Saturday 30 November 2019

His Fic Saturday....Heir Apparent by Susan Grossey

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...London,1829

A young man returns to London from the family plantation in the Caribbean after an absence of six years to be at his father’s deathbed – and to inherit his estate. But is the new arrival who he says he is, or an impostor? Anyone who doubts his identity seems to meet an untimely end, but his sister swears that he is her beloved brother.With their investigations leading them into the complicated world of inheritance law and due process after death, Constable Sam Plank and his loyal lieutenant William Wilson come face to face with the death trade and those who profit from it – legally or otherwise. Among them is an old enemy who has used his cunning and ruthlessness to rise through the ranks of London’s criminal world. And, in this sixth novel in the series, it’s now 1829: as plans progress for a new police force for the metropolis, Sam and his wife Martha look to the future. 

What did I think about it..

It’s always such a treat to kick off my shoes, brew a large cup of my favourite Darjeeling tea, and relax with the latest Sam Plank adventure, safe in the knowledge that I am about to enter into the life of this most intriguing of constables in another well imagined historical crime adventure. Heir Apparent is now the sixth book in the series and Sam and his wife, Martha are as familiar as old friends, as indeed, is young constable, William Wilson, who we have witnessed coming into his own in the last few stories.

In this penultimate book in the series, Plank and Wilson face an inordinate amount of mysterious deaths which seem to focus on the problems facing a well to do family and the return of a prodigal son. Dipping into the complicated process of inheritance law, both Plank and Wilson need to keep, their considerable, wits about them as they seek to find reasonable cause for doubt in a complex criminal case which gets more and more complicated which each successive turn of the page.

There’s an authenticity to the characters, particularly Sam, and his wife, Martha, which not only makes these stories such a joy to read, but which also gives such an imagined insight into life in the capital in the early 1800s so that it really does feel as though you are moving in tandem with Plank, Martha, and the intrepid Wilson as they go about their business, forever trying, and usually succeeding, to live their lives in the full glare of the criminal fraternity. Sam Plank is such an out and out good guy that you feel, entirely comfortable in his presence, and undoubtedly it is his strong reliability which brings these stories to glorious life.

Once again in Heir Apparent, the author has given us an adventure which takes us on a riotous journey through London, and beyond, into a dangerous criminal underworld of forged identity, dastardly dealings and general skulduggery. The historical research is impeccable, the nature of the crime is explained in minute detail and the way in which the mystery is solved is expertly concluded in a way which has you nodding your head in wry agreement. As always the author brings time and place vividly alive and it is no exaggeration when I say that the Sam Plank Mysteries are perhaps one of the best historical crime series I have read. 

I had a little bit of a lump in my throat when I finished the story as it is obvious that there are significant changes on the way with the formation of the new Metropolitan Police Force, what this means for Sam, Martha and Wilson we must wait to find out in the last book in this exceptional historical crime series.

Read a fascinating interview with Susan here

Discover more about Susan's writing and the world of Sam Plank

Twitter @ConstablePlank

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Death of Mungo Blackwell by Lauren H. Brandenburg

✨✨ Thrilled to be hosting today's Blog Tour stop ✨✨

Lion Fiction
October 2019

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

The Blackwells are a family with an extraordinary history and astounding traditions, which include attending their own funerals before they die! Their ways are questionable and their stories about deceased relatives are as bold as their red hair, but it is their eclectic wares that keep tourists coming back to their market in the town of Coraloo. Charlie Price, whose world has come crumbling down after a lapse in judgement leaves him unemployed, finds himself flung into the chaotic world of the Blackwells when he relocates to Coraloo with his socialite wife, Velveteen, and shy son, Gideon. Here Charlie attempts to make a living as a 'picker', reselling under-priced items he picks up at the market. Some of the Blackwells welcome him with open arms, but others resent pickers and want him thrown out of the market. Charlie soon finds this new way of life under threat and his quest for simplicity seems to be crumbling. Perhaps it's time for Charlie to have a funeral of his own! This charming story of hope will warm your heart and make your imagination soar.

On today's Blog Tour stop I am delighted to be able to share this tantalising extract from 
The Death of Mungo Blackwell

Tofts were not welcome at the renowned Coraloo Flea Market. The Blackwells made certain of that. On the brick wall, the sign outside the once prosperous shoe factory proclaimed, NO DOGS OR TOFTS – GRANNY BITES! Reading these words, Charlie Price scratched his thinning blond hair, musing over the long-standing rivalry he had read about between the Tofts and the Blackwells. Today was Thursday; the market was closed, but there was nothing stopping Charlie from exploring. The scent of old leather and lavender lured him – as it did countless others – through the stone archway into the still, quiet building, carrying with it the promise of unearthing a hidden treasure or memorable trinket. Inside, the shops, each specific to their wares – antique books, hand-dyed ribbons, flowers, freshly pressed olive oils, leather goods, and an occasional antique dealer – lined the perimeter like tiny homes. These, Charlie knew, belonged to the Blackwells. The center, reserved for paying vendors and hungry shoppers dining on Granny’s delicacies at hand-hewn tables, was empty today. 

He peered through one of the storefront windowpanes. In front of a faux mantel, two armchairs were arranged in such a way the shop almost looked livable. Charlie moved on. The next shop appeared promising – less orderly, no dรฉcor. He spotted a French horn, dented and in need of a polish. Music is money – a mantra he heeded when considering a purchase. He’d come back and make an offer in the morning, but he would have to arrive early if he wanted to turn a profit – especially at the Coraloo. Pickers arrive early. 

Nestled at the top of a rolling green hill in a picturesque town with stone inlaid streets, overlooking curving rows of carefully maintained cedar-shingled rooftops not yet touched by the deluge of tourists or modern construction trends, sat the Coraloo Flea Market. Wayfaring magazine called the market one of the country’s hidden wonders – known for its charm, history, food, and peculiar owners. The writer described it as a place where peace and simplicity dine with the eccentric – a trove for modern-day treasure hunters – keeping watch over a quaint commonality held together by deep ancestral roots and rivalries. It’s why Charlie entertained the thought of moving his family two hours and forty-one minutes southeast of the big city – to start over, to live simply, to shop the Coraloo. He shined his flashlight into the shop – an antique globe perched on a wooden pedestal caught his eye. He doubted they would take less than the asking price, but it was worth a try. Beside it, sitting on top of a pile of yellowing maps, a gold rimmed teacup sat chipped and out of place. It wasn’t valuable anymore. Somebody had probably tossed it out during a spring clean, along with broken picture frames and melted candles. But regardless of its worth, it had a story. The cup once had an owner – possibly a fan of Ceylon orange pekoe or Earl Grey. Had the vessel been a gift or a souvenir from an unplanned road trip? Had the owner been forced to part with this fragment of everyday life to make room for simplicity? 

No… that was his story. With his hands in the pockets of his slacks, Charlie slumped down on an old church pew outside the market shop. Had life really come to this? Had four years at university and a career with a six-figure income dwindled down to sorting through the discarded wares of others? He had been good at his job and never doubted his instincts. He was meticulous, thorough – except on the day the proposal landed on his desk. 

A balmy August breeze crept into the brick edifice, bringing with it the sweet aroma of freshly hung tobacco from a farm on the other side of the hill. Charlie closed his eyes and inhaled distant days – memories of a life absorbed by legality and expectation, before the whirlwind of the past year wreaked devastation on his once predictable life.

He remembered the loan. How could he forget? An equipment loan three times what the proprietor needed. His university roommate and colleague, Carl Rogers, had pulled him aside. “This guy is a pal of mine. Everything’s here. Just sign and you’re done.” That should have been his first red flag – slow down, look closer. The plan seemed solid, the client a chef and former restaurant owner. It was a lapse in judgment. A missing document. He should have caught it. With the fragile state of the financial world, there was no room for error. On a wider scale, the newspapers swarmed with rumors of a crumbling economy in response to banks’ over lending to house-hungry newlyweds. Pair that with this class-action lawsuit of press- worthy proportions, and the bank would take a healthy loss, leading to some very unhappy shareholders. 

He had called Velveteen. She had said she was mid-foil at the salon and could not meet him for another two hours. He had packed up his office and walked out the front doors of Heritage Financial without looking back. He had needed time to strategize, to carefully word how he was going to tell his wife of eleven years that he was unemployed – not just unemployed, but most likely black-balled from every bank, accounting firm, and food truck in the city. 

Stupid food trucks. Charlie let his head fall into his hands, vowing to never eat at a food truck again. The fragmented events leading up to this moment entered his mind, overshadowing the potential of Coraloo. 

His rear end was sore from sitting for so long, and he wasn’t sure he could swim in his own guilt and self-loathing much longer. He raised his eyes at the click clack of high heels. 

Velveteen Price arrived with the latest Melba DuMont novel peeking cautiously over the edge of her handbag. He stood and kissed her – a quick peck on the lips. Whenever he kissed her in public, he pretended all of the other men around were jealous. He loved every inch of her, inside and out, and dreaded telling her their life would drastically change. He sensed she already knew something – regardless, Charlie wanted her to hear it from him, so explained every detail, from how Carl, despite being a known idiot, had insisted his street food truck client was an easy underwrite to the fact that when it fell apart, Charlie took the fall. At this Velveteen informed him her friendship with Carl’s wife, Mary Beth Rogers, was over. 

“I’m done with that woman. I really am!” 

Charlie had laughed – he used to laugh more. 

“But I’m proud of you, Charlie Price.” “For what? Losing my job?” 

“No, for making it this far. It’s not over, you know. You’ll find something better. You were almost VP of the country’s largest bank! Somebody will see the value in that… Somebody will see your value! What about Standard? I’m sure they would hire you. I’ll call Rebecca, her husband is pres –” 

“I’ve already started putting in applications.” He held up two fingers. 

“Two applications already! See! You’re a fighter, Charlie!” “Two rejections.” 


©Lauren H. Brandenburg

Lauren H. Brandenburg is the author of The Death of Mungo Blackwell as well as middle-grade series The Books of the Gardener. Lauren and her husband, Jamie, live in Nashville, Tennessee with their children.

Twitter @LHBrandenburg #DeathofMungo


Book Review ~ Home Truths by Tina Seskis

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Lake Union Publishing
1 December 2019

My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this book

A strong marriage can cope with the unexpected. But can it survive the unimaginable?

American nanny Eleanor was never meant to meet Alex. But when she walks into his London police station to report a stalker, everything changes for them both. He’s convinced he can protect her from anything and anyone. She hopes her darkest days are behind her.

As they settle into their life together, two hundred miles away another young couple faces an uncertain future. Christie knows Paul is a decent man, but she can’t shake a clairvoyant’s warning: ‘Never trust your husband . . .’ When a work trip tests their bond, will she overcome her fears for the sake of her family?

Ten years later, both couples are still together, for better or worse. But as doubts and resentments begin bubbling steadily to the surface, all four of them start to question the choices they’ve made.

What did I think about it..

When Eleanor walks into a London Police Station she is unaware of just how her life is about to change when she meets the charismatic young police officer who takes her complaint of having a stalker seriously. What then follows is a cleverly plotted psychological thriller which keeps the story moving along at a suspenseful pace.

Intertwining two complex stories is no mean feat and yet, the author does a great job of building a rapport between the reader and the main characters so that an emotional bond is formed with all of them. On the surface we have two very different families who, seemingly, have no relationship whatsoever, and yet as things start to be revealed so the tension in the story gets tighter.

I can't say too much about the main focus of the plot as that would really give the game away and this is a complex story which is definitely best read with no preconceived idea of the direction it is heading.  I so enjoyed the challenge of trying to piece together all the pieces of the puzzle and, most unusually, for me, I didn't see the twist coming, so that when it hit me I enjoyed thinking over the cleverness of the overall plot.

I've now read several of this author's work and each successive story seems to get stronger, with I think, Home Truths being one of my favourites to date.

About the Author

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire , and after graduating from the University of Bath spent over twenty years working in marketing and advertising.She is the author of two other novels, One Step Too Far and A Serpentine Affair. Tina lives in London with her husband and son.

Twitter @tinaseskis #HomeTruths


Home Truth is is available to buy from Amazon UK

Sunday 24 November 2019

Blog Tour ~ A Phoenix Rising by Vivienne Brereton

 ✨✨ Delighted to host today's final stop on this Blog Tour ✨✨

Yuletide Press
July 2019

My thanks to the author and Love Book Group for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour
If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.” 

Thomas Howard is the charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician, a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII. 

Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary 1520 ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’, it is a tale of ambition, love, and intrigue, with Thomas at the centre of this intricate tapestry.

Will Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler - a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy. The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them.

 “Nicolas de La Barre laid his lute to one side, hardly bothering to stifle a yawn of boredom. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape the fact he’d agreed to take on a new wife….” Explosive family secrets are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. But… “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.” 

What did I think about it..

Thomas Howard is the formidable head of a family which has always been in the shadow of the English crown. However, whilst this was sometimes seen, by some, to be an enviable position, the Howard’s closeness to the crown, and their indomitable links with Tudor politics was so often filled with danger and intrigue.

In this intricately detailed historical novel we learn of the significance of the now infamous meeting in France, in June 1520, between Francis I and Henry VIII in the event known as The Field of the Cloth of Gold, and of the importance, not just of this meeting, but also of the important role that the Howard's played in British history. 

The story isn't static and moves around with an ease which allows the fluidity of the story to reveal all of its many twists and turns. From the sumptuous meeting places of Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey, to the convoluted politics of Europe, A Phoenix Rising allows a glimpse into a period in history which was certainly alive with intrigue and brimming with dangerous malice. Interspersing real life historical figures alongside fictional characters works well and adds an interesting dynamic to the story. I enjoyed watching and getting to know more about Thomas Howard, he was such an intriguing elder statesman, filled with a deviousness which belies his strength as a politician, especially as he tries to keep one step ahead of those who, inevitably, seek to thwart his endeavours.

As this is book one in a proposed series the story ends with the indication that the story is far from finished, and it will be interesting so see where this talented author takes next in book #2 which is due in 2020 to mark the 500th anniversary of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. At the end of the novel there's a remarkably detailed glossary of sixteenth century words and terms which I found fascinating and which help to bring the period alive in a special way.

A Phoenix Rising is a commendable and beautifully researched historical novel which shines the spotlight on the Howard family in an original and intriguing way.

Born near historic Winchester in the UK, Vivienne Brereton has been passionate about the Tudors for as long as she can remember. This led to a degree in medieval history at university where she met her future husband. Three sons later and six countries she called home, she finally felt ready to write a novel.

Words have always played an important part in Vivienne’s life whether it’s been writing, editing, teaching English to foreigners, or just picking up a good book. In preparation for her novel, she read intensively on the skills needed to write well and did an enormous amount of research which she greatly enjoyed. Having three sons was helpful when she came to write about the characters, Tristan and Nicolas. All those squabbles she had to deal with came in very handy. She also used her husband and sons as guinea pigs for her Tudor cookery attempts with varying degrees of success (abuse).

Seeing ‘A Phoenix Rising’ in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for her and she hopes you enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.



It is also available to order through bookshops everywhere.

Friday 22 November 2019

Review ~ Letters to the Earth Introduced by Emma Thompson

William Collins

14 November 2019

Letters to the Earth brings together the voices of children and the public with authors, scientists and playwrights in the first creative project of its kind.

Alongside letters from the public, Letters to the Earth received submissions from artist and peace activist Yoko Ono, actor Mark Rylance, writer and illustrator of The Lost Words Jackie Morris, novelist Anna Hope, environmental writer Jay Griffiths and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas . Together they are an invitation to consider how this existential threat affects the way we live our lives and the action we take.

Lots of books consider the climate and ecological crisis from a political or scientific perspective, but Letters to the Earth is the first book to chronicle how humankind is collectively processing planetary crisis.

What did I think about it..

This is an interesting collection of emotional letters and documents which collectively give a greater awareness of the strength of public feeling on the subject of climate change.  We can continue to hide our heads in the sand but no-one can fail to see the impact of adverse weather conditions on our planet, and regardless of our individual political agenda, climate change is something which is affecting all of us right now. We only need to look at the severe impact of earthquake, devastating forest fires, and closer to home, the destruction caused by frequent flooding in those areas where flood defenses are stretched, quite literally, to breaking point.

The Letters to the Earth are written by people who represent all of us - from parents and children, politicians and poets, actors and activists and songwriters and scientists, all seek to remind us that we are facing a world in climate crisis. The individual writings are all quite different in content, however, the one thing they all have in common is the amount of passion expressed in each and every heartfelt plea for us to stop, look, listen and act now, before it's too late.

Beautifully presented in an easy to read format, Letters to the Earth, has something for everyone to consider, from letters by those people who are instantly recognisable like the activist Yoko Ono, to a letter written by a perfectly articulate 12 year old, but what they all have in common is that each and everyone of them makes you stop  to really consider the impact of climate change.

I've been thoroughly educated by reading Letters to the Earth because it's written in a way which speaks to all of us in a strong and meaningful way. It's one of those books I'll definitely keep on my book shelf and read frequently to remind me that we can all do our bit to save this world in crisis. 

I really don't want us to be the ones who cause so much irreparable damage to this beautiful planet that we bring about its destruction.

Twitter @CultureDeclares #LetterstotheEarth


Thursday 21 November 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Last Village by Audla English

 ❆❆ Thrilled to host today's stop on this Blog Tour ❆❆ 

October 2018

My thanks to the author and random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the invitation to take part in this blog tour


The majestic Souter Lighthouse stands proudly at the edge of the cliff top surrounded by open grassy empty fields and overlooking a vast blue wilderness. Anna Charles knows nothing of the life that her grandmother once had here. It wasn’t until an unexpected engagement, that Anna discovered the past of her Gran and the truth behind an enduring love.

Seventy years earlier, Lillian Smith, had been part of the close-knit community that once thrived in the village that existed next to the lighthouse. A chance meeting with a sailor one day, would change the course of her life forever.

A moving novel set in the North East of England. The Last Village is an enduring love story which spans the 1940's and modern day, binding the generations.

What did I think about it..

There’s a real sense of the warmth, and also the importance of community, in this dual time novel which looks at what is happening to Anna, and her relationship with her boyfriend James, in the present day, alongside the story of Anna’s grandmother, Lily, in the 1940s.

The author writes with a real sense of warmth, bringing both the characters and the place to life in lovely detail. I particularly enjoyed Lily’s story in the 1940s which allows a fascinating glimpse into life in a small coastal community. Even though the individual stories of Anna and Lily move forwards and backwards in time there's a real sense of continuity and I enjoyed spending time in both time frames. Anna didn’t know very much about her grandmother but as the story progresses we learn what life was like in the shadow of the Souter Lighthouse in this small corner of the North East. 

The Last Village is mainly about relationships, and of the complications of those which are taking place in the here and now, and also of romances which survive despite the difficulties of the past. I read the book over the space of a couple of afternoons, it's a really lovely story and whilst it’s not a very long read, it’s still packed with lots of precious, warm-hearted sentiments which bring to life lovely treasured memories of family, friendship and love.

Audla English grew up in the North East of England. Born in Sunderland, a graduate of Newcastle University and living in South Tyneside , she is passionate about this wonderful region.

Twitter @AudlaE #TheLastVillage


Wednesday 20 November 2019

Author Spotlight ~ Malcolm Hollingdrake

I am delighted to welcome the author Malcolm Hollingdrake to the spotlight

Hi Malcolm, welcome to Jaffareadstoo. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.

I am a proud Yorkshireman, born in Bradford. After teacher training at Ripon College of Education I taught for thirty-two years. I was granted two years’ leave of absence, worked in Cairo and then travelled to Northern Cyprus. I held many roles and was seconded to support schools through Ofsted inspections finishing my career working in a school for children with emotional and behavioural needs. 

Teaching creative writing has always been an important element of the curriculum and I encouraged children to participate in writing competitions. I was responsible for producing an anthology of children’s written work entitled ‘Wigan Voice’.

I have also written for children – assemblies and end of day stories but it was as I was approaching the end of my career that I wrote adult fiction with a desire to publish.

Without revealing too much, what can you tell us about the Harrogate Crime Series?

The Harrogate Series comprises eight books and features DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen. The books were intended as a series but also designed to be read as stand-alone novels. However, in any series the reader will appreciate the character development and the subtleties with each book that make the characters, I hope at least, more real. 

I believe each book has a very different story line and I know from reading the reviews of those who have read every book that there is a development of me as a writer. It is true that we as authors learn the more we write and it is reassuring to hear from people that book eight is the best one yet.

Although the books are set in Harrogate many of the stories link to the stunning places within the Yorkshire Dales and I can use my love of county to highlight key places.

The series involves the same serious crime team as certain cases rely on officers with different skills. The one constant, however, is the partnership of Bennett and Owen.

Your crime series is set in the beautiful Yorkshire town of Harrogate. How important is location to your writing, and do you visit any of the places you describe so vividly in your novels?

The location is critical. It is one of the constants, the backgrounds which are immediately identifiable to my readers. The streets, the shops and the public buildings are all named so the local readers and those visiting can know of them and find them. I receive a great deal of support from businesses and they often welcome their inclusion. Harrogate has so many wonderful locations that can be woven into the stories, some of the places often unknown even to locals. I also receive details from residents who tell me of different local characters, real people who, when included, help to make the books real.

I visit regularly. I walk the routes Cyril Bennett takes. I scout out locations to ensure they are described correctly. I allow my senses to record the moment; the sounds, smells to bring reality to the pages. 

One of the pleasures for me as an author is to introduce the sites within the Dales. Ramsgill features in two books and the churchyard of St Mary’s was key to the writing of Game Point. I have known this location since I was a child and I feel it a privilege to be granted permission to include it. 

I hold a strong love for the county and I hope that comes through in my writing. 

A while ago I produced a video titled Places in Pages that looked at some of the real places mentioned within the pages of my books. 

Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. Do they ever dictate how the story progresses or do you stick with a writing plan from the beginning and never deviate?

I never write to a plan. I start with an idea and those ideas have come from many different sources; a news cutting, a chance conversation, a photograph. I then sit and write. The characters do dictate to a degree. They dictate their involvement within the text. In some books owing to circumstances certain characters take a stronger and more leading role. In one book, Owen takes the lead and Bennett features very little. Although this was not planned initially, I see that there is opportunity in the future for Owen to be developed as a separate series should the need arise. 

I also find the initial start point will often end up in the middle of the book as the story unfolds. It is not unknown either for me not to have an idea as to how the book will end even when two thirds through the writing stage. I try to work to seventy-plus thousand words to help with the pace of the story; the answer will often come at the strangest moment and I have to make jottings otherwise it will be lost. So yes, the characters can drive the story or certainly influence the direction.

The series has, so far, focused on quite a wide variety of crimes, what do you think makes a good fictional villain and a good fictional detective?

What makes a good villain? I think firstly plausibility and unpredictability; hold traits that can take many forms – The innocent, the wicked, the evil, the outsider, the close friend. The motive behind the crimes is also key. In book one I had two villains. One was easily seen to be a despicable and selfish individual prepared to do anything to achieve his goal and killing was second nature but the other had a different raison d'รชtre. I worked hard to try to make the reader feel his pain and believe he had a purpose. I wanted the reader to ask what would they do in his position. Villains are callous, greedy, clever, narcissistic and probably plausible.

So, the fictional detective. I see so many dysfunctional fictitious detectives of whom I wanted to stay clear. The character to me had to be smart, emotionally balanced, a clear thinker, a man who can build and rely on a team and therefore delegate. He must be human and real and at times vulnerable. I also believe their partner must also play a key role, be the black to his white or the yin to his yang if that doesn’t sound too silly. 

One important aspect is to strive for the constant development of the detective’s character after each case or each change in his life circumstances. The key is to try to make the person as credible as possible.

And finally, what can we expect next from you?

I have just completed two short stories, one written to be included in an anthology to support Help for Heroes that should be published in December, the second to be included in the November edition of The Writers’ Magazine and specifically written around the subject of remembrance. I am also half way through book nine in The Harrogate Series as well as working on the first book in a new series set in north Merseyside.

I also try to organise two Noir events annually, one in Wigan, the third annual event has just taken place and proved to be very successful and one in Harrogate. These take quite some time as I have to bring five or six authors from around the UK together to talk about their work and read from their latest book. They are certainly growing in popularity.

May I say a massive thank you for your interest in my writing. It has been a pleasure to chat about my writing. My work can be found on Amazon and my website. 
I am also about on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Twitter @MHollingdrake

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Creating Perfection
9 December 2019

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

Available to pre-order from Amazon UK

✨✨Huge thanks to Malcolm for being in our spotlight today✨✨

Come back and see us again soon

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Blog Tour ~ The Ex-Girlfriend by Nicola Moriarty

Delighted to host today's stop on this blog tour

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Penguin Michael Joseph
31 October 2019

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

Luke is the one. After everything she's been through, Georgia knows she deserves someone like him, to make her feel loved. Safe.
The only problem is his ex-girlfriend. Luke says Cadence is having trouble accepting their break-up, but Georgia thinks there's more to the story. She also has the feeling someone is watching her.

When everything starts to go wrong at work, at home, in her old friendships and her happy new relationship with Luke, Georgia starts to feel truly afraid.

Cadence wants what she has. What would she do to get it?

And can Georgia trust anyone at all?

What did I think about it..

Georgia arranges to meet a date in a local bar but then unexpectedly she meets Luke who is charming, thoughtful and just what Georgia needs to get over her previous disappointments in love. Everything on the surface seems to be going really well, the only problem is Luke’s ex-girlfriend, Cadence, who is jealous of his new relationship with Georgia.

This is one of those convoluted psychological thrillers which takes a little while to get going but once the characters settle into their respective roles, the story starts to take off, and you find that you are hoping against hope that everything will work out well, but this is the land of fiction, and this clever author really knows how to crank the tension to high.

The author writes this type of imaginative psychological fiction with a clever eye for detail and brings an interesting dynamic to this domestic noir genre. There are shades of light and dark and some scary moments about the nature of obsession, and of the controlling nature of a dangerous personality.

I enjoyed The Ex-Girlfriend and even though I did, sort of, work out the way the story was heading that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this clever psychological drama.

About the Author

Nicola Moriarty is a novelist, copywriter and mum to two small (but remarkably strong-willed) daughters. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying at university, she began to write. Now, she can't seem to stop. The Fifth Letter was her UK debut novel, followed by Those Other Women.

Twitter @NikkiM3

@MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks

Monday 18 November 2019

Author Spotlight ~ K M Pohlkamp

I am delighted to welcome author K M Pohlkamp back to the spotlight

Hi and welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, it's a real pleasure to have you as our guest today.Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.

Thank you so much for hosting me!

By day I am the Chief of Trajectory Operations for NASA Mission’s Control and at night, when my kids are in bed, I write to maintain sanity. Writing is my escape, just as reading is for so many. I am originally a Cheesehead from Wisconsin and now live in Houston, Texas. I also attempt a ballet class once a week.

I have always loved writing – so much that along with engineering, I double majored in journalism. B.C. (that’s before children), I was a freelance writer for and worked at my hometown city’s newspaper as a sports journalist. Over years of practice, I honed creative writing skills and must thank all the editors and beta readers who helped along the way. It is amazing to now see my books in the hands of readers and I cherish every note from someone who had read my work. Those little tweets and e-mails keep my fingers fueled and flying upon the keyboard.

Shadows of Hemlock is the sequel to Apricots and Wolfsbane –what can you tell us about the story and did you feel more of an obligation to make this book even better than the first?

Apricots and Wolfsbane follows the career of Lavinia Maud, a female poison assassin in Tudor England (watch the book trailer). While navigating betrayals as her marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, Lavinia struggles to justify her profession with her faith and is forced to choose between the man and the poisons she loves.

Shadows of Hemlock features Lavinia’s apprentice, Aselin Gravel, and releases tomorrow November 19! Aselin confronts regrets and fallout from the first novel and finds she is ill-prepared for the independence she craved. When the Guild of Poison Assassins comes for retribution, Aselin must seek aid from a fickle contact who only wants one means of payment: a ring that is more than it appears. While Apricots is a stand-alone story, Shadows continues the journey, twisting things readers thought they knew.

Honestly, I was nervous to write a sequel. Apricots is a Historical Novel Society Editors’ Choice Selection, a Discovering Diamonds Historical Fiction Reviews Book of the Month, and a finalist for the 2018 International Chanticleer Chaucer Historical Fiction awards, amongst other accolades. I was blown away by the tremendous reception of my debut novel and little nagging demons of doubt made me question if I could really do it again. Thankfully my publisher has provided fantastic support. I roughed out the sequel while we finished edits on Apricots which allowed me to dangle a few hooks in the first novel to better set up the second. Most importantly, Shadows stays true to the world of Apricots that so many readers have responded too. I am thrilled that Shadows just recently also received 5-Stars from Readers’ Favorite Reviews.

Both works are written in first-person and changing the narrator between the two novels makes the second book feel fresh. We see a few of the same events but from a new perspective which causes the reader to rethink opinions from the first novel. These spins made Shadows fun to write and I have loved hearing comments from the fantastic reception of early reviews. 

Your writing is darkly atmospheric – how do you recreate a sense of history in your novels and how much research do you do in order to bring place and people to life?

Seeing the world through the eyes of an assassin provides a wonderful way to keep tension high and the pages turning. My writing can be poetically dark, invoking suspense and emotion -- but without violent description. This is important to me so that my writing is accessible; that the reader can connect with the anti-hero protagonists and even root for them as they slip toxins in chalices. Poisoning also provides distance from the kills and keep the prose palatable.

While my characters are fictional, this is historical fiction. It is incredibly important to get facts correct because the smallest inconsistencies can take a reader out of the story. Each novel has a discussion guide in the back which points out the historical reference for each novel and is part of a Book Club discussion guide. Here is a list of my favorite historical fiction research resources.

Not only did I painstakingly research Tudor England, I also ensured the taste, feel, and effect of each poison is correct. Like so many authors, this destroyed my Google search history, but those little details bring a story to life: how a wolfsbane leaf feels in a gloved hand, how a mixture bubbles in a forge.

Filles Vertes Publishing
19 November 2019

Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they who you expected them to be? And do you have a favourite character?

Especially writing in first person, I had to dive into the heads of my protagonists and understand how they feel when they kill and more important, when they themselves are hunted. Avoiding spoilers, I teared drafting the end of Apricots and readers will understand why. 

Having dove so deep into Lavinia’s head, I did several practice writings and character development exercises before switching to Aselin’s narration for Shadows. To help my readers make this transition as well, I have released a FREE short-story prequel told from Aselin’s perspective. This also serves as a fantastic introduction to Lavinia’s world in Tudor England. I hope everyone reading this blog will give it a try and since it’s free, there is nothing to lose!

My favorite characters are Lavinia, because the entire world originally built around her, and Dauid, who we see more fully in Shadows. He guides Aselin through her transformation from self-centered naivete and also provides comic relief.

Your style of writing is very much ‘from the heart’. Does this take its toll on you emotionally, and if so, how do you overcome it?

I sincerely appreciate that compliment! Writing in first person increases the emotion and helps heighten this sentiment. I write very slowly and often find it exhausting; the emotional connection is a big reason why.

But that is the fun of writing (and reading), to examine the world through different eyes, to be someone you could never otherwise be and let your mind take you on an adventure.

How can readers find out more about you and your writing?

I know everyone’s to-be-read lists are long and I am so honored every time a reader trusts me with their precious reading time. I hope everyone will please give me a chance to captivate them with my free short-story prequel.

I love hearing from readers. I do not write to have books published, but rather to have my books read. Readers can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, or through my website. I have been told my novels make fantastic book club selections because there’s a little something for everyone. I include a free Book Club discussion guide in the back of my books and have skyped with book clubs all over the world. I would love to meet with yours next and I provide all interested book clubs with my family’s recipe for stuffed mushrooms to bring a little something extra to your next meeting (just hold the wolfsbane).

K.M. Pohlkamp is a blessed wife to the love of her life, proud mother of two young children, and a Mission Control flight controller. A Cheesehead by birth, she now resides in Texas for her day job and writes to maintain her sanity. Her other hobbies include ballet and piano. K.M. has come a long way from the wallpaper and cardboard books she created as a child. Her debut novel, Apricots and Wolfsbane, was published October 2017 by Filles Vertes Publishing and was designated an Editors’ Choice Selection by the Historical Novel Society, among other accolades.

Twitter @KMPohlkamp

✨✨Thank you so much Kara for being our author in the spotlight today 

Do come back and see us again soon

Sunday 17 November 2019

Blog Tour ~ A Friend in Deed by G D Harper (Giveaway)

Delighted to host a stop on today's blog tour stop

28 January 2019

My thanks to the author for my copy of the book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to be part of this blog tour

Britain: a few years from now. Anew populist political party has won the recent general election.

Duncan Jones, freelance political journalist and blogger, loses his weekly column at a national newspaper and turns to investigative reporting.

The chance remark of a friend leads him to suspect that the Russians are directing the new British government's policies and decisions. As he visits Moscow and Ukraine to discover more, scandal follows intrigue, dark forces attempt to silence him by whatever means possible and he turns to an unlikely ally for help.

A Friend in Deed is a fast paced psychological thriller set in an all too believable near future.It is also the story of how one man confronts the traumas in his past and works out how to resolve them.

My thoughts about it..

A Friend in Deed is set sometime in our near future when the political arena is just as complicated as it is today. A new political party, aptly named, Act Now!, has emerged and is currently occupying the seat of power in Whitehall. Duncan Jones is a freelance reporter who is finding it increasingly difficult to eke out a living as an investigative journalist as newspapers, already in decline, are only interested in hard hitting stories.

When Duncan gets insider knowledge about the possible connection between the Russians and the British government, his journalistic interest is roused and before too long he is heading into a very dangerous situation which has dramatic consequences, not just for Duncan's future, but which also threatens to expose secrets from his past.

A Friend in Deed is a cleverly controlled psychological thriller which rattles along at a fast pace, and  introduces some very nefarious characters, both in this country and abroad, who are more than rattled by Duncan's determination to discover the depth of corruption. There are some very detailed descriptions of mysterious and deadly political shenanigans which, in a supposed post Brexit, post Trump world, I found to be scarily credible.

The author writes well, and has created some memorable characters bringing them to life in a very credible way. The fast pace of the story helps to keep up the momentum, which was quite tense in places, especially when discovering more about some very dodgy Russian dealings. The consequences of discovering what was going on in some very dangerous places made the story all the more exciting.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up again with Duncan Jones who I met first in this author's previous novel, Love's Long Road. Throughout this continuation, there are some hints to what went on in that book but I don't think it's essential to have read it as this story works as a standalone and yet, as with all series, it is best to start at the beginning for greater enjoyment.

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, long listed in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction,and was the only self published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events,including Blackwells' Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a standalone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I worked in Russia and Ukraine for ten years, which gave me the ideas for the plot and setting that I
used in A Friend in Deed.

Twitter @harper_author



Amazon UK

Giveaway to Win all 3 paperbacks of GD Harper’s Psychological Fiction Trilogy 
(Open UK Only) 

Prize features all three books, Love’s Long Road, Silent Money and A Friend in Deed

*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome.Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email.If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 orover. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed tothe giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.