It gets more and more difficult every year to whittle down the 140 books I have read this year into my 'reads of the year' and so, without this list being as long as a sheet of wallpaper, I have, with much consideration, chosen those books which have stood out in some way and become memorable.
In the New Year I shall be starting an exciting new Sunday Feature which introduces lots of Bloggers and Writers who will be popping onto the blog to share their favourite Sunday Brunch.
Let's get Sunday Brunch up and running!
Good morning, everyone! Happy Sunday !
What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?
Creamy scrambled eggs on slices of thick white toast with plenty of butter. I also love toasted tea cakes so I may just have one or two of those to offer you too.
Would you like a pot of English Breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?
Always tea, preferably my favourite Darjeeling, in a proper teapot served in my favourite china cup and saucer.
Which of your literary heroes are joining us today? Well...it has to be the American author of the Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon, and she just has to bring Jamie and Claire Fraser to Sunday Brunch. Jamie is very keen on virtues of 'Scottish parritch' and Claire, although not renown for her cookery skills, is a lively conversationalist, so I'm sure Sunday Brunch would be a lively affair.
What’s the title of the book nearest to you?
Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust Volume Two : The Secret Commonwealth which was a Christmas present to myself 😊
What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?
My copy of The Owl Service by Alan Garner, dated 1967, was a birthday present from my brother, Jim. It's a bit bashed and battered now but nevertheless it has survived three house moves and umpteen different bookshelves.
Harper Collins Children
Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet!
I've been trying, and failing, to get to grips with the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin. I've read, Game of Thrones, the first book in the series, but I now seemed to have stalled, so I'd really like to read book two, A Clash of Kings, this year.
This edition 2011
Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it?
I never feel guilty about reading anything and my taste is quite eclectic, from really gritty crime, to light hearted romances. If it piques my interest I never feel guilty and I never feel an ounce of book snobbery or feel that a book needs to be over complicated to be any good.
If the house was on fire which book would you rescue?
My signed copy of the 20th Anniversary edition of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and my mum's copy of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor because it was the first 'grown up' story she let me borrow. It was her favourite book so was very precious to her and remains precious to me too.
Do you have a reading playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?
I do listen to Spotify when I'm reading and prefer something without lyrics, so its usually something like Einaudi, or a chill out compilation, there's a good Reading Soundtrack on Spotify which is perfect background music. When I was first reading the Outlander series I listened to Clannad's album, Banba, almost non-stop for the time it took me to read the first book in the series, so whenever I hear that album again, and particularly A Gentle Place I am back in my Outlander world.
Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read?
I have a very untidy ' home office' which has a really comfy chair, so that's my favourite place for daytime reading, usually with Timmy curled up near me, he likes to make sure that I can turn the pages. In the evening I tend to read on my comfy couch, usually with Jaffa close by, and together we share whichever comfy throw takes our fancy at the time.
Give us four essential items that a blogger absolutely needs?
A large diary and copious notebooks
Time to get things done
A fast broadband connection
A sense of humour
Tell us a little about your blog and why you are so passionate about books and reading?
In 2011 I took a leap of faith and entered the world of book blogging. With no technical knowledge of where to start, or indeed of how maintain a website, I enthusiastically signed up to Blogger.
However, having the website wasn’t enough, my blog needed a name and so with the help of Jaffa, my glorious ginger cat, Jaffareadstoo was born. Initially my blog was simply a place to add my thoughts and when I started to tentatively add my book reviews, I did so safe in the knowledge that no-one would read them.
With patience and enthusiasm for what we do, Jaffareadstoo is now firmly established in the book blogging world. On most days we have several hundred page views and average between 5K-10K views each month. With over 2000 followers on Twitter and a dedicated Facebook page our blog posts regularly reach out to readers, authors, publishers and fellow bloggers.
Of course in order to review, first I must read, and I have an eclectic taste in books and can’t imagine a day where I don’t have a least a couple of books on the go. With Jaffa and Timmy curled up nearby and armed with copious amounts of my favourite Darjeeling tea, I read in the afternoons and late into the evening and can comfortably read an average length novel in a day.
Seven years, and nearly 3000 blog posts later, Jaffareadstoo continues to survive and thrive in a competitive world. Being a book blogger is an absolute joy and it’s always a real privilege and such an honour when an author trusts their work with me. We are usually found curled up with a good book and do all that we can to promote books and reading.
Delighted to be part of this Blog Tour celebrating Mrs P's Book of Secrets and #30DaysofBookBlogs
My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour.
The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946: A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.
But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhills’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.
For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss.
There are no white shrouded spectres here, no wailing ghouls. Just the echoes of those who have passed, whispering that history is set to repeat itself.
What did I think about it... Mrs P's Book of Secrets is set in a small publishing house and in the aftermath of WW2 there are many difficulties still to be faced, with none more so than that of Lucy Peuse, who, as a young widow has been take in by her aunt and uncle who own the publishers, and whilst her position in the business is as a lowly secretary, Lucy, or Mrs P. as she is known, has the gumption to forge ahead with some difficult literary projects. Working alongside Lucy is the new editor of Kershaw and Kathay, Robert Underhill, a survivor, who has his own demons to face, particularly in light of his incarceration as a prisoner of war.
The author sets the scene well and introduces some interesting characters into the story. I enjoyed being an observer, watching as both Lucy and Robert's characters grow in confidence as the story progresses. The fascinating literary project which brings them together adds a nice level of mystery with some interesting light and shade that helps to give the story an altogether different atmosphere. Bringing together a ghostly story has its own limitations and both Lucy and Robert have to face several personal challenges as they struggle with restrictions in their private lives, so, whilst the mood of the story is, at times, quite serious, it is also has a promise of hope as both Lucy and Robert come to terms with their loss and grief.
Mrs P's Book of Secrets is an engaging story and a beguiling look at the aftermath of WW2, and it shows just how people were picking up the pieces of their lives again, going forward with renewed expectation and ambition.
I have enjoyed reading Mrs P's Book of Secrets and have been delighted to be part of the #30DaysofBookBlogs.
My thanks to the publishers and Love Books Group of my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour.
Emmeline Pankhurst stands proudly in St Peter’s Square, but she stands for so many more…
First in the Fight tells the compelling stories of the twenty women featured on the Our Emmeline statue long-list. Author Helen Antrobus brings to life the achievements of these radical Manchester women alongside beautiful illustrations by the Women in Print collective.
Be part of the legacy of the 20 Manchester women who changed the world.
The women of Greater Manchester have long stood shoulder to shoulder in the fight for equality and social change. The unveiling of the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in St Peter’s Square, strove to represent the contributions that Manchester women had made not only to the city, but also to the rest of the world.
Sitting alongside stunning illustrations from the ‘Women in Print’ collective, First in the Fight brings to life the stories of a range of inspiring women, from suffragettes, to botanists and mathematicians. The efforts of these pioneering women have shaped the world we live in and have helped pave the way for the voices of the next generation of women to be heard.
What did I think about it...
This book stemmed from the quest to have a statue to commemorate a woman of significance to Manchester as there hadn't been a statue of a woman erected in the city since Queen Victoria in 1901. First in the Fight looks at twenty inspirational women who have all left their mark on Manchester, some are instantly recognisable, whilst others have faded into the background, but collectively their stories must never be forgotten, and this remarkable book goes a long way in making sure that their exceptional contributions live on in public memory.
Here are the twenty women who were in the running for a statue. They are not all native to the
city and not all were advocates for women’s suffrage, but individually they each left a
distinct mark on their native, or adoptive, city of Manchester. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories of these inspirational women.
After huge consideration and much fund raising
the Emmeline Pankhurst statue was unveiled
in St Peters Square in Manchester on the 14 December 2018 ...
“If we win it, this hardest fight of all fights, then, to be sure, in the future it is going to be easier for women all over the world to win their fight when their time comes.”
This coffee table sized book is beautifully presented with glossy pages and wonderful illustrations which bring the individual stories of these amazing women to life in a very special way. However, the beauty is also in the fine attention to detail, and the enthusiasm which the authors have demonstrated in making a permanent reminder of the contribution each of these women have made to a city which is renown, the world over, for its strong and determined women.
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour today
Two little girls were out playing a game of dares. Only one returned home.
The ten-year-old told police what she saw: village loner Bill ‘Creepy’ Cawley dragged her friend into his truck and disappeared.
No body was found, but her testimony sent Cawley to prison for murder. An open and shut case, the right man behind bars.
The village could sleep safe once again.
Anna thought she had left Mapledon and her nightmares behind but a distraught phone call brings her back to face her past.
30 years ago, someone lied. 30 years ago, the man convicted wasn’t the only guilty party.
Now he’s out of prison and looking for revenge. The question is, who will he start with?
What did I think about it..
I Dare You is that interesting blend of past and present and as the two time frames start to collide so long buried secrets start to be revealed. However, the journey to this final reveal is convoluted and complex and filled with lots of twists and turns. In the present we meet up with Anna and Lizzie, two young women who have more than enough going on in their private lives but when they inadvertently meet in the small village of Mapledon in rural Devon, the reasons for their return to this place of childhood memories becomes chillingly apparent as the story progresses.
The village itself is a major character in the novel, not least because all of the action takes place there but also because it shields a mystery which happened a long time ago and which continues to hold a shadow over those who call Mapledon home.
The author writes this type of psychological suspense really well and allows just enough tension to pervade without losing sight of the individual personalities of the main players. There are some fascinating characters particularly the shadowy 'Creepy Crawley' around whom the plot circles. I enjoyed watching how the story unfolded, and particularly enjoyed reading the short snappy chapters, and the way in which both past and present were clearly defined without muddling the story with unnecessary detail.
I Dare You is a clever psychological suspense story in which a definite air of creepiness pervades. It looks at the power of childhood memories and of those long buried family secrets which once exposed can never be forgotten.
About the Author
Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for 15 years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Facilitator.
Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist.
I Dare You is out now in e-book and paperback and is published by Avon
🎄🎄 I'm thrilled to be part of this festive Blog Blitz 🎄🎄
Novella :274 pages
My thanks to the author and to Rachel's Random Resources for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this Blog Blitz today
From the author of Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women comes a new novel featuring characters from Murder at Mistletoe Manor, Carnage at the Christmas Party,and The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club!
Klarinda Snow is the innkeeper of Mistletoe Manor in beautiful, remote, Windy Pines, Idaho, where she brings her unique brand of hospitality to the tiny mountain town. When she finds her inn unexpectedly fully booked on a snowy Tuesday night in November, it brings back memories of a tragedy years before. Before she knows what hit her, she and her trusty team of employees (Myrtle, Pierre, and her new night manager, Josephine), have found themselves back at the task of solving another mystery at Mistletoe Manor!
While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novella, if you plan to read the books in the Windy Pines Mystery series or The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, it's highly recommended.
What did I think about it..
There can be no better named inn at this time of year than that of Mistletoe Manor which is run by the aptly named Klarinda Snow, who together with her trusty band of employees help to keep the whole operation running. When an unexpected snowfall brings more than the usual guests to Mistletoe Manor it soon becomes obvious that some of the guests have more on their minds than at first appears.
With a lightness of touch this delightful inn and its rather unconventional characters come to life, and whilst the premise of a holiday read is usually light and fluffy, this story has more than enough angst among the guests to make this an altogether more substantial read. I enjoyed getting to know characters I hadn't met before, and learning about what makes Mistletoe Manor such an interesting place to stay.
Coming new to this author's work, it took me a little while to fully understand where the story was heading, but there's a nice mystery at the heart of the story and the idiosyncrasies of the guests adds a nice touch of light and shade, and I enjoyed watching how the story progressed. The author describes everything well and brings this tiny mountain town in Idaho to life, sharing quirky moments, which those who are familiar with the series will recognise.
Whilst In the Heart of Windy Pines can be read as a standalone story those who are familiar with the other books, Murder at Mistletoe Manor, Carnage at the Christmas Party, and The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club will be entirely familiar the author's style of writing and with the place and the people.
I am sure that fans of this series will find much to enjoy in reading In the Heart of Windy Pines.
About the Author
Holly Tierney-Bedord lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She’s the author of over twenty books including The Woman America Loves a Latte, The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, and Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women.
✨ Giveaway to Win a $5 Starbucks card (Open INT) ✨
*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 or over. 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 to the 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.
*Terms and Conditions – UK and US entries welcome.
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 or over. 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 to the 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 the despatch of delivery of the prize.
Inspector de Silva’s peaceful evening is disrupted when he is called up to the Royal Nuala Golf Club where a wealthy member has been found brutally murdered.
Is this a bungled robbery, a private feud, or does the killer have another motive that will cause them to strike again?
With the help of his resourceful wife, Jane, and a new and unexpected ally, de Silva must navigate his way into the heart of the privileged British establishment to find the answer, and there’s no time to lose.
Rough Time in Nuala is another colourful and exciting mystery in this series set in the exotic location of 1930s Ceylon.
What did I think about it..
When Inspector Shanti de Silva is called upon to investigate a vicious murder which has taken place at the Royal Nuala Golf Club it opens up, once again, a complex case, the type of which this intrepid Inspector excels at investigating. There are many false clues and numerous twists and turns but, as always, the inspector leaves no stone unturned in his quest to get to the bottom of this heinous crime.
It's such a treat to return to Nuala and meet again with Shanti, and his delightful wife, Jane and I thoroughly enjoy the descriptions of their life together in Nuala which this author does so well. She really brings time and place alive in the imagination, and just as much as I enjoy trying to work out the pieces of the investigative puzzle, so I also find much delight in reading of Shanti's life in his well tended bungalow, his beautiful gardens and his delight in the well made, and delicious curries, which his cook serves at dinner time.
Rough Time in Nuala is now the seventh book in this series and the characters who make this such an enjoyable experience are now as familiar as old friends. There is no doubt that this author has found her niche in creating the 1930s world of Inspector de Silva. This cosy crime series has the capacity to run for as long as there are stories to tell and I am sure that, thanks to this talented author's imagination, we can look forward to many more Inspector de Silva murder mysteries.
✼✼ I'm delighted to feature my review of Blood Orange on its Paperback Publication Day✼✼
12 December 2019
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
I read Blood Orange in February when I was part of the hardback publication blog tour and I absolutely loved the story. I am delighted to feature my review again on the book's paperback publication day. The cover is stunning - Jaffa and I love it !
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.
I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
What did I think about it..
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, and there is no more tangled a web than the one which weaves its way piece by jagged piece through Blood Orange. The story is dark and edgy, furiously explicit in terms of sexual content, and with some deeply disturbing psychological influences which are implicit right from the start, with a prologue, which, it must be said, chills to the bone.
The story opens as Alison, a talented barrister, is about to take the lead in her first murder defence, but in a world where stability and control matter, Alison isn’t the most steady of characters, she works hard, plays hard, drinks too much and doesn’t always realise when she is dangerously out of control. And yet, even though, you sense that she is teetering towards some inevitable disaster, there is always a compulsion to urge her on to greater transgressions, and in this respect Alison doesn’t let you down. I've never known anyone press so many self-destruct buttons!
There are several story strands, the cleverly constructed murder mystery, in which Alison is involved from a legal perspective, forms a small part of the story, however, it is in the toxic relationship Alison has with her husband Carl, and her work colleague, Patrick where the story really takes off in a whole different direction, and which, as the story progresses, leaves you reeling in disbelief.
Blood Orange is an absolutely gripping psychological thriller, utterly convincing both in terms of plot and malice, and is, without doubt, a stunning debut from an author who knows how to hold the reader in the palm of her hand, cranking up the tension to impossible heights, and never letting go of the action until the whole of the story is revealed in glorious detail.
Harriet Tyce grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Oxford University beforedoing a law conversion course at City University. She practised as a criminal barrister in Londonfor nearly a decade. She is currently doing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She lives in north London. Blood Orange is her debut novel.