplace hadn't looked like a time-portal. All Kate had wanted was a fun, relaxing day out, watching the knights jousting at Nottingham Castle. What she ended up with was something quite different. Transported in a heartbeat from 2011 to 1485, how will Kate handle life at the Ricardian court? Even more importantly, how will she cope when she catches the eye of the king himself?

My thoughts about The Last Plantagenet?..

I've always been interested in Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, and after his ignominious defeat at the Battle of Bosworth to be hidden for so long in an unmarked grave was perhaps the saddest outcome for this enigmatic king, and for the historic dynasty which ruled our country, so tempestuously, for the best part of 330 years.

The Last Plantagenet? gives a light hearted look at what might have happened if a modern day woman fell through a time portal in a fireplace and landed in the Ricardian court at Nottingham Castle just a few weeks before the Battle of Bosworth took place. When Kate finds herself no longer in the present, she is amazed to find that she is firmly placed in the centre of the fifteenth century court's festivities and when she catches the eye of the King, Kate's status suddenly rises and her time at court takes a very different turn indeed.

This was a really lovely short story which I managed to read quite easily over a cup of tea. There is a definite authentic feel to everything, and whilst you have to suspend belief, there is no doubt that the author has captured a real sense of time and place. I fully immersed myself at life at court with Richard III and his courtiers and enjoyed reading to find out how the story eventually played out.

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available from Amazon

Twitter @inkjunkie1984


Tuesday 21 August 2018

Blog Tour ~ How to Find Love in the Little Things by Virginie Grimaldi

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the 

How to Find Love in the Little Things Blog Tour

Headline Review
23 August 2018

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

What's it all about..

Welcome to Ocean View. You don't know it yet, but you'll be happy here...' 

Julia's not running away. Not exactly. She just needs a break from Paris and Marc and all the sad stuff that's been going on lately. A little time to pull herself together. 

The job offer felt like a lifeline. But now she's back in Biarritz, suitcase in hand, she hasn't the faintest idea what she was thinking. 

What Julia doesn't yet know is there's more to the odds and ends of Ocean View than meet the eye. Behind the double doors lie broken hearts, lifelong secrets, a touch of romance and an unwavering passion for life. And sometimes it's the most unlikely of places and people who help you find your way.

My thoughts about it..

How to Find Love in the Little Things is one of those lovely stories which looks at the quirks and eccentricities of older people. Setting the novel in a care home in Biarritz allows the main protagonist of the story, Julia, to come to terms with a personal loss whilst working at the  Ocean View Nursing Home. As a psychologist, Julia is perfectly placed to try to understand the elderly residents of the home, but, as she discovers, sometimes it's them who are doing their best to do the analysing.

I enjoyed this light and easy summer read which has a charming mixture of happy and sad moments interspersed with gentle insights into the vagaries of life whatever your age. The delightful characterisation made me smile especially the residents who call Ocean View their home,  they're an odd bunch, to be sure, but mostly they made me smile, and I enjoyed seeing how everything would, eventually, play out for all of them. Julia's story which runs alongside the events taking place in the nursing home shows just how she learns to cope with her own personal loss, which is handled sensitively, and adds an interesting dimension to the story.

The author writes well with a fine eye for detail and whilst the story has been translated from its original French it doesn't seem to lose its momentum. All too often books in translation can lose their original verve but this is not so with How to Find Love in the Little Things, which kept my attention throughout the whole of the story.

Virginie Grimaldi grew up in Bordeaux and has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She wrote her first novel aged eight in a green notebook with multiplication tables in the back. It was about love and the sea and featured a thirty-page-long sunset . . . How to Find Love in the Little Things was first published in France in May 2016 and became an instant bestseller, translated into multiple languages.

Twitter @GinieGrimaldi


Monday 20 August 2018

Ten Poems for a Picnic ~ Candlestick Press

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to share this latest poetry pamphlet from Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press
July 2018
Selected and introduced by Jacqueline Gabbitas

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this pamphlet

Lazing on a picnic rug under a clear blue sky, what could be more lovely than reading poetry? These ten poems have been selected to provide a perfect accompaniment to an open-air feast; some capture culinary delights such as strawberry tarts and custard while others have been chosen to add to the mood of carefree bliss that only a picnic on a summer’s day can offer.

From Jeremy Hooker’s thoughts while blackberrying to the quiet joy of being in a park with squirrels and daffodils in March, we are transported to enchanted times and places where day-to-day routines seem to have been suspended:

“In a little rainy mist of white and grey
we sat under an old tree,
drank tea toasts to the powdery mountain,”

from ‘The Picnic’ by Edwin Morgan

Whether read alone or to a friend or lover, these beautiful poems make ideal companions for a cucumber sandwich and a glass of fizz.

Poems by Wayne Burrows, Jacqueline Gabbitas, Katherine Gallagher, Jeremy Hooker, Mimi Khalvati, Edwin Morgan, Frank O’Hara, Peter Phillips, Gertrude Stein and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

My thoughts..

This collection of ten quirky poems about picnics is such a diverse assortment of verse that it's really difficult to choose a favourite. However, any poetry collection that starts with a poem by one of my favourite twentieth century poets, Edna St.Vincent Millay, is bound to set my thoughts in the right direction.

"We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came too soon."

from ' Recuerdo' by Edna St.Vincent Millay

I also like ..

"What I see are strawberry and raspberry tarts
apricot flans and creamy cheesecake

I breathe in, taste the colours
go in search of a cup of tea."

from 'Cakes at Sherringham Park' by Peter Phillips

This collection of poetry conjures the delight of sitting outdoors, in good company, with good food and the simple pleasure of being with friends. And all around, with beautiful verse, the sounds, tastes and sights of nature come gloriously alive.

Reading Ten Poems for a Picnic is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon, sitting on lovely tartan rug, with a flask of tea and ham sandwich, and let the cares of the day simply drift away.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Cricket, London, Lesbian and Gay, Revenge, Babies and Fathers. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.


Twitter @PoetryCandle

Huge thanks to Kathy at Candlestick Press for my copy of Ten Poems for a Picnic

Sunday 19 August 2018

WW1 Remembered...

On this Day in 1918

British Advance in Flanders  ~ Battle of Outtersteene Ridge 18th August 1918

Action of Outtersteene Ridge. 

Wounded from the 27th Brigade, 9th Division, prepare for a light railway journey from Meteren to medical units in the rear area, 18 August 1918.

Brooke, John Warwick ( Lieutenant)
© IWM (Q 6959)

Action of Outtersteene Ridge. Artillery observers watching the progress of the creeping barrage laid down to support the attack of 27th Brigade, 9th Division. Meteren, 18 August 1918.

Brooke, John Warwick ( Lieutenant)
© IWM (Q 6948)

Action of Outtersteene Ridge. Signallers, Royal Engineers (9th Division), at an artillery observation post sending back messages about the British creeping barrage. Meteren, 18 August 1918.

Brooke, John Warwick ( Lieutenant)
© IWM (Q 6947)

The hundred days offensive which began in with the Battle of Amiens in August 1918 saw the rapid series of Allied Victories against which the German army had no real defense.


Saturday 18 August 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Road to Newgate by Kate Braithwaite

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ... England, 1678

Crooked Cat Books
16 July 2018

Huge thanks to the author and publishers  for my copy of this book

What price justice?

London 1678.

Historical fiction has the ability to take you to a place long ago, back to a time that isn't your own, with customs, traditions and legends which have been set down in history books. Mostly, I know a little about the time and place I find myself in, but not always, and so in The Road to Newgate, it's been a real treat to spend time with a story I didn't know too much about, that of the infamous preacher, Titus Oates.

The Road to Newgate is a vivid description of this unsettled time and is told through the eyes of  three fictional characters who were caught up in the events as they happened. Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, his wife Anne, and their friend, William Smith, all help to bring the story to life in a realistic way and intertwining real historical figures with that of fictional characters also gives an authentic edge to what was happening.  

The story covers the tumultuous events which began in 1678 during the reign of Charles II and although England has had some stability during his 18 year reign, there is always intrigue and insurrection just waiting to happen. Religious discord, particularly from those who would have England return to Catholicism, is a constant threat, and so when the preacher, Titus Oates incites panic with news of a new Popish threat which threatens to kill the King, the meeting houses and coffee shops on the streets of London are decidedly twitchy.The city comes gloriously alive, so that you can hear the angry shouts, feel the danger and despair, and, as you traipse through seventeenth century London, the scented rag you hold your nose does little to disguise the dirt and squalor of this teeming city.

The author does this type of historical fiction so well, cleverly blending fact with fiction, danger with intrigue and all the necessary emotion along the way. The mystery at the heart of the novel is handled well and I whilst it sounds strange to have enjoyed time in the hell hole that was Newgate Prison. The author's vivid descriptions of the place makes you feel that you have actually been incarcerated within its walls, on execution day, with the dubious aroma of boiling flesh filling your nostrils.

The Road to Newgate is an atmospheric insight into a turbulent and dangerous time. The author has done a commendable job in bringing place, people and historical detail to glorious life.

About the Author

Kate Braithwaite grew up in Edinburgh but now lives with her family in Pennsylvania. The Road To Newgate is her second novel. 

Twitter @ KMBraithaite 


The Road to Newgate is available to buy from Amazon UK  and other good book stores.