Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Review ~ Ten Poems about Horses from Candlestick Press

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

Candlestick Press
19 June 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this poetry pamphlet
Poems that capture the beauty and magic of horses

The poems in this selection take us on an exhilarating canter through our friendships with horses. Along the way, we meet an edgy stallion waiting for his winter bale and a pony picking her way across paddocks after having her hooves trimmed:

“…she sidled through the silver air
pretending to shy at shadows
each hair of her coat
standing upright with joy.”

from ‘The Grey Pony’ by Dorothy Hewett

There are also encounters of a quieter kind – a moment lingering at a field gate as horses decide whether to come over and say hello. The poems beautifully illustrate that humans and equines are always equals. We can learn as much from them as they from us.

Alison Brackenbury is an award-winning poet who has kept and loved horses for most of her life.

Poems by Alison Brackenbury, Jane Commane, Tony Curtis, Sally Goldsmith, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Jen Hadfield, Dorothy Hewett, Geoffrey Holloway, Maxine Kumin and Robert Wrigley.

Cover illustration by Lizzie Ginbey and Barry Tottle.

Donation to Bransby Horses.

My thoughts...

Just a couple of weeks ago I watched a beautiful bay mare, with a glorious blonde mane, gambol and frisk in the sunshine. The horse was simply stunning, beautiful, so graceful, and filled with the simple joy of being alive, in perfect harmony with nature.

In this collection, Alison Brackenbury has made a clever selection of ten poems which bring to life this animal who has walked alongside us for so many centuries. With over a million horses in the UK trying to find ten poems which encapsulate this beloved friend must have been a mammoth task! But there are some real beauties:

Rebuke by Geoffrey Holloway

"...You stand etched in sunlight,
then slowly canter down;
wind ruffling the russet nap
of your coat, turning
your mane spiky..."

Last Horse by Alison Brackenbury

Once from long rides where hit hills rolled
to sun's glare, she would drift away.
Now, tail a flare, a melt of gold
she moved to me as at first day..."

Reading Ten Poems about Horses has made me smile and brought back happy memories when, as a teenager, I spent many Saturday's in a local stable, learning to how to ride and care for these wonderful animals.

As always, these beautifully presented poetry pamphlets make lovely gifts, and this one is absolutely perfect for those who love horses, however, with such a glorious selection to choose from, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.

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

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Last Widow

Harper Collins
13 June 2019

Will Trent #9

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

It begins with an abduction. The routine of a family shopping trip is shattered when Michelle Spivey is snatched as she leaves the mall with her young daughter. The police search for her, her partner pleads for her release, but in the end…they find nothing. It’s as if she disappeared into thin air.

A month later, on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, medical examiner Sara Linton is at lunch with her boyfriend Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But the serenity of the summer’s day is broken by the wail of sirens.

Sara and Will are trained to help in an emergency. Their jobs – their vocations – mean that they run towards a crisis, not away from it. But on this one terrible day that instinct betrays them both. Within hours the situation has spiralled out of control; Sara is taken prisoner; Will is forced undercover. And the fallout will lead them into the Appalachian mountains, to the terrible truth about what really happened to Michelle, and to a remote compound where a radical group has murder in mind

My thoughts..

It's been such  a thrill to be be reacquainted with Will Trent and Sara Linton and as always, the story lives up to every one of my expectations. The Last Widow sees Will and Sara as close as ever as a couple, and yet, in this story, because of dramatic circumstances, they spend very little time together. However, such is the strength of their relationship, that you feel the extraordinary emotional pull of their connection even when they're apart.

The Last Widow bears all the trademarks of this author's exceptional writing talent with an opening which had me, quite literally, on the edge of my seat, and as the excitement builds there is never a moment when the story doesn't leave you reeling.  The plot is very topical and, it must be said, rather brutal both in terms of its characterisation and in the way that the author gives us a very plausible situation, highlighting, in a frighteningly realistic way, the toxic rise hatred and prejudice.

It's perfectly possible to read The Last Widow as a standalone story as the author includes enough information about her main characters so you are able to invest in their situation but of course, this is such a fabulous series that it's better to have followed both Sara Linton's story in the Grant County series, and likewise, start at the beginning of the Will Trent series, and in that way you can apprentice the joy of watching the characters develop in confidence and of the sheer excitement in experiencing their collective crime dramas.

I raced through The Last Widow over a couple of days simply because I couldn't put the story down without wanting to discover just how this tense, taut, fabulous thriller eventually played out.

I hope it won't be too long before we meet up again with Sara and Will, the ending certainly lends itself to another exciting continuation, hopefully in Will Trent #10 😊

Karin Slaughter is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe. her 19 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant Sunday Times bestselling novels, Pretty Girls, The Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her.

Twitter@SlaughterKarin #The Last Widow


Monday, 17 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ A Random Act of Kindness by Sophie Jenkins

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on  A Random Act of Kindness Blog Tour

13 June 2019

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

Fern is too busy making sure other people feel good about themselves to give much thought to her own happiness. But somehow, without her noticing, life has run away from her.

Suddenly, Fern realises her vintage clothes business is struggling, and the casual relationship she’d always thought she was happy in doesn’t look so appealing.

But sometimes, karma really does come through. And when Fern goes out of her way to help 85-year-old Dinah, little does she realise their new friendship will change her life.

Dinah may have troubles in her past, but she’s lived and loved to the full. Can Dinah show Fern that even the smallest acts of kindness can make the world a better place?

My thoughts..

Fern is struggling to get her vintage clothing enterprise up and running but that doesn't stop her from being one of those kindhearted people who are only too happy to help someone in distress. When Fern goes to the aid of Dinah, a feisty and determined octogenarian, she doesn't realise how both of their lives are going to be changed by this encounter.

What then follows is a lovely heartwarming story about the power of kindness and the simple beauty of letting other people into your life. The story is filled with some wonderful characters of mixed ages and backgrounds, who all bring such an array of emotion to the story that whenever any of them appeared on the page it brought a smile to my face. There are some genuinely funny episodes which had me laughing out loud and also some poignant moments which made me think about the connections we have we each other, whether from the complexity of a long term marriage, the pain of bereavement, or the break up of a relationship that wasn't going anywhere.

The author writes well and brings the story to life in a cheery sort of way. I particularly liked the headers for each chapter which highlight a piece of vintage clothing and which allowed me to see each item in a sumptuous way. The descriptions made me want to visit Fern's Camden Market stall to see her vintage clothing collection for myself.

A Random Act of Kindness is a lovely warmhearted story which leaves you smiling, making it an ideal summer read.

About the Author

Sophie Jenkins is a serial joiner of writing groups and workshops and a prolific short story writer. To encourage her creativity, she regularly enters half-marathons and trains by running from her home in North London to Fortnums for breakfast, with a notepad.

Twitter @SophieJenkinsUK #ARandomActofKindness


Saturday, 15 June 2019

#IndependentBookShopWeek 15-22 June 2019

15 February - 22nd  June 2019

Independent Bookshop Week (IBW), the annual celebration of independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland taking place from 15-22 June, has announced that Hachette UK will continue their longstanding support of IBW as lead campaign sponsor for 2019, with a special ‘OiBW’ Limited Edition Bag (inspired by the iconic Oi books), authors Cressida Cowell, Patrick Gale, and Ben Aaronovitch touring bookshops across the country, and much more.

Cressida Cowell and Patrick Gale


Katherine Rundell and Ben Aaronovitch


Run by the Booksellers Association as the key summer element of the Books Are My Bag campaign, IBW aims to raise awareness on the role of independent bookshops in their communities. It is designed to drive book lovers into their local bookshop during IBW and beyond.

This year’s IBW will celebrate holiday reading, bookshop tourism, and Bookshop Heroes.

OiBW Limited Edition Bag

Hachette Children’s Books will be producing a special OiBW Limited Edition Bag exclusively for IBW, featuring illustration inspired by the much-loved and hugely successful series of picture books by Kes Gray and Jim Field. 

Author Tours - The 2019 campaign will include tours of award-winning authors across the country.

Hachette Children’s Books will be touring How to Train Your Dragon author Cressida Cowell with the paperback of The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic, which is published on 13 June. 

Headline will be arranging a series of special musical events with Sunday Times bestseller Patrick Gale, for the paperback of Take Nothing With You. 

And author and screenwriter Ben Aaronovitch will tour bookshops across the country, which will also have the opportunity to order an exclusively signed independent bookshop edition of The October Man.

Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury) will release a powerful short essay for adult readers on the importance of children’s literature exclusively for IBW. Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise explores how children’s books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination and create new perspectives on the world. During IBW, Katherine will be visiting independent bookshops around the UK, talking about her essay as well as her new adventure story for children The Good Thieves.

Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns at the Booksellers Association, said “This year’s IBW is already looking bigger and better than ever. We’re hugely excited to have Hachette continuing as our lead publishing sponsor in 2019, and extremely grateful for the incredible support we’re receiving from across the publishing sector, from all our partner publishers. Publishers have been full of ideas for IBW 2019 and we look forward to revealing more about this year’s plans in the coming months!”

Ben Aaronovitch commented: “I love a good independent bookshop, nowhere else can get the same sense of cosy familiarity coupled with the excitement of never knowing what you're going to find on the next shelf. I think, like libraries, that they are cultural resource we will lose at our peril.”

Visit your Indie Book shop and find your next read 

To keep up to date on IBW 2019 follow the latest developments via social media: 

Twitter  @BooksAreMyBag #IndieBookshopWeek

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Blog Blast ~ The Lemon Tree Hotel by Rosanna Ley

Jaffareadstoo is excited to be part of the 

Publication Day Blog Blast for The Lemon Tree Hotel

Quercus Books
13 June 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this Blog Blast

In the beautiful village of Vernazza, the Mazzone family have transformed an old convent overlooking the glamorous Italian Riviera into the elegant Lemon Tree Hotel. For Chiara, her daughter Elene and her granddaughter Isabella, the running of their hotel is the driving force in their lives.
One day, two unexpected guests check in. The first, Dante, is a face from Chiara's past, but what exactly happened between them all those years ago, Elene wonders. Meanwhile, Isabella is preoccupied with the second guest, a mysterious young man who seems to know a lot about the history of the old convent and the people who live there. Isabella is determined to find out his true intentions and discover the secret past of the Lemon Tree Hotel.

My thoughts..

When a handsome face from the past arrives at the beautiful Lemon Tree Hotel, the owner, Chiara, is faced with a dilemma as the guest, Dante Rossi, rekindles memories which Chiara has kept hidden for over forty years. The beautiful Lemon Tree Hotel, once a convent during the tumultuous years of WW2 also has its secrets and another mysterious guest at the hotel seems determined to uncover the hotel's hidden past.

The author is the queen of the multi-generational novels and writes about the places and the people which so much love and attention to detail that they very soon become as familiar as friends. I loved spending time with this family, getting to know those people who calls this lovely place home. Chiara, although quite the matriarch, has an air of sadness around her, and then there's her tempestuous daughter, Elene, who manages the kitchen and produces the most wonderful meals, and Chaira's granddaughter, the lovely Isabella, who is about to discover some dark secrets about the hotel she loves.

The Lemon Tree Hotel is a wonderful summer read and one that soon grabs your attention making it absolutely perfect for a long, hot afternoon in the garden, or lazing poolside  with  an ice-cold drink. Filled with all the beauty of the Italian Riveria, the sunshine of the olive groves and the delicious citrus aroma of the lemon trees, the story envelops you in a glorious story of lost love and mysterious secrets.

Rosanna Ley works as a creative tutor and has written many articles and stories for national magazines. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Spain and Italy. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives in West Dorset by the sea. 

Twitter @RosannaLey #LemonTreeHotel



Wednesday, 12 June 2019

On this Day ...

Anne Frank was born on the 12 June 1929. She died while imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen, just three months before her sixteenth birthday.

♡ Today  would have been her 90th birthday ♡

The Diary of a Young Girl

A deeply moving and unforgettable portrait of an ordinary and yet an extraordinary teenage girl.

First published over sixty years ago, Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl has reached millions of young people throughout the world.

In July 1942, thirteen-year-old Anne Frank and her family, fleeing the occupation, went into hiding in an Amsterdam warehouse. Over the next two years Anne vividly describes in her diary the frustrations of living in such close quarters, and her thoughts, feelings and longings as she grows up. Her diary ends abruptly when, in August 1944, they were all betrayed.

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” 

Anne Frank


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ 10 minutes and 38 seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Penguin Random House
6 June 2019

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

'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away...'

My thoughts..

Tequila Leila is such a wonderful name for this memorable character who, from the very start of the novel, is so forceful that, even in her dying moments, she literally leaps off the page as she revisits some of the special moments in her life. Rather unusually, we know the fate of Tequila Leila right from the start, she's a prostitute in Istanbul, and her body is literally dumped in a metal rubbish bin as inconsequential as a piece of trash.

In the last 10 minutes and 38 seconds of her death in this strange world we are privileged to travel in Leila's mind over some of her most significant memories, from the feeling of salt on her skin as a newborn, to the strong dark taste of cardamon coffee in the brothels of Istanbul and the bitter, chalky  taste of soil - so many scents, sights and tastes make up this remarkable story of a strong woman whose life circumstances just simply got the better of her.

The author writes powerfully about a country and culture she knows well, and brings such a vibrant potency to the story that right from the start of the novel you are immersed in the life of this pulsating city.  In turns poignant and uplifting, happy and immensely sad, haunting and beautiful, this is a tribute to the city of Istanbul, to the power of friendship, the heartbreak of loss, and of the enigmatic people who call this part of the world home.

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages.

Twitter @Elif_Shafak #10Minutes38Seconds



Monday, 10 June 2019

Summer Read ~ The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

4 April 2019
Chocolat #4

Vianne Rocher has settled down. Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, the place that once rejected her, has finally become her home. With Rosette, her 'special' child, she runs her chocolate shop in the square, talks to her friends on the river, is part of the community. Even Reynaud, the priest, has become a friend.

But when old Narcisse, the florist, dies, leaving a parcel of land to Rosette and a written confession to Reynaud, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse's relatives, the departure of an old friend and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist's across the square - one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own - all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence - even, perhaps, a murder.

My thoughts..

Once again Vianne Rocher plays a pivotal role in the story, however, in The Strawberry Thief we start to learn much more about her 'special' child, Rosette, who is now sixteen. With the woodlands and fields around Lansquenet-sous-Tannes her playground, Rosette develops a rapport with Narcisse, the taciturn florist, who facing the end of his life has secrets he needs to reveal.

Those who are familiar with this series will take great delight in seeing the return of old friends, particularly, Francis Reynaud, the priest, who continues his watchful eye over the villagers, and the enticing smell of rich dark chocolat infuses the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes with its own special blend of magic. There's always a sense of mystery not just from the characters who each have their own little moments but also in the way their stories weave and flutter, revealing secrets and creating a story which lingers even as the wind threatens to blow it all away.

Throughout the story I had a sense of the author, maybe, tying up a few loose ends and I was a little afraid that perhaps this would be the last of the chocolat stories but there's a lovely ending to the novel which could blend very nicely into a continuation - I really hope so, as I would miss this little corner of rural France and the characters who, over twenty years, have had such a special place in my heart.

Returning to the sleepy village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes is a long awaited treat and having been a huge fan of this series and of this author's writing, I knew from the very start of The Strawberry Thief that I wasn't going to be let down. It's pure chocolat infused magic from start to finish.

I listened to The Strawberry Thief as an Audible recording, which was beautifully narrated by the author, Joanne Harris, over 10 hours and 23 minutes. I loved listening to the author's interpretation of her words which gave the book a really personal feel as I felt that she was reading, and occasionally singing, just for me 😊

JOANNE HARRIS is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.

Twitter @joannechoclat #TheStrawberyThief


Sunday, 9 June 2019

Review ~ Her Kind by Niamh Boyce

Penguin Ireland
4 April 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

1324, Kilkennie

A woman seeks refuge for herself and her daughter in the household of a childhood friend.

The friend, Alice Kytler, gives her former companion a new name, Petronelle, a job as a servant, and warns her to hide their old connection.

Before long Petronelle comes to understand that in the city pride, greed and envy are as dangerous as the wolves that prowl the savage countryside. And she realizes that Alice's household is no place of safety.

Once again, Petronelle decides to flee. But this time she confronts forces greater than she could ever have imagined and she finds herself fighting for more than her freedom,

My thoughts..

Inspired by the true story of the Kilkenny Witches, which took place in Ireland in the early 1300s, we find ourselves in the company of Dame Alice Kytler, a rich and independent woman, who with reluctant christian charity takes in her childhood friend with her young daughter.  Reluctant to have the connection between them known, Alice renames her friend, Petronelle and the daughter, Basilia and allows them to work for her as servants.

But all is not well in the Kytler household, Alice is viewed with mistrust by some and open adoration by others. Her vast wealth, accumulated over the years from her role as a money lender, along with her unchristian like views often placed her in noisy opposition with the Catholic church. Richard de Ledrede, Bishop of Ossory, was one such adversary who, keen to be rid of Alice, and greedy for her wealth, is determined to bring her down.

Her Kind has an authentic voice which reminds us that this was how it once played out, women didn't get much of a chance to defend themselves against accusations of witchcraft, and whilst this was the first known witchcraft event to be recorded in Ireland, the sad persecution would only gain momentum in the coming centuries. Carefully blending fact with fiction a story emerges of women living together in one household who are judged and victimised with no evidence of wrongdoing. However, Alice is capricious by nature, and her manipulation of those in her household only lends credence to an accusation of witchcraft and heresy. 

Throughout the story I felt as if I was immersed in the culture of the time with the uneasy and blatant disregard for truth and justice. The author writes well bringing to life the uneasiness of a medieval town filled with suspicion and jealousy and which highlights the plight of medieval women in a thought-provoking and meaningful way.

Niamh Boyce was the 2012 Hennessy XO New Irish Writer of the Year, her debut novel The Herbalist won Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2013, and was long listed for an IMPAC Award. Her short stories have been anthologized in The Long Gaze Back and The Hennessy Anthology.


@NiamhBoyce  #HerKind


Saturday, 8 June 2019

His Fic Saturday ~ Gloved Heart by Charlotte Brentwood

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...Regency England

Kindle Edition
18 April 2019

Hearts of Amberley #2

My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this book

Amy Miller is struggling to come to terms with her new life as a mother, while being a reluctant guest in a rigid gentry household. A victim of abuse, she is determined to never trust a man again. 

Henry Russell has loved Amy for as long as he can remember, but his family want nothing to do with her. A chance encounter with Amy rekindles a friendship which might save both of them. 

The discovery of a secret which holds the key to Amy’s past will change them forever, and jeopardise any chance they have for happiness. Can Henry show Amy that true love will give her everything she could ever need? 

My thoughts..

Amy Miller is a young woman who has been sorely wronged but who is making the best of a bad situation and, though she doesn't quite feel comfortable with the family who are offering her a refuge, she realises that her personal circumstances make life awkward for those people who are concerned for her welfare. When Amy meets up with Henry Russell, young man who she once shared a friendship with, it opens up, new opportunities for Amy.

Gloved Heart reiterates the social and moral contradictions which were so prevalent in Regency England and the unfair restrictions which were placed on young women who had been the victims of sexual exploitation. I enjoyed getting to know Amy, she's a feisty and determined young woman and the author gives her a real sense of purpose and a likeable personality. Henry was a likeable leading man and his character grows in strength as the story progresses.

The author writes well, with a fine eye for detail and there's a lovely authentic feel to the historical setting. The burgeoning relationship between the two lead characters is done well and as their relationship develops there are some lovely moments between them.

Gloved Heart is now the second book in the Hearts of Amberley series but don't worry if you haven't read The Vagabond Vicar, which is the first book as it is easy to enjoy Gloved Heart as a standalone story.


Charlotte developed serious crushes on a series of men from age fifteen: Darcy, Knightley, Wentworth and Brandon. A bookworm and scribbler for as long as she can remember, Charlotte always dreamed of sharing her stories with the world.

Earning a degree in communication studies, she was seduced by the emerging digital world and has since worked with the internet and in marketing. She lives with her husband in beautiful Auckland, New Zealand.

Now mother to an adorable human tornado, Charlotte is trying to find the time for reading, seaside walks, warbling at the piano and quaffing far too many hot chocolates.

Twitter @charbrentwood

Friday, 7 June 2019

Review ~ The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

Harper Collins
30 May 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Secrets, lies, betrayal…and murder.

Dr Kate English has it all. Not only is she heiress to a large fortune, she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career and a beautiful mansion anyone would be jealous of.

But all that is about to change. One night, Kate’s mother is found dead, murdered in her own home. And then Kate receives a message: You think you’re sad now, just wait…

Evidently, all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society, and as scandals, infidelities and betrayals are exposed, tensions rise to boiling point. The murderer could be anyone – friend, neighbour, lover, relative. And Kate is next on their list...

My Thoughts..

The writing duo who brought us The Last Mrs Parrish have once again given us a complex psychological suspense story. The enjoyment from reading these accomplished novels is that you never really know who to trust, or indeed, who is even telling the absolute truth.

The story opens after a high society funeral reuniting two friends who were once close but through circumstances have lost touch with each other. The main protagonist, Dr. Kate English seems to have it all, money, privilege and yet, she is not immune to sadness, and as the story proves, grief, loss, secrets and lies can pretty much turn your world upside down. Losing her mother in tragic circumstances haunts Kate in more ways than one and she turns to her childhood friend, Blair,  in order to make sense of what's happening in her life.

The plot is both convoluted and complex and there are many twists and turns before the final denouement and lots of people who could be suspects. The characterisation is strong and whilst some of the characters aren’t particularly likeable, they do add a sense of drama and intrigue. 

I did enjoy reading this novel, however, being honest I don't think it quite held my attention as much as  The Last Mrs Parrish, but hey, that didn't matter. The Last Time I Saw You is still a convincing psychological drama from a writing duo who mix together great ingredients for a thought provoking read.

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via Face Time and burning up each other's emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. Lynne lives in Milford, Connecticut. Valerie lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

Twitter @LivConstantine2

@HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Review ~ #Taken by Tony Parsons

18 April 2019

Max Wolfe #6

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
#taken in the night 

They thought they were kidnapping the mistress of one of London’s most powerful gangsters. But they’ve taken the wrong woman. And crossed the wrong detective.

#taken underground 

Detective Max Wolfe's hunt for the missing woman takes him from New Scotland Yard’s legendary Black Museum to the glittering mansions of career criminals, from sleazy strip joints to secret sex dungeons – and to unspeakably dark deeds committed decades ago.

#taken to the limit 

It’s a world of family secrets, sexual jealousy, and a lust for revenge – which might also become Wolfe’s grave

My thoughts..

#Taken is a complex crime thriller which starts off a dramatic way when a young woman is abducted just as she reaches home. With no obvious reason for the abduction, the police start to investigate the case, however, the more they uncover and the more they realise that, perhaps, the wrong woman has been taken. What then follows is a fast and furious investigation which involves DC Max Wolfe and DCI Pat Whitestone in a complicated case which is constantly outmanoeuvered by those who keep their secrets close. The story moves between the criminal underworld and the glittering wealth of an old-time gang boss, bringing a gritty realism to a story which is riddled with twists, turns and numerous false leads.

The workings of the police investigative team is focused mostly on the way Max Wolfe operates and of his, somewhat, unconventional approach to policing which works well as we get to know more about him both on, and off, duty. Those who have followed this series from the beginning will be more in tune with the finer nuances of the central characters, but even if you are new to the series, as I am, you can soon follow the plot, as nothing detracts from the complexity of the case.

#Taken is a well written and exciting crime thriller which takes the reader on a roller coaster of a ride through the seedier side of London. It's filled with dark and gritty moments and with a constant sensation of trouble brewing just around the corner.

Tony Parsons left school at sixteen and his first job in journalism was at the New Musical Express. His first journalism after leaving the NME was when he was embedded with the Vice Squad at 27 Savile Row, West End Central. The roots of the DC Max Wolfe series started here.

Since then he has become an award winning journalist and bestselling novelist whose books have been translated into more than 40 languages. The Murder Bag, the first novel in the DC Max Wolfe series, went on to number one on first publication in the UK. All of the DC Max Wolfe novels have been Sunday Times top five bestsellers.

Tony lives in London with his wife, his daughter and their dog.

Twitter @TonyParsonsUK #Taken

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ Forget Me Not by Claire Allan

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be hosting today's stop on the  Forget Met Not Blog Tour

30 May 2019

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

I disappeared on a Tuesday afternoon. I was there one minute and the next I was gone. They’ve never found my body…

It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road. 

Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth. 

When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything. But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten? 

My thoughts..

Elizabeth O'Loughlin is walking her dog when she comes across the body of a young woman. Horrifically and fatally injured, the woman, Clare, whispers something to Elizabeth, which starts off a whole chain of complicated events.

Forget Me Not looks at the complex secrets which revolve around three women who have known each other for years. Clare makes up one of the threesome, and her untimely death threatens not just her own family but that of her friends. So many secrets start to be uncovered and whilst the threat of danger never goes away, the two remaining friends cling to each other, coping in the best way they can.

The psychological tension is cranked up to high, and the twists and turns in the story keep you guessing. The author certainly knows how to keep your attention and the opening chapter is particularly dramatic, there are some genuinely dark moments, and some really scary events which I didn't expect, and which made the story all the more compelling.

Forget Me Not is a forceful psychological suspense story which moves along at an absolutely cracking pace which helps to keep the energy alive from start to finish.

A former journalist and columnist, Claire Allan has been writing fiction since 2006.

An Irish Times bestseller, she has tackled issues from post-natal depression, infertility, and dementia through to writing a based-on-a-true-story book about a couple reunited after 50 years apart. She has now decided to unleash her dark side!

Married with two children, two cats and a mad puppy she is happiest lost in a good book. She has kissed Michael Buble.

Twitter @claireallan #ForgetMeNot


Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Review ~ Fight Back by Anna Smith

2 May 2019

Kerry Casey #2

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Gangster Kerry Casey has fought her way to the top of the Glasgow crime scene. But can she stay there? 

Kerry Casey is now a fully-fledged gangland boss. With her business partner Sharon and her wily lawyer Marty at her side, she is busy ridding her organisation of the drug-dealing, people-trafficking scum her dead brother Mickey got them involved with. But her great dream is still to take the Caseys straight. 

Her plan to turn her organisation around hinges on building a property empire in Spain. But Kerry has some deadly rivals - in Glasgow, on the Costa del Sol, and even further afield. They will never believe she has what it takes to defend her turf, and they won't rest until the Caseys are destroyed. 

When her enemies strike at the heart of the Casey family, Kerry must prepare for the fight of her life - for her business, her friends and her own survival.

My Thoughts..

I've come rather late to this gritty crime series but they do say better late than never, so I've just spent a tense few days in the company of gangland boss, Kerry Casey, whose ambition to clean up the 'family business' causes her some problems, especially as the Casey's reputation for shady business dealings goes before them. With the help of her business partner Sharon and her lawyer Marty, Kerry is determined to succeed in bringing the business back on track. However, that's easier said than done, and Kerry has to deal with a lot of aggression from different organisations who don't share the same philosophy.

Filled with a whole range of strong and determined characters and moving between Glasgow and the Costa del Sol, Fight Back is a lively story!  Filled with all the grit, crime and treachery you would expect from gangland noir, and with a strong minded and determined woman in charge, the attention is certainly focused on what it's like to be running a complicated family business in a tough and sometimes, vicious world.

The first Kerry Casey book, Blood Feud certainly gets the series off to a cracking start and the dark and complex themes are definitely continued in this second visit to Glasgow's ganglands. As with any series it's always best to start at the beginning that way you get to learn of all the extra little side stories which can so easily confuse if you've not followed from the start. However, having said that, it is still perfectly possible to read, and thoroughly enjoy, Fight Back as a standalone story.

Blood Feud (Kerry Casey #1)
March 2018
Anna Smith has been a journalist for over twenty years and is a former chief reporter for the Daily Record in Glasgow. She has covered wars across the world as well as major investigations and news stories from Dunblane to Kosovo to 9/11. Anna spends her time between Lanarkshire and Dingle in the west of Ireland, as well as in Spain to escape the British weather.

Twitter @annasmithauthor #FightBack


Monday, 3 June 2019

Blog Tour ~ Concerto by Hannah Fielding

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Concerto Blog Tour

A sensual tale of romance and nostalgia, Concerto illustrates the pain of lost love and the heroine determined to put things right

London Wall Publishers
6 June 2019

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

When Catriona Drouot, a young music therapist, honours an opera diva's dying request to help her son, Umberto Monteverdi, recover his musical gift, she knows it will be a difficult assignment. She had shared a night of passion with the once-celebrated composer ten years before, with unexpected consequences.

The extent of her challenge becomes apparent when she arrives at her client's estate on the glittering shores of Lake Como, Italy. Robbed of his sight by a near fatal car accident, the man is arrogant, embittered and resistant to her every effort to help him. Still, Catriona sings a siren's call within him that he cannot ignore.

Caught up in the tempestuous intrigues at Umberto's Palladian mansion, Catriona discovers that her attraction to the blind musician is as powerful as ever. How can she share what she has hidden from him for the past decade? Soon she realises that hers is not the only secret that is rippling uneasily below the surface. Dark forces haunt the sightless composer, threatening his life - for the second time.

Concerto is a sensual and romantic story of lost love and forgiveness, destiny and difficult choices, and of a heroine determined to put things right at last.

My thoughts..

Dottoressa Catriona Drouot is given the task of using her unique skill as a music therapist to help maestro, Umberto Monteverdi, rediscover his gift for composing. Faced with trepidation, Catriona, approaches this assignment, as she would any other patient, except, in this case, Umberto is no ordinary patient as he and Catriona once shared a night of passion some ten years earlier. Umberto's mental health has suffered since a near fatal accident left him with sight problems and he has grown to be distrustful and belligerent and, it must be said, rather difficult to manage. Catriona needs to use every ounce of her skill to try to bring Umberto back from the brink of despair.

What then follows is a beautifully written and insightful story about the discovery of lost love, and of the siren song of two souls who are bound together. The musical theme which runs like a silken symphony throughout the novel adds a fascinating dimension and yet, it is the passion which fairly sizzles between the two main characters which gives the story its heart and soul.

The author writes this type of romantic fiction to a really high standard and brings such life to her characters that they fairly leap off the page. I felt as though I walked alongside Catriona as she explored the beautiful Villa Monteverdi, with its glorious scent of lemon blossom, jasmine and rose and listened to the gentle lap of the waters around Lake Como. Umberto is very much a macho character and yet, his struggles with mental health, and his anguish at losing his eyesight, give him such a poignant vulnerability that it quite broke my heart to see him so damaged.

Tinkling with music and suffused with sumptuous descriptions of food and wine, beautiful houses and stunning sunshine, Concerto is an epic love story, which brings alive burning desire and sizzling  passion. It quite took my breath away ♡

Having already had huge success as one of the UK’s leading romance authors with total sales of over 130k,Concerto follows the award-winning success of Hannah Fielding’s previous novels Aphrodite’s Tears, Burning Embers, Echoes of Love, Masquerade, Legacy and Indiscretion. Echoes of Love won Romance Novel of the Year at the IPB Awards in 2012, Burning Embers was Amazon’s book of the month in 2011, and Hannah’s novels have been translated into 13 languages. With its spectacular setting and deep emotional drama, Concerto will appeal both to fans of her backlist, as well as lovers of atmospheric travel writing including Santa Montefiore, Penny Vincenzie, Victoria Hislop and Lucinda Riley. 

Egyptian by birth Hannah is fluent in French, English and Arabic and has lived all over the world. She currently lives between her writing retreat in the South of France and her rambling family home in Ireland. Hannah’s grandmother, Esther Fanous, was the revolutionary feminist writer in Egypt during the early 1900s and helped found the Women's Wafd Central Committee in 1920.

Twitter @fieldinghannah #Concerto


Saturday, 1 June 2019

His Fic Saturday ~ Passage from Nuala by Harriet Steel

On Hist fic Saturday

 I am delighted to return to ...the Inspector de Silva series

© Harriet Steel

Inspector de Silva and Jane embark on a cruise to Egypt to visit the pyramids, excited at the prospect of two weeks of sun, sea and relaxation. With Nuala, and de Silva’s duties as a police officer, far behind them, what can possibly spoil their plans? Then a writer is found dead in his cabin, suffocated by newspaper thrust down his throat. Once again, de Silva must swing into action.

My thoughts...

In this sixth book in the Inspector de Silva mysteries it's a real pleasure to see Shanti de Silva and his lovely wife, Jane, taken away from their beloved Nuala, and placed into a completely different environment. A leisure cruise, from Ceylon to Cairo, aboard the Blue Star Line's magnificent, Jewel of the East, should be all about the pleasures of being at sea, and of the delicious lunches and dinners that the chefs in Tourist Class can offer, however, with the discovery of a body aboard ship, the intrepid inspector is, once again, inadvertently drawn into a complex murder mystery.

There's so much to enjoy in this series that I am always delighted to spend time in the Inspector's company and, in Passage from Nuala, we are treated to observing how he works alongside a new character. William Petrie, is a high ranking government official who is returning to England with his wife, Lady Caroline, and he and the inspector need to work closely together in order to uncover a whole web of secrets and lies.

The mystery at the heart of the novel is complicated and the author does a great job of weaving together all the different strands, and in doing so brings together a disparate group of individuals who all have rather complex reasons for being suspected of murder. I have so enjoyed trying to keep one step ahead of the investigation and genuinely admire the inspector's rather particular approach to sleuthing.

As always, the history of the time comes alive and the care and attention shown to the detail of life on board ship along with other snippets of historical interest make Passage from Nuala a lively and thought-provoking read. I am sure that there are many more adventures to come for the intrepid Inspector and his lovely wife.

You can find out more about Harriet Steel on her blog

Follow on Twitter @harrietsteel1

Friday, 31 May 2019

Book Extract ~ The Wartime Midwives by Daisy Styles

Michael Joseph
16 May 2019

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book and the chance to share this extract


Mary Vale, a grand and imposing Mother and Baby Home, sits on the remote Fylde coast in Lancashire. Its doors are open to unmarried women who come to hide their condition and find sanctuary.

Women from all walks of life pass through Mary Vale, from beautiful waitress Emily, whose boyfriend has vanished without trace, to young Isla, cast out by her wealthy family after her first year at university goes horribly wrong.

Awaiting them is Nurse Ada and Sister Anne who work tirelessly to aid the mothers and safely deliver the babies. But the unforgiving Matron and Head of Governors, Captain Percival, have other, more sinister, ideas.

As war looms the women at Mary Vale must pull together for the sake of themselves and their babies and Ada and Anne must help protect their patients, no matter what the cost.

✨ I'm delighted to be able to share this tantalising extract 
from The Wartime Midwives - the first book in a new heartwarming series by this popular author 

‘More! Please, Mummy, more!’ 

With her head on the same pillow as her son, Gloria stared into her five- y ear old’s sparkling g green eyes and sighed. With her long, raven- black hair fanned out around her slender shoulders, she had the same stunning Mediterranean colouring as her son, except that his hair was a mass of dark curls. Right now his cherubic little face was lit up with excitement, unlike his mother’s, which was drawn with fatigue. She had so much to do before Stan arrived home from work, but how could she resist Robin’s beseeching smile? 

‘Just one more chapter, then I have to go and cook Daddy’s supper,’ she said with an indulgent smile. 

Robin giggled happily and snuggled up closer to his mother. ‘What happens next in the Enchanted Wood?’ he whispered. 

Once again, Gloria opened Enid Blyton’s popular book and continued reading until Robin’s long, silky eyelashes drooped and he finally fell asleep. Laying the book on the bedside table, she stood up and tiptoed to the door, where she turned to smile adoringly at her darling boy. If she’d got her dates right, Robin might well have a little brother or sister to play with in the New Year. Heavens! How would she manage with two? Hurrying downstairs, she checked the meat pie that was baking in the oven in the back scullery, then set about peeling carrots and potatoes. 

Excited as she was about the possibility of a new arrival, she wondered how long she would be able to hold down her job teaching infant children at the local school in Battersea. There was no question that she loved her job, especially now that Robin had just started in the reception class right next door to her own classroom. But with a new baby in the house, surely she would have to give up work to take care of her growing family. Stan had advised her not to dwell too much on what she would or would not have to do. 

‘With war imminent there’ll soon be changes beyond our control,’ he said whenever Gloria started to worry about the future. 

Staring thoughtfully at the bubbles forming in the pan of water she’d put on to boil, Gloria wished that Stan wasn’t quite so insistent about war breaking out. Like most people, she wanted peace, after the horrors of the last war, in which so many millions of men were slain (including her own beloved father). Gloria approved of the prime minister’s appeasement tactics with Hitler, but recent aggression by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia had caused concern. It seemed increasingly obvious that duplicitous Hitler said one thing and then, as soon as Chamberlain’s back was turned, he did exactly the opposite. She knew for sure that her fiercely patriotic husband would be the first to sign up; she’d only to see his expression every time he read an article in the paper or heard a radio announcement about the latest atrocities to know how much he detested the man. 

‘That fella needs teaching a lesson,’ Stan would mutter darkly. ‘A short, sharp shock to put the cocky little upstart in his damned place.’ 

For all her attempts to turn the conversation away from ‘taking on the Hun’, Gloria found that Stan remained steadfastly determined that he would not abandon his country when the call came. The thought of her husband marching off to fight the enemy made Gloria almost sick with fear; all she wanted was to keep her happy little family safe and to bring her children up in a country that was at peace. When she heard the familiar sound of the key turning in the front door, her face lit up; quickly wiping her hands on her pinafore, she smiled at her tall, broad-shouldered husband framed in the kitchen door- way. Even now, after seven years of marriage, her heart still skipped a beat at the sight of his wide, generous smile and the mop of jet-black hair that fell carelessly across his dark blue eyes. 

‘Hello, sweetheart,’ he murmured, and stooped to kiss her full on the mouth. 

Gloria laid her head briefly against his strong chest, where the familiar smell of soap combined with engine oil assailed her senses. 

‘Good day?’ she asked. 

‘Long and hard – London’s getting too busy,’ he joked, as he hung up his coat and washed his hands under the scullery tap. ‘Mmm, supper smells good,’ he said appreciatively, as Gloria laid the hot meat pie on the table alongside a bowl of vegetables dotted with melting butter. ‘How lucky am I?’ he joked. ‘To have a beautiful, clever wife who can cook like an angel after a hard day teaching little ’uns reading, writing and arithmetic!’ 

Gloria smiled as she set down two glasses of cold water by their dinner plates; she knew how proud her husband was of her academic achievements. At the same age as Robin was now she and Stan had started school together; she’d always been the brightest student in the class, while he was just an average learner with an overriding interest in football and car engines. Their easy friendship had blossomed into love, and as teenagers they were inseparable. Stan had started working for London Transport as a bus driver as soon as he left secondary school at fourteen, while Gloria had remained on at school until she matriculated, after which she’d attended a nearby teacher-training college. 

Everybody had said when they got engaged that beautiful, clever Gloria could do better for herself than marry a bus driver, but Gloria had never strayed from her first and only love, even though other men had regularly tried to court her. And when she qualified as a primary-school teacher she married her childhood sweetheart in the church at the end of the street where she’d grown up. Two years later Robin had been born, but it had taken another five years to conceive again; she and Stan couldn’t have been happier or more excited. The only thing that marred Gloria’s joy was the constant, worrying talk of a blasted war! 

After supper they washed and dried the dishes in the back-scullery slop sink, then – as was their nightly habit – they settled down with a cup of tea in front of the coal fire to listen to the radio. Absorbed in following a complicated knitting pattern for a baby’s layette in a neutral cream colour, Gloria wondered dreamily whether the baby she was carrying would be a boy or a girl. 

Daisy Styles grew up in Lancashire surrounded by a family and community of strong women whose tales she loved to listen to. It was from these women, particularly her vibrant mother and Irish grandmother, that Daisy learned the art of storytelling. There was also the landscape of her childhood – wide, sweeping, empty moors and hills that ran as far as the eye could see – which was a perfect backdrop for a saga, a space big enough and wild enough to stage a drama, one about women’s lives during the Second World War.

Twitter #TheWartimeMidwives #DaisyStyles