Monday 31 December 2018

πŸ“– ♥ Here are a few of my favourite reads of 2018 πŸ“– ♥

It gets more and more difficult to whittle down the 200 or so books I have read this year into my favourites. But here they are , in no particular order...

My Favourite Reads of 2018

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36221343 36896849 Faith, Hope and Trickery (The Sam Plank Mysteries Book 5)

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To all these fabulous authors for sharing the gift of your imagination and for giving me such wonderful stories.

And to all the publishers who continue to support Jaffareadstoo with such enthusiasm.

 And to the blog followers - we couldn't do this without you

❤ Thank You ❤

Sunday 30 December 2018

πŸ“š My Twelve in Twelve 2018 πŸ“š

As the end of my reading year approaches these are my much anticipated

12 in 12

πŸ“– Twelve authors who were new to me:

  1. Catherine Tinley
  2. Liv Constantine
  3. Gail Aldwin
  4. Sarah Bailey
  5. James Hartley
  6. Joy Rhoades
  7. Jane Davis
  8. Eithne Shortall
  9. E M Powell
  10. Ros Franey
  11. Robert Olen Butler
  12. Kim Sherwood

πŸ“– Twelve authors I have read before:

  1. Amy Stewart - Miss Kopp's Midnight Confession
  2. Susan Lewis - The Secret Keeper
  3. Emma Curtis - When I Find You
  4. Rosanna Ley - Her Mother's Secret
  5. Steven Manchester - Three Shoeboxes
  6. Dorothy Koomson - The Brighton Mermaid
  7. Alison Weir - Jane Seymour
  8. Harriet Evans - The Wildflowers
  9. Elly Griffiths - The Dark Angel
  10. Lesley Pearse- The House Across the Street
  11. Lorna Gray - The Antique Dealers Daughter
  12. Amanda Prowse - The Coordinates of Loss

πŸ“– Twelve books from authors I know will never let me down:

  1. Sarah Vaughan - The Anatomy of a Scandal 
  2.  B A Paris - Bring Me Back 
  3. Joanna Cannon - Three Things About Elsie 
  4. Claire Dyer - The Last Day
  5. Jane Corry - The Dead Ex 
  6. Susan Grossey - Faith, Hope and Trickery
  7. Paula Daly - Open Your Eyes 
  8. Anna Belfrage - Cold Light of Dawn
  9. Deborah Harkness - Time's Convert 
  10. Jean Fullerton - A Ration Book Christmas
  11. Jan Ruth - Gift Horse 
  12. Liza Perratt - The Swooping Magpie

πŸ“– Twelve Audio books I have enjoyed listening to:

  1. The Scarlet City - Apprentice - Audible Original Drama
  2. The Scarlet City - Rise - Audible Original Drama
  3. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
  4. London - Edward Rutherfurd
  5. Drums of Autumn - Diana Gabaldon
  6. The Fiery Cross - Diana Gabaldon
  7. A Breath of Snow and Ashes - Diana Gabaldon
  8. A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness
  9. Shadow of Night - Deborah Harkness
  10. The Book of Life - Deborah Harkness
  11. The Sealwoman's Gift - Sally Magnusson
  12. Transcription - Kate Atkinson

πŸ“– Twelve books that took me by the hand and led me into the past:

  1. The Good Doctor of Warsaw - Elisabeth Gifford 
  2. The Cursed Wife - Pamela Hartsorne
  3. The Story Keeper - Anna Mazola
  4. The Blue Bench - Paul Marriner
  5. A Gathering of Ghosts - Karen Maitland
  6. The Conqueror's Queen - Joanna Courtney
  7. The Illumination of Ursula Flight - Anna Marie Crowhurst
  8. The Poppy Field - Deborah Carr 
  9. Ill Will - Michael Stewart
  10. The Turn of Midnight - Minette Walters 
  11. Testament - Kim Sherwood
  12. The Blue - Nancy Bilyeau

πŸ“– Twelve books that took me into a world of crime and psychological suspense:

  1. The Death of Mrs Westaway - Ruth Ware 
  2. The Family Next Door- Sally Hepworth
  3. Kiss of Death - Paul Finch
  4. Her Name Was Rose - Claire Allen
  5. In the Dark - Cara Hunter
  6. Too Close to Breathe - Olivia Kiernan
  7. The French Girl - Lexie Elliot
  8. Our Kind of Cruelty - Araminta Hall
  9. Hush Hush - Mel Sherratt
  10. All the Hidden Truths - Claire Askew
  11. Within the Silence - Nicola Avery
  12. Skin Deep - Liz Nugent 

πŸ“– Twelve books that took me on extraordinary journeys around the world:

  1. From A Low and Quiet Sea, Donal Ryan (Ireland) 
  2. The Immortalists - Chloe Benjamin (America) 
  3. The Sapphire Widow - Dinah Jefferies (Asia) 
  4. The Pagoda Tree - Claire Scobie (India) 
  5. The Family Next Door - Sally Hepworth (Australia) 
  6. The Walls Came Down - Ewa Dodd (Europe) 
  7. Mr Peacock's Possession - Lydia Styson (New Zealand) 
  8. The Feather Thief - Kirk Wallace Johnson ( New Mexico) 
  9. The Lion Tamer Who Lost - Louise Beech ( Africa) 
  10. The Witches of St Petersburg - Imogen Edwards- Jones ( Russia) 
  11. Testament - Kim Sherwood ( Germany) 
  12. Alaskan Holiday - Debbie Macomber (Alaska) 

πŸ“– Twelve Books I borrowed from a library:

  1. The Pearl Sister - Lucinda Riley 
  2. The Toymakers - Robert Dugdale 
  3. A Column of Fire - Ken Follett 
  4. Templar Silks - Elizabeth Chadwick 
  5. The Winter Crown - Elizabeth Chadwick 
  6. The Autumn Crown - Elizabeth Chadwick 
  7. I'll Keep You Safe - Peter May 
  8. I am Heathcliff - Kate Mosse and others 
  9. Play Dead - Angela Marson 
  10. Shelter in Place - Nora Roberts 
  11. Three Sisters, Three Queens - Philippa Gregory 
  12. To the Bright Edge of the World - Eowyn Ivey

πŸ“– Twelve Books I bought in a bookstore:
  1. Fools and Mortals - Bernard Cornwell
  2. The Book of Dust - Philip Pullman
  3. Dead Woman Walking - Sharon Bolton
  4. Only Remembered - Michael Morpurgo
  5. Bitter - Francesca Jakobi
  6. A Secret History of Witches - Louise Morgan
  7. The Angry Tide - Winston Graham
  8. Mist over Pendle - Robert Neil
  9. The World of All Souls Companion - Deborah Harkness
  10. The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
  11. The Silent Companions - Laura Purcell
  12. The Corset - Laura Purcell

πŸ“– Twelve books that surprised a good way:

  1. Miss Blaine's Prefect - Olga Wojtas
  2. The Walls Came Down - Ewa Dodd
  3. Two Steps Forward - Graeme Simsion and Annie Buist
  4. The  Rivers Run Free - Natasha Carthew 
  5. Apricots and Wolfsbane - K M Pohlkamp
  6. The Reading Party - Fenella Gentleman
  7. In the Wake - Helen Trevorrow
  8. Call of the Curlew - Elizabeth Brooks 
  9. How to Walk Away - Katherine Center
  10. Daisy Bell - Caitlin Davies
  11. Dear Mr Pop Star - Dave Dawson
  12. Rebellious Spirits - Ruth Ball

πŸ“– Twelve Feel-Good Novels :
  1. Baby Boom ! - Helen Wallen
  2. A Country Affair - Katie Fforde
  3. Miss Moonshines Emporium - Authors on the Edge
  4. The Perfectly Imperfect Woman - Milly Johnson
  5. The Memories of Us - Vanessa Carnevale
  6. Cottage by the Sea - Debbie Macomber
  7. One Day in December - Josie Silver 
  8. The Little Theatre on the Seafront - Katie Ginger 
  9. One Summer in Italy - Sue Moorcroft 
  10. Christmas With The East End Angels - Rosie Hendry
  11. Alaskan Holiday - Debbie Macomber
  12. A Little Christmas Charm - Kathryn Freeman

πŸ“– Twelve books to be published in 2019 that I can't wait to talk about and which are already on my to be read pile:

  1. The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village - Joanna Nell (January 2019) 
  2. Apple of My Eye - Claire Allan (January 2019) 
  3. In Safe Hands - J P Carter (January 2019) 
  4. A Friend in Deed - G D Harper (January 2019) 
  5. The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides (February 2019) 
  6. The Familiars - Stacey Halls (February 2019) 
  7. Fade to Grey - John Lincoln (February 2019) 
  8. The Secrets You Hide - Kate Helm (February 2019) 
  9. M for Mammy - Eleanor O'Reilly (March 2019) 
  10. The Conviction of Cora Burns (March 2019) 
  11. The Confessions of Frannie Langton - Sara Collins (April 2019) 
  12. No Way Out - Cara Hunter (April 2019) 


 to these talented authors for sharing the gift of their imagination with me. 

Your books have taken me on the most wonderful adventures in 2018

Come back tomorrow to see my favourite reads of the year ....

Thanks to Jo at The Book Jotter who  inspired this meme...

Saturday 29 December 2018

Review ~ The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party Hardcover  by
Harper Collins
24 January 2014

My thanks to the publishers and for my copy of this book
The Hunting Party is a clever murder mystery which takes you deep into a world where anything can happen and where the old adage, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, springs to mind.

Celebrating New Year in the idyllic setting of the Scottish highlands is the stuff of dreams and when a group of university friends meet up, the celebration should be the most memorable aspect of the get together. However, all is not as it seems in this remote highland hideaway and the tension between the characters soon starts to escalate.

Told from several different perspectives, what then follows is a carefully crafted murder mystery which leaves no snowflake unturned in the effort to find out just what is going on and why friendships so carefully crafted, ten years ago, are now starting to disintegrate.

The author writes well and controls the narrative with a fine for detail and an ability to create, with the addition of whirling snows storms, a really atmospheric and compelling story. Time and place come so beautifully alive that you sense the danger, feel the overwhelming chill of cold start to enter into your bones, and watch as the shadows lengthen in the eeriness of the Scottish landscape. There is much to take in, both in terms of characterisation and plot, and the twists and turns of the narrative certainly keep you guessing until the end.

About the Author

Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities. She then worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry – during which time she also wrote her debut, The Book of Lost and Found. Lucy now writes full-time, and is busy travelling (for research, naturally!) and working on her next novel.

Twitter @lucyfoleytweets

I read this book as part of the readers review panel.
For more reader reviews please follow this link 

Friday 28 December 2018

Review ~ Christmas in Nuala and Fatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet Steel

Kindle Edition
The little town of Nuala is full of Christmas good cheer, until a brutal murder overshadows the festivities. The mystery he needs to solve baffles Inspector de Silva. It’s just as well he has his wife Jane to support him in his race both to unmask the villain and save an endangered romance. This colourful series set in Ceylon in the 1930s is perfect for fans of Golden Age mysteries, and Christmas in Nuala makes a great short read for the holiday season.

My thoughts..

Spending time with Inspector de Silva and his lovely wife Jane at Christmas time has been such a treat and this festive novella certainly acts as a real tonic, bringing all that is good about these crime stories which are set in 1930s Ceylon. This gentle crime series manages to both entertain and keep you guessing as there is always something new to discover in Inspector de Silva's world. It was rather nice to have the inspector's wife, Jane doing what she does best, supporting her husband and with gentle wisdom steering in him the right direction.

Giving away any of the plot would really spoil this story as its best read without any indication of where the mystery is heading. My advice is to cosy up with Christmas in Nuala and a restorative glass of sherry and a warm mince pie and enjoy working out the mystery alongside Shanti de Silva and Jane.

Fatal Finds in Nuala (The Inspector de Silva Mysteries, #4)
Stane Street Press
In this fourth instalment of the Inspector de Silva mysteries, it is monsoon season in the Hill Country. One stormy night, a ghostly encounter on a lonely road leads de Silva into a case of murder, and a mystery that stretches back to Ceylon’s distant past. To uncover the truth, he will have to face death and his inner demons.

My thoughts..

I've grown so accustomed to the intrepid adventures of Inspector de Silva that returning to his life in the hill town of Nuala is always like being reunited with a much loved friend. Fatal Finds gets off to a dark start with de Silva investigating a rather complicated murder involving a local man, and as the investigation deepens, so de Silva gets drawn further and further into the mystery.

As in previous de Silva mysteries, the author writes really well and brings such life to the characters that they are always fascinating, whether it be in observing de Silva's loving relationship with his English wife, Jane or his, often, complicated interaction with Archie Clutterbuck, the government agent in Nuala, there is never a moment when the story doesn't draw you into 1930s Ceylon.

As always, the mystery at the heart of the story is well explained and whilst the overall pace of the novel is one of elegant gentility, the investigation into the mystery surrounding the murder is done with fine attention to period detail. There is no doubt that this author has created a rather special series and I hope to share more adventures with the intrepid Inspector in future stories.

You can find out more about the author on her blog

Follow on Twitter @harrietsteel1

Thursday 27 December 2018

Review ~ Tchaikovsky:The Man Revealed by John Suchet

Elliot & Thompson
September 2018

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the most successful composers that Russia has ever produced, but his path to success was not an easy one.

Listening to Tchaikovsky's music, and in particular, his composition for the ballet, Swan Lake, is always such a treat and although I am familiar with his work, and enjoy listening to it playing softly in the background either on Classic FM, or on Spotify, I didn't know much about the man behind the music. As always, this continuation of John Suchet's excellent biographies about the lives of some of the world's greatest composers, is a real delight to read and absorb.

Tchaikovsky:The Man Revealed is an absolute revelation, not just about the composer's musical genius, which the author writes about very knowledgeably, but also about the very troubled man behind the public persona. From Tchaikovsky's early childhood, the relationship he had with his parents and siblings and of his constant struggle with his sexuality, there is no doubt that Tchaikovsky was a deeply troubled soul, so often at odds with a world which didn't understand just what complex demons drove him to behave in the way he did. 

Beautifully written, John Suchet has again revealed the man behind the music in glorious detail, with a wonderful mixture of music and lifestyle, the biography flows in a very readable way. The prose is delightfully unfussy, and as explained in the prologue it doesn't shy away from revealing the sometimes more controversial aspects of Tchaikovsky's rather complicated personal life.

Over this festive period I have really enjoyed reading into this beautifully presented book, enjoying the comprehensive information which constantly reveals something new and fascinating about this enigmatic Russian composer.

John Suchet presents Classic FM's flagship morning programme. His informative style of presentation, coupled with a deep knowledge of classical music, has won a wide spectrum of new listeners to the station. Before turning to classical music, John was one of the UK's best known television newscasters, regularly presenting ITN's flagship News at Ten, as well as all other bulletins, over a period of nearly 20 years. John has been honoured for both roles.

Twitter @JohnSuchet1


Wednesday 26 December 2018

πŸŽ„ Review ~ Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye (with Rebecca Mascull)

1 November 2018

It's always been my tradition to re-read Charles Dickens', A Christmas Carol at this time of year, spending time in the company of Ebeneezer Scrooge, and the ghost of his erstwhile companion, Jacob Marley, seems to be reminiscent of so many of my Christmases past.

However, this year, I decided to read something a little different but still keeping the theme of Dickensian London, so I turned to Miss Marley, which was written by Vanessa Lafaye. Very sadly, Vanessa died earlier this year before she could complete the story of Jacob Marley's sister and so, rising to the challenge, historical novelist,  Rebecca Mascull, a close writing friend of Vanessa, completed the story.

From the opening chapter of Miss Marley and the introduction to the young Jacob Marley and his sister Clara Belle, I was immediately taken into the world of the Victorian underclass. Forced to survive by using their considerable wits both of these intrepid youngsters do what they must in order to eke out some sort of living, but circumstances can change in a heartbeat and Jacob, always brave enough to take a chance, steers both of their lives in a very different direction.

Miss Marley is as beautifully written as all of Vanessa Lafaye's previous novels. Without doubt, she is a master story and describes time and place so perfectly that you feel as if you wander the London streets hand in hand with the young Jacob and Clara Belle, seeing the shapes and shadows that framed their lives. The hawkers and the barrow boys, the street sellers and the costermongers, the shouts, the snippets of gossip, the promise of a meal and a pint of porter in the Ox and Plough, all  jostle for space against the cacophony of noise that made up the great city of London. 

I have to admit that reading the story was bittersweet in so many ways, not just because A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite Christmas stories and I so wanted this to sit comfortably alongside such a classic, and it does admirably, but also because I know just how important finishing Miss Marley was to Rebecca Mascull who completes the story with such love and fine attention to detail that the transition is seamless. 

Miss Marley isn't a long story, coming in at around 170 or so pages, so it's perfectly possible to read the story comfortably over the space of an afternoon or evening. It's Vanessa Lafaye writing at her best and is a lasting tribute to her absolute joy of story-telling.

Vanessa LaFaye was an American born author living in England. A thirst for adventure brought her to Europe in 1987, first to France and then England. She spent many years in academic publishing, including the Oxford University Press. She wrote two acclaimed historical novels set in Florida, Summertime published in 2015 followed by First Light.  LaFaye was the founder of the Marlborough Community Choir in Wiltshire, England. She detailed the impact of living with cancer in her popular blog Living While Dying.

Twitter @Vanessa Lafaye #MissMarley 



Tuesday 25 December 2018

πŸŽ… Fabulously Festive ~ Jo at Jaffareadstoo πŸŽ…

Here's the fabulous, Jo at Jaffareadstoo

πŸŽ…What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?

I remember Christmas 1963, when I received my much longed for Sindy Doll. She was the one wearing blue jeans and a stripey top. My dad made a Sindy wardrobe and my mum had put a couple of outfits in it. I think one of the outfits was 'City Girl' which came with a little dog, and 'Shopping in the Rain' which was a raincoat and hood made from Black PVC!

I also remember the same Christmas my brothers got the Beatles LP With the Beatles and the songs All my Lovin' and Please Mister Postman remind me of that Christmas.

πŸŽ…Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?

I always have a nativity crib with figures that have been in the family for well over 60 years.

Baby Jesus never goes into the crib until he is born on Christmas Day!

I have the three kings traversing around the house for the whole of December until Epiphany when they reach the crib. You never know where the kings will show up.....

πŸŽ…What’s your favourite festive carol or song?

Silent Night. 

I remember listening to someone sing Stille Nacht, heilige nacht one Christmas morning in the Hospice where I was the nurse in was magical.

Adeste Fidelis  reminds me of Midnight Mass with my parents.

And John Lennon’s Happy Xmas ( War is Over ) reminds me of a school disco, Christmas 1971.

πŸŽ…Do you have a favourite festive film?

The Snowman as it reminds me of when my children were tiny and so excited that Christmas was finally here. They would both sit still for half an hour whilst this was on the TV.

What’s your favourite festive read ?

It's always got to be Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Although my Christmas treat this year is to read Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye, who very sadly passed away earlier this year.


πŸŽ…Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute ?

Mainly organised, although I can keep shopping until the very last minute !

I do try to get Christmas cards written early and tend to buy Christmas presents as I see them from about mid-October time.

πŸŽ…Christmas Tree – real or artificial?

A good artificial tree works for us. I've always had cats who like to swing from tree branches, scattering glittery baubles, so having had more than one tree pulled over by a curious kitty it’s so much easier to have something that’s not going to shed pine needles everywhere should it topple over!

I have just a couple of these rather fragile baubles left which I bought in Leeds in 1980, for our first Christmas tree as a married couple.

πŸŽ…Tinsel or Glitter?

Tinsel rather than glitter but I really prefer stranded beads or ribbons on the tree which I think look pretty. 

I dislike the feeling of glitter on my hands and so avoid it wherever possible.

πŸŽ…Christmas Cracker of Party Poppers

Christmas Crackers every time. I love the terrible jokes, cheap plastic contents and colourful party hats that are either too big or too small !

πŸŽ…Mince Pie or Yule Log?

A little bit of both works for us. Warm mince pie or Christmas Pudding and a dollop of ice-cream for me but it’s always Yule Log for the family and we have to test several recipes before we get to the one that’s chosen for the ‘big’ day !

πŸŽ…Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey, Nut Roast Veggie or something Different?

Always traditional turkey, sourced locally and cooked to perfection by my husband. Although this year we're going to shake it up a bit and have a Christmas buffet rather than having a sit around the table roast dinner. There won't be sprouts this year !

πŸŽ…Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?

I'm a non-drinker so, whilst I may have a tiny Buck's Fizz during present opening, the rest of the day it's elder lower pressé, or a nice cup of my favourite Darjeeling tea 😊

I'm not a great fan of mulled wine - it always tastes medicinal.

πŸŽ…A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?

It's got to be a good book, or whatever drama is on the television.

πŸŽ… πŸŽ… πŸŽ… πŸŽ… πŸŽ…

Wherever you are in the world and whoever you share it with, Jaffa, Timmy and I wish you the 
Happiest of Christmases


Monday 24 December 2018

πŸŽ„ Fabulously Festive with Jane Lovering πŸŽ„

In the run up to Christmas, I have wonderful author interviews to help get you into the festive spirit

Here's the fabulous, Jane Lovering

Photo Credit : Vienna Johnson

A warm festive welcome, Jane and thank you so much for being our guest today

 πŸŽ…What’s your earliest Christmas Memory?

I’d probably have to say that it would be my mum and dad decorating the living room with paper chains and balloons and getting our (tiny) Christmas tree out of its box to put in its pride of place on the coffee table in the corner. Although this happened every year so I couldn’t pinpoint how old I would have been when it first happened! But I do remember those paperchains were always inadequately attached, so every morning they’d be down and draped over the furniture in new and interesting ways.

πŸŽ…Do you have any special Christmas Traditions?

We like to spread out the present opening throughout the day. So there’s small presents on getting up, then another round of opening mid morning, more at lunch time and then the final presents are usually opened in the evening. I started this ritual when the children were small, to make sure that Christmas wasn’t one frantic round of ripped paper and squealing and then an anti-climax for the rest of the day!

πŸŽ…What’s your favourite festive carol or song?

This is a dead-heat between ‘Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel’ and ‘The Holly and the Ivy’. Of course, when you sing as badly as I do, my carols have to be listened to alone, in the kitchen. With the door shut. And the house empty.

πŸŽ…Do you have a favourite festive film?

Oh, there’s another dead-heat! The Muppets’ Christmas Carol and The Amazing Mr Blunden. Both brilliant for getting in the Christmas spirit, if you’re feeling a bit lacklustre about the whole thing.

πŸŽ…What’s your favourite festive read?

Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. I first read it when I was about ten, and it’s part of a fantasy novel series, but it focusses around the Christmas period. There’s lots of snow, a huge family, and a vague hint of menace in the background. Just like my family Christmases, really.

πŸŽ…Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute?

I brought my five children up as a single parent, on very little money. This meant that the expense of Christmas had to be spread as far as possible and I learned to buy bits and pieces throughout the year. Nowadays I’m a bit less keen on making lists and ticking things off, but I get twitchy if I haven’t got at least a vague idea about presents by mid November. I never make my mind up what we’re having for Christmas dinner until the last minute though!

πŸŽ…Christmas tree – real or artificial?

Real, all the way! But then I’m lucky and my house is quite large, so there’s room for a proper, spreading, needle-shedding six foot tree.

πŸŽ…Tinsel or Glitter?

Ooh, neither. I don’t really go much for sparkle, I’m more of your hygge, pinecones and hessian type of person. Besides, see my above comment about being mum to five – I’ve done my time with ‘everything with glitter on’…

πŸŽ…Christmas cracker or party popper?

Crackers, with dinner. The daft jokes, silly hats and rubbish gifts are part of Christmas, aren’t they?

πŸŽ…Mince Pie or Yule Log?

Yule log. I don’t like pastry. Although I do make a very nice mince pie, using my mum’s orange pastry recipe (although I say it’s my mum’s recipe she probably lifted it from St Delia), I don’t eat them. I know they’re nice because people tell me. Actually, if they didn’t say they were nice, I’d probably hit them with a yule log.

πŸŽ…Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey, Nut Roast Veggie or something a bit different?

We have a chicken, a beef joint and a gammon. Yes, all at once. Some don’t like chicken, others only eat beef, and some are just greedy buggers. Plus, plenty of left-overs so I don’t have to cook for ages after Christmas!

πŸŽ…Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz/Mulled Wine or something stronger?

I’m usually working on Boxing Day, so I try not to indulge in more than the occasional glass of Prosecco during the day. If I’m not working though, I am all over the Rhubarb and Ginger gin!

πŸŽ…A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television?

Dog owner. So walks. Lots of walks.

πŸŽ…What can you tell us a little about Christmas Secrets by the Sea without giving too much away?

Well, there’s two dogs, a grumpy Irish TV star, a camper van and a cafΓ© in trouble. Add in a heroine who’s lost her business and a lot of really terrible weather, and I think you can see that it’s not a traditional Christmas story!

Farrago Books
13 December

Sometimes you don’t get the Christmas presents you imagined… Tansy Merriweather is down on her luck. She’s lost her business and her relationship, and instead of a glamorous London apartment, her home is now a campervan on a Dorset beach. And as if things couldn’t get any worse, a scruffy dog called Brian with a taste for sardines has adopted her as his owner. When Tansy’s new-found friends at the cafe in the bay help her find a job as a location scout for a new TV show, things start looking up. However, she soon discovers that the show’s glamorous star, Davin O’Riordan, is as grouchy as he is handsome – and just as Brian starts forging a touching romance with Davin’s elegant whippet Seelie, Tansy begins to wonder exactly what Davin’s fans see in him. As Christmas approaches, Tansy and Davin discover each other’s secrets, and a new bond begins to grow between them. But how will they cope with the storms headed their way – and can they save the cafe from closing?

My thoughts about it..

Christmas Secrets by the Sea has all the right ingredients for a fabulously festive read, a kind hearted heroine, down on her luck, an aloof TV star with a hidden heart of gold, two daft dogs, a rusty old camper van and a dilapidated, but cosy, seaside cottage, which, when all are stirred together, help to add a beautiful warmth to the story. However, the hidden secrets which plague both lead characters, most certainly tug away at your heartstrings.

Tansy Merriweather and her delightfully daft dog, Brian, really stole the show. Brian's antics and his predilection for sardines and seaweed and his amorous chasing of the beautifully named whippet, Seelie, made me laugh out loud. And yet, I also warmed to the rather delicious, TV star, Davin O'Riodan, who had his own long buried problems to work through.

This isn't your usual festive read, true, it has references to Christmas, but it really is one of those beautifully written stories which can be read at any time of year. The author has created two really memorable characters in both Tansy and Davin, and throughout the whole of the story you just can't help wanting the best for both of them. The other characters who flit into and out of the story, especially Karen, from the cafe and her son, Rory, help to balance out the story and give some wonderful moments of light and shade.

Christmas Secrets by the Sea is a really lovely story and perfect to read in the lull between Christmas and New Year. I'm sure you'll love all the characters, especially Brian, as much as I did.

Jane Lovering is a British writer of Romance Novels. She won the RoNA Rose (Love Story of the Year) Award 2017 and is shortlisted for the RoNA Romantic Comedy Award 2018.

Twitter @janelovering #ChristmasSecrets


πŸŽ„ Happy Christmas 😊

Sunday 23 December 2018

πŸŽ„ Fabulously Festive with Patricia Furstenberg πŸŽ„

In the run up to Christmas, I have wonderful author interviews to help get you into the festive spirit

Here's the fabulous, Patricia Furstenberg

A very festive welcome to you, Patricia and thank you for spending time with us today

πŸŽ„What’s your earliest Christmas Memory? 

Lighting up the candles in the Christmas tree and singing carols with my parents, feeling so peaceful and secure. The tree looked soooo tall! 

πŸŽ„Do you have any special Christmas Traditions? 

We bake cookies (Santa loves handmade cookies!) and sing carols by the tree. We always open the presents on the Christmas morning! 

πŸŽ„What’s your favourite festive carol or song? 

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “O Brad Frumos” (the Romanian version of “O Tannenbaum”) 

πŸŽ„Do you have a favourite festive film? 

“Love, Actually” but as a family we still enjoy “Home Alone” 

πŸŽ„What’s your favourite festive read? 

Agatha Christie’s “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas” 

πŸŽ„Are you organised or do you leave everything until the last minute? 

We start early; tree is up at the beginning of December, menu sorted, but I do tend to end up out of breath on a last minute gift shopping! 

πŸŽ„Christmas tree – real or artificial? 

Christmas time is summer time in the southern hemisphere so we have a few J artificial trees. When we’re lucky enough to celebrate Christmas in Romania, buying a real tree at the market is such a joy! 

πŸŽ„Tinsel or Glitter? 


πŸŽ„Christmas cracker or party popper? 

Christmas cracker. 

πŸŽ„Mince Pie or Yule Log? 

Mince Pies, yum! 

πŸŽ„Christmas Dinner – Traditional Turkey, Nut Roast Veggie or something a bit different?

The South African tradition asks for a “braai” – that’s a barbeque. I add a few Romanian dishes: boeuf salad, eggplant salad, sweet bread baked with nuts and Turkish delight. The Romanian tradition would ask for lots of meats, especially mince with rice and herbs cooked in cabbage leafs and pickles. 

πŸŽ„Christmas Tipple – Bucks Fizz, Mulled Wine... or something stronger? 

A cold apple cider beer, please, if I’m to celebrate Christmas at 30 degrees C. Otherwise mulled wine 😊 

πŸŽ„A fun game of after dinner charades or more chocolates and the television? 

As a family we do enjoy a board game and singing carols by the Christmas tree. Always leaving milk and cookies for Santa!

About the Author

With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about mind, brain, education and the psychology behind it. Using her knowledge she crafts stories and poems that are great fun, as well as teaching empathy. What fuels her is her fascination for writing and… coffee.

She is the author of the beloved Joyful Trouble, The Cheetah and the Dog, Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles and many more, all available through Amazon. She has personal work and educational articles published on Huffington Post SA, and ITSI_SA. She blogs extensively at

She now works on a novel about the lives of military working dogs in Afghanistan as well as three more poetry books about Africa’s bravest creatures. Patricia lives with her husband, children and their dogs in sunny South Africa.

Twitter @PatFurstenberg #AsGoodAsGold

πŸŽ… Happy Christmas 😊