Friday, 18 June 2021

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ And Now You're Back by JiIl Mansell

 Delighted to be part of this Blog Tour today

Headline Review
10 June 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
 and to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour

One magical winter's night in Venice, Didi fell in love. But it ended - and he left without even saying goodbye.

Now, thirteen years on, Shay Mason is back.

The old spark is still there, but Didi's determined to ignore it. As manager of a stunning Cotswolds hotel, she's happy at last, and soon to be married. Anyway, Shay isn't staying. He's made a promise to his father. He's going to keep it. And then he'll be gone.

But Shay's return stirs up long-forgotten emotions, and the scandal that led him to leave raises its head once again. It's time for buried secrets to come to light. And it seems that this was someone's intention all along.

๐Ÿ“– My Thoughts..

Didi and Shay meet on a trip to Venice when they were teenagers, but then life and circumstances got in the way and Didi and Shay went their separate ways. Now, thirteen years later, Didi is managing the family hotel in the Cotswolds, engaged to her lovely fiancรฉ, content with her life, that is until Shay Mason comes back to Elliscombe and reawakens all those hidden feeling which Didi thought were gone forever.

I loved both Didi and Shay from the beginning, they are such wholesome characters and whilst they each have their own independent lives, memories of their shared past bonds them together. However, nothing ever runs smoothly and throughout the course of the story there are lessons to be learned, old wrongs to be righted and hidden secrets to be brought to the surface. 

As with all Jill Mansell's stories there are a whole cast of supporting characters who each have their wonderful moment in the spotlight. I especially enjoyed Rosa and Benny's story, along with Layla, Harry and Will, and of course, not forgetting Shay's dad, Red, whose lively adventures, in the past, could fill a book all on their own.

Beautifully written and totally unputdownable as all this author's stories are, And Now You're Back is a lovely light, escapist read which is just perfect summer reading, and if you can't get away on holiday, simply chill in the garden, or in the local park, and let this lovely story take you right into the heart of  Elliscombe, and meet all the wonderful characters who this talented author so cleverly, and thoughtfully, brings to life.

About the Author

Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers including The One You Really Want and Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay. Take a Chance on Me won the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.

Jill’s personal favourite amongst her novels is Three Amazing Things About You, which is about cystic fibrosis and organ donation; to her great delight, many people have joined the organ donor register as a direct result of reading this novel.

Jill started writing fiction while working in the field of Clinical Neurophysiology in the NHS, but now writes full time. She lives in Bristol with her family.

Twitter @JillMansell #AndNowYoureBack




Thursday, 17 June 2021

๐Ÿ“– Book Review ~ What About The Girl? by K T Cavan


ASP  an imprint of Indie Book
1 May 2021

Clemency White Series #1

My thanks to VineHouse UK for my copy of this book

Berne, 1962. When Clemency is asked to help Peter Aspinal pick up some film from one of his agents, she jumps at the chance. It’s a welcome change from her routine desk job at the British Embassy. Peter himself is the kind of charming, cultured and slightly dangerous man a girl could fall for. But then the romance turns to terror as the KGB move in. Cut off from help in the Alps, Clemency finds she has hidden skills and courage. But will it be enough to save her and Peter from elimination by their ruthless opponents?

First in a series featuring Clemency White, a cypher clerk in the Foreign Office who ends up as one of MI6’s top agents. With 60s glamour, exotic locations, plenty of action and a strong female lead, they mix the excitement of the Connery-Bond era with a feminine sensibility.

The series is on-topic for 2021, with the same 1960s settings and themes of women’s place in society as The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and The Queen’s Gambit. The next two titles, The Girl Knows Nothing and Come Spy with Me, will be published later in the summer of 2021.

Author KT Cavan explained the origins of the series.

“As a child I was fascinated by the courage and achievements of wartime agents like Violette Szabo and Noor Inayat Khan. But in the Cold War fiction, the agents – James Bond, Harry Palmer, George Smiley – are almost all men. I thought there was room for a woman.  Clemency does things differently. I wanted to explore how she grows and learns and realises she can do so much more than type letters or wait for a husband. But it’s still a spy series and there are still shoot-outs and car chases and secret dossiers.

๐Ÿ“– My thoughts...

Clemency White is working as a secretary at the British Embassy in Berne when she is asked by Major Peter Aspinall to help him out with the small matter of working undercover. That Peter Aspinal is working for MI6 is a well known secret within the Embassy however, as Clemency is about to discover, working in a clandestine operation, although exciting and glamorous, is also fraught with danger.

Setting the story in 1962, at the height of the Cold War with Russia, allows the story to have a certain ambiance and as old grudges fester, so Clemency, along with Peter Aspinal, gets drawn into circumstances beyond their control and both of them have to make some pretty significant decisions.

Whilst there is plenty of detail, particularly about drop offs, and keeping a close eye on not being trailed and of always keeping one step ahead of the enemy, there is also an interesting focus on the burgeoning relationship between Clemency and Aspinal, which does add a little piquancy to how the story eventually plays out

What About the Girl? definitely gets the series off to a good start. The author writes well and allows the story to evolve gradually without getting too complicated about the political agenda. There is a definite sixties vibe to the story, from the striking cover which is so reminiscent of spy thrillers of the time, to the perception early on in the story that it’s the men who are in charge, but it’s good to see that notion being challenged as Clemency starts to show just what she is capable of achieving.

It’s interesting to have an espionage thriller which allows a woman in the nineteen sixties to take a lead role as all too often historical spy stories in this era have, as their focus, the intrepid hero who saves the day, so having an intelligent female take a central role makes the story just that little bit different and highly enjoyable. I look forward to meeting Clemency White in future stories.

There’s something of a mystery to the author whose own work in intelligence and security means they have to remain in the shadows of a pseudonym.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech


Delighted to host one of today's stops on this blog tour

Orenda Books
10 June 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
and to Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour

Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely. Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy, and she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants. Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark. When these three lives collide, and intertwine in unexpected ways, everything changes. For everyone.

“Though This is How We Are Human is fiction, the premise was inspired by my friends, 20-year-old Sean, who is autistic, and his mum Fiona. Fiona had spoken to me about how much Sean longed to meet a girl and have sex. No one talks about this, she said - the difficulties navigating romance often faced by those on the spectrum. It ’s an issue that I wanted to explore. Fiona and Sean encouraged me and guided me through the book; Sean regularly consulted on dialogue, rightly insisting that his voice was heard, was strong, and was accurate. I cannot thank my extraordinary friends enough for their help and support.”

 Louise Beech

๐Ÿ“– My Thoughts..

I’ve now read every book that Louise Beech has written and each time I finish I am lost for the words which will do justice to the emotion she brings to every single story, and This is How We Are Human is no exception. I read it during a time when I was so sad that the slightest thing sent me plunging down an emotional rabbit hole, and I’m afraid that I mainly read Veronica, Sebastian and Violetta’s story with ugly tears streaming down my face, and yet, it’s not so much a sad story, it’s more of a life affirming, hopeful story and whilst there are moments which brought me to tears, there are definitely gloriously funny bits which made me laugh out loud, and wise and profound sayings which had me nodding my head in sage acknowledgement.

My heart reached out to Veronica, who only wanted what would make her autistic son happy and if that meant hiring a high class escort to teach Sebastian the delights of a sexual experience he so desperately craved, well, who are we to judge if this was morally right or wrong. Sebastian is both gloriously uncomplicated and incredibly complex but seeing the world from his perspective gave me much food for thought about some important issues I hadn't ever considered. Violetta is living a double life, her work as an escort is merely a way to pay for something which means the world to her and putting up with demanding clients is just a means to an end but when offered a chance to earn enough money for what she needs and to do so in a much safer environment is a chance worth taking. 

Blending the stories of these three very different characters together is a triumph as not only do they take us right into the maelstrom of an emotional whirlpool but their combined experiences chases away those prejudices and misconceptions which are incredibly damaging if left unacknowledged.

I really do think that Louise Beech is a magician, she sprinkles her stories with a kaleidoscope of colours, blending and turning so that all the complex pieces twirl and dance and then with a flick of a literary wand she delivers a story, which before your eyes, turns into something precious and beautiful and it is that very magic which turns This is How We Are Human into such a compelling and thought-provoking read.

About the Author

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her 2019 novel Call Me Star Girl won Best magazine Book of the Year, and was followed by I Am Dust.

Twitter@louisewriter #ThisIsHowWeAreHuman #BlogTour

@OrendaBooks #JubilantJune



Tuesday, 15 June 2021

CRรˆME DE LA CRIME ~ Shortlist Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year



The most coveted prize in crime fiction is now in its 17th year and celebrates crime writing at its best, transporting readers around the world from Calcutta to California to the frigid North Sea.

This books on this year’s shortlist encompass a vast array of themes and topics, from white supremacy and radicalisation to PTSD and homelessness, and from nail-biting hostage situations to tales of addiction, desperation and rehab.

Harrogate, 15 June 2021: The six authors shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year are today unveiled after being chosen by a public vote and the prize Academy. Now in its 17th year the most coveted prize in crime fiction – presented by Harrogate International Festivals – celebrates crime writing at its best, transporting readers around the world from Calcutta to California to the frigid North Sea.

This year’s longlist recognises author Chris Whitaker who hopes to claim the trophy on his first ever nomination with We Begin at The End – a powerful story of crime, punishment, love and redemption set in coastal California.

Sunday Times bestselling author Rosamund Lupton’s thrilling story of gunmen opening fire on a Somerset School has clinched a coveted spot on the shortlist. Three Hours sets the clock ticking for the hostages in a nail-biting exploration of white supremacy and radicalisation.

The creator of Norfolk’s best loved forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway Elly Griffiths is hoping that her seventh prize nomination takes her one step further to take the title. The twelfth novel in the whodunnit series, The Lantern Men sees Galloway return to the fens to hunt down a serial killer.

Trevor Wood’s meteoric rise continues as the debut author goes from being selected for Val McDermid’s highly respected ‘New Blood’ panel at the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival to being shortlisted for the coveted trophy with his acclaimed novel The Man on the Street. As a former naval officer, Wood brings to bear remarkable insight in this story of a homeless Falklands veteran with severe PTSD turned criminal investigator.

Scottish-Bengali author Abir Mukherjee is vying for his latest Wyndham & Banerjee novel Death in the East – described by The Times as “the best so far of an unmissable series”. A mesmerising portrait of India, Assam and East End London, perhaps this third nomination for will prove lucky for the account-turned best-selling author?

The final title on this year’s shortlist is Northern Irish author Brian McGilloway’s second nomination for political thriller The Last Crossing which looks at The Troubles from the perspective of view of former operatives who like to think they have moved on.

The six shortlisted books for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Penguin Random House UK, Viking)

The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway (Little, Brown Book Group, Constable)

Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre)

The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

The public are now invited to vote for the winner via and the winner will be announced on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 22 July, and will receive £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway. She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police's resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried - but only if Ruth will do the digging. Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths. Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?

Elly Griffiths was born in London. She worked in publishing before becoming a full-time writer. Her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist, are set in Norfolk. The series has won the CWA Dagger in the Library, and has been shortlisted four times for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her Brighton-based mystery series is set in the 1950s and 1960s. Elly has also written two mysteries featuring Detective Harbinder Kaur, The Stranger Diaries, which was a Richard & Judy bestseller and won America's most coveted accolade for crime fiction, the Edgar Award, and The Postscript Murders. Elly lives near Brighton with her husband, an archaeologist, and their cat, Gus.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Penguin Random House UK, Viking)

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Children and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news. In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

Rosamund Lupton is the author of Sister, a BBC Radio 4 "Book at Bedtime", a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, winner of the Strand Magazine critics award and the Richard and Judy Bookclub Readers' Choice Award. Her next two books Afterwards and The Quality of Silence (also a Richard and Judy pick) were Sunday Times bestsellers. Her books have been published in over thirty languages.

The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway (Little, Brown Book Group, Constable)

Tony, Hugh and Karen thought they'd seen the last of each other thirty years ago. Half a lifetime has passed and memories have been buried. But when they are asked to reunite - to lay ghosts to rest for the good of the future - they all have their own reasons to agree. As they take the ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland the past is brought into terrible focus - some things are impossible to leave behind. In The Last Crossing memory is unreliable, truth shifts and slips and the lingering legacy of the Troubles threatens the present once again.

Brian McGilloway is the author of eleven crime novels including the Ben Devlin mysteries and the Lucy Black series, the first of which, Little Girl Lost, became a New York Times and UK No.1 bestseller. In addition to being shortlisted for a CWA Dagger and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, he is a past recipient of the Ulster University McCrea Literary Award and won the BBC Tony Doyle Award for his screenplay, Little Emperors. He currently teaches in Strabane, where he lives with his wife and four children.

Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

Calcutta police detective Captain Sam Wyndham and his quick-witted Indian Sergeant, Surrender-not Banerjee, are back for another rip-roaring adventure set in 1920s India. 1905, London. When Bessie Drummond, an old flame of Sam Wyndham's, is attacked in the street, he is determined to get to the bottom of it. But the next day, Bessie is found dead in her room and Wyndham soon finds himself caught up in her murder investigation. The case will cost the young constable more than he ever imagined. 1922, India. Leaving Calcutta, Wyndham heads for the hills of Assam, ready to put his opium addiction behind him. But when he arrives, he sees a ghost from his life in London - a man thought to be long dead, a man Wyndham hoped he would never see again. Wyndham knows he must call his friend and colleague Sergeant Banerjee for help. He is certain that this figure from can only be after one thing: revenge...

Abir Mukherjee is the bestselling author of the award-winning Wyndham & Banerjee series of crime novels set in Raj-era India. He has won the CWA Historical Dagger and the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing, and has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, and HWA Gold Crown. His novels, A Rising Man and Smoke and Ashes were both selected as Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Smoke and Ashes was also chosen as one of The Times' Best Crime and Thrillers since 1945. Abir grew up in Scotland and now lives in Surrey with his wife and two sons.

We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Books UK. Zaffre)

Thirty years ago, a teenage Vincent King became a killer. Now he's been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California, where not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend and sister of the girl he killed. Duchess Radley, Star's thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin - and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but for the whole town.

Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks and All The Wicked Girls. Both books were published to widespread critical acclaim, with Tall Oaks going on to win the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award. We Begin At The End has been optioned for film and is currently in development. It was an instant New York Times bestseller. Chris lives in Hertfordshire with his family.

The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

It started with a splash. Jimmy, a homeless veteran grappling with PTSD, did his best to pretend he hadn't heard it - the sound of something heavy falling into the Tyne at the height of an argument between two men on the riverbank. Not his fight. Then he sees the headline: GIRL IN MISSING DAD PLEA. The girl, Carrie, reminds him of someone he lost, and this makes his mind up: it's time to stop hiding from his past. But telling Carrie, what he heard - or thought he heard - turns out to be just the beginning of the story. The police don't believe him, but Carrie is adamant that something awful has happened to her dad and Jimmy agrees to help her, putting himself at risk from enemies old and new. But Jimmy has one big advantage: when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose.

Trevor Wood has lived in Newcastle for twenty-five years and considers himself an adopted Geordie. He's a successful playwright who has also worked as a journalist and spin-doctor for the City Council. Prior to that he served in the Royal Navy for sixteen years. Trevor holds an MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) from UEA. The Man on the Street, his first novel, was published to widespread critical acclaim and won the 2020 CWA New Blood Dagger. One Way Street is his second novel.

About Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

Launched in 2005, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award is the most prestigious crime novel prize in the country and is a much-coveted accolade recognising the very best crime writing of the year.

Previous winners include Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Belinda Bauer, Denise Mina, Lee Child, Clare Mackintosh and last year’s champion Adrian McKinty, who was awarded the trophy for his smash hit The Chain.

The 2021 award is run by Harrogate International Festivals in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith and the Express. It is open to full length crime novels published in paperback from 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 by UK and Irish authors.

The longlist of 18 titles is selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith. The shortlist and winner are selected the academy, alongside a public vote, with the winner receiving £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

The award forms part of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, staged by Harrogate International Festivals in the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, and is traditionally awarded on the opening evening of the festival.

Find out more links

Twitter: @HarrogateFest #TheakstonAward

Monday, 14 June 2021

Book Review ~ A Special Place in Hell by Christopher Berry-Dee

Ad Lib
March 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Sunday Times bestselling author Christopher Berry-Dee is the man who talks to serial killers. A world-renowned investigative criminologist, he has gained the trust of murderers across the world, entered their high security prisons, and discussed in detail their shocking crimes. The killers' pursuit of horror and violence is described through the unique audiotape and videotape interviews which BerryDee conducted, deep inside the bowels of some of the world's toughest prisons. 

Christopher Berry-Dee has collated these interviews into this astounding, disturbing book. Not only does he describe his meetings with some of the world's most evil men and women, he also reproduces, verbatim, their very words as they describe their crimes, allowing the reader a glimpse into the inner workings of the people who have committed the worst crime possible - to mercilessly take the life of another human being.

My Thoughts..

I'm not an enthusiastic reader of the true crime genre but after watching a recent TV programme about the psychiatric hospital Broadmoor I found myself dipping into this book which has been so kindly sent to me by Ad Lib publishers and Mardle Books. I have to be honest and say that this one has lingered on my shelf since March as I wasn't too sure if I wanted to read it.

Any way into the book I go which seems a rather incongruous choice of reading on a beautiful summer afternoon. Going into the minds of a bunch of killers isn't really a fun way to spend time but it did becoming morbidly fascinating, even though I have to admit to skipping some sections as I had my fingers over my eyes. 

Criminologist, Christopher Berry-Dee has spent time analysing some of the world's most evil men and women and so doesn't shy away from recounting their stories, their words, their lack of morality and blasรฉ indifference at taking away another person's life. Of the ten 'killers' mentioned in this book I was only familiar with two of them, one being Peter Sutcliffe, the depraved serial killer, who terrorised the streets of Northern England in the late nineteen seventies. I lived, and worked in Leeds, at the height of Ripper mania and remember only too well, the sheer terror that this evil man instilled into the hearts of women as they went about their daily lives. I will never forgive him for making my early years in a wonderful city fraught with danger.

This is definitely not a book for the faint hearted, and certainly not pleasant reading if you don't find getting into the minds of seriously disturbed individuals interesting. However, in A Special Place in Hell, the author shares his thoughts about ten of the most heinous serial killers/mass murderers who fully deserve their special place in hell, and all credit must go to the author for writing with dispassionate ease about some quite horrific subjects. That there are more killers out there who have the potential to be the worst of the worst Christopher Berry-Dee readily admits but I don't think I want to  read about them.

If you like true crime, and are not easily shocked, then A Special Place in Hell is a well written and interesting account of ten of the world's most evil serial killers.

About the Author

Noted writer and criminologist, Christopher Berry-Dee's recent books include Talking With Psychopaths and Savages, the UK's best selling true-crime title of 2017, and Talking With Female Serial Killers. He is the country's No. 1 true crime author.

Twitter @AdLibPublishers


Sunday, 13 June 2021

☼Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Carol Cooper

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all back to our Summer Picnic 2021

Pull up a deck chair Summertime is here again

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author Carol Cooper to our Summer picnic ☼

☼Welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, Carol. What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

I’m bringing cucumber sandwiches with the crusts trimmed off, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, and grapes. As a nod to my Middle Eastern roots, there’ll also be homemade tabbouleh which, if you’re not familiar with it, is a delightfully refreshing salad made mainly from parsley and mint. I hope we’ll still have room for a cream tea to top it off.

☼What would you like to drink? We have white wine spritzers, locally brewed beer, traditional Pimms, sparkling elderflower cordial, or a thermos of tea or coffee.

Pimms, please. It goes with everything and I’m confident that it will supply the rest of our five-a-day.

☼Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside or somewhere hot?

Travelling to hotter climes is likely to be off the agenda for a while, so let’s go to a beautiful place in the countryside.

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

We most certainly have a hamper, as well as a flowery tablecloth for the picnic and a waterproof blanket to sit on, and possibly even to doze off on afterwards.

☼Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

Absolutely! It’s Grantchester Meadows, not far from the orchard where Rupert Brooke used to write. On a warm day, it’s harder to find a quiet spot but it’s worth the effort. I hope you don’t mind the Red Poll cattle grazing there in the summer, to say nothing of people diving into the river to cool down. It’s not just youngsters, either. I brought an old school friend here (like me, she’s of a certain age) and it wasn’t long before she threw off her skirt and jumped into the water.

☼Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today?

Mark Twain and Agatha Christie would make perfect picnic guests. Can’t you just see them in their sun hats? I fear Twain might be disappointed by the size of the Cam compared with the mighty Mississippi River, but he’d be terrific company. Agatha Christie would be full of surprises, and not just in her fiction.

☼Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

With such entertaining company, I might not have time to read, but the book would have to be The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke.

Wentworth Press
 This edition 2019

☼What is your earliest summer memory?

I was about three years old and we were living in Cairo. My rubber ring deflated when I was in the deep end of the pool at the Gezira Sporting Club, and a stranger jumped in fully clothed to save me. I haven’t trusted inflatables since.

☼Do you have a summer music playlist ? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

My summer playlist has to include Pink Floyd’s “Grantchester Meadows”. I also love upbeat tunes like The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City”, and The Drifters classic “Under the Boardwalk”.

☼What can you tell us about your current book or WIP?

My latest novel The Girls from Alexandria was inspired by growing up in Egypt, and honed by my experience as a doctor. Raised in a cosmopolitan world that no longer exists, Egyptian-born Nadia is now 70 and living in London, muddling along with a failing brain that baffles the medics. On a now urgent quest for her missing sister, Nadia delves into childhood memories that go back to the 1950s and 1960s. From a life filled with vibrant characters and punctuated by turning points in history, Nadia re-lives events only half-understood at the time. The comfortable society in which she came of age, she comes to realize, hid darker undercurrents that could explain what happened to her sister 50 years ago.

Book blurb

Memories are fragile when you are 70 years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.

Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.

Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.

Despite being told she’s confused, and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.

Set against the glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s third novel is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.

Carol, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter handle: @drcarolcooper

Facebook page: Carol Cooper’s novels

Instagram handle: @drcarolcooper

Blog/web url: Blog – Pills & Pillow-Talk

 Thank you very much to Jo and JaffaReadsToo for inviting me to share a relaxing summer day with you today.

Carol Cooper

Thank you for sharing your summer picnic with us today

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Saturday, 12 June 2021

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ Author Interview ~ A Summer of Second Chances by Suzanne Snow


๐Ÿ“– Delighted to be on this blog tour today ๐Ÿ“– 

10 June 2021

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

Sparks and tempers fly when Ben comes to stay in Daisy's holiday cottage.

Ben is training for a triathlon, working himself to the limit in an attempt to overcome a recent trauma. Daisy wants to help, but even as they draw closer with every week that passes, he pushes her away whenever things threaten to get serious.

Volunteering with a local equine charity, Daisy discovers Ben’s history with horses, and his desire to help others as he has been helped is suddenly very close to home.

Can Ben open himself up to love again? With his real life waiting for him back in New York, can they have a future together even if he does?

For fans of Victoria Walters and Trisha Ashley, this is a perfect and much-needed slice of summer escapism.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Suzanne Snow to Jaffareadstoo today

Hello Suzanne and welcome to Jaffareadstoo. Thank you for spending time with us today.

Suzanne, tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.

Hi Jo, thank you for having me on your blog. I’m Suzanne Snow and I write contemporary romantic fiction. I’ve been writing for some time, in between previous day jobs in financial services and planting redesigned gardens. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association in 2018 when I discovered its New Writers Scheme. I’ve learned such a lot since becoming a member and made some great friends, it’s a very supportive and welcoming association. I was fortunate to meet my agent Susan Yearwood at the 2019 conference, which led to representation and eventually publication with Canelo.

Your novels are set in Thorndale, which is a pretty little village, is it based on a real place?

Thank you! Thorndale was inspired by Littondale and Wharfedale in Yorkshire. I borrowed bits from Kettlewell, Arncliffe and Hawkswick to create my village. Whenever I return I always feel closest to Thorndale in Arncliffe. I love the sense of community found in rural villages and so enjoy writing about them.

The Summer of Second Chances is now book three in the Welcome to Thorndale series, how does it fit in with the rest of the series?

It’s set in Thorndale and a few characters have returned from the previous books, including Sam and Charlie Stewart. Daisy grew up in Thorndale but moved away and Ben is just visiting to train for a triathlon. There are some scenes in Cumbria and it was interesting to take my characters into a new location. I’ve expanded on Thorndale for this book and writing new characters such as Mrs Timms in the cafรฉ and Edwin, a local farmer, was a lot of fun and we’ll see some of them again at Christmas.

For readers who are not familiar with your writing, what can they expect from your novels?

I hope readers will find romantic, uplifting stories with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of my characters. I love to imagine people who have long lived in a place, and those who might be recently arrived, and why. Writing romantic fiction is a passion and it’s a joy to create characters who fall in love and need a little help to reach their happy ending!

Where do your ideas for your stories come from, and as one book finishes do you already know where the next book will take you?

I find the landscape around me very inspiring, and it’s often when I’m out walking that ideas pop up. This book was actually inspired by a house with an old barn at the end of the garden, and the character of Ben appeared very quickly in my mind. There’s always a farmhouse, a hamlet or a tiny cottage to discover when I’m researching or just exploring with my family and then my imagination takes over.

As well as creating a backstory for my characters I always plan their futures, at least for now, as this feeds into the ending of the books. I need to understand where they will go next and what they will do when they get there, especially as some of them do reappear. Before I start writing I like to plan the book and usually have an outline of each chapter. I always know the ending, it’s often one of the first things that comes to me, and I know it’s not the same for all authors. For me writing the book is the process of drawing the characters to that ending and knowing a little of how their futures will look.

When you started writing – did you always intend this to be a series? And if so, did you know at the start where the story eventually finish?

I didn’t originally plan for the books to be a series but I very quickly knew that I wanted to connect them and that some characters would play a role in each story. This soon evolved into the Welcome to Thorndale series, and it’s now grown to 4 books with a Christmas one being published in September. I didn’t plan the end of the series, just the individual books with an idea of how the characters might relate to each other in the future.

Have you another novel planned?

I’m at the beginning of a 3-book series and this time I’m setting it in Cumbria, still in a rural community with people at its heart. I have an outline for each book (as well as the endings!) and was recently able to spend time in a house which is the inspiration for mine in the series. This was a pleasure, and such a help, to be immersed in the setting and picture my new characters living their lives in a wonderful place. I also have a stand-alone story I’m planning to set in Connemara and that will definitely require a visit for research! And I’m not entirely sure I’ve finished with Thorndale yet!

Thank you for the opportunity to be featured on your blog, Jo, I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions.


Thank you so much, for being such a lovely guest.



Suzanne Snow writes romantic, uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters, finding inspiration in beautiful views, old houses and abundant gardens. The Summer of Second Chances is Suzanne’s third novel in the Welcome to Thorndale series. Her first two novels in the series, The Cottage of New Beginnings and The Garden of Little Rose, are also published by Canelo.

After working in financial services and then spending several years as a stay-at-home mum, Suzanne was ready for a change. Her interest in horticulture led her to study for RHS qualifications at agricultural college in Yorkshire, enabling her to pursue a new career planting redesigned gardens.

Suzanne has sung in a choir, trained as a worship leader and raised money for charity by making huge volumes of soup for anyone she can persuade to buy it. She is an infrequent horse rider after years competing in dressage, and a ranch holiday in Montana is top of her bucket list.

She lives in Lancashire with her family and loves to read, particularly historical crime and biographies of writers. She also enjoys walking, cooking for family and friends, and watching movies, especially if they have a happy ending.

Suzanne is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.

Twitter @SnowProse 



Friday, 11 June 2021

Book Review ~ Mrs England by Stacey Halls


Bonnier Zaffre
Manilla Press
10 June 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there's something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there's no such thing as the perfect family - and she should know.

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception.

My thoughts..

I've been excited to read Mrs England ever since I heard the first rumblings of interest about the book on social media about six months ago. It's always fascinating when there's bit of a buzz around a story, Stacey Halls first two historical fiction novels have done extremely well, so it was with a high degree of expectation I began to read Mrs England.

Its setting amongst the dark satanic mills of Yorkshire allows the brooding nature of the story to exude from the very first time Ruby May sets foot from the carriage which has carried her from the railway station to her new home. Nurse May, as she is known, is newly employed by wealthy mill owner, Mr Charles England to care for their four young children, and with his wife, Lilian being somewhat fragile in mind and body, Nurse May is left to look after the children with all the expertise that her Norland Nanny training allows.

That there are festering secrets at Hardcastle House becomes apparent as the story progresses and it is with a sense of disquiet that these secrets are gradually revealed. Lilian England is an enigmatic creature, prone to bouts of moodiness and depression, whilst the ebullient, Charles Hardcastle's larger than life personality seems to linger even when he's not present on the page. I rather liked Nurse May, but she too has secrets she would rather not be exposed to scrutiny and it is all these hidden and rather shadowy tensions which make Mrs England such a fascinating story.

Beautifully reminiscent of the confines of Edwardian England and not just for the working people whose lives were governed by hardship and toil, but also for the upper classes whose luxurious lifestyles often disguised traces of misery, manipulation and control. Mrs England once again proves just what a talent the historical fiction genre have found with Stacey Halls, as with each successive story, she just gets better and better. 

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. 

Instagram @staceyhallsauthor 

Twitter @stacey_halls #MrsEngland

@ZaffreBooks #ManillaPress


Thursday, 10 June 2021

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ Fresh Water for Flowers by Valรฉrie Perrin( Translated by Hildegarde Serle)


On Publication Day I am delighted to be a part of this Blog Tour

Europa Editions
10 June 2021

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

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her daily life is lived to the rhythms of the hilarious and touching confidences of random visitors and her colleagues—three gravediggers, three groundskeepers, and a priest.

Violette’s routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of police chief Julien Seul, wishing to deposit his mother’s ashes on the gravesite of a complete stranger. Julien is not the only one to guard a painful secret: his mother’s story of clandestine love breaks through Violette’s carefully constructed defences to reveal the tragic loss of her daughter, and her steely determination to find out who is responsible.

An unforgettable story of love and loss told through the life of a woman who believes obstinately in happiness. Touching on the deepest aspects of human life, Fresh Water for Flowers brings out the exceptional and the poetic in the ordinary and reminds us of the life affirming value of kindness.

๐Ÿ“– My Thoughts..

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker of a small cemetery in Bourgogne. There she lovingly tends the graves and keeps watch over the souls of the departed.  Always ready to give a listening ear to the bereaved or supply cups of tea and chocolate cake to those in need of bodily sustenance, Violette is so much more than just a trusted guardian of the dead.

One day, police chief, John Seul, arrives at the cemetery to enquire if his late mother’s ashes could be buried alongside a man who was not his father. Entirely used to strange requests from the public, Violette and John Seul, form a close personal attachment and as they share the secrets of John’s mother’s clandestine love life so Violette’s own, rather sad, and at times, tragic life is laid open to scrutiny.

I’m a great believer that a special book finds its reader and Fresh Water for Flowers was everything I needed it to be at this moment in time. It’s wise and gentle, desperately sad and quietly funny, and whilst there are moments of true tragedy, there are also moments of great clarity. Beautifully written and so well translated from the original French that the narrative moves along perfectly seamlessly, sharing wonderful insights into love, friendship, motherhood, bereavement, death and, ultimately, the affirmation of life. I looked forward to each new chapter, and some of them are quite short, but heading each is a wise, and quite profound, piece of poetry, which lifts the spirit.

Quietly melancholic but so beautifully put together, Fresh Water for Flowers is a lovely, thought-provoking story which will stay with me for a very long time.

About the Author

Photo Credit : Valentin Lauvergne

Valรฉrie Perrin is a photographer and screenwriter who works with (and is married to) Claude Lelouch. Her first novel, Les Oubliรฉs du Dimanche, has won numerous prizes, including the 2016 Lire ร‰lire and Poulet-Malassis prizes. Fresh Water for Flowers is her first novel to be translated into English and an international sensation. 

Hildegarde Serle graduated in French from Oxford University. After working as a newspaper subeditor in London for many years, she obtained the Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation. She is the translator of A Winter’s Promise and The Missing of Clair de lune, atmospheric, absorbing tale.

Social Media

Twitter @Valerieperrin_ #FreshWaterForFlowers


@midaspr @gabriellamay24


Wednesday, 9 June 2021

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ The Edelweiss Sisters by Kate Hewitt

Delighted to host a stop on the blog tour today

June 2021

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

1938, Salzburg. A powerful story of hope, forbidden love, and incredible courage, about three sisters who will risk everything—even their own lives—as part of the resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Austria.

Johanna, Birgit and Lotte Eder have always lived a quiet life, working in their father’s clockmaking shop and helping their mother in the house. But like many other Austrians, they find it impossible to ignore the changes in the world around them.

At first Johanna finds it hard to believe the Nazis pose a real threat. But then her father hires Franz to help in his shop. He’s kind and soulful, with dark eyes that twinkle with intelligence. But he’s Jewish, and as Johanna falls for him, she realizes that loving him puts them all in danger.

Then comes the Anschluss—the reunification of Austria and Germany under Nazi rule. The three sisters’ lives have become ever more separate with Lotte joining the convent at Nonnberg Abbey and Birgit’s secret involvement with the Resistance. But as Johanna realizes how mistaken she was about the level of danger, she begins to see that it may be down to her to protect the man she loves.

She knows that she can’t do it alone though. She will have to turn to the people she trusts the most: her sisters.

The three of them work together to try to get Franz to the safety of Switzerland, and they soon prove invaluable to the Resistance. But they’re risking everything. Can three women who would die for each other, also be prepared to die for what is right?

The sisters’ subsequent journey from Nazi-occupied Salzburg to the devastating concentration camps of Ravensbruck and Mauthausen will show the strength of human spirit like never before. As, out of the darkness, a tiny seed of hope flowers…

A totally heartbreaking and impossibly powerful story about love, tragedy, and the power of humanity. Perfect for fans of The Nightingale, The Lilac Girls and The Sound of Music.

๐Ÿ“– My thoughts...

In 1938, the Eder family are happily going about their daily lives, in the Austrian town of Salzburg. Johanna, the eldest daughter helps her mother around the house, Birgit helps her father in the family clock making business, and the baby of the family, Lotte, gifted with a lovely singing voice, attends a music academy. Life is simple for the Eders, honest toil and a willingness to help anyone is their mantra, that is until the first faint rumblings of war start to appear. The arrival of Franz, a new apprentice in the clock shop, disturbs the equilibrium of the family, especially around Johanna, but with his gentle nature and quiet intelligence, Franz is soon included as part of the family. However, trouble is looming and as war clouds start to gather over Austria, the Eder family are about to be tested in ways they could never have imagined.

There is much to endure for the Eder Sisters, each of them have their own role to play and I enjoyed how the author brought together all of their individual stories, blending each one with care and compassion and fine attention to even the smallest of detail. The situation in Austria, and more particularly, in Salzburg, is imaginatively described and this tumultuous time is brought to life with a keen eye for historical detail. I loved the lighter references, early in the story, where there is a bit of an acknowledgement towards the Von Trapp family, who of course we know, from the iconic Sound of Music movie. However, there are heartbreaking scenes too, especially towards the latter part of the novel when the story takes us into the horror of the concentration camps of Ravensbrรผck and Mauthausen.

The Edelweiss Sisters is a heart-breaking WW2 saga which tugs away at your heartstrings whilst at the same time revealing a story of bravery, hope, faith and love, all set against a background of indescribable hatred, bigotry and war.

About the Author

Kate Hewitt is the author of many romance and women’s fiction novels. A former New Yorker and now an American ex-pat, she lives in a small town on the Welsh border with her husband, five children, and their overly affectionate Golden Retriever. Whatever the genre, she enjoys telling stories that tackle real issues and touch people’s lives.

Social Media

Twitter @author_kate #TheEdelweissSisters

@Bookouture #BookOnTour

Buy Links