Sunday 30 August 2020

Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Charlotte Betts ☼

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼ 

Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!

☼ Summer time is here ☼ 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author, Charlotte Betts to our picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic? 

I do love a picnic! Thank you for inviting me to join you. I’ll make my famous salmon tart with asparagus, a minted pea and potato salad and bring lightly salted kettle chips and dill pickles. For a desert that’s simple to transport and is beautifully summery, it has to be Eton Mess made with a raspberries as well as strawberries. And perhaps a nectarine and some shortbread for later. 

Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial? 

One glass of chilled white wine with a sparkling elderflower chaser, please. Sun and too much wine give me a headache! 

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside? 

Although I love to be by the sea, it can be windy and it’s always a trial eating with hair and sand blowing in your face. I’d choose to sit in the dappled shade of an ancient oak, preferably beside a stream or river and watch the ducks squabbling over any leftovers. 

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag? 

Definitely a wicker hamper, with a tablecloth and proper cutlery and glasses. The picnic and wine must be chilled and I’d include wet wipes for sticky fingers and a plastic bag to take dirty plates and cutlery home. 

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic? 

I visited the Highlands a few years ago and, quite by chance, discovered the Highland Titles Nature Reserve near Druror. We had a wonderful walk through a forest, following a path beside a river. We came to a magical waterfall and found picnic tables under the trees where we could sit and watch the birds bathing in the water. 

Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today? 

I’d love to chat to Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart about their writing. I can read their books again and again and always find something new to intrigue me. Perhaps I might ask them to comment on my plot ideas for future books! 

Which summer read are you bringing with you today? 

I’m bringing Catching the Tide by Judith Lennox. I’ve read almost of all her books and I’m sure I shall like this one, which opens in Italy in 1933 at the Villa Millefiore. 

Headline Review
What is your earliest summer memory?

I remember staying with my maternal grandparents while my parents’ new house was being completed. We spent a week in a caravan on top of windy cliffs somewhere near Scarborough, I think. The ice cream cones were wonderful. I was four years old and had taken my pet hamster with me. It escaped and ate its way through the wooden panelling of the caravan and kept us all awake every night while she gnawed at the timber. On the last day, Grandpa lured her out of hiding with a piece of cheese! 

Do you have a favourite summer hideaway? 

Our C17th cottage is situated in woods. I adore walking there with my dog, Hattie, when it’s hot because there’s plenty of shade. We rarely see any people but frequently see deer and sometimes foxes. The birdsong makes it so peaceful. 

Do you have a summer music playlist for reading / writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel summery? 

I had to laugh when I read this question because I dislike music or any other distraction when I’m writing. Occasionally I’ll listen to a Sounds of the Sea recording while I’m writing because it’s very soothing in a ‘white noise’ sort of way. I don’t listen to a lot of music, preferring the spoken word for the radio. One bouncy song from the 70’s that still makes me feel cheerful is In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry. Really showing my age here! 

Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer? 

I had to think about this but decided my tastes don’t really vary by the season. I like dual time frame stories but also a good mystery to keep me wondering. Although I write historical novels I like to read contemporary stories, too. The most important thing is to find stories that take me somewhere else and make me feel I’m in the character’s heads. 

Charlottes's latest novel is book #1 in the Spindrift Trilogy.

July 2020

1891. Spindrift House, Cornwall.

Talented painter Edith Fairchild is poised to begin a life of newlywed bliss and artistic creation with her charming husband Benedict. He recently inherited Spindrift House near Port Isaac and Edith is inspired by the glorious Cornish light and the wonderful setting overlooking the sea. But then happiness turns to heartbreak. In great distress, Edith turns to an artist friend for comfort and after a bitterly-regretted moment of madness she finds herself pregnant with his child.

Too ashamed to reveal her secret, Edith devotes herself to her art. Joined at Spindrift House by her friends - Clarissa, Dora and Pascal - together they turn the house into a budding artists' community. But despite their dreams of an idyllic way of life creating beauty by the sea, it becomes clear that all is not perfect within their tight-knit community, and that the weight of their secrets could threaten to tear apart their paradise forever.

Charlotte, where can we follow you on social media

More about Charlotte

Charlotte Betts is a multi-award-winning author of eight romantic historical novels published by Piatkus. Her books are set in various eras between the Restoration and the Great War and she draws inspiration from the stories of strong women at turning points in history. Careful historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place. A member of The Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Society of Authors and The Historical Novel Society, Charlotte lives in a C17th cottage in the woods in Hampshire. She is currently working on Book 3 of the Spindrift trilogy. 

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Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Giselle Green ☼

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼ 

Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!

☼ Summer time is here ☼ 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author, Giselle Green to our picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic? 

I’m bringing a cheese and spinach shortcrust pastry pie, egg and cress sandwiches, a bag of mixed Mediterranean olives and a large pot of lemon-flavoured humous. I may be tempted to eat some of your green salad! 

For dessert? 

Freshly-baked scones with raspberries and some clotted cream would be nice, or maybe a light summer salad with some crรจme fraiche spooned over the top? 

Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial? 

A flute of prosecco, please. Lovely! 

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside? 

At the seaside please…I find the gentle sound of the waves very relaxing. Nothing better than stretching out on the warm sand when you’re done, or maybe we could even go for a dip before our lunch? 

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag? 

I love the idea of the wicker hamper. Very civilised and organised. (I don’t own one, myself). I might go for plastic wine glasses though (being practical!) But I’d be sure to bring some ice to make up for it, to chill the wine. Underneath, maybe we’d have a bamboo mat to stop the sand getting in our lunch. 

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

 I still have fond memories of a picnic we had once in the grounds of Hampton Court while waiting for them to open up the area where a band was playing inside. It’s such a romantic, beautiful location. It had been raining all day, and everything was freshly rain-washed, but the evening sun was glorious. I’d like to go back and have a picnic there again, one day. 

Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today? 

I’ll join you in requesting Daphne Du Maurier, whose work as you say, never ages. I’d also invite my favourite childhood author Rosemary Sutcliff. I adored her work! I did end up meeting her a few times, and we corresponded for ages… such a lovely lady, with so much of interest to say. 

Which summer read are you bringing with you today? 

I’m bringing Christina Courtenay’s Echoes of the Runes. I usually read contemporary or non-fiction books these days but every so often I fancy dipping into historicals for a change. And this is a lovely one! 

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June 2020

What is your earliest summer memory? 

I remember being taken to the beach for the first time by my aunt and uncle and cousins and going straight for the water’s edge… only to find myself rudely picked up by a huge wave and sent tumbling head over heels right down the beach… That was a shock and a rude awakening – but I’ve always loved the water. I adore the sea and I respect it! 

Do you have a favourite summer hideaway? 

I do have a nice garden myself, but there is something very special about my son’s garden, just down the road from me. It’s full of fruit trees – apple and plum and cherry and pear and the whole place just radiates a very special kind of peace that I love. There’s seldom any noise from his neighbours either. Sometimes I just like to sit on his lawn when the sun’s out, and imagine my stories…

Do you have a summer music playlist for reading / writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel summery? 

I don’t have a special playlist for summer, but one song I’ve been playing a lot recently is Conquest of paradise by Dana Winner. I’d never heard it before this year, but it feels so inspiring! I’ve also been playing a lot of songs from the US acapelo band Homefree recently. Love their harmonies – and the music is usually quite cheerful and upbeat. 

Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer? 

I agree in the summer you want something that’s easier to pick up and get back into, because you’re out and about more. The winter’s the perfect time to diving into deeper, more serious books that involve a bit more concentration! For some reason, winter lends itself to historical more, too… 

Boldwood Books
11 August 2020

When Ava’s partner Will is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, the doctors give Will one chance to survive – an operation which means he will lose his recent memory. Ava begs him to take the chance, sure that she can cope with Will forgetting her. After all, they have something very special to live for.

But they are also keeping a heart-breaking secret, and if Will loses his memory, Ava will have to carry that secret alone.

Can they rebuild their love from scratch or will their secrets and past come between them? Will Ava really be a stranger when Will wakes up – or does the heart never really forget…

About Giselle

Giselle Green is an award-winning, bestselling contemporary women’s fiction author. Mum to six boys (half of whom have flown the nest) and owner of one bright orange-and-cinnamon canary who hopefully never will, Giselle enjoys creating emotionally-gripping storylines about family and relationships. Her first book for Boldwood The Girl You Forgot is published in August 2020.

Giselle, where can we find you on social media? 

Twitter @gisellegreenUK 

Facebook : Giselle Green Author 

☼Thank you for coming to our picnic☼

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Saturday 29 August 2020

Hist Fic Revisited ~ Kingdom of Shadows by Barbara Erskine ☼

 ☼  On Hist Fic Saturday  ☼

Let's go back to ....14th Century Scotland


Hist Fic Revisited

Harper Collins

The Battle of Bannockburn, witnessed the defeat of the forces of the English King, Edward II, by the army of the Scottish King, Robert the Bruce, in 1314. This battle for Scottish independence was the culmination of a long fight which had started during the reign of Edward I, who ever after is known by the sobriquet ‘Hammer of the Scots’ and made infamous for his brutal execution of the Scottish warrior, William Wallace.

Kingdom of Shadows takes the story of the tragic Isobel of Buchan whose support for Robert the Bruce put her in defiance of both her husband, and the English King. The disaster of her life is well documented, although perhaps the reason behind her actions is less known. What Barbara Erskine has done is to add flesh to the story and has produced an unforgettable heroine and a tragedy of epic proportions.

The time slip story, uses as its focus the twentieth century story of Claire Royland and her fiercely ambitious husband, and mirrors that of Isobel, who trapped in the thirteenth century uses Claire as the medium through which her story is told. The transition between time frames is seamless and whilst the thirteenth century story becomes more compelling, there is no doubt that the developing situation between Claire and her husband is no less forceful than the conflict between Isobel and her husband.

The novel was originally published in 1988, and I remember reading Kingdom of Shadows for the first time in the early 1990s. The story is beautifully told, rich in historic detail and alive with mystery and intrigue. Isobel’s final punishment by a malicious and ill favoured King is stark and brutal, and yet in the hands of this talented writer, Isobel’s human fragility, combined with her strength of spirit truly comes alive.

And as the final tragedy of the story is revealed, the mists of time shimmer and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as Isobel's ghostly figure tells you that for her the story is never finished and that as long as Kingdom of Shadows remains in print she will be heard time and time again.

It has been a wonderful treat to revisit this story which remains one of my all time favourite historical reads. I think the story remains as strong as ever, with perhaps the twentieth century aspect seeming a little dated now however, the story is none the worse for that. 

Barbara Erskine

An historian by training, Barbara Erskine is the author of bestselling novels that demonstrate her interest in both history and the supernatural, plus two collections of short stories. Her books have appeared in at least twenty different languages. She lives with her family in an ancient manor house near Colchester, and in a cottage near Hay-on-Wye.

Twitter @Barbaraerskine #Historical Fiction 


Friday 28 August 2020

Book Review ~ Under Land by Robert Macfarlane

27 August 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane takes us on a journey into the worlds beneath our feet. From the ice-blue depths of Greenland's glaciers, to the underground networks by which trees communicate, from Bronze Age burial chambers to the rock art of remote Arctic sea-caves, this is a deep-time voyage into the planet's past and future.

Global in its geography, gripping in its voice and haunting in its implications, Underland is a work of huge range and power, and a remarkable new chapter in Macfarlane's long-term exploration of landscape and the human heart.

What did I think about it..

It's taken me a while to read through this, not because it's not interesting, but because the content is so fascinating that I needed to read it slowly in order to take in the wealth of information.  Beautifully descriptive and, at times, scarily prophetic, there is so much to take in as the world below our feet is opened up to close scrutiny.

Divided into three main chambers :

Part I : Seeing (Britain)
Part II : Hiding (Europe)
Part III : Haunting (The North)

In each intricate section there is much to discover, far too much for me to go into detail here, and even if you have no interest in geology, archaeology and natural history, I think that this book has more than enough fascinating detail to fire the imagination. 

As I get older I am more of an armchair traveller so over the course of the last couple of weeks I have been on the most amazing adventure which has taken me from the caves of the Mendip hills in Somerset, a place I have actually visited, to the Knud Rasmussen Glacier in Greenland and so many places in between that I never knew existed.

Beautifully detailed and incredibly descriptive, Under Land made me aware of what is happening in the deep, dark spaces underground. Those shadowy places of burial chambers, tree networks, mythical and legendary rivers, subterranean passages filled with nuclear waste, deep mining explorations and ice crashing glaciers.

An interesting, fascinating and lengthy book which has taken the author over ten years to complete and from its detailed content I get the sense that the research has been a real labour of love.

About the Author

Robert Macfarlane is the author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Landmarks, and The Lost Words, co-created with Jackie Morris. Mountains of the Mind won the Guardian First Book Award and the Somerset Maugham Award and The Wild Places won the Boardman-Tasker Award. Both books have been adapted for television by the BBC. The Lost Words won the Books Are My Bag Beautiful Book Award and the Hay Festival Book of the Year. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and writes on environmentalism, literature and travel for publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Times and The New York Times.

 Twitter @RobGMacfarlane #Underland


Thursday 27 August 2020

Blog Tour ~ V for Victory by Lissa Evans ☼

☼I am thrilled to be hosting a stop on today's Blog Tour ☼

1 September 2020

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

It's late 1944. Allied victory is on its way, but it's ruddy well dragging its feet. Hitler's rockets are slamming down on London with vicious regularity and it's the coldest winter in living memory. In a large house next to Hampstead Heath, Vera Sedge is just about scraping by, with a household of lodgers to feed, and her young ward Noel (almost fifteen) to clothe and educate. When she witnesses a road accident and finds herself in court, the effects are both unexpectedly marvellous, and potentially deadly, because Vee is not actually the person she’s pretending to be, and neither is Noel. The end of the war won’t just mean peace, but discovery, and not in the way any of them could ever expect. 

What did I think about it..

Vera Sedge maintains an air of respectability in the lodging house on Hampstead Heath where she lives, known only as Mrs Margery Overs, with her fifteen year old ward, Noel and an assortment of paying guests who form this rather eccentric household. Living in London in 1944 is not without its challenges especially as Hitler is determined to wreak havoc on the population by dropping V-2 rockets and Doodlebugs with devastating regularity. 

For those readers who enjoyed Crooked Heart and Old Baggage, it's a chance to catch up with Vee and Noel, and yet it's also the opportunity to learn more about the war effort during this latter stage of WW2 when spirits where at an all time low. Rationing was very much biting hard and it was fascinating to see how Noel, with this culinary skills, made ends meet in his own inimitable style.

In many ways V for Victory is a quiet story about ordinary Londoners living in extraordinary circumstances but which succeeds in capturing the charm and wit of people going about their everyday business. However, what this author does so well is bring a sharp eye for historical detail, especially in the heartbreaking description of the work of the ARP wardens who deal with such devastating human tragedy on a daily basis, and again readers will recognise some characters from Old Baggage albeit several years older.

I've been an avid fan of this set of novels so it comes as no surprise to find that V for Victory is every bit as good as I hoped it would be. It's compassionate, descriptive, feisty and funny, and with a few new surprises thrown in for good measure. I'm not sure if the author intends to continue with this theme but if not,  V for Victory is a fitting ending to this fascinating series of historical novels.

Lissa Evans has written books for both adults and children, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, longlisted for the Orange (now Women’s) Prize, Small Change for Stuart, shortlisted for many awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Book Awards and Crooked Heart, longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. OLD BAGGAGE was a sell-out Waterstone's Book of the Month; THEIR FINEST HOUR AND A HALF was adapted into a star-studded film with Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy.

Twitter  @LissaKEvans #VforVictory



Wednesday 26 August 2020

Book Review ~ Spirited by Julie Cohen

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9 July 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book

Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her - and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them - but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom? 

What did I think about it..

Spirited is a new departure for this talented author who is better known for her works of contemporary fiction which she writes with an astute eye for what's happening in the modern world. I was surprised to find that her latest novel is historical fiction set during the Victorian age when spirit mediums seemed to flourish with alacrity.

The story focuses on three main characters - Viola Goodwin, who is newly married to Jonah Worth, is, not only having to get used to the idea of marriage to a man who seems overshadowed by an immense burden, but she is also having to come coming to terms with the death of her father, and uses the medium of photography, a skill passed onto her by her late father, to give her some respite from her troubled life. When Viola seemingly captures a ghostly spirit on film, it brings her into contact with celebrated spirit medium, Henriette Blackthorn, who is older, wiser and far more canny than Julia. Meanwhile Jonah has his own dark secrets which, although half a world away, in India, continue to threaten his peace of mind. 

I found Henriette Blackthorn such a fascinating character, she's totally flawed, as is often the way with great narrators, but it's this inscrutability which makes her progression through the novel all the more interesting. Viola is a such a sensitive soul, starved of affection, craving attention, which makes her sensitive connection with Henriette all the more poignant.  Jonah's back story is quite fascinating and I enjoyed going back to a darker time in Indian history and learning about the troubles which seem to burden Jonah's memory with such dark thoughts. 

This interesting departure into historical fiction has certainly whetted my appetite for more of the same from this talented writer. Spirited brings to life the other worldly qualities of Victorian England and blends the mystical and supernatural with feelings of grief and loss, capturing secrets which have the power to change everything.

Julie Cohen is a bestselling, award-winning novelist.

Twitter @julie_cohen #Spirited


Monday 24 August 2020

Blog Tour ~ The Second Mrs Thistlewood by Dionne Haynes ☼

 ☼ Delighted to be part of this blog tour today ☼

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Allium Books
14 August 2020

My thanks to the author
and Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to be part of the tour
and to share this guest post from the author and an extract from the book.

Regency England. A land of oppression and social discontent.

Arthur Thistlewood is fighting for a revolution. Susan Thistlewood is fighting for freedom. From Arthur.

Battered and bruised by her violent husband, Susan finds comfort in food and books. As Arthur’s legal property, leaving the marriage seems an impossible dream — until a chance encounter with a charismatic Bow Street Runner. In the sanctuary of an inconspicuous London bookshop, the Runner’s easy manner and unexpected generosity compel Susan to pursue a life without her husband.

But will the Bow Street officer provide a key to Susan’s freedom? Or will he place her in the greatest danger of all?

Inspired by true events from the Cato Street Conspiracy of 1820, this is a tale of courage, determination, and love.

๐ŸŒ  I'm excited to be able to share this guest post from Dionne today ๐ŸŒ 

The Evolution of the Bow Street Officer

In The Second Mrs Thistlewood, Susan is eager to end her marriage to Arthur Thistlewood, a man on the government watch list for militant behaviour. In Regency England, divorce was rare and difficult to come by, requiring a Private Act of Parliament and the funds with which to pay for it. Options for Susan are therefore almost non-existent until she meets William Westcott. A transcript of a real court trial involving Arthur Thistlewood cites William Westcott as a “Bow street patrolman”. In the novel, I have promoted him to officer rank and given him an important role in Susan’s story. 

Who were the Bow Street officers and patrolmen? In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in London, the capture of criminals was based on a government endorsed reward system for “thief takers” men who used contacts in the criminal underworld to retrieve stolen goods and obtain information about criminals. The thief takers collected significant financial rewards after prosecutions at the Old Bailey. 

By the mid-eighteenth century, thief takers worked for a magistrates’ office and enjoyed a more formal arrangement. One such office existed in Bow Street. Magistrates would dispatch the Bow Street men to find and apprehend criminals. The public labelled these detectives the Bow Street Runners, although the men themselves preferred to use the grander title of “Principal Officers”, and earned significant incomes from their fees and state rewards following successful convictions. 

The structure of the Bow Street Magistrates’ office continued to evolve and by the nineteenth century there was a team of watchmen who patrolled the streets to prevent crime, and a more advanced set up of salaried detectives who investigated, located and arrested suspected criminals. My character, William Westcott, is one of these detectives. 

The following short extract is from the chapter where Susan first meets William at a bookshop in paternoster Row, London. Drawn to his deep, mellow, comforting voice, she is surprised when he purchases a book by her favourite author. A conversation ensues and then Susan asks Mr Brown to serve Mr Westcott while she browses the shelves:

‘Browse at will, Mrs Thistlewood,’ says Mr Brown, gesturing that the shop is mine to wander about as I please.

‘Mrs Thistlewood?’ The other customer has an amused expression.

‘Yes. Have we met before?’

‘No. Forgive my impertinence. Thistlewood is an uncommon surname, and I should not have reacted so.’ A subtle bow accompanies his apology,followed by an engaging smile.

I move to the furthest aisle, giving the gentleman privacy to make his purchase. A collection of travel journals provides adequate distraction, and I take my time to admire an atlas filled with maps coloured by a careful hand. The tinkle of a bell and the roaring of windswept heavy rain announce Mr Westcott’s departure. I hope the foul weather eases soon because Arthur is expecting me home to greet a guest for dinner and I mustn’t have my clothes looking as though I dragged them straight from the laundry tub.

‘Does anything else appeal today, Mrs Thistlewood?’

‘I’ll just take Emma please.’

Mr Brown slides a package towards me. It’s wrapped in pale blue paper and tied with a dark blue ribbon.

‘You’ve already prepared it?’

‘While you were browsing.’

I rummage in my reticule for coins. ‘The price please, Mr Brown?’

‘There’s nothing to pay.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘Mr Westcott paid for this book when settling the account for his other purchases.’

As the story continues to unfold, a relationship develops between Susan and the officer from Bow Street, but as Arthur strays closer towards the wrong side of the law, it is unclear whether Mr Westcott’s affection is genuine or whether he is using Susan to trap Arthur. To discover the true motive behind his actions, you’ll have to read the novel!

About the Author

Dionne is a retired doctor, living in Plymouth with her husband. She has a passion for history, the great outdoors, good food and life in general. With her medical career now well behind her, she is enjoying a second career as an author. 

In 2015, Dionne finished writing her first novel The Provenance of Lilly, but after careful reflection and consideration of some harsh criticism, she decided not to put it into print. Instead, she worked hard at honing her writing skills, and published her debut novel,Running With The Wind, in 2019. She is currently working on a sequel which will form Book One of The Trelawney Wives series. 

Dionne graduated from St George’s Hospital Medical School in 1992, and started her medical career in the Royal Air Force. In 1998, she left the military to have her son, and worked in General Practice and Occupational Medicine. The opportunity to retire came in 2014 and Dionne did not hesitate to take it, relishing the opportunity to delve into history books and begin her writing career. Although no longer practising medicine, her medical background has some influence in the plotting of her stories.While keen to maintain historical accuracy in her writing, Dionne creates stories from real events with sparse recorded details, allowing her imagination to take over and tell a tale of what may have occurred.

Twitter @Dionne Haynes 

Sunday 23 August 2020

Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Liza Perrat ☼

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼ 

Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!

☼ Summer time is here ☼ 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author, Liza Perrat to our picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic? 

I’m bringing cold ratatouille cooked with veggies from my daughter’s organic garden, fresh wholegrain bread and runny camembert cheese. And for dessert there’s a fruit salad of strawberries, raspberries and rock melon. 

Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial? 

I’d love the chilled white wine but that would send me to sleep in five minutes at a sunny, summer lunchtime picnic. So the elderflower cordial please. 

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside? 

The seaside is my favourite place, preferable in the shade of a eucalyptus tree. 

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag? 

Oh definitely a snazzy wicker hamper, a checkered tablecloth and proper cutlery and glasses. 

Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today? 

Anne Tyler, Wally Lamb, Maggie O’Farrell and Daphne du Maurier, as reading their books has influenced my own writing. Also all of my favourite author friends from the Sanctuary Facebook group –– they know who they are! –– because it would be really fun to see them in person, rather than on a Zoom screen. 

What is your earliest summer memory? 

Spending every day of the long, hot Australian summer on the beach. I was about five, and had a lime-green swimming costume with a big white flower at the front. We never wore sunscreen in those days –– apart from a stripe of white zinc on the nose –– and were dark brown by the end of summer. That’s why, all these years later, our skin is so spotted and leathery and every mole we fear is a melanoma. 

Do you have a favourite summer hideaway? 

I’ve lived in France for 27 years and for many of those we were forced to go away in the hot and crowded summer school holidays. Now the children are grown up we have the luxury of getting away at quieter times of the year, and we enjoy spending the summer at home. A nice swim and a poolside drink at the end of the day is wonderful, especially at the peak of summer when all the neighbours are away and it’s quiet and peaceful. Though this year, with the health crisis, most of the neighbours are staying home, so it’s not that quiet or peaceful. 

Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer? 

No, I tend to enjoy the same kinds of books all year round. 

Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter? 

I find it easier to write during the winter, cosy and rugged up and not really wanting to go outside. In summer, I just want to be outside walking in the hills around our house, swimming in the pool, or relaxing in the shade with a book. I also find it harder to concentrate in the heat. 

Would you like to tell us a little about your latest novel, or your current work in progress? 

My newly-released novel is called The Lost Blackbird, and explores the child migrant scandal, based on the findings of a Nottinghamshire Social Worker. In 1986, Margaret Humphreys received a letter from a woman who claimed that at the age of four she was shipped to a children’s home in Australia, and wanted help to find her relatives in Britain. 

Margaret Humphreys eventually exposed the vast scandal of child migration: 150,000 children had been deported from children’s homes in Britain and shipped off to a “new life” in distant parts of the Empire. Many were told their parents were dead. Parents were told their children had been adopted. And, for many children, this “better life” ended up being one of slavery, deprivation and abuse. In 1987, Mrs Humphreys set up the Child Migrants Trust, which aims to reunite former British child migrants with family. 

Liza, where can we find you on social media? 

More about Liza

Liza grew up in Australia, working as a general nurse and midwife. She has now been living in France for twenty-seven years, where she works as a part-time medical translator and a novelist. 

She is the author of the French historical The Bone Angel series: 

Three French village midwife-healers. Three stories spanning six hundred years. Three women linked by an ancient bone talisman and bonded by living through turbulent times: the Black Death, the French Revolution, the WWII Nazi Occupation. Each brings its own threats and dangers, in this box set of historical novels based on real events. Click here

Each story can be read as a standalone Spirit of Lost Angels   Wolfsangel   Blood Rose Angel 

The first book in Liza’s Australian series, The Silent Kookaburra is a domestic noir, psychological suspense set in 1970s Australia.  The second in the series, The Swooping Magpie is currently under revision. 

Get your copy of The Lost Blackbird E-book HERE

Read The Lost Blackbird for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. 

The Paperback version is HERE

Sign up for new book releases and receive a FREE copy of Friends & Other Strangers, Liza’s award-winning collection of Australian short stories. 

If you enjoy Liza’s books, follow her on BOOKBUB

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Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Margaret Rooke ☼

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼ 

Pull up a deck chair, tie knots in your hanky and roll up your trouser legs!

☼ Summer time is here ☼ 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author, Margaret Rooke to our picnic ☼

Photo credit:Alex Lister

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

We went on a great family picnic when they began to lift the lockdown and the standout dishes were my daughter’s prawn and sweetcorn fritters and my son’s Eton mess. So I’ll commission them and keep my fingers crossed that they’ll deliver.

Would you like chilled white wine, a flute of Prosecco, a tumbler of Pimms, or a tall glass of sparkling elderflower cordial?

Anyone who knows me knows that what I’d really want is a cup of tea. If it has to be a cold drink the Pimms does sound delicious.

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside, at the seaside? 

If it’s hot and we can go for a swim afterwards it would be great to go to the pool or the seaside.

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

Well it would have been a supermarket carrier bag without question, except that my friend Jo gave me a wicker picnic hamper as a present years ago so I would give that an outing.

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

For me it’s all about the company really. I love to get lost in a conversation.

Which of your literary heroes are joining us on the picnic today?

Maybe Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie. I think he needs a good listening ear.

Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

I’ve just bought Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘Hamnet’ so I’ll bring that. Can’t wait to start. I’m answering these questions in early summer and one of my last reads was the book of the moment ‘Normal People’. I found the book and the TV series compelling.

What is your earliest summer memory?

I remember getting burnt to a crisp on holiday with my parents and brother on a campsite on the south of France. We had never been anywhere so hot and had sun cream for the first time, but it was so expensive we were only allowed a squirt the size of a penny. 

Do you have a summer music playlist for reading / writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel summery?

The songs that make me feel summery… In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry. Brilliant. That was on the juke box during the summer I was so sunburnt in France. Another is the old Coke ad that started ‘Ice Cold Coke at the back of my throat, fishes on the line…’

Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?

 When I’m on holiday I love books that I can get lost in: whodunnits and psychological dramas. In the winter I’m happy to read biographies and more serious stuff.

Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter? 

Both the same

Would you like to tell us a little about your latest novel, or your current work in progress?

My latest book ‘You can Change the World. Everyday Teen Heroes Making a Difference Everywhere’ (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) contains interviews with more than 50 inspiring teenagers from many different countries who have changed their own lives and the world around them in different ways. They’ve helped the homeless, found ways to beat online bullying, worked for environmental change, fought against period poverty, and transformed other difficult situations.

So much is written about the problems young people face with their mental health. I wanted to present some positive role models from within their own ranks. The idea behind the book is that if teenagers face a fork in their own path and they’re not sure which direction to take, there are some mentors here to draw inspiration from. We all know that the people teenagers listen to most are other teens and that can be a good thing if those they are listening to are making great decisions for themselves and the world around them. 

Recently I’ve started going into schools to help children and teens to believe they can make changes to their own lives and communities, using the examples and some of the strategies used by those in the book. It’s powerful stuff.

Margaret, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @margsrooke

More about Margaret

Over the past five years, Margaret has written three non-fiction books. The first two were about dyslexia, to help encourage her daughter and others like her to achieve whatever they wanted in life, no matter what label they were given. ‘Creative, Successful, Dyslexic’ includes interviews with Dame Darcey Bussell, David Bailey, Marcus Brigstocke, Lynda La Plante, Benjamin Zephaniah and many more, with a foreword by Mollie King. The second ‘Dyslexia is my Superpower (Most of the Time) is the only book written in the words of children and teens about living with dyslexia. Her latest book is ‘You can Change the World. Everyday Heroes Making a Difference Everywhere,’ written to inspire teenagers to make the changes they want to see in their own lives and communities. This won a gold award for multicultural nonfiction in the Moonbeam children’s book awards in the USA.

Margaret worked as a journalist for 20 years, for a lot of that time working on national magazines and newspaper colour supplements. She then worked for Fairtrade and children’s charities before returning to writing. 

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