Saturday, 24 August 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Outrageous Fortune of Abel Morgan by Cynthia Jefferies

On Hist Fic Saturday

I'm delighted to be on the blog tour and go back in time to ...1660 

Allison and Busby
22 august 2019

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

1660, England. War is at an end but for Christopher Morgan, his personalconflict rages on. Haunted by the tragic death of his wife, Christopher is desperate to escape the pain her memory brings, although looking into the eyes of his young son, Abel, he cannot help but be reminded of what he has lost.

Over time, father and son develop a strong bond until they are callously torn apart when Abel is snatched by smugglers and sold overseas.

From the shores of Constantinople to the coast of Jamaica, time and tide keep them apart. Christopher will sail across oceans to find Abel, never losing faith that one day they will be reunited, and, as the years pass, Abel will learn that fortune favours the brave.

What did I think about it..

When Christopher Morgan arrives at the Rumfustian Inn his life is in complete disarray but over time he settles into the running of the tavern and learns the hard way that he can't always rely on his neighbours to act in his best interest. The West Country in the 17th century is alive with intrigue, and when Christopher's young son, Abel, goes missing, the finger of blame seems to point at someone who bears a grudge towards Christopher.

Abel Morgan is only a child when his life takes an altogether different turn, and with a life of hardship ahead of him the story becomes a real swashbuckling adventure with tales of piracy on the high seas and of the dangers of life in the exotic port of Jamaica. Reading like a classic boys own adventure there is never a moment when the story doesn't lend itself to enterprise and intrigue and even though Abel's adventures take him into some dangerous situations, there is always a sense that, with his wits about him, Abel will survive whatever life throws at him. Christopher Morgan's desperate search for his lost boy will take him from meetings in London with Charles II, to dangerous assignations in Constantinople, where despite many setbacks and twists and turns, Christopher never stops hoping that his son will, one day, be returned to him.

The author brings alive both time and place, and allows the alternate narratives to give an exciting insight into both Christopher's and Abel's version of events. There's a great supporting cast of characters, I especially liked William and Jane at the Inn, and also, Turlough whose special role in the story made me quite emotional.

The Outrageous Fortune of Abel Morgan is an enjoyable 17th century historical romp which will appeal to those readers who like adventurous historical fiction.

AUTHOR: Cynthia Jefferies is a long-established writer for children, whose work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. She was born in Gloucestershire and her love of history was encouraged by regular family outings to anything of interest, from great cathedrals to small museums. Having moved to Scotland and back to Stroud, she has always made time to write and her abiding interest in Restoration England has never left her. The Outrageous Fortune of Abel Morgan is her first historical novel for adults.

Twitter #CynthiaJefferies #The OutrageousFortuneOfAbelMorgan



Friday, 23 August 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Light Keeper by Cole Moreton

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Marylebone Books
15 August 2019

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

Sarah stands on the brink, arms open wide as if to let the wind carry her away. 

Her partner Jack is desperate to find her before it is too late. But Sarah doesn’t want to be found. She’s run away to be alone, to face a moment of truth that will mean life or death. 

And someone else is seeking answers up here on the high cliffs near Beachy Head, where the seabirds soar – a man known only as the Keeper, living in an old lighthouse without a light, right on the cusp of a four-hundred-foot drop. 

He is also discovering that sometimes love takes you to the edge…

What did I think about it..

Sarah Bramer is desperate for a child but with her marriage struggling with the strain of infertility, and in a sense of hopelessness, she has run away from her husband, Jack. Jack starts a desperate search to find Sarah before her fractured mind causes her to do something dreadful.

Near to Beachy Head, a man known as the Keeper tends an unused lighthouse, where high above the cliffs he guards his own battered soul, searching for answers he can never find, about a loss so great his mind is numbed by it. And then the Keeper meets Sarah, and life is irrevocably changed for both of these troubled souls.

With strong themes about love, loss, infertility and suicide, this is sometimes a difficult book to 'enjoy' in the widest sense, however, the author's ability to get right into the heart of these characters turns this story into something quite special. Each word is carefully placed, and with never an emotion wasted, the author's passion for imaginative storytelling shines through.

The Light Keeper is an insightful and carefully constructed story around the power of loss and of the torment of struggling in a world where all hope of understanding seems to have disappeared. Emotional and tense the story runs through a myriad of emotions which are beautifully expressed, often quite stark in places, but always reminiscent of those individual hurts which can so easily threaten to overpower everything.

Award-winning interviewer, writer and broadcaster Cole Moreton has covered many of the major news stories of our time, from 9/11 to the Olympics and the death of Nelson Mandela. He writes, talks and tells stories about the arts, politics, cultural identity, faith, spirituality and life - and above all, about people. Cole’s previous book, The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away, told the moving true story of a modern medical miracle. His BBC Radio 4 series of the same name won Audio Moment of the Year at the Arias, and Best Writing at the World’s Best Radio awards. The Light Keeper is Cole’s first novel.

Twitter @ColeMoreton #TheLightKeeper


Thursday, 22 August 2019

Guest Author ~ Anne O'Brien

✨✨ Happy Publication Day ✨✨

Anne O'Brien celebrates 10 years of giving a voice to the forgotten women of history

It is with great pleasure that I introduce best selling historical writer, Anne O'Brien to talk to us today about Constance of York, who features in her latest novel, A Tapestry of Treason, which is published in hardback and ebook today by HQ.

Welcome back, Anne and congratulations of the publication of  A Tapestry of Treason

Constance of York

A Woman of Tarnished Reputation

Meet Constance of York, Lady Despenser, and her magnificently dysfunctional family in the reign of King Henry IV. Few families have come down through history with such a questionable reputation, and Constance not the least of them. Not averse to swapping allegiances with unnerving frequency, plotting murder and insurrection, they were a deviously cunning bunch, worthy of a soap opera. How could I not write about Constance and such a superb cast of characters?

- Her father Edmund, Duke of York , the most ineffectual and poorest of the five sons of King Edward III. 

- Her mother Isabella, a Castilian Princess, with a reputation for easy morals.

- Her elder brother Edward, on the surface indolent and pleasure loving, but driven by hot ambition and with a sly charm to match it. 

- Her younger brother Richard, penniless and lacking a title, damned with the taint of possible illegitimacy.

- Her husband, Thomas Despenser, as ambitious and self-seeking as the rest. 

And what of Constance? Tradition says that she equalled her family in ambition and treachery, involving herself in every twist and turn of their conspiracies. History has damned her as a 'thoroughly bad lot'. Enjoying recognition at the vivid Court of Richard II, Constance could not accept the fall from grace that came with his overthrow and death. Thus her life became vicious and unprincipled, devoted to revenge, to restore her family's influence.

But was Constance as black as history paints her? Here we peek behind the tapestries and spy into her life more closely. Product of an affectionless family, committed to a loveless marriage, Constance's life was emotionally barren. No victim, she chose to live in an man's world and involve herself in her family's quest for power. That is until she fell in love, with all the possibilities of change and happiness. Unless Constance threw away her chances of fulfilment. Unless her lover abandoned her. 

This is tale of treachery, that is true, but also of thwarted ambitions and betrayed love. It highlights the influence that a woman could use, but also the limits on that influence in the medieval world. Constance was a woman of misplaced loyalties but must be admired for her steadfast support of those who demanded her duty. The ultimate betrayal by Constance's lover brought her heartbreak and loneliness. 

How could I possibly resist writing about her, bringing her to life? Constance is not an easy heroine, but she presents a formidable protagonist in A Tapestry of Treason.

Huge thanks to Anne for  being our guest author today and for sharing her thoughts about Constance of York.

22 August 2019
Anne O'Brien was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in history at Manchester University and a Master's in Education at Hull, she lived in the East Riding for many years as a teacher of history.

She now lives with her husband in an eighteenth century timber framed cottage in the depths of the welsh marches in Hertfordshire the borders between England and Wales.

Twitter @anne_obrien #TapestryofTreason

You can read my book review of A Tapestry of Treason by clicking here 

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Blog Tour ~ Her Last Promise by Kathryn Hughes

Delighted to be part of this lovely Blog Tour

Headline Review
22 August 2019

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the Blog Tour
✨✨ Winner Book of the Year in Prima magazine Big Book Awards 2019 ✨✨ 

Tara Richards was just a girl when she lost her mother. Years later when Tara receives a letter from a London solicitor its contents shake her to the core. Someone has left her a key to a safe deposit box. In the box lies an object that will change everything Tara thought she knew and lead her on a journey to deepest Spain in search of the answers that have haunted her for forty years.

Violet Skye regrets her decision to travel abroad leaving her young daughter behind. As the sun dips below the mountains, she reminds herself she is doing this for their future. Tonight, 4th June 1978, will be the start of a new life for them. This night will indeed change Violet's destiny, in the most unexpected of ways...

What did I think about it..

Back in the late 1970s, Tara, and her mum, Violet, don’t have an easy time but they're a close knit unit, and even though they live a precarious sort of life, there’s an abundance of love between them as they always look out for each other, that is until her mum goes on holiday with a new boyfriend and doesn’t return. Forty or so years later, Tara receives some unexpected news which opens up a whole batch of memories which have long been hidden.

It’s really difficult to say too much about what happens over the course of Her Last Promise as that would spoil the effect of this complex family saga and a story which flits seamlessly between two different times frames. Either in the present day, or back in 1978, the story progresses with a fine eye for detail, and both Tara and her mum, both fascinating characters soon start to come alive in the imagination. There are also several other people who warm the heart, especially Alf at the hardware shop, Tom, Tara's first boyfriend, and Tara's nan, all of them bring their own special brand of magic to the story.

There are several strands to the story which initially takes some getting used to and there were times when I wondered how everything was going to join together, but I needn’t have worried as the author does a great job of tying up all the loose ends in a satisfying conclusion.

I’ve really enjoyed being on this journey of discovery with Tara, and as she delves further and further into the mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance, so a fascinating story of love, loss and family secrets starts to emerge.

Her Last Promise is a well written family saga with all the right ingredients for an epic and enjoyable story.

Kathryn Hughes is the internationally best selling author of The Letter, The Secret and The Key. Her total sales exceed 1.4 million copies and her novels have been published into 29 languages.

Twitter @KHughesAuthor #HerLastPromise



Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Review ~ Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

21 February 2019
Detective DD Warren #10

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book 

One death might be an accident.
Two deaths looks like murder.

A man is shot dead in his own home, and his pregnant wife, Evie, is found with the gun in her hands.

Detective D.D. Warren instantly recognises her. Sixteen years ago, Evie also shot her own father. That killing was ruled an accident.

D.D. doesn’t believe in coincidences. But this case isn’t as open and shut as it first appears, and her job is to discover the truth.

Evie might be a victim.

Or she might be about to get away with murder again.

My thoughts..

Detective Warren and her team are called to investigate a shooting in which the perpetrator seems clear cut from the start but as the story progresses it becomes more obvious that all is not as it first appears, and the added complication that the alleged perpetrator has already been suspected of a previous killing only lends excitement to what is a rather tense plot line.

Since this is book number 10 in the Detective DD Warren series of crime stories, and I am new to the series, it took a little while for me to feel comfortable with the main character and the way that she goes about her investigations. However, once I started to feel more settled with the way the story was unfolding, I found Never Tell to be quite a gripping read. The many twists and turns certainly kept my attention and there were several investigative avenues which I didn't see coming.

Overall, I found Never Tell to be an exciting and action packed thriller, written by an author who has definitely streamlined this crime series into something rather special, and, I count this as a really good sign, that even as the story ended I found myself wondering if I had time to go back to the beginning and start reading this compelling series from the very start.

Lisa Gardner is a #1 New York Times bestselling crime novelist. A self-described research junkie, she has parlayed her interest in police procedure and twisted minds into a streak of twenty thrillers. Her latest, NEVER TELL features Detective D.D. Warren joining forces with vigilante Flora Dane to investigate the murder of known associate of Flora's infamous kidnapper.

Twitter @LisaGardnerBks #NeverTell


Saturday, 17 August 2019

Hist Fic Saturday ~ A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O'Brien

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to...1399

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22 August 2019

My thanks to the author for my proof copy of this book

Her actions could make history – but at what price?

1399: Constance of York, Lady Despenser, proves herself more than a mere observer in the devious intrigues of her magnificently dysfunctional family, The House of York

Surrounded by power-hungry men, including her aggressively self-centred husband Thomas and ruthless siblings Edward and Richard, Constance places herself at the heart of two treasonous plots against King Henry IV. Will it be possible for this Plantagenet family to safeguard its own political power by restoring either King Richard II to the throne, or the precarious Mortimer claimant?

Although the execution of these conspiracies will place them all in jeopardy, Constance is not deterred, even when the cost of her ambition threatens to overwhelm her. Even when it endangers her new-found happiness.

With treason, tragedy, heartbreak and betrayal, this is the story of a woman ahead of her time, fighting for herself and what she believes to be right in a world of men.

What did I think about it..

The richness of A Tapestry of Treason is as sumptuous as anything that ever graced the walls of a medieval castle. Lovingly stitched by an author who continues to bring fascinating life to the forgotten women of our history. 

Constance of York was born into a vainglorious and deeply ambitious family whose familial connection to Edward III places them close enough to royalty to always be a threat. It is their unwavering allegiance to Richard II which will prove to be disastrous when in 1399 their cousin Henry IV usurps Richard’s crown inciting the York’s do all they can to restore Richard back to power.

A clever blending of fact and fiction brings the mercurial medieval court of Henry IV to life. Filled with political intrigue and deadly ambition, Constance discovers that despite her cunning and formidable ability she is always at the mercy of men who would exploit and deceive her. Despite an uneasy marriage to Thomas, Lord Despenser, Constance is never far from political intrigue and her uncompromising personality and her capacity to be drawn into scandal is what makes this account of her life such a fascinating read. That Constance is a worthy heroine is in no doubt, her life reads like a modern day reality show, and yet, by the end of the novel I couldn't help but have enormous respect for the trials she endured during her life in which her undoubted charisma, tenacity and sheer strength of will are tested to the absolute limits.

Beautifully written and impeccably researched, A Tapestry of Treason is another absolute triumph of a novel from an author who allows us, with her clever words and vivid imagery, to experience life in medieval England. We stand shoulder to shoulder with those strong and decisive women who forged our history, not armed with crossbows on the battlefields of Europe, but who, in draughty anterooms and dusty solar, could be found cleverly plotting and deftly weaving together the tapestry threads of  conspiracy, intrigue and deadly danger.

 A Tapestry of Treason is published in hardback and ebook on the 22nd August by HQ and is available to pre-order

by kind permission of the author

In 2019 Anne O'Brien celebrates ten years of giving voice to the forgotten women of history

Anne O'Brien was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in history at Manchester University and a Master's in Education at Hull, she lived in the East Riding for many years as a teacher of history.

She now lives with her husband in an eighteenth century timber framed cottage in the depths of the welsh marches in Hertfordshire the borders between England and Wales.

Twitter @anne_obrien #ATapestryofTreason

Friday, 16 August 2019

Review ~ Ten Poems About Art From Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press
July 2019

Poems about art have a long and vivid history, and some of our greatest poets have tried to capture in verse the beguiling worlds of colour on canvas. Geoff Dyer’s remarkably wide-ranging selection encourages us to look at familiar and unfamiliar paintings and artists with fresh eyes.

We find ourselves in Vermeer’s studio next door to a rowdy alehouse and meet a Bonnard nude day-dreaming in her bathtub. There’s a contemplative poem capturing the calm of a Vuillard interior, and then there’s life as one of Miró’s dots:

“So here I am, on the edge of animation,
a dream, a dance, a fantastic construction,

A child’s adventure.”

from ‘I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miró’ by Moniza Alvi

These poems are sure to delight every art lover, reminding us that any painting worth its salt has a thousand different meanings. This title is the second co-publication by Candlestick Press in association with Pushkin Press.

Geoff Dyer is the award-winning author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction. His books have been translated into 24 languages.

Poems by Fleur Adcock, Moniza Alvi, WH Auden, Sue Hubbard, Mark Doty, Linda France, Mimi Khalvati, RS Thomas, Tomas Tranströmer and William Carlos Williams.

Donation to Teapot Trust

What did I think about it..

There's a little bit of an artist in all of us, some can express this in beautiful paintings, whilst others are more inclined to paint pictures with their words and in this latest collection of Ten Poems about Art, Geoff Dyer has chosen a fascinating range of poetry which describes the colour, sensation and emotional appeal of artists, their models and their masterpieces.

I think opening poem sets the atmosphere really well:

From Musée des Beaux Arts by W H Auden(1907-1973)

"About suffering they were never wrong.
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;"

An artist's visionary colour palette is recreated in glorious detail in Four Cut Sunflowers, One Upside Down by Mark Doty.

"...They are a nocturne
in argent and gold, and they burn
with the ferocity
of dying..."

In the poem Cézanne The Card Players by RS Thomas the scene is captured perfectly and those who knows the painting will recognise the two enigmatic card players who sit intently staring at the cards in their hands, wine bottle between them..

"..The Pipe without 
smoke, the empty
bottle,the light
on the wall are the clock
they go by.."

Ten Poems about Art brings into focus diverse works of art which then give a tantalising glimpse into a world of sensation, colour and emotion. And for anyone who has ever gone into an art gallery and, like me, bought a bunch of postcards, this one will ring true:

Leaving the Tate by Fleur Adcock

"..Coming out with your clutch of postcards
in a Tate Gallery bag and another clutch
if images packed into your head you pause
on the steps to look across the river.."

Ten Poems about Art is a lovely collection of poetry made all the more special by a glorious cover and would make a perfect gift for any art lover.

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 Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Twitter @PoetryCandle

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Blog Tour ~ Gone by Leona Deakin

Ebook 9August
Paperback 3rd October 2019

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

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:



The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic, and psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom is persuaded to investigate. As she delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all. 

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed. 

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the puppeteer. But is she playing into their hands?

What did I think about it...

We've probably all tried at some point one of those enticing questionnaires on social media to find out what type of personality we are and never really attach much significance to the results but as this story points out the importance of collecting data from these, seemingly innocent quizzes, can be very relevant indeed. 

In Gone people are going missing after receiving a mysterious birthday card which dares them to take part in a game. Leaving behind family, friends, work and all other personal commitments, these people are being recruited and quite simply leave everything behind, only to either resurface later ... or disappear completely.

Psychologist and private detective, Dr Augusta Bloom, gets drawn into this rather bizarre situation when a friend of her fellow investigator, Marcus Jameson's, goes missing leaving behind her young daughter. Further investigation ensues and Augusta and Marcus get drawn closer and closer into the centre of a totally perplexing mystery.

What then follows is a really thought-provoking psychological thriller which had me, on more than one occasion, on the edge of my seat. The characters are entirely plausible, some I liked more than others, for reasons which become apparent as the story progresses. I especially enjoyed getting to know more about Dr Bloom, who is quite a formidable figure, and her colleague, the enigmatic Marcus Jameson, with his MI6 background, is quite charming in his own special way. I could, quite easily, see this pairing becoming a forceful investigative duo should the author choose to continue this as a book series. 

Gone is a commendable debut novel from an exciting new talent and I can't wait to see what she writes next !

About the Author

Leona draws inspiration for her writing from her own experiences having started her career as a psychologist with the West Yorkshire Police and her successful work in psychology since. She is now an occupational psychologist and lives with her family in Leeds. This is her debut thriller.

Twitter @LeonaDeakin1 #Gone



Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Blog Tour ~ Another You by Jane Cable

Delighted to be involved in the blog tour for this lovely dual time story

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Sapere Books
27 June 2019

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

I'm delighted to be able to share this exclusive book extract from Another You 

I am about to turn on the shower when I hear it. Distant at first, almost thunder — but with a definite pulse. I throw open the bathroom window and look to the skies: heavy, low and revealing nothing.

Studland Bay is shrouded in early morning mist, still and silent over the sea. The dampness clings to the folded umbrellas in the pub garden, staining the fabric with dark streaks. With the habit born of years I listen for the sea, but all I can hear is thrum, thrum, thrum from above.

The sea is beyond the garden. Figures move along the shoreline, somehow lacking the randomness of dog walkers. Something unfamiliar jars. Thrum, thrum, thrum.

The mist makes Studland a strange, enclosed world. On a clear day I can see the cliffs to my right rise to meet the sky at Old Harry rocks, a wall of chalk which dazzles in the sunlight before plummeting into the surf. Now it is as though there is nothing there. I shiver and wrap my towel more closely around me.

As the thrumming fades into the distance my attention is caught by a jeep bumping over the field in the direction of Fort Henry, its concrete mass just visible between the trees to my left. Two men jump out and call to each other, their words indistinct on the breeze. That’s it — I remember now — the re-enactment.

Music from Jude’s radio alarm reaches me through the wall. Time I was getting on, but a movement in the bay catches my eye. The mist is breaking a little, wisps like candyfloss spiralling past the window. The prevailing wind has changed but there is something else… I sniff the air. The merest hint of cordite.

Shapes shift beyond the thinning curtain: huge, beige, intangible. I lean out further. The men from the jeep are dragging a wooden crate towards the fort. Gears grind in the lane as an army truck negotiates the bend at the bottom of the cliff path. It stops in the dip and soldiers stream out, disappearing down the gully to the beach.

The wind is an unfamiliar visitor to the bay but this morning it sweeps in from the east with a vengeance, whipping the water into angry furrows and peaks. The shapes in the sea edge into view, pitching and tossing in the swell. I can only count three of them, but something makes me think there are more beyond. I strain my eyes — what in heaven’s name are they?

There is a tap on the bathroom door. “Just putting the kettle on, Mum. Want some toast?”

“Please.” I shake myself and turn on the shower.

But still I am drawn to the window and the sea, gunmetal grey as the shapes emerge from the mist. Steam fills the room behind me as they appear then disappear, never quite reaching the shore.

Jude has the Bournemouth Echo spread out in front of him on the kitchen table. I pause at the bottom of the stairs — he’s so like his father was when I first met him: tall, blue-eyed and with a smile to melt hearts at fifty paces. All he’s inherited from me is my coppery-blonde hair.

“Morning, Mum. Just checking the timings for today.”

“The re-enactment?”

“No, that’s in a couple of weeks — today’s the memorial service for the tank crews.”

I sit down next to him and pour myself a mug of tea from the pot. “Are you sure? It’s crawling with soldiers out there.”

His finger moves across the paper. “Well, there is a bit of historical stuff going on; Bovington Museum’s bringing down a tank to drive ashore from a carrier and there’ll be an old plane flying over to drop some poppies.”

I lean towards him so I can read over his shoulder. It’s a big day for Studland; exactly sixty years ago the village stood silent witness to the first of a string of rehearsals for D-Day, which went horribly wrong when the amphibious tanks that were meant to float didn’t. The army picked the Studland peninsular because the terrain, with cliffs at one end and sand dunes at the other, was similar to Normandy. And it was secret; the paper says during the war it was almost completely cut off from the world.

Exercise Smash was so hush-hush it’s only recently that anyone’s heard about it and today a memorial to the men who died will be unveiled. The editorial proclaims that without their sacrifice the story of D-Day might have been very different, but I bet their families didn’t think so. There’s an interview with the last remaining widow, who says they were told nothing in 1944 and just accepted it. Stiff upper lips and all that. What a time to live.

Jude stands up and stretches. “I’d best go prep the bar. It was busy last night, and if we’re opening for coffee we’ll need stacks of cups and saucers.”

“What time’s your father coming in?”

He rolls his eyes. “Who knows? Said he had a date last night, remember?”

Nothing new there.

As Jude clatters down the stairs to the pub the feeling washes over me. Drab, familiar, bleak as the misty dawn. How the hell did the six inches of cold sheet between Stephen and me stretch until it became three miles of chalk headland? And would I change it? No. Not now, anyway.

Jude was conceived in this grey prison of a place, long before the mullions grew bars. Upstairs, on the lumpy mattress of Uncle Ted’s spare bed, before we knew it would become our future. Even before we knew we had one. We curled together under the blankets, star-struck by the novelty of a whole weekend together, oblivious to the fact I’d forgotten my pills.

In the morning we walked along the beach, barefoot, my skirt trailing in the sand. Behind the tide, with salt and a bucket we pulled up razor clams. I cooked them for supper, with pork, wine and garlic. Uncle Ted said I should be running the kitchen in his pub. Oh, how we laughed at the idea.

I’ll never forget waking here for the first time. We arrived in the dark, not long before closing time. Smoke filled The Smugglers’ public bar and Stephen’s Uncle Ted, a narrow whippet of a man, was polishing glasses behind it. He grasped my hand.

“Welcome to Studland, Marie.” His voice was gentle, his smile slow. I miss him to this day.

©Jane Cable

About the Author

Although brought up in Cardiff, Jane Cable now lives in Cornwall and is a full time writer. Another You is a moving saga of family life in the 21st century which draws on the horrors of combat, both in modern times and World War Two as down-trodden Marie fights to reclaim her identity and discover what really matters to her. Jane’s next book, Winter Skies, will be available for pre-order from Sapere Books soon.

Twitter @JaneCable #AnotherYou


More about the author can be found on her website by clicking here  or on Facebook by clicking here 

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Review ~ The Last by Hanna Jameson

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1 August 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

The world has ended in Nuclear War.

You and nineteen other survivors hole up in an isolated Swiss hotel.

You wait, you survive.

The you find the body.

One of your number has blood on their hands

The race is on to find the killer...


What did I think about it...

Nuclear bombs drop on strategic points around the globe and for the remaining guests at the isolated L'Hôtel Sixième in Switzerland life, as they once knew it, is definitely over. For Jon Keller, an American historian, the situation allows him to observe his fellow survivors in close detail and so when the discovery of a body suggests foul play, Jon needs to do all he can, not just to find the perpetrator, but also to survive against all odds.

The Last is a decidedly scary account of what might occur should there ever be a global nuclear atrocity. The post-apocalyptic world is so eerie realistic that I read through the book with a feeling of extreme cold, trapped in the same time-warp, with the same feeling of disbelief and terror. The dystopian world is a frightening place to linger, survival of the fitness is reliant on those who have food, medication and a means of protecting themselves. For the nineteen survivors who are trapped in the hotel having to depend on each other proves to be extremely toxic in a terrifying world where there is complete a news blackout and with no idea of as what is happening in the wider world.

Jon Keller's own very visceral account is recorded as detailed journal entries and gradually, over time, we watch as the mystery at the heart of the novel becomes ever more complex, people start to become more wary of each other and we also witness the overall deterioration of morals, ethics and everything which makes us act with humanity

In a nuclear age, when all the super powers have the facility to launch a nuclear attack, The Last proves to be a scarily realistic tale and one that stays with you long after the last page is finished.

Hanna Jameson wrote her first book at the age of seventeen. She wrote The Last, her first book for Penguin, during the fallout from the 2016 Presidential election. She has the skill set of a wild-west gun-slinger and you would want her on your zombie Apocalypse team.

Twitter @Hanna_Jameson #TheLast


Monday, 12 August 2019

Blog Tour ~ At Your Door by J P Carter

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of this exciting Blog Tour

8 August 2019
DC Anna Tate #2

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

What happens when the past comes back to kill you?

When DCI Anna Tate is called to the gruesome discovery of a dead woman found on Barnes Common, she is plunged into a high‐profile investigation involving a prominent MP. London is baying for blood – but is there more to Holly’s death than at first meets the eye?

Meanwhile, the hunt is on for Anna’s missing daughter Chloe, who vanished ten years ago when her father kidnapped her. The case has been cold for what feels like forever – but a phone call brings a brand-new lead…

Can Anna solve the murder case whilst dealing with her own personal demons? Or is someone from the past planning to get in her way?

What did I think about it...

Once again DCI Anna Tate and her team of detectives are called to investigate a complicated  murder, and the young woman who is found murdered on Barnet Common is far from ordinary as her complex home situation and her even more complicated love life goes on to prove.

The story moves between two plot lines, that of the current murder investigation which is fast and furious, and also giving more of an insight into DCI Tate's search for her own missing daughter. Those readers who have read the first book in this series, In Safe Hands, will be familiar with the reasons for Anna's search, and even if you are new to the series the author explains the background really well that you can easily pick up the gist of the story.

At Your Door is a clever and complex thriller with more than enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. For much of the story I was convinced that I knew who the perpetrator was, only to have my judgement questioned at the last minute and that's what I enjoy about this author's skilful writing and his ability to write so realistically from a female detective's perspective whilst at the same time keeping the integrity of the story alive.

At Your Door kept me entertained from start to finish, and I can only see the series going from strength to strength, certainly the dramatic conclusion to At Your Door, lends itself quite nicely to another nail-biting story.

About the Author

J P Carter is the pseudonym of a bestselling author who has also written sixteen books under the names Jaime and James Raven. Before becoming a full time writer he spent a career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and television producer. He was for a number of years director of a major UK news division and until recently co-owned a TV production company. For a while he was also a part-time professional magician. He’s married and divides his time now between homes in Hampshire and Spain.

Twitter @JPCarterAuthor


Friday, 9 August 2019

Review ~ The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

6 June 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
An eerie, old Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere that’s now hers.

Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago—her father.

Leaving London behind to settle the inheritance from her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home, nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, joined by the half-sister who’s almost a stranger to her.

Ailsa can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her—as if her past hungers to consume her. She also can’t ignore how the neighbourhood animals refuse to set one foot within the gates of the garden.

When the first nighttime intruder shows up, Ailsa fears that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything.

What did I think about it..

When Ailsa Calder opens up the old Scottish Manse which was once her childhood home, she has few memories of spending time there, and most of her recollections are bound up with the mysterious disappearance of her father when she was just seven years old. Years later, her family circumstances have now changed, and Ailsa has inherited a half share in the old house, the only problem is the other half still belongs to her father and he hasn't been seen for twenty-seven years.

From the start of the story there is something deliciously creepy about the house, and Ailsa and her half sister, Carrie find that living in a place where mysterious things keep happening does nothing to ease the tension. Mixing with the local community Ailsa finds that old animosities run deep, and her return to The Manse is filled with an eerie sense of unease.

The creeping menace, which is evident from the start, is done in an entirely realistic way and the brooding nature of the house, with its mysterious happenings and the animals who don't venture too close, make this story into a clever mix of normal and paranormal. The story has a slow and steady pace which helps to maintain the tension and both Ailsa and Carrie are interesting characters, quite different as half-sisters tend to be and yet, there is a shared bond between them, especially in their recollections of their enigmatic mother.

The story flows well and the author has done a great job in maintaining the tension, and for me the deliberate slowness of the novel is part of its appeal, so that when things do go bump in the night and the house starts its scary stuff, I  was genuinely creeped out 👻

The Missing Years is a complex suspense story, with a dark and brooding Gothic edginess, which kept me entertained and absorbed from first page to last.

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the highlands. She graduated from Oxford University where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. She now works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband two sons. She is also a keen sportswoman. Her first novel , The French Girl, was published in 2018.

Twitter @elliott_lexie #TheMissingYears


Thursday, 8 August 2019

Review ~ Clear My Name by Paula Daly

Bantam Press
8 August 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book


When Carrie was accused of brutally murdering her husband’s lover, she denied it. She denied it when they arrested her, when they put her in front of a jury, and when they sent her to prison.

Now she’s three years into a fifteen-year sentence, away from the daughter she loves and the life she had built. And she is still denying that she is to blame.


Tess Gilroy has devoted her life to righting wrongs. Through her job for Innocence UK, a charity which takes on alleged miscarriages of justice, she works tirelessly to uncover the truth.

But when she is asked to take Carrie’s case, Tess realises that if she is to help this woman, she must risk uncovering the secrets she has struggled a lifetime to hide . . .

We’ve all done things we’re not proud of.

My thoughts about it..

Carrie has been found guilty of the vicious murder of her husband's lover and has served three years of a fifteen year sentence, but Carrie consistently insists that she is innocent. It is up to ex-parole officer, Tess, now working for Innocence UK a charity which seeks to prove miscarriages of justice, to gather sufficient evidence to prove that Carrie is innocent of all charges. Innocence UK have been successful in overturning a number of convictions, but in Carrie's complicated case, Tess and her trainee associate, Avril, discover so many inconsistencies in the police evidence that trying to prove Carrie's innocence gets more and more complicated as the investigation progresses.

Clear my Name has all the trademarks of this author's skilful writing. The plot is cleverly crafted and whilst the pace is rather slow in places, I feel that this is quite deliberate as it gives the opportunity to really get to know the characters in detail. Although Carrie's story in the present is fascinating, it is her compelling back story, in which we are given interesting snippets of her life, which really get into the core of her character.  Tess is an interesting enigma and from the start of the story it becomes obvious that she too has her secrets. The complicated reasons for Tess's ambiguity are revealed as the story progresses, and add a really interesting layer to what is a taut and tense psychological suspense story.

I've now read all of this author's books to date and whilst each one brings something completely different, what is always guaranteed is that the story will grab your attention, the plot will keep you both entertained and enthralled, and the conclusion, when it comes, will leave you punching the air in complete satisfaction.  

About the Author

Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of five novels. Her work has been sold in fifteen countries, shortlisted for CWA Gold Dagger Crime Novel of the Year award, and her books are currently being developed into the ITV drama - Deep Water - set to air in 2019. She was born in Lancashire and lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children, and whippet Skippy.

Twitter @PaulaDalyAuthor #ClearMyName



Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Review ~ The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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8 August 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

You thought they were just staying for the weekend. They looked harmless enough – with only two suitcases and a cat in a wicker box. But soon things turn very, very dark. It happens slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly. Now you and your sister must find a way to survive…

What did I think about it...

On her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Louise Jones inherits an eight bedroom house in an exclusive part of Chelsea and even as this bequest fills her with excited trepidation, it also opens up a world of dark secrets and deadly memories which Libby never knew existed. And that's about as much as I can give away without revealing any spoilers as, believe me, this book absolutely needs to be read without any preconceived idea of what is about to be revealed over the course of the story.

The Family Upstairs is written with a delicious air of creeping menace, and there is never a moment when the story doesn't grab your total attention. However, as this unsettling story gains momentum, and moving as it does between time frames and characters, you really do have to keep your wits about you so that you can absorb everything that the author reveals in tantalizing detail. Some characters you will love from the start, whilst others are so abhorrent they make your flesh creep, and that's where the absolute strength of this story lies, so that even the most vile characters are filled with a menacing sort of  charm.

To say I was completely hooked on this story is an understatement. I was so reluctant to put it down and eager to read more, that I carried the book like a precious parcel from room to room, snatching a clever sentence here, or an engrossing chapter there, and always with the burning desire to discover more about the occupants of 16, Cheyne Walk, SW3.

The Family Upstairs is a powerful psychological thriller which had me hooked from first page to last and is definitely up there as one of my reads of the year.

Twitter @lisajewelluk #TheFamilyUpstairs#SecretsAreDeadly


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Review ~Ten Poems of Happiness from Candlestick Press

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

Candlestick Press
July 2019

My thanks to the publishers for this poetry pamphlet

Happiness: the mid-point, perhaps, between contentment and joy. We all hope for it, but we all also have times when it seems far away. Sometimes, we even fail to notice when it’s there.

These poems don’t celebrate rapture or feverish delight. Mostly they capture moments of what Emily Dickinson calls “casual simplicity” – giggling irreverently during a yoga class or seeing a dragonfly land on a lake. Happiness, they seem to say, is far less complicated than we sometimes imagine:

“It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.”

from ‘Happiness’ by Jane Kenyon

Deborah Alma is a poet and poetry tutor, also known as the Emergency Poet offering the world’s first mobile poetry first aid service. Her delightful and thoughtful selection is sure to lift the spirits and gladden the heart.

Poems by Deborah Alma, Meg Cox, Emily Dickinson, Jonathan Davidson, Tony Hoagland, Jane Kenyon, Bryony Littlefair, Naomi Shihab Nye, RS Thomas and James Wright.

Cover illustration by Victoria McGrane. 

What did I think about it..

Even though I've never been successful in growing one to a reasonable height, sunflowers never fail to make me smile. I remember, one summer in northern France, the sheer unadulterated joy of seeing a field, swathed, as far as the eye could see, in a mass of yellow sunflowers. Looking at this marvellous cover, I am reminded of the simple joy of watching nature in all its glory and of the happiness to be found in 'casual simplicity'.

This selection of Ten Poems of Happiness bring their own special brand of joy and the poems especially chosen by Deborah Alma reminds us that the feeling of happiness is something we should cherish. We can find small moments of happiness in our everyday life, we don't need to go looking for it as, in many ways, happiness finds us, sometimes in the most unexpected way, as in the discovery of " a pale-gray, curled-upwards pigeon feather" from Field Guide by Tony Hoagland or of observing a beloved son " help himself to a bowl of breakfast cereal" from A Short Piece of Choral Music by Jonathan Davidson.

I found this latest section of poems to be quite introspective, each of the ten bring something different to the table but all of them struck a chord of recognition and reminded me of some very special times when happiness overflowed, or when I was, quite simply, reminded to count my blessings and cherish what I had within my grasp.

It's always difficult to chose a favourite as each of the poems are quite special in their own way but I have to say that Deborah Alma's Silence made me reminisce about a similar stop on a quiet mountain pass in Scotland, with a stunning Loch glistening in the sunshine, "and there it was something beautiful, something I had been chasing all my life" ♡

Ten Poems of Happiness made me smile, they made me stop and consider everything I have which makes me happy, and ultimately, in a very special week, with the safe arrival of a very precious granddaughter, the poems made me realise that happiness is always there in those cherished moments that live in our hearts forever.

This latest poetry pamphlet is out now and is a perfect gift to make someone you know feel happy 😊

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 Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.


Twitter @PoetryCandle