Monday 31 May 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Sewing Room Girl by Susanna Bavin

Allison & Busby

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

1892. When her beloved father dies, Juliet and her mother, the difficult but vulnerable Agnes, are left to fend for themselves. When Agnes lands a job as a seamstress for a titled family, things appear to be looking up. But just as the pair begin to find their feet, Juliet finds herself defenceless and alone.

Without her mother to protect her, Juliet becomes the victim of a traumatic incident and is left to face an impossible dilemma. She flees to Manchester seeking support from her estranged family but comes up against her formidable grandmother, who is determined to bend Juliet to her will. It will take all Juliet’s ingenuity to escape the clutches of her ruthless grandmother and make her own way in life.

πŸ“– My thoughts...

Juliet Harper's life changes forever when her beloved father dies and she and her mother are made to leave the cottage which has been their home for years. Finding work as a seamstress in the home of the local gentry offers both Juliet, and her mother, some element of security but fate has a fickle way of interfering and Juliet finds, to her cost, that not everyone wants to see her succeed. Juliet's life is far from easy but with resilience of spirit and a willingness to learn she is determined to make the best of herself despite the many setbacks which seem to come her way.

The author writes with a real sense of purpose and brings the north of England to life in such a readable way that it is easy to become immersed in the life of all her characters some, it must be said, are more likeable than others. The late Victorian era comes alive particularly in describing Juliet's fascinating career as a seamstress, and shows in detail the social and moral restrictions which were placed upon unmarried women. Location is a real focus point of the novel and the intuitive way in which the author writes about the rich heritage of the North of England is what makes this such a fascinating story and a real page turner.

The Sewing Room Girl is a wonderfully evocative historical saga. Rich in detail and alive with tragedy, heartbreak and happiness, it is a story which is every bit as good as I knew it would be from this talented writer of historical fiction.

About the Author

Susanna Bavin has variously been an librarian, an infant school teacher, a carer and a cook. She  lives in Llandudno in North Wales but her writing is inspired by her Manchester roots.

Twitter @SusannaBavin


Sunday 30 May 2021

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Pam Billinge


On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

🍴I'm delighted to welcome Pam Billinge to our Sunday Brunch today🍴

🍴Welcome, Pam. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

In the summer time I will bring fresh strawberries and possibly early raspberries from my garden, and some of my friends’ amazing free range eggs.

🍴Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

As this is a special occasion I will have a glass of bucks fizz please followed by a cappuccino with soya milk after brunch.

🍴Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio? Definitely outside on the patio, assuming that it is a warm day!

Shall we have music playing in the background? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you happy?
If we are outside I would prefer to hear the birds singing and the bees buzzing, rather than have music.

🍴Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?

I have recently read Madeline Millers’ Circe, I would love to have her join us and bring with her the mystery and magic of the mythology she recreates.

🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Given my passion for horses it would have to be The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans.

🍴When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

Oh yes, I always have at least one or three books on the go! I read at bedtime, sometimes in the evening or when I first wake up. I find that it helps me stay in flow to read other peoples’ work.

🍴What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?

The oldest book on my shelf is actually an old family Bible. My mothers’ side of the family were from Wales - it is in Welsh and was first owned by my great great grandfather in the 1840s then handed down the generations. Needless to say I haven’t read it!

🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

My books are mostly memoir and I also include stories of the people who come to work with me and my wonderful herd - the inspiration comes from nature, in particular horses, the people I meet and what I have learned along the way during my own life. They are books which are really about helping the reader to find a way through the challenges they are facing, and to find comfort and inspiration.

🍴Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?

I find it very easy to write when I am sitting on my patio, surrounded by birds singing, my horses grazing in the paddock nearby and probably my terriers and cat snoozing beside me. Of course the sun is not always shining, even where I live in France, so sometimes I also write in my office. Summer tends to be a season when my inspiration comes, I do a lot of reflection and journalling during this time. Winter, when it is cold and dark, is when I sit at my keyboard and do the really hard work of writing the words and the editing.

🍴When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing?

No, I am able to stay focussed. I actually find it quite easy because I love writing so much and being in that quiet and calm place where it takes me. The important thing for me is to be clear from the moment that I get out of bed that I will write that day - all day.

🍴Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

A journal, a pen, a chair and a table. The journal must go everywhere with you, so you write at least something every day.

🍴What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?

My books seem to ‘write themselves’. That is, what I start out intending to write doesn’t usually get written - it morphs into something which does want to be created. So it is difficult to give you a clear idea other than whatever it is will almost certainly be inspired by my life here in France.

Pam, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter Pam Billinge @pam_billinge

More about Pam

Brought up in suburban Liverpool, the first horses Pam fell in love with were ridden by the mounted policemen she would see passing her house on the way to supervise football matches at Anfield. Little did she know, then, how these magnificent creatures would influence her adult life, leading not only to support her through a number of personal tragedies, but also to her pioneering work in horse-led psychotherapy and coaching and then as a writer and author.

The incredible power of horses as healers and teachers

When Pam became disillusioned with her stressful career in industry she set up as an independent coach and leadership consultant and trained as a body psychotherapist. It was during this time that her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and Pam began to notice the way her horse responded to her emotional turmoil. Thus began an exploration into the true nature of the horse and their infinite capacity to help humans heal and deepen their sense of themselves.

Horses reveal our emotions

It was Pam’s desire to tell that tale which inspired her first book The Spell of the Horse. Through sharing her memoir and other stories inspired by the incredible interactions she has observed between horse and human, Pam reveals the true nature of the horse whilst delivering some simple principles to help the reader transcend life’s challenges to live with purpose, self-belief and joy.

During the process Pam discovered a passion and talent for writing and her second book The Spirit of the Horse was published in March 2021. Pam is now working on a third book.

Pam lives in North-west France where she runs her business Equest Limited providing horse-led learning programmes to a wide range of corporate clients, and a small private horse-led psychotherapy practise.

The Spell Of The Horse: Stories of Healing and Personal Transformation with Nature’s Finest Teachers

Paperback B Format ISBN 9780995473553.

The Spirit of the Horse: More Stories of Life, Love and Leadership

Paperback B Format ISBN 9781838278625

Thank you, Pam for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo.

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Saturday 29 May 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Rachel's Story by Leigh Russell

Bloodhound Books
April 2021

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

In a world where food is scarce, the government rules, and ordinary people only exist to serve, can there ever be happiness?

As a child, living in a post-apocalyptic world, the only person Rachel can rely on is her mother. But when her mother is killed, Rachel is initiated into The Programme where selected young girls are medicated to make them fertile.

Fearing for her future, Rachel escapes. But freedom comes at a price and Rachel must navigate through a terrifying landscape of persecution to survive.

What is on the other side of the city wall? Will the repressive government hunt her down? One thing is certain. Rachel’s world will never be the same again..

My thoughts..

After a World Famine, Rachel's Story takes us into a post-apocalyptic world, where Guardians roam the streets and to be found without your food card is tantamount to a death sentence, for food is scarce in this new world and the pills, which maintain a healthy weight, are only given if you can show you have the right credentials. Being part of a mass underclass, Rachel and her mother eke out a meagre existence, but life is never safe, and when tragedy strikes, Rachel is moved into a facility known as The Programme, a sinister place where young females are medically reared to be fertile, in a world where fertility is compromised.

What then follows is a well written dystopian story which cleverly weaves two worlds together, that of the sinister world of The Guardians, and that of the shadowy exiles who follow a more clandestine existence. Rachel finds herself going from one world, to another, and it is this transition which the author explores in interesting detail. Creating a dystopian world isn't easy but I think the author has succeeded in bringing this strange place to life, and with Rachel as her lead protagonist we can travel alongside her as she strives to survive in a cruel world.

Dystopian fiction is a real change of direction for this talented author, who we are more used to seeing as the author of crime fiction, however, I think she has succeeded in creating a believable post-apocalyptic world,  and over time, as the series continues, I am sure we will see it go from strength to strength.

About the Author

Leigh Russell has written twenty-four novels so far, and her Geraldine Steel crime series has sold over a million copies. In addition to her crime series featuring detective Geraldine Steel, Leigh has written two trilogies and two stand alone psychological thrillers. Rachel’s Story is her first dystopian novel. Leigh chairs the judging panel for the Crime Writers Association’s prestigious Debut Dagger Award, and is a Consultant Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund.

Click here to read an interview with Leigh Russell as she talks about Rachel's story.

Twitter @LeighRussell

Friday 28 May 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Serial Killers Wife by Alice Hunter

27 May 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

They’re saying he’s a monster. And they’re saying she knew.

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now – what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.

But the worst is beyond imagining.

As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.

They’re husband and wife – till death do them part..

My thoughts..

Beth Hardcastle seems to have the perfect life with a loving husband, a beautiful little daughter, called Poppy, and  a thriving business in the pretty Cotswold village they call home. One evening when Tom is late home from his London commute, Beth starts to worry, and then comes a knock at the door revealing two police officers. Filled with trepidation, and fearing the worst, Beth is unprepared when the police officers are not at her door with the news of an accident but have come to arrest Tom on suspicion of murder.

What then follows is the slow disintegration of the life which Beth has so carefully placed around and with her world toppling and Tom still helping police with their inquires everything about the Hardcastle's marriage comes under public scrutiny because if Tom is guilty of murder surely Beth knew all about it.

This is a really cleverly put together psychological thriller which moves along at a rapid pace with snappy and succinct chapters which not only give us Beth and Tom's versions of events but also interspersed are some rather dark sections which give an altogether sinister feeling to the story. I think what's enticing about The Serial Killer's Wife is the way that elements of doubt creep into the narrative and with the tension mounting with every page, so the hidden clues start to point towards a story which is as dark, as it is complex.

I started, and finished, the book in one sitting as this really is one of those stories where you want to read just a little bit more and towards the end of the novel, and with the final denouement just a few pages away, I wasn't really sure how the story would end, but I wasn't disappointed,and without giving anything away, the ending was every bit as good as I wanted it to be.

About the Author

After completing a psychology degree, Alice Hunter became an interventions facilitator in a prison. There, she was part of a team offering rehabilitation programmes to men serving sentences for a wide range of offences, often working with prisoners who'd committed serious violent crimes. Previously, Alice had been a nurse, working in the NHS. She now puts her experiences to good use in fiction. THE SERIAL KILLER'S WIFE draws heavily on her knowledge of psychology and the criminal mind.

Twitter @Alice_Hunter_1 #TheSerialKillersWife #DidSheKnow



Thursday 27 May 2021

πŸ“– Celebrating 15 years of Quick Reads..


One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – find reading difficult, and one in three people do not regularly read for pleasure.

As you may know, Quick Reads plays a vital role in addressing these shocking statistics by inspiring emergent readers, as well as those with little time or who have fallen out of the reading habit, with entertaining and accessible writing from the very best contemporary authors.

This year Quick Reads is celebrating its 15th Anniversary, which means that over five million copies of Quick Reads titles have been distributed since the life-changing programme began in 2006. To celebrate, for every book bought until 31 July, another copy will be gifted to help someone discover the love of reading.

To find out more go to the Reading Agency

There are some incredible titles in this year’s selection

OYINKAN BRAITHWAITE: The Baby is Mine (Atlantic)

LOUISE CANDLISH: The Skylight (Simon & Schuster)

KATIE FFORDE: Saving the Day (Arrow)

PETER JAMES: Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan)

CAITLIN MORAN: How to Be a Woman, abridged (Ebury)


Reading Agency
27 May 2021

My thanks to Midas pr for the opportunity to read this book

Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there?

Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…

From the author of Our House, the British Book Awards Crime & Thriller of the Year.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

When Simone looks out of her upstairs bathroom window she can see directly into her neighbours kitchen. She enjoys spying on them, that is until she sees something which shocks her into planning the perfect crime...

This is Louise Candlish writing at her best - it's smart, sophisticated , utterly compelling, and just so beautifully formed that I finished the story with a satisfied grin on my face.

As I was reading The Skylight I realised just how lucky I am to be able to enjoy this great story and that's what Quick Reads is all about - it's an opportunity for emerging readers, or readers who have never picked up a book for pleasure, or who have perhaps lost their reading mojo, to enjoy a really, great story.

There are 6 great Quick Reads titles this year, all are available from a good bookstore, priced at £1:00

Twitter @readingagency #QuickReads



Wednesday 26 May 2021

Blog Tour ~ Three Weddings and a Proposal by Sheila O’ Flanagan


Delighted to be part of this blog tour today 

20 May 2021

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

Delphine is at a wedding when the shocking news comes. Suddenly her life changes for ever.

Delphine has worked hard for her success and she knows she’s got everything she wants. But not everyone agrees. Her opinionated family aren’t convinced that living alone with no plans to ‘settle down’ could possibly make her truly happy, and no one appreciates it when she drops everything, day or night, whenever her boss Conrad calls. Yet Delphine wouldn’t change a thing. And when Conrad makes her a surprise offer, it’s clear that her hard work is going to pay off.

A few short days later, Delphine’s life is unrecognisable. The man who once broke her heart has suddenly reappeared, and a shocking tragedy turns her world on its head.

Delphine must rethink everything that matters to her, and to those around her, and decide, once and for all, if love, family and a little compromise should come before career, security and independence... and if she’s prepared to make that choice.

My thoughts..

Delphine seems to have it all, with a perfect job working for the CEO of a successful investment company which takes her to lovely places around the world, and her beautiful home offers her the peace of an independent lifestyle. Delphine is perfectly content, and even though her family would rather see her settled and married, she is in no rush to find 'her Mr Right'. However, fate has a nasty way of intervening and when tragedy strikes at the heart of Delphine's world she is forced to take stock and discover just what is important to her.

Delphine is such a great character, both feisty and determined but with a vulnerable edge which the author brings out with her clever portrayal of the complicated world of corporate business. I enjoyed observing Delphine's story and followed the ups and downs of her life with great interest. Her family made me laugh, they're a great bunch, opinionated and caught up in their own lives and yet they still find time to offer Delphine well intentioned advice which, it must be said, she doesn't always appreciate.

The story portrays the rather vindictive world of business really well and shows again just what it's like to be a woman caught up in a man's world but all credit to the author for not making Delphine into a shrinking violet and allowing her the opportunity to go out there and get what she knew she deserved.

Beautifully written, and with all those subtle nuances of character development that this author does so well, Three Weddings and a Proposal focuses on the vagaries of modern life, and all the obstacles which can challenge even the most stalwart of people, but it's also about finding love, and having the strength of character to know what will work out best in the long term.

Sometimes a book comes along at just the right time and escaping into the lovely world that this author so cleverly creates has been just what I needed over the last couple of day.

About the Author

Sheila O’Flanagan is the author of nearly 30 bestselling chart-toppers, including The Women Who Ran Away, Her Husband’s Mistake, The Hideaway, What Happened That Night, The Missing Wife and All For You (winner of the Irish Independent Popular Fiction Book of the Year Award). After working in banking and finance for a number of years, Sheila’s love for writing blossomed into curating stories about relationships in all their many forms.

Twitter @sheilaoflanagan #ThreeWeddingsandaProposal



Tuesday 25 May 2021

Book Review ~ The Trawlerman by William Shaw


13 May 2021

DS Alexandra Cupidi #4

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

A DOUBLE MURDER The naked corpses of Aylmer and Mary Younis are discovered in their home. The only clues are a note written in blood and an eerie report of two spectral figures departing the crime scene. Officer Jill Ferriter is charged with investigating the murders while her colleague Alex Cupidi is on leave, recovering from post-traumatic stress. 

AN ELABORATE SCAM The dead couple had made investments in a green reforestry scheme in Guatemala, resulting in the loss of all their savings. What is more disturbing is that Cupidi and Ferriter's disgraced former colleague and friend Bill South is also on the list of investors and the Younis's were not the only losers. 

AN UNLIKELY KILLER Despite being in counselling and receiving official warnings to stay away from police work Cupidi finds herself dragged into the case and begins to trawl among the secrets and lies that are held in the fishing community of Folkestone. Desperate to exonerate South she finds herself murderously compromised when personal relationships cloud her judgement.

My Thoughts..

DS Alex Cupidi is finding it difficult to be on sick leave especially when two serious crimes occurs almost on her doorstep. Bored, and with nothing better to do than see a counsellor to talk about her PTSD, Alex soon discovers that once a crime detective, always a crime detective, and she just can't stop herself from getting involved in a rather gruesome, crime scene.

Both crimes, one which happened in the past, and one very much placed in the future, are well plotted and explained and all the details are nicely woven together to form a complicated crime drama. The story flows really well and once I started to get involved with the story, and the characters, I found that I couldn't put the book down and that's unusual for me with a new series where I haven't read any of the previous books. The author gives enough of the back story to understand what makes Alexandra Cupidi tick, and there are interesting snippets of her somewhat fractious life with her seventeen year old daughter, ZΣ§e.

The Trawlerman is a well put together crime drama, which I could easily see translate well to a television series. I enjoyed how the author brought to life both the wildness of Dungeness and the closeness of a small community who suddenly find themselves under police scrutiny.

As with all series it is better to start at the beginning but The Trawlerman, as I found out, also works well as a standalone police drama.

About the Author

WILLIAM SHAW was born in Newton Abbot, Devon, grew up in Nigeria and lived for sixteen years in Hackney. He has been shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger, longlisted for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and nominated for a Barry Award. A regular at festivals, he organises panel talks and CWA events across the country. He is the author of the Breen & Tozer crime series set in sixties London: A Song from Dead Lips, A House of Knives and A Book of Scars; and the standalone The Birdwatcher. Salt Lane and Deadland are spin-offs to The Birdwatcher. For over twenty years he has written on popular culture and sub-culture for various publications including the Observer and the New York Times. He lives in Brighton with his family.

Twitter @william1shaw #TheTrawlerman

@riverrunbooks @QuercusBooks

Monday 24 May 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Song of the Nile by Hannah Fielding


πŸ“– Delighted to be the opening stop on this blog tour today πŸ“–

Happy Publication Day

London Wall Publishers
29th May 2021

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

From the award-winning romance novelist, comes a passionate, slow-burning romance that will have you wanting to move to the continent for an old fashioned holiday romance of pure escapism.

Luxor, 1946. When young nurse Aida El Masri returns from war-torn London to her family’s estate in Egypt she steels herself against the challenges ahead.

Eight years have passed since her father, Ayoub, was framed for a crime he did not commit, and died as a tragic result. Yet Aida has not forgotten, and now she wants revenge against the man she believes betrayed her father – his best friend, Kamel Pharaony.

Then Aida is reunited with Kamel’s son, the captivating surgeon Phares, who offers her marriage. In spite of herself, the secret passion Aida harboured for him as a young girl reignites. Still, how can she marry the son of the man who destroyed her father and brought shame on her family? Will coming home bring her love, or only danger and heartache?

Set in the exotic and bygone world of Upper Egypt, Song of the Nile follows Aida’s journey of rediscovery – of the homeland she loves, with its white-sailed feluccas on the Nile, old-world charms of Cairo and the ancient secrets of its burning desert sands – and of the man she has never forgotten.

A compelling story of passion and intrigue – a novel that lays open the beating heart of Egypt.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

On returning to Upper Egypt in the aftermath of WW2, Aida El Masri is determined to seek answers to a question that has overshadowed her life for the last eight years, and even her experiences working as a nurse in war torn London hasn't lessened Aida's resolve to find out who betrayed her father.

Returning home to Luxor is a bittersweet experience for Aida but gladdened that life in her homeland is just as beautiful as ever she is determined to settle old scores, and start a new life for herself. In attending glamorous parties, and wearing beautiful designer dresses, Aida takes her place in high society where her beauty and lively spirit attracts the attention of some unusual suitors. However, it is in the rekindling of Aida's relationship with the charismatic Phares Pharaony where the heat, and passion, truly starts to sizzle. Fiercely independent, Aida doesn't take kindly to being manipulated and maneuvered, so when Phares offers her a marriage proposition, Aida is torn between what is in her head, and what is in her heart.

Beautifully redolent of the heat and passion of Egypt, and by using her own experiences of growing up in Alexandria, the author beings this stunning country alive in the sumptuous descriptions of life amongst Egypt's elite. From the glittering ballrooms and lavish estates of the supremely wealthy, to meetings with Bedouin traders and gypsy fortune tellers in the heat of the desert, there is never a moment when the story doesn't draw you into a long forgotten world.

The Song of the Nile is beautifully reminiscent of this author's skilful ability to place you directly into the world of her imagination which is so beautifully described that you literally step into the pages and experience, first hand, all the sights, sounds and emotions which are so glorious recreated. Coming in at well over 500 pages, Song of the Nile is a book to be savoured like the fine wine which flows so freely at the soirees, and glamorous events of Egypt's high society.

In these uncertain days when foreign travel is filled with trepidation, over the last few days I have been whisked away to the sultry heat, and dust, of 1946 Luxor, luxuriating in a forgotten world brought so beautifully to life by this talented author.

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

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

Twitter @fieldinghannah #SongoftheNile


Sunday 23 May 2021

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Roz Morris


On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

🍴I'm delighted to welcome Roz Morris to our Sunday Brunch today🍴

🍴What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

Taramasalata. I first encountered it when I moved to London to start college. In Cheshire where I grew up, Greek dips were regarded as uncivilised - if you even saw them at all. Suddenly, in London, here was this stuff, invitingly gloopy, intriguingly savoury. And strongly pink. It marked the start of an exciting, exotic, cosmopolitan kind of life. It's still my go-to comfort food, or one of them.

🍴Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

May I be awkward and ask for a latte? And please could the coffee be dark and chocolatey, and the milk a swirly dense foam on top? I know coffee purists disapprove, but I love the lactic sweetness with dark roasted beans.

🍴Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?

In your kitchen or your dining room! After so long in lockdown, I want to see your world. Your cherished pictures, your wedding-present chinaware, the oddities you keep because they’re special. I want to ask you what they mean and why they matter to you.

🍴Shall we have music playing in the background? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you happy?

I’m going to be a killjoy here. No music! It hijacks my brain. If I can hear music, I’ll listen to that instead of you. But once we’ve settled after the torpor of pudding and cheese, let’s have something epic and old, like John Miles’s Music.

🍴Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?

A huge list. Graham Greene, Nevil Shute, William Somerset Maugham. But I don’t know that I’d want to meet them. They’re obviously very private and sensitive; at their best on the page. They probably, in real life, wouldn’t want to give such intimate and frank contact with their mind as they’ll give you in their books.

🍴When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure?

I do! My bedtime reading is always something chosen ‘for me’, My husband is also a writer and he saw I was drowning in books I had to read for research, or to review, or to keep up with what’s being published. He said: ‘Always have a book you’re reading just for you, or you’ll lose your joy in it’.

🍴What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?

A red, cloth-bound hardback of Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon. It has no copyright date, but a sticker in the front says it was in a school library in September 1959. Another label says it was printed on ‘war economy paper’. The pages are yellowed. There is another name written in the back in pencil. It’s a book that has seen many travels and I love that. I also love the book itself. I named a place in my novel Lifeform Three after a character in this book.

🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

I’m always misunderstanding things and deciding I prefer the misunderstood version. I frequently misunderstand the plots of films, thinking they’re going one way when they’re going another, and that gets me thinking.

🍴Have you a favourite place to settle down to write?

I love my study. It’s a tiny box-bedroom and the desk is an enormous old dining table. I painted the walls a minky lilac, and painted the table to match. The table has history - my mother-in-law’s neighbour had it in their house. I like to imagine the scenes it’s seen as the centre of someone’s home.

🍴When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing?

You remember I said music hijacks my brain? I make soundtracks for my books and use them to help me focus. Instant concentration.

🍴Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

Patience, an eye for the fall of a sentence, curiosity about the less travelled path, an interest in the why.

🍴What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?

My latest novel is a story of mountains, music and profound mourning. It’s called Ever Rest.

June 3rd 2021

Twenty years ago, Hugo and Ash were on top of the world. As the acclaimed rock band Ashbirds they were poised for superstardom. Then Ash went missing in a mountaineering accident, and the lives of Hugo and everyone around him were changed forever. Now, where the irrepressible, infuriating, mesmerizing Ash had been was a hole they could never hope to fill.

Two decades on, Ash’s fiancΓ©e Elza is still struggling to move on, her private grief outshone by the glare of publicity. The loss of such a rock icon is a worldwide tragedy. Hugo is now a recluse in Nepal, shunning his old life. Robert, an ambitious session player, feels himself both blessed and cursed by his brief time with Ashbirds, unable to achieve recognition in his own right.

While the Ashbirds legend burns brighter than ever, Elza, Hugo and Robert are as stranded as if they were the ones lost in the ice. How far must they go to come back to life?

Roz, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter: @Roz_Morris 

More about Roz

Roz Morris writes fiction and essays about unconventional ways we can be haunted and how we seek people and places we belong with. Her work has been profiled by The Guardian, Literature Works, the Potomac Review, Foreword Reviews, Rain Taxi and BBC Radio.

Her fiction has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, although you won't have seen her name on the covers - she began her career in secret, ghostwriting fiction for big-name authors.

Now she's coming out of the shadows. Her own novels have been described as 'profound tales and compelling page-turners', with fine-honed language, unforgettable characters, and gripping, unusual storylines. Plaudits include a top-ranked title in the American Library Journal programme, a longlisting for an international award alongside Neil Gaiman and a finalist position in the People's Book Prize 2017.

She is also a fiction editor and writing coach. She teaches creative writing masterclasses for The Guardian newspaper in London, based on her series for writers, Nail Your Novel.

If you want to get to know her a little better, drop in at and her blog - or sign up for her newsletter about creative life . Her latest novel, Ever Rest, releases on 3 June 2021.

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Saturday 22 May 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Secrets of the Jam Factory Girls by Mary Wood

 πŸ“– On Hist Fic Saturday I am thrilled to host today's Blog Tour stop πŸ“–

Let's go back to...1912

Pan Macmillan
13 May 2021

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

A heartwarming saga about female friendship

 from the bestselling author of The Jam Factory Girls.

Secrets of the Jam Factory Girls is a moving saga novel of friendship set in the heart of pre-WWI London from bestselling author, Mary Wood. 

Elsie’s worked her way up at Swift’s Jam Factory from the shop floor to the top, and now it’s her time to shine. But when she’s involved in an incident involving her half-sister Millie’s new husband, she is forced to keep it secret – the truth could threaten their sisterly bond. 

Dot is dogged by fear, coming to terms with her mother’s rejection of her. She should be enjoying the happiness she craves with her beloved Cess; instead, she’s trapped in an asylum, haunted by the horrifying cries of inmates. All she wants is to get married, but what chance is there for her if she’s locked away?

Millie is trying to build a life with her new husband. But the man she loves is not all he seems . . . Can the Jam Factory girls create the future they all deserve? This historical saga series begins with The Jam Factory Girls.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Elsie, Dot and Millie are the eponymous jam factory girls and in this second book in the series we learn more about them as they continue to suffer through life's hardships at the turn of the twentieth century.

Those who have read the first book in the series will be familiar with the girls and of their connection to each other, so in this second book it was lovely to pick up with them again. However, as we discovered previously, life is never easy for them and they have much to overcome, particularly Dot who is facing her own trials and also both Elsie and Millie are finding that life never works out as you've planned.

The early part of the twentieth century, this book opens in 1912, was a time of great change and the author carefully includes references to the harsher side of life, but there's also the warmth and camaraderie of having close friendships in a time of great adversity. Blending the vernacular of the East End of London also gives a touch of realism and I enjoyed the authentic way in which the author weaves family and friendship dramas together. 

Secrets of the Jam Factory Girls certainly continues the historical saga in a meaningful way, and whilst it is perfectly possible to read this second book as a standalone I do think it would be beneficial to become acquainted with the Jam Factory girls in the first book in order to understand the complicated bonds which bind them all together.

Secrets of the Jam Factory Girls is both heartwarming and emotional and is a worthy continuation of this lovely series.

About the Author

Born the thirteenth child of fifteen to a middle-class mother and an East End barrow boy, Mary Wood’s family was poor, but rich in love. Mary raised four children and has numerous grandchildren, step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren. An avid reader, she first put pen to paper in 1989 and is now a full-time novelist. She is the bestselling author of numerous books, including The Abandoned Daughter and The Brave Daughters.

Twitter @Authormary #SecretsOfTheJamFactoryGirls