Sunday, 24 October 2021

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Kate Field

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 Kate Field to our Sunday Brunch today

Welcome. Kate. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

I’m being a traditionalist and bringing a pile of bacon butties. Crispy bacon, freshly-baked white bread and lashings of real butter… What could be better?

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

I don’t drink tea or coffee, so I suppose I’ll have to accept the Bucks Fizz!

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

As it’s October in north west England, I think it will have to be the kitchen table. Hopefully the autumn sun will shine on us through the windows and we’ll have a lovely view of the garden. I can’t imagine using a formal dining room again – ours has been an office for the last 18 months!

Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?

As we’re both northerners, shall we support a local band and listen to some Elbow? One of my favourites is One Day Like This. I love the soaring melody and the lyrics, and especially the way Guy Garvey pronounces the word ‘love’, in the same way I do!

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

I’m inviting Bertie Wooster as I think he would be huge fun. He’d tell great stories, sing silly songs and undoubtedly make us laugh. We’d better invite Jeeves too, in case Bertie gets into trouble.

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

It’s so hard to choose a favourite book of all time, so I’m cheating slightly and bringing my favourite read of the year so far. It’s Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers. I love this sort of ‘quiet’ book, where the characters rather than action take centre stage. It’s beautifully written, gently humorous, and the ending is incredibly poignant.

Weidenfeld and Nicolson

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!

Absolutely! Reading always comes first, and I can’t imagine a day without spending some time with a book. I’ve started listening to audiobooks over the last year too, so now I can escape into a book even when doing boring chores like ironing.

There are far too many books on my TBR pile that I haven’t had time to read yet, but one that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I have a crochet blanket kit that was inspired by the book so I’d like to read it before I get started on that.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

It can be anywhere: random conversations, newspaper stories, song lyrics, TV shows. Usually it’s a combination of several ideas that come together to form a story. The premise of Finding Home, for example, was initially inspired by an article in a newspaper about a random act of kindness. A few months later, I heard a radio interview with firefighter Sabrina Cohen-Hatton. She has achieved remarkable things after a difficult childhood and after being homeless as a teenager, and she gave me the idea for my lead character, Mim. The character and the premise fitted together perfectly and I couldn’t resist writing the story.

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

I don’t have a favourite place, but I find I’m most productive when I’m writing in the kitchen. I can’t listen to music when I’m writing, as it’s too distracting, but the white noise of the kitchen appliances seems to be a perfect backdrop. I think I’m more productive in winter too. In summer, it’s too tempting to get out into the countryside and enjoy a walk.

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

I’m used to working to deadlines in my day job, so I can be disciplined and focus on a writing deadline if I need to. My main problem is letting go when the deadline arrives. I always think I could make a book better with one more round of edits!

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

I write my first draft by hand rather than on a laptop, so a good notebook and pen are my two main essential items. I also need peace and quiet – preferably an empty house, but that’s not been possible recently. Writers also need a thick skin to cope with the rejections and the bad reviews. I’m still trying to grow mine!

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

My latest novel is called Finding Home. It’s the story of Mim, who at the start of the novel is homeless, unemployed, and living in her car. She meets a couple who are stranded in Lancashire but desperately need to get to Devon for a family wedding. She offers to drive them to their seaside home, and this act of kindness changes her life in ways she hadn’t expected.

I hope it’s an uplifting and romantic read!

One More Chapter 

Kate, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter: @katehaswords

More about Kate

Kate Field writes heartwarming and uplifting romantic fiction. She lives in Lancashire with her husband, daughter and cat. Kate’s debut novel, A Place to Begin Again, won the Joan Hessayon award for new writers.

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

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo


Saturday, 23 October 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Road from Cromer Pier by Martin Gore


July 2021
Cromer Pier Theatre Series #2

My thanks to the author and Ben Cameron for my signed  copy of this book

It’s ten years on from The Road to Cromer Pier, and Summertime Special Show Director Karen Wells has two potential headliners, but both have issues. Dare she take the risk? And Karen herself is at a crossroads. Will her mother Janet ever retire and allow her to run the pier theatre?

Meanwhile Janet’s nemesis, businessman Lionel Pemrose still has designs on the pier theatre, but he is facing growing financial problems. Bank manager Peter Hodson is haunted by a past indiscretion, and calls in recently widowed turnaround expert Tom Stanley. Can he keep the indiscretion a secret?

Tom is bereaved and has recently been made redundant from his own firm. He is too young to retire, and after years of long hours, suddenly finds himself unemployed. He pours his energies into the assignment, which could be his last hurrah.

Old enmities, loyalties and past mistakes surface as the future of the pier theatre is once again under threat, and those involved must deal with unresolved issues in their lives.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

We pick up The Road from Cromer Pier some ten years after The Road to Cromer Pier and and even though I hadn't read the first book I've had no difficulty in engaging with the characters or feeling at home in the lovely Norfolk setting. 

Preparing for the Summertime Special Show at the theatre at the end of Cromer Pier presents its own set of challenges for theatre director, Karen, not just because her potential headline acts are both a little bit vulnerable but also Karen herself is desperate to move out of her mother's shadow in order to take over the running of the theatre. 

Once I was used to the place, and the people, I settled comfortably into the story. The author writes well and describes the atmosphere of life at the end of the pier with flair and imagination. I found myself warming to the characters, well, perhaps to some more than others, Lionel Pemrose, in particular, springs to mind, as a dastardly villain, but overall, the story of jobbing entertainers who do what they do for the love of their chosen profession comes nicely to life. However, as you would expect nothing in Cromer is straightforward and there are several challenges to be faced, with the ever present threat of financial troubles for one character who seems to have his finger in far too many dodgy enterprises and a dangerous domestic problem for another character which adds a sense of tension to the story.

The Road from Cromer Pier is a light, enjoyable read about the vagaries of life at the little theatre at the end of Cromer Pier.

About the Author

When he was nine years old, Martin Gore told his mother he wanted to be a writer. She told him to get a proper job. Now after a successful business career he is semi-retired and living his dream. Nine pantomimes, three plays and his third novel, The Road from Cromer Pier, now published.

So how did his creative side find its niche?

“I had the opportunity to resume writing in 2009 when I wrote my first pantomime for Walkington Pantomime Players. Since then, I’ve written eight pantomimes and three plays.”

He published his first novel, Pen Pals, in 2016. A family saga based in a Yorkshire mill town it is set mainly in the strike torn seventies, building on his experiences during his career in manufacturing.

His second book was based on a play he had written called The Road to Cromer Pier, which draws on childhood holiday experiences.

“It was Cromer every year. The nearest beach to Coventry. Seven hours on a bus with my brothers. No car. Fish and chips, football and cricket on the beach, and big copper pennies clunking into one-armed bandits. Then at night seeing the bright lights of the Pier Theatre from our holiday flat.”

The book was written with the help of Cromer Pier Theatre, who arranged interviews with the management and cast.

“Writing a work of fiction about a real place is a real challenge. The Cromer Pier Show is an iconic piece of British theatre, and is a West End standard show, so my story needed to reflect that too. The theatre couldn’t have been more supportive.”

“I’ve always loved theatre, particularly musical theatre, and have been involved in a lot of Amdram over the years, so writing about the theatre appealed, especially having seen the show as a child.”

“It’s a busy and happy retirement. I still enjoy my work as a Non-Executive Director, but I’m thoroughly enjoying fulfilling my statement to my mother all those years ago. Both of my parents loved the theatre and reading, so I think they’d be proud.

Twitter @AuthorGore


Friday, 22 October 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Hayward


Delighted to take part in this blog tour today

Agora Books

ebook 28 October 2021
paperback 25 November 2021

My thanks to Agora Books for my copy of this book
and to Peyton for the invitation to the blog tour

‘I would caution you against delving into the past. The past is often best left exactly where it is.’ 

Emma Bowen has never had a close relationship with her mother, barely speaking with her in the last years of her life. But after her mother’s death, Emma finds something that might just explain the distance between them. Discovering letters between her mother and grandmother, it seems to Emma that her mother has always been difficult. As she searches for answers about her own childhood, Emma is drawn into the mystery of her mother’s enigmatic life. The more she finds, the more lost she feels, but Emma is determined to uncover her mother’s past, and the secrets held within it, whatever the cost. An enthralling story of three women, generations apart, linked by one terrible tragedy.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

After her mother's death Emma Bowen discovers rather more about her mother than she could ever have imagined. In the last years of Margaret's life Emma's relationship with her was pretty much non-existent, which makes clearing the debris of her mother's life all the more difficult. Moving forwards and backwards in time we get a picture of the family events which shaped Margaret's personality and which altered the course of her life forever.

The story opens with a harrowing first chapter which I thought was exceptionally well written and which placed me distinctly in the moment, experiencing all the shock and confusion, so lost in the moment, that I found myself wincing in one particular spot. I think that sets the scene perfectly for the rest of the story which is sometimes quite shocking in nature, whilst at other times it is so delicately observational that it quite moved me to tears.

The eponymous girl in the maze is an intriguing premise for the story and as the plot starts to dance and twirl so the meaning behind the title becomes clearer. It's very much a story about motherhood, particularly the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters, a process which is in itself so complex that all the twists and turns in the story only adds to the perception that we never really know someone until we look deep inside their soul.

I read The Girl in the Maze until my eyes ached with tiredness as I couldn't bear to not know what happened to both Margaret and Emma and hoped that there would be some sort of resolution for both of them. There is a further complicated dimension when an intriguing third person enters into the story which only adds a delicious twist to what is an already complex family drama.

Beautifully characterised, and wonderfully descriptive, The Girl in the Maze is an exceptionally accomplished debut novel from an exciting new talent. I can't wait to see what Cathy Hayward comes up with next time.

Cathy Hayward trained as a journalist and edited a variety of trade publications, several of which were so niche they were featured on Have I Got News for You. She then moved into the world of PR and set up an award-winning communications agency. Devastated and inspired in equal measure by the death of her parents in quick succession, Cathy completed The Creative Writing Programme with New Writing South, out of which emerged her debut novel, The Girl in the Maze, about the experience of mothering and being mothered. It won Agora Books’ Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize 2020 and was long listed for the Grindstone Literary Prize 2020. When she’s not writing (or reading) in her local library, Cathy loves pottering in second-hand bookshops, hiking, and wild camping. She lives in Brighton – sandwiched between the Downs and the sea – with her husband, three children, and two rescue cats – one of whom thinks he’s a dog.

Twitter @CathyHayward7 #TheGirlInTheMaze


Thursday, 21 October 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Black Dress by Deborah Moggach


July 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Pru's husband has walked out, leaving her alone to contemplate her future. She's missing not so much him, but the life they once had - picnicking on the beach with small children, laughing together, nestling up like spoons in the cutlery drawer as they sleep. Now there's just a dip on one side of the bed and no-one to fill it.

In a daze, Pru goes off to a friend's funeral. Usual old hymns, words of praise and a eulogy doesn't sound like the friend Pru knew. And it isn't. She's gone to the wrong service. Everyone was very welcoming, it was - oddly - a laugh, and more excitement than she's had for ages. So she buys a little black dress in a charity shop and thinks, now I'm all set, why not go to another? I mean, people don't want to make a scene at a funeral, do they? No-one will challenge her - and what harm can it do?

πŸ“– My thoughts..

When Pru's husband leaves her so he can start a new life, her comfortable world falls apart. Rattling around in the family home in Muswell Hill, in a house which is far to big for her, and with her children living their own lives in far off places, Pru feels as if her life has ended. With her mind in a daze Pru inadvertently attends a wrong funeral but she receives such a warm welcome from people she doesn’t know that she is comforted by their grief. With the fickleness of fate very much on her side, Pru then finds the most perfect black dress in a charity shop and the seed of an idea is sown.

Pru is absolutely fabulous at seventy, and although we see her through some pretty dark and dreary times, we also get a glimpse of her glorious personality beneath the sadness of her life. When she embraces life, Pru does so with a sharp determination which had me cheering at some of her escapades. Her romantic adventures had me giggling but under the irreverent look at dating there is also an undercurrent of real loneliness and a deep sadness that life is racing away with her.

Beautifully observed, with a wry look at life, and several twists I didn't see coming, The Black Dress is a refreshing story. There is a nod to the early days of the pandemic which very firmly places the story in the here and now, but which doesn’t intrude on the overall detail of this wonderful story.

About the Author

Deborah Moggach, OBE, is a British novelist and an award winning screenwriter.She has written twenty novels, including Tulip Fever and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Her most novel, The Carer, was a Sunday Times best seller. She live in London.

Twitter  #TheBlackDress #DeborahMoggach


Wednesday, 20 October 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ I know You by Claire McGowan


Thomas & Mercer
Amazon Publishing
19 October 2021

My thanks to the publisher and FMcM Associates for my copy of this book

When Rachel stumbles upon a body in the woods, she knows what she has to do: run. Get away. Do not be found at the scene. Last time, she didn’t know, and she ended up accused of murder. But when this victim is identified as her boyfriend’s estranged wife, Rachel realises she’s already the prime suspect.

With mounting evidence against her, Rachel’s only hope is to keep the truth about herself well hidden. Because twenty years ago she was someone else—Casey, a young nanny trying to make it as an actress in Los Angeles. When the family she worked for were brutally murdered, all the evidence pointed to her and she went to prison. Back then, she narrowly escaped the death penalty and managed to free herself on appeal. Now she’s fighting to save the life she’s spent years piecing back together.

But with her behaviour raising suspicion and the police closing in, Rachel can’t help wondering: Was her discovery in the woods really just an awful coincidence, or is someone framing her for murder? Someone who knows who she is, and wants revenge.

πŸ“–My thoughts...

When Rachel finds a body in the woods she instinctively runs away, however, her actions that morning will have long lasting repercussions. For Rachel is no stranger to tragedy and it's only when the story gets underway that we start to learn just what has brought Rachel to this particular moment in time. 

Without giving away any spoilers I can say that the story is divided into two distinct time frames where we follow the story of Rachel in the here and now, and twenty years ago when she was known as Casey who finds herself working, as a nanny, in Los Angeles, with an interesting, and rather dysfunctional, family. It's not clear, at first, just what these two sides of one character have in common but as this clever thriller continues, all will be revealed.

I flew through I know You in almost one sittingas it is very easy to get into the story and both time elements are done cleverly so that you get drawn into two quite separate tragedies. The author writes this genre well and she certainly builds the tension to a high level with neither story seeking to outshine the other. As the plot progresses, I did sort of guess where it was heading but that didn't spoil my overall enjoyment of the story and there were some twists which I didn't see coming at all.

I know You is a cleverly put together murder/mystery written with a interesting plot and a great set of characters.

About the Author

Claire McGowan grew up in a small village in Northern Ireland. After a degree in English and French from Oxford University she moved to London and worked in the charity sector. She also writes as Eva Woods.

Twitter @inkstainsclaire #IKnowYou



Tuesday, 19 October 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop by Jessica Redland

Delighted to host one of the stops on today's blog today

Boldwood Books
3 August 2021

My thanks to Boldwood books for my copy of this book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to the blog tour

Sometimes you just need a little Christmas magic to make your wishes come true...

When master chocolatier, Charlee, takes the leap to move to the picturesque seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, she is determined to follow in her grandfather's footsteps and set up a chocolate shop.

Luckily, she finds the perfect location for Charlee's Chocolates on beautiful Castle Street... Now she just has to refurbish it in time for Christmas!

With a useless boyfriend and countless DIY disasters, Charlee doesn't know if she'll make it in time. With no 'traditional' family to support her, she feels lost in her new surroundings and the secrets of the past are weighing her down.

But the warmth and festive spirit of the Whitsborough Bay community will surprise her, and when plumber, Matt, comes to the rescue, it might be that all of Charlee's dreams could come true this Christmas, and she could learn what family really means...


Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop was originally released as Charlee and the Chocolate Shop. Now re-released with a new title and new cover, this version has been freshly edited and features several new chapters.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

I’ve just spent a delightful few days, not just ensconced in the wonderful, and rather delicious world of chocolate making, but I’ve also got to know a delightful set of characters who call the charming Whitsborough Bay, in Yorkshire, their home.

Charlee Chambers has to make some pretty tough life choices when she leaves everything she has known to set up her chocolate shop in Whitsborough Bay. Moving in with her boyfriend soon presents it’s own set of challenges but Charlee is nothing if not resilient, and it soon becomes apparent that if she is to get anywhere in life she must do so  thanks to her own steely determination and sheer strength of will.

Charlee is such a likeable heroine that I was rooting for her all the way through and wanted her to succeed despite all the setbacks which seem to come at her from all angles. However, there are lovely characters who support Charlee through all of her challenges, but it is her special relationship with a certain, charismatic plumber who comes to her rescue in more ways than just fixing her faulty plumbing, that made me smile the most.

I raced through the story, at ease with the characters, the setting, and especially during the Christmas part of the story, which is quite magical, but I think it’s the warmth of the characterisation which makes this lovely, warm-hearted story, about love, life and friendship really quite special.

Beautifully written, with a joyous set of characters, not all likeable but all very memorable, Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is every bit as scrumptious as the chocolate which Charlee moulds with such loving care at her little shop on Castle Street.

Jessica Redland writes uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community set in Yorkshire where she lives. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast and her Hedgehog Hollow series takes them into beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Twitter @JessicaRedland #ChristmasWishesattheChocolateShop

@BoldwoodBooks #Boldwoodbloggers @bookandtonic


Monday, 18 October 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ A Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford


Thrilled to be hosting today's stop on this blog tour

7 October 2021

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

Scotland, 1949: Caroline Gillan and her new husband Alasdair have moved back to Kelly Castle, his dilapidated family estate in the middle of nowhere. Stuck caring for their tiny baby, and trying to find her way with an opinionated mother-in-law, Caroline feels adrift, alone and unwelcome.

But when she is tasked with sorting out the family archives, Caroline discovers a century-old mystery that sparks her back to life. There is one Gillan bride who is completely unknown - no photos exist, no records have been kept - the only thing that is certain is that she had a legitimate child. Alasdair's grandmother.

As Caroline uncovers a strange story that stretches as far as the Arctic circle, her desire to find the truth turns obsessive. And when a body is found in the grounds of the castle, her hunt becomes more than just a case of curiosity. What happened all those years ago? Who was the bride? And who is the body...?

πŸ“– My Thoughts...

Home to the Gillan family, Kelly Castle in Scotland has been in their family for generations. A sinister discovery there, in 1949, opens up a family secret which has been hidden for over a hundred years. Charged with the task of searching through the family archives, Caroline Gillan discovers far more about Kelly Castle, and its Victorian occupants, than could ever have been imagined.

The story moves seamlessly between learning more about the Victorian owners of the castle and what's happening to the Gillan family in 1949, especially that of Caroline who has married into the family and is finding life with her mother-in-law, Martha, a little overpowering. The Victorian mystery of Kelly castle is gradually uncovered in a fascinating dual time story which takes us deep into the biting cold of an arctic winter when Oliver Gillan finds himself on board a whaling vessel bound for the Artic. Discovering more about the eponymous woman made of snow adds a tantalising mystery and as we gradually discover just who she was, so we discover why her secret has lain hidden for so long.

The story is one of stark contrasts, harshly beautiful in places, whilst gently beguiling in others, and yet is also wonderfully descriptive of a bygone age. The oppressive restrictions of the social morals of Victorian England runs alongside that of the harsh beauty of the Arctic tundra, as the proud nature of the Inuit people, their legends and customs, come gloriously to life. Atmospheric, imaginative and beautifully written, A Woman Made of Snow, combines multi-generational history with a mesmerising family drama which was every bit as good as I knew it would be from this talented author who, since her very first book, in terms of story content, has never let me down. 

A Woman Made of Snow takes its well earned place on my Books of the Year List...

About the Author

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. She has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Oxford OUDCE and an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway. She is married with three children, and lives in Kingston upon Thames. A Woman Made of Snow is her fifth novel.

Twitter @elisabeth04liz #AWoman Made of Snow



Sunday, 17 October 2021

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Angela Jackson

 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 Angela Jackson to our Sunday Brunch today

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

I’m bringing boiled eggs and toast from Merci, an incredible book-lined cafe in Paris. They manage to get their yolks golden and runny, yet the white is lovely and firm, and the toast is cut into gorgeous delicate fingers. And, most importantly, they don’t stint on the butter and salt.

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

Oh, tea, please! I love anyone who makes me a cup of tea.

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

Around the kitchen table, laden as it is with all the other stuff I brought with me: sourdough bread, a rack of more toast, salted butter, apricot jam, honey, mini pastries, stoned cherries, ripe peaches, and endless tea. We’re in for the day! It’s Sunday! Let’s push the boat out!

Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?

The back door and the windows are open, so we’d have birdsong, but let’s have a bit of Miles Davis on, too, shall we? Kind of Blue.

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

Right, I have to say that I’m not good at gatherings. (Dinner parties are my absolute worst nightmare.) But if Nora Ephron, Dorothy Whipple and Alan Bennett could come over separately, each for an hour or so, that’d be great. Could I request that Nora brings her signature key lime pie?

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

The Most of Nora Ephron. It’s huge and we could dip in and out of it all day, reading passages aloud. Then, when Nora comes over (Nora is still very much alive in this scenario) we can get her to give us the inside track on some of the stories.

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

I suppose I’m always writing, in that my brain’s on permanent alert for new ideas. But I do try to make time to read for pleasure, even if it’s an audio book as I’m doing the dishes. I just finished Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers and kept carving out pockets of ten minutes or so to get back to it; I love to be able to dip into a sharply drawn fictional world. I’m a creative writing tutor, and I’m always harping onto my students about the importance of reading.

And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

I would love to spend a whole day in Persephone Books, reading one fabulous silver tome after another.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

It’s been a really weird summer where I live (Edinburgh) because I usually spend it at various festival events, but Covid restrictions have meant it’s not been possible, and I’ve really felt the lack. However, anything can trigger inspiration. My first novel, The Emergence of Judy Taylor, was inspired by my experience of going for tests after finding a lump in my breast. I was teaching psychology at that point in my life, and it made me think of what Freud said: that we only fully appreciate life once we’ve brushed up against our own mortality. I started writing fiction that day. My current novel, The Darlings, was inspired by Carl Rogers’ theory that, in order to thrive, we need to feel loved unconditionally for who we are.

Other writers can be such inspirational catalysts. I’m lucky that a chat with Melissa Bank, who is an amazingly deft and clever writer, and a great ally, can send me off into full-on creative and productive mode.

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

I have to be on my own. I have no idea how people write in cafes — I’d be far too distracted! And a desk feels too formal. I’ll sit at the kitchen table if I’m planning to write for a while. Otherwise, I’m balancing my MacBook on my lap on the sofa. Terrible, terrible posture. A writer friend recently had a serious chat with me about the damage I’m doing to my back, so I’m thinking about making a change.

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

I am very easily distracted, but a deadline does have the power to focus me. I used to work for a local newspaper so I don’t miss deadlines.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

We’re all different, but for me it’s an endless supply of tea, my MacBook, a stack of books (fiction and non-fiction), and pen-and-paper (those hyphens are there to make the pen and paper count as one item).

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

I have a couple of ideas bouncing around for my next novel, but when I discussed them with Melissa Bank she threw me a curveball by encouraging me to develop some autobiographical sketches I did a year ago. I think they’ll end up as the basis of my next one-woman show (I did my first at the Fringe in 2017).

Lightening Books

When Mark Darling is 15 years old, he is the golden boy, captain of the school soccer team, admired by all who know him. Until he kills his best friend in a freak accident. He spends the next decade drifting between the therapy couch and dead-end pursuits. Then along comes Sadie. A mender by nature, she tries her best to fix him and has enough energy to carry them both through the next few years. One evening, Mark bumps into an old schoolfriend, Ruby. She saw the accident first hand. He is pulled towards her by a force stronger than logic: the universal need to reconcile one’s childhood wounds. This is his chance to, once again, feel the enveloping warmth of unconditional love. But can he leave behind the woman who rescued him from the pit of despair, the wife he loves? His unborn child? This is a story about how childhood experiences can profoundly impact how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity, and how we often blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us

Angela,where can we follow you on social media?

It’s mainly blurry close-ups of our cats, food and flowers and fuzzy long shots of the beach, so if you’re up for that, I’m here…

Twitter: @angelaj

Instagram: @angelaedinburgh

More about Angela

Angela Jackson is a writer, a tutor in Creative Writing for Open College of the Arts, and a former psychology lecturer. Her first novel, The Emergence of Judy Taylor, won Edinburgh International Book Festival’s esteemed First Book Award, was Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year, and the novel reached number 2 on Amazon Kindle charts (number 1 in Comic Fiction). Her second book, The Darlings, was published worldwide by Lightning Books on 21st June 2021. Originally from the north of England, Angela now lives with her family in Edinburgh.

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

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Friday, 15 October 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Secrets of Hawthorn Place by Jenni Keer (and Giveaway)


Thrilled to be joining in with today's blog tour

Headline Accent
14 October 2021

My thanks to Boldwood Books for my copy of this book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to the blog tour

Love will always find a way… Discover the intriguing secrets of Hawthorn Place in this heartfelt dual-time novel, filled with warmth and charm, perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Cecelia Ahern.

Two houses, hundreds of miles apart...yet connected always.

When life throws Molly Butterfield a curveball, she decides to spend some time with her recently widowed granddad, Wally, at Hawthorn Place, his quirky Victorian house on the Dorset coast.

But cosseted Molly struggles to look after herself, never mind her grieving granddad, until the accidental discovery of an identical Art and Crafts house on the Norfolk coast offers her an unexpected purpose, as well as revealing a bewildering mystery.

Discovering that both Hawthorn Place and Acacia House were designed by architect Percy Gladwell, Molly uncovers the secret of a love which linked them, so powerful it defied reason.

What follows is a summer which will change Molly for ever..

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

With her life in disarray, Mollie Butterfield has to make some important life choices and spending time with her elderly grandfather at his home, Hawthorn Place, is part of the plan to get her disordered life back on track. Hawthorn Place is unusual and in many ways its quirks and foibles are very much part of this heartwarming story which looks at how the magic, and mystery, of the house pull together to make Molly's life all the more meaningful.

This fascinating dual time story has an interesting twist so that it becomes a story not just about what is happening to Molly as she discovers the secret nature of Hawthorn Place but also where she learns far more about herself in the process. The slipping back through time is done really cleverly and the first time it happened it took me completely by surprise so much so I had to back track a little to get the sequence settled but once I understood the quirky nature of the time travel element I began to enjoy both aspects of the story. Running alongside Molly's unique story in the present is the story of architect, Percy Gladwell, and his client, Violet Marston, whose lives in the late eighteenth century also form an integral part to this lovely story.

Imaginatively written, with clever characterisation, The Secrets of Hawthorn Place is a lovely story about the undeniable power of love, both past and present.

About The Author

Jenni Keer is a history graduate who embarked on a career in contract flooring before settling in the middle of the S

Suffolk countryside with her antique furniture restorer husband. She has valiantly attempted to master the ancient art of housework but with four teenage boys in the house it remains a mystery. Instead, she spends her time at the keyboard writing commercial women's fiction to combat the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere, with her number one fan #Blindcat by her side. Much younger in her head than she is on paper, she adores any excuse for fancy-dress and is part of a disco formation dance team.

Jenni is also the author of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker and The Unexpected Life of Maisie Meadows.


 Win a Signed copy of the Secrets of Hawthorn Place, plus chocolate and a sparkly pen.(UK Only)

Enter via Rafflecopter here

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

Twitter @JenniKeer



Thursday, 14 October 2021

πŸ“– Book Nostalgia ~ The Go - Between by L P Hartley

I'm really privileged to read so many latest release books which are so current they haven't even hit the book store shelves that I forget about the books which have influenced my reading over the years.

So, welcome to my mid-month Book Nostalgia feature where I'm allowing myself the luxury of going back in time with some of my favourite reads.

Let's wallow in book memories...

Published 1953
Penguin Modern Classics
This edition 2004

'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there'

When one long, hot summer, young Leo is staying with a school-friend at Brandham Hall, he begins to act as a messenger between Ted, the farmer, and Marian, the beautiful young woman up at the hall. He becomes drawn deeper and deeper into their dangerous game of deceit and desire, until his role brings him to a shocking and premature revelation. The haunting story of a young boy's awakening into the secrets of the adult world, The Go-Between is also an unforgettable evocation of the boundaries of Edwardian society.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

There's something about that classic opening sentence that immediately takes me back to the long hot summer of 1976, when, after completing my English Literature A' Level exam, I was able to read something that wasn't Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton. Blue skies seem to stretch endlessly into my, then unknown, future and with the sound of my dad mowing the lawn, and my mum chatting to the next door neighbour, I settled down on my red sun lounger, with a can of Lilt and an Aztec bar, to read this classic story of forbidden love.

Thirteen year old Leo is staying with his school friend, Marcus when he develops a teenage crush on his friend's beautiful older sister. Wanting to please Marion, Leo becomes embroiled in the clandestine relationship which is developing between Marion and Ted Burgess, a local tenant farmer. Completely besotted by the beautiful and beguiling, Marion, Leo is unaware of the significance of the messages he is passing between Marion and Ted until it's too late. Looking back at this time in his youth, the much older Leo looks back at the events of the summer of 1900 and the devastating consequences of Marion and Ted's ill-fated love affair.

The Go-Between is a classic coming-of-age novel which evokes the languid summer of 1900 and the social and moral restrictions of the Edwardian era. I've read the story a couple of times since 1976 and although I can't recall seeing the 1971 film version which starred Julie Christie and Alan Bates, I did enjoy the 2015 remake starring Joanna Vanderham as Marion, Ben Batt as Ted, and Jack Hollington as young Leo.

About the Author

Leslie Poles Hartley was born in 1895 and educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford. He is best known for Facial Justice, the Eustace and Hilda trilogy and The Go-Between, which won the Heinemann Foundation Prize in 1954 and whose opening sentence has become almost proverbial: 'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.' He was appointed a CBE in 1955, having won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in addition to the Heinemann. He died in 1972.
(Source: publisher website)

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Cheltenham Literary Festival 2021~ Claire Fuller


Delighted to be part of this blog tour

Cheltenham Literature Festival returns for an international literary celebration like no other. Showcasing literary legends, fresh new voices and the biggest books of the year, there is something on offer for everyone: from stars of the stage and screen to incisive political debate, the programme spans history, food, travel, poetry and spoken word, art, sport, faith, philosophy, fashion, psychology, science, nature, business and much more.

For book lovers everywhere, The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is the only place to be each autumn. The Festival returns from 8-17 October 2021, welcoming the world’s greatest writers and thinkers to Cheltenham.

Appearing at this year's Cheltenham Literary Festival is best selling author

Claire Fuller

I'm delighted to review Claire's novel Unsettled Ground 

which was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2021

Fig Tree
March 2021

Here are my thoughts about Unsettled Ground which I made my featured book of the month in March.

Middle-aged twins, Jeannie and Julius Seeder, live an isolated life, scraping out a meagre existence in their rural location, which is made so much worse by the sudden death of their mother. With their main support gone, Jeannie and Julius are left floundering in world which doesn't understand their naivety, or sense their total lack of awareness. Jeannie is the weaker of the twins and yet it is her powerful narrative which relates what happens to them when their world tumbles down around them, and when old secrets, so carefully hidden, threaten to destroy everything they rely on to survive.

Unsettled Ground is a disturbing read and whilst beautifully focused on what is happening in the present, there are hints back to a time when the twins were much younger and the story of a family tragedy which had far reaching effects on all their lives. The strength of the story lies with this author's uncanny ability to make the ordinary into something extraordinary and in creating Jeannie and Julius Seeder she gives us characters who are so engulfing that even when you move away from their story, you still wonder what is going to happen next for them. 

There's a deep underlying sadness to the story which is difficult to move away from, and the confining and secluded nature of Jeannie's life, in particular, makes for emotional reading. However, there is also hope in the twins' shared love of music, Jeannie's tender loving care of her garden, and in Julius's strength of character when courage is needed. My heart broke into so many pieces, that there were times when I had to stop reading in order to make a restorative cup of tea so I could gather my thoughts. 

Unsettled Ground is a strong and forceful family drama which made me feel quite angry at the injustice of what happened to Jeannie and Julius in the aftermath of their mother's death, and yet there were also times when the story was so tenderly compassionate, and so beautifully observed, that it, quite simply, took my breath away.

Without doubt one of my Books of the Year in 2021.

About the Author

Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England. She gained a degree in sculpture from Winchester  School of art, but went on to have a long career in marketing and didn't start writing until she was forty. She has written three previous novels, Our Endless Numbered Days which won the Desmond Elliot Prize, Swimming Lessons, which was shortlisted for the RSI Encore award, and Bitter Orange. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband.

Twitter @ClaireFuller2 #UnsettledGround

Follow the festival on Twitter @cheltlitfest #cheltlitfest