Tuesday 30 November 2021

πŸŽ„Festive Poetry Pamphlets from Candlestick Press


It's that time of year when I share the Christmas Poetry Pamphlets from Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press

My thanks to Candlestick press for my copies of these poetry pamphlets

Christmas together… It sounds almost ordinary but it’s something we’ve come to appreciate all over again in recent times. These delightful poems celebrate shared moments – from the mayhem of a kitchen full of steam and chaos to carols sung around the fire after dark.

And of course “together” means more than merely being in the same house at the same time. The anthology also touches on the ways in which memory can unite us with departed loved ones and celebrates those special moments which restore recognition and joy when memory falls short:

Eyes close, candlelight strokes her face
and oh the Christmas tree, the sparkle of it

then awake, searching, as if she could find
her way home in the depth of her family’s eyes.”

from ‘Born This Happy Morning’ by Christina Buckton

Poems by Bill Adair, Kate Bass, Christina Buckton, Jeanette Burton, Tony Curtis, UA Fanthorpe, Robert Hamberger, Nathalie Handal, Corinna Keefe, Lorraine Mariner, WS Merwin and Maureen Richardson.

Cover illustration by Hilke MacIntyre.

Donation to Our Dementia Choir.

πŸŽ„My thoughts about Christmas Together..

As we face another Christmas of uncertainty those times spent with family and friends become all the more precious and whilst Christmas together may, once again, be threatened, these twelve beautiful poems remind us of the joy of Christmas gatherings.

Memories are very much the theme for this collection of twelve beautifully expressive poems which conjure the magic and spirit of the festive season which delight the senses and tug away at the heartstrings. 

I found the collection particularly moving, especially 'A Christmas dinner plate with the pattern still visible by Kate Bass which reminded me of all those who once gathered around our Christmas dinner table...

'..yet it never seems that everyone is there;
as though somewhere, in another room
great aunts and uncles,
grandparents we can barely now remember
sit patiently with empty sherry glasses
waiting to be called through..'

The simple beauty of The Walk to Windy Nook by Maureen Richardson made me smile in gentle appreciation of a pastoral scene so beautifully described that the fields with their 'arrows of silver filigree, came alive and I sensed the cold in  the 'bright fields of snow'.

For the last ten years of her life my mother had dementia, I watched her fade away, a little more each year, I knew her but she no longer knew me. 'Born this Happy Morning by Christina Buckton evoked such memories of the mother I lost, I sobbed.

'We have to face it though
She doesn't know who we are any more.."

There's something for everyone in this collection, some poems are festive about Christmas baubles and plum puddings whilst other stop us in our tracks and make us consider just what it means to spend Christmas together.

A donation to Our Dementia Choir will be made by Candlestick Press.

Candlestick Press

What could be more joyful than the moment when – merry with turkey and plum pudding – we tumble onto the sofa to watch a film we’ve seen umpteen times before? And what could be more jolly than doffing hat, scarf and gloves to venture out into the cold for the year’s festive favourite at the local cinema?

This special bumper edition of 20 poems, commissioned from leading poets, takes us on a cinematic roller-coaster via films ranging from Meet Me in St Louis! to Die Hard. After all:

“It’s not that you want to escape your life –
just that somewhere, very close by,
in a room you’ve never explored,

there’s a forest where snow falls
in the warm light cast by a lamp.”

from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by Clare Shaw

Poems by Andre Bagoo, Panya Banjoko, Geraldine Clarkson, Jonathan Edwards, Katherine Gallagher, Matthew Hedley Stoppard, Stephen Keeler, Nick Makoha, Lorraine Mariner, Rob Miles, Jessica Mookherjee, Cheryl Moskowitz, James Nash, Bethany W Pope, Jacqueline Saphra, Tom Sastry, Clare Shaw, Penelope Shuttle, Gregory Woods and Holly Yuille.

Cover illustration by Melissa Lhoirit.

πŸŽ„My thoughts about Christmas Movies...

Who doesn't love a Christmas movie? Settling down with a mug of spiced tea and a large tub of chocolates and It's a Wonderful Life on the TV is my idea of festive bliss.

'That's who you are, who you always are
and it's why you'll keep the lights down low
and watch it again..'

From Cut by Bethany W Pope

This bumper collection of twenty lovely poems are just perfect for getting in the mood for a Christmas movie. All beautifully described, joyous, and so reminiscent of movies past from A Christmas Carol to Meet me in St Louis and It's a Wonderful Life to A Charlie Brown Christmas, there are poems which will make you smile and like Panya Banjoko in The Stopover ' turn the telly up, The Snowman's nearly on..

If you're stuck for a gift or want something instead of a card to send this festive season then both Christmas Together and Christmas Movies would make absolutely perfect gifts to let someone know that you care.

About Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press is an independent publisher based in Nottingham, UK. We’ve been publishing poetry pamphlets since 2008 not only for people who already love poetry, but also for those who will love it but perhaps don’t know that yet. Our ‘instead of a card’ pamphlets make an ideal alternative to a mainstream greetings card and are a small gift in their own right. They have matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message, and are excellent companions on journeys or for a bedtime read. By supporting us, you help an independent press and our supported charities at the same time as treating yourselves, your friends and family to some wonderful poems.

Twitter @poetrycandle

You can order these pamphlets directly via the Website  
or find them in good book retailers.

Monday 29 November 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver


Exited to join in with the penultimate day of this blog tour

25 November 2021

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

When AA meetings make her want to drink more, alcoholic murderess Maeve sets up a group for psychopaths. Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home, a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters. She’s also an addict: a functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men. 

When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve. Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control. She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group. But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man...

πŸ“– My thoughts..

I don't often start my reviews with a disclaimer but reading this book can seriously affect your time as once you start reading you won't be able to stop.

Maeve is addicted to alcohol, sex and killing, usually in that order, and whilst she attends as many self-help groups as she can find, it's not as you would imagine because she needs assistance in any shape or form but that she rather enjoys seeing people at their lowest ebb and rejoices in their misery. Bored with the idea of yet another sitting around in a circle group, and whilst under the guise of needing help for her addiction Maeve selects her next victim target by carefully plotting their demise in the most heinous of ways. And then, she has the germ of an idea to form her own self help group, and et voilΓ , Psychopaths Anonymous, is born.

As addictive as its lead protagonist, Psychopaths Anonymous is a difficult book to appraise without giving things away which would be almighty spoilers but what I will say is that, it shouldn't be possible to 'enjoy' a story about a woman who has no moral compass, but enjoy it I did, and as much as I tried to dislike Maeve, I found that I rather admired her skill in removing those who she perceived to have done her, and others, great harm.

There is no doubt that Will Carver is a very talented writer of dark tales as this is definitely not a story for the faint hearted, so don't read if you are offended by sexual or religious references, and by a woman who kills people just because she can, however, if you are looking for something which is as highly addictive as it is highly original then Psychopaths Anonymous is worth a try.

Just to add that whilst Psychopaths Anonymous is part of a series and features some characters who appeared in Good Samaritans it is perfectly possible to read it as a standalone story. I haven't read the previous books and managed just fine although there are, I guess, some subtle references which I missed but which are there for the taking should you know what to look for...

About the Author

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books, The Beresford was published in July. His previous title Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was long-listed for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

Twitter @Will_Carver #PsychopathsAnonymous #WelcomeToTheClub



Sunday 28 November 2021

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Jack Byrne

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 Jack Byrne to share Sunday Brunch

Welcome, Jack, what favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

If you don't mind I'm extending the brunch into lunch and taking over the whole day. With this in mind I would bring meat and potatoes, it might not be the most exciting or exotic meal but with lashings of gravy it is the essential Sunday dinner of childhood in Liverpool, England, Ireland or anywhere the UK.

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

When I arrive, to settle me down I'll have black tea, with milk and sugar. I need around ten cups a day to keep me hydrated and motivated. During lunch a slightly sparkling white would go down well, and after lunch we can move on to golden Barbadian rum to move us into glorious after dinner immobility.

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

Depending on the weather the kitchen or the patio, if it's cold we can have a roaring open fire. If its sunny then we can do battle with insects outside.

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

Yeah if we are outside in the sun, can I have some Gill Scot Heron? Pieces of a man, Winter in America and The Bottle are some of the most haunting and lyrical tracks I've ever heard. If we are inside then maybe something a bit livelier some toe tapping Van Morrison or The Chieftans.

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

There could be so many, I would love to chat with John Steinbeck and Jack London two writers that hooked me from a very early age, but chief guest and head of the table would go to James Baldwin. Like Gill Scot Heron the emotional truth combined with searing intelligence of Baldwin's writing looks at past crimes and future possibilities in a way that leaves him head and shoulders above most commentators or writers.

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch? 

There is one book that draws me back every couple of years, it is A Life Sacred and Profane a biography of Caravaggio by Andrew Graham Dixon. I love the contextualisation of the artist in all his chaotic glory. A life of passion and crime that produced paintings of humanity in contrast showing the darkness and light.


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!

While I am writing I generally read social and political histories and biographies of the period. All my novels have dual narratives, present day and recent history, from the 1950s to today. Getting the period details, atmosphere, and dialogue in the UK and Ireland takes quite a bit of research. There is so much I would like to read it is hard to keep up.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

From my life, and the lives and struggles of families like mine. My novels reflect lives in the city I come from, they alternate in time and geography from the past to the present and from Liverpool to Ireland.

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

I write on the sofa in the Living room. My daughter is on the sofa opposite me, and my son is sitting behind me, both are eating the scrambled eggs I have just made. Most days they are at school so it is a little quieter, but it is the centre of our lives.

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

My first novel Under The Bridge is out now, the second Across The Water will be out in March 2022 and I am editing the third The Morning After. I am ok with deadlines and if they are not imposed externally then I create my own.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

Tea, tea, and more tea, oh and a reliable laptop.

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

My first novel was described as 'A truly British and Irish thriller' and I am happy with that. If you like page turners with strong historical and social context then I hope you will enjoy my work.

Northodox Publishing

2004 - The discovery of a skeleton in the Liverpool docklands unearths long buried secrets. Reporter, Anne McCarthy, is keen to prove herself and dives into the case with abandon where she finds Michael, an old Irish caretaker who knows far more than he’s letting on and may have a connection to the body.

Meanwhile, Vinny Doyle, is starting a postgrad degree, researching Liverpool’s immigrant history and a burgeoning Scouse identity. But Vinny has been neglecting his own family history and stranger Michael might know about his father's disappearance in the 70s.

1955 - Escaping violence in Ireland and fresh off the boat, Michael falls in with Wicklow boys Jack Power and Paddy Doyle, who smuggle contraband through the docks putting them at odds with unions while they rally the dock workers against the rackets and the strikebreakers. A story of corruption, secret police, and sectarianism slowly unravels. But will the truth out?

As the conflict heightens, Michael questions the life sprawling out ahead of him. In the present, Anne races to solve the mystery, but is she prepared for what she’ll find?

Jack, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter: @jackbyrnewriter - DM or follow I'll be happy to engage

Thank you, Jack,  for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo


Saturday 27 November 2021

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Surplus Girls' Orphans by Polly Heron


On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's Go back to Manchester...1922


Book #2 

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Manchester, 1922

Molly Watson has had enough. Engaged for the last three years to a penny-pinching pedant, she finally decides she'd rather be a surplus girl than marry a man she doesn't truly love. Aware of the need to support herself if she is to remain single all her life, she joins a secretarial class to learn new skills, and a whole world opens up to her.

When she gets a job at St Anthony's Orphanage, she befriends caretaker Aaron Abrams. But a misunderstanding leaves them at loggerheads, and damages her in the eyes of the children she has come to care so deeply about. Can she recover her reputation, her livelihood, and her budding friendship, before it's too late?

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Those who have read the first book in The Surplus Girls' series will be entirely familiar with the notion of those women who, after the loss of so many young men during WW1 now find, in the 1920s, that there is, quite simply, not enough eligible men to go around, and faced with the prospect of life as single women they need to find a way to support themselves.

As with the first book, this second story brings alive the impact of living through times of social inequality, especially for women who were still very much seen to be of value only if they were wives and mothers. Independent women were classed as something of an oddity, however, this stalwart group of women certainly lead the way for change, but, that doesn't mean that these changes came about easily, or without high personal cost.

From the very start of the novel I hoped that Molly Watson wouldn't just settle for second best and that she would strike out for independence. I needn't have worried as Molly decides that life as a Surplus Girl is infinitely preferable to spending the rest of her life with her penny pinching fiancΓ©. Leaving behind her sheltered life and taking up employment with the newly formed Board of Health opens up new horizons and leads Molly into a job at St Anthony's Orphanage.

There's a definite sense of social deprivation in this novel, especially for the orphans at St Anthony's who, although, by the standards of the day, are reasonably well cared for, they do lack emotional warmth from some of the care givers. However, children are very much at the heart of the story, not just about what happens for those at the orphanage but also for those who linger in the shadows.

The Surplus Girls' Orphans is both heart breaking and heart warming in equal measure and was everything I wanted in a continuation of this excellent historical series. I raced through the story hoping that everything would eventually come right for those characters I had quickly come to love. Beautifully written and imaginatively described The Surplus Girls' Orphans once again brings the northern spirit alive so in many different ways. The early part of the twentieth century, with its multifaceted shades of light and dark, infuses the story with so much character that following Molly Watson's journey through this time in history has been such a joy to read.  

For those who are interested the next book in the series is available Christmas with the Surplus Girls is published by Corvus and is out now. And just to remind you that they are all perfectly readable as standalone stories.

October 2021

About the Author

Polly Heron is a historical saga writer living on the North Wales coast. She is originally from Manchester, which is where her books are set.

Twitter @Polly_Heron #TheSurplusGirlsOrphans #SagaSaturday


Friday 26 November 2021

πŸ“– Poppy Denby's Literary Footsteps Blog Tour ~ The Crystal Crypt by Fiona Veitch Smith


Jaffareadstoo is delighted to take part in this literary footsteps blog tour of Oxford. 

We can be found at the Cherwell Hotel.

Lion Hudson
19 November 2021

PoppyDenby #6

My thanks to the publishers and Fern Lindsey-Tolley for my copy of the book
and the invitation to the blog tour

The 1920s most stylish sleuth returns this autumn in THE CRYSTAL CRYPT for another thrilling murder mystery!

In the city of dreaming spires, Poppy Denby is asked to investigate the mysterious death of an up-and-coming female scientist. But was it an accident or is something more sinister lurking in the shadows? And is Poppy the next target?

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

London journalist, and amateur sleuth, Poppy Denby is intrigued when she hears of the demise of an exceptionally talented female scientist. That the death occurred in Oxford and not in London presents something of a problem for Poppy but when her editor, Rollo Rolandson, agrees to fund an overnight stay at the Cherwell Hotel in Oxford, Poppy is determined to discover the secrets which surround Dr June Leighton's mysterious death.

Poppy's investigation leads her into the chauvinistic world of male scientists who seem to tolerate women on a superficial level but who really consider their female colleagues less than equal to the task of scientific advancement. I thought this part of the novel was exceptionally well done, the burgeoning world of crystallography and the tentative steps which were being made in scientific discovery is explained in an easy to understand way and doesn't detract from Poppy's convoluted investigation into Dr Leighton's death.

I've become rather fond of Poppy Denby and with each successive novel this cosy crime series just seems to get better and better. Poppy is, as ever, caught up right in the centre of the excitement, and as she goes about her investigation, she discovers something rather unsavoury about the work of the scientists who work in the Crystal Crypt. There were the usual fascinating tumble of twists and turns with Poppy forever having to keep one step ahead of the action, which is rather daring for this amateur sleuth who has the knack of getting right to the heart of the problem, but not without ruffling several inflated male egos along the way.

This talented writer brings the world of the 1920's to life in a very believable way and whilst there is a distinct feeling that things are beginning to change for women, alas it's not quickly enough, for although women are able to get their degrees, they are still very much under the supervision of men and not considered equal either by gender or ability.

Beautifully written, with both a sense of fun, and pathos, the glorious city of Oxford comes to life and thanks to the cleverly designed map, I was able to, quite literally, follow in Poppy's footsteps as she moves through the city on her hired bicycle. I enjoyed spending time with her at the Cherwell Hotel along with all the other destinations which help bring the city into clear focus.

The Crystal Crypt is a fast moving cosy crime mystery which has all the trademarks we have come to expect from this wonderful series. Poppy Denby is, by far, my favourite amateur sleuth, and I look forward to meeting her again soon.

Fiona Veitch Smith is the author of the Poppy Denby Investigates novels, Golden Age-style murder mysteries set in the 1920s, about a reporter sleuth who works for a London tabloid. The first book in the series, The Jazz Files, was shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger, while subsequent books have been shortlisted for the Foreword Review Mystery Novel of the Year and the People’s Book Prize. She is formerly a journalist, having worked on the arts and crime beats of a Cape Town newspaper, and lectured in journalism in the UK for ten years. She lives with her husband, daughter and dog in Newcastle upon Tyne. On her non-writing days, she works part-time as a freelance editor and writing tutor, as well as being the Assistant Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association.

Twitter @FionaVeitchSmit #TheCrystalCrypt #PoppyDenby #Oxford

Instagram @FionaveitchSmit


Wednesday 24 November 2021

πŸ“– Book Tour ~ The Quiet People by Paul Cleave


Orenda Books
25 November 2021

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

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living. So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime? Multi-award winning bestseller Paul Cleave returns with an electrifying and chilling thriller about family, public outrage and what a person might be capable of under pressure, that will keep you guessing until the final page...


πŸ“– My thoughts..

They do say, apparently, that if anyone can plot a perfect crime it's a crime writer, and for husband and wife writing duo, this nightmare is about to come true when their seven year old son, Zach, disappears from their family home. With the finger of blame very firmly pointing in the direction of Cameron and Lisa Murdoch what evolves is an exceptionally clever crime thriller which has the added bonus of allowing the reader a particular insight into the story with a prologue which, quite literary, had me jumping out of my skin.

The Quiet People is one of those quickly immersive stories which you say to yourself I'll just read one more chapter and before you know it you are flashing through the story at the speed of light reeling in disbelief as the story throws up so many twists and turns that you need your wits about you to keep up with what's unfolding on the page in front of you. I do love a story where you never quite know who is telling the truth, first, I was on the side of Cameron and Lisa whose ordered life is thrown into absolute chaos, only to then feel quite sorry for the police investigation team, who,  it must be said, don't exactly do themselves any favours by their incompetent handling of this sensitive case.

Very cleverly put together, thrillingly sophisticated, and with a definite twist in the tale, which I didn't see coming, The Quiet People, is a roller coaster of a crime thriller. It grabs your imagination from the start and doesn't let go of your emotions until this absolutely chilling story is finished.

About the Author

Paul is an award-winning author who divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He has won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many.

Twitter@paulcleave #TheQuietPeople #PerfectCrimeClub #YeahNoir



Tuesday 23 November 2021

πŸ“– Publication Day ~ Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone by Diana Gabaldon


*Happy Publication Day*

23 November 2021

The past may seem the safest place to be . . . but it is the most dangerous time to be alive. . . .

Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1743, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same.

It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser’s Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible.

Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell’s tea-kettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his tenants are split and it won’t be long until the war is on his doorstep.

Brianna and Roger have their own worry: that the dangers that provoked their escape from the twentieth century might catch up to them. Sometimes they question whether risking the perils of the 1700s—among them disease, starvation, and an impending war—was indeed the safer choice for their family.

Not so far away, young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father’s identity—and thus his own—and Lord John Grey has reconciliations to make, and dangers to meet . . . on his son’s behalf, and his own.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War creeps ever closer to Fraser’s Ridge. And with the family finally together, Jamie and Claire have more at stake than ever before.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

This is not a book review as my pre-ordered copy of Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone is on its way! However, it is with great excitement that I look forward to continuing this epic series which started thirty years ago and which, with each successive story, has involved me in the complex world which this skilled author has created. Her ability to recreate history is without doubt and her millions of fans around the world will be just as eager as I am to get started on this ninth book in the Outlander series. It's been a long wait - Book #8 was published way back in 2014. I am sure it will be worth the wait..

These are whopping big books and not ones to rush , so I'll be back, in a while, with my review...as they say watch this space...

Diana Gabaldon is the internationally bestselling author of the Outlander series of novels. She lives with her family in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Twitter @Writer_DG #GoTellTheBeesThatIAmGone #Outlander


Monday 22 November 2021

πŸ“– Book Tour ~ A Simple Wish by Rosie Goodwin (#Giveaway)


28 October 2021

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


Ruby Carter works hard in her parents' bakery. Whilst life isn't easy, she's happy enough - her gentle mother protects young Ruby from her cruel father and loves her unconditionally. So, when her mother falls seriously ill, Ruby is heartbroken. Then, from her deathbed, her mother reveals that Ruby was adopted.

Stricken by grief and alone with the violent man she called her father, Ruby feels she has no choice but to flee. At just fifteen, homeless and alone she is relieved when a kindly stranger named Mrs Bamber takes pity on poor Ruby and welcomes her into her home.

But soon, Ruby learns Mrs Bamber is not as generous as she first seemed - she forces Ruby into a life of crime as a jewel thief in Birmingham's jewellery quarter. With nothing to her name and nowhere to go Ruby has no choice but to go along with it, despite the guilt and shame she feels. But Ruby is determined that she will atone for what she's done, and be reunited with her birth parents.

Ruby's only wish is to find her family.

 πŸ“– My thoughts..

Ruby Carter's young life hasn't got off to the best of starts and when her mother dies a devastating secret is revealed which spirals Ruby's life out of control. Rescued by a woman who, on the surface, seems to have a good heart, it soon becomes obvious that the enigmatic Mrs Bamber wants Ruby for something quite sinister.

What then follows is a lovely rags-to-riches story in which we see young Ruby battle against everything life threw at her and even though her good nature and enthusiasm will be tested to the absolute limit of her endurance what shines throughout is Ruby's simple wish to discover more about her origins.

Beautifully written with all the trademark characteristics which are so reminiscent of this author's popular writing we once again have a story which wrings out every last drop of emotion to leave us wanting only good things for Ruby and also for those who care for her. Bringing the dark side of Victorian Birmingham to life, from the wealthy drawing rooms of the rich, to downright creepy asylums, there is never a moment when the story doesn't draw you into Ruby's world. I especially enjoyed the references to jewellery making and wished I could have seen some of Ruby's clever designs for myself.

I've now read several of this author's heartwarming historical sagas and I think A Simple Wish is one of my favourites.

A Simple Wish is published by Zaffre, in hardback, ebook and audio and is available to buy from all good book retailers.

Rosie Goodwin is the million copy bestselling author of more than thirty novels. She is the first author in the world to be allowed to follow three of Catherine Cookson's trilogies with her own sequels. Having worked in the social services sector for many years, then fostered a number of children, she is now a full-time novelist. She is one of the top 50 most borrowed authors from UK libraries. Rosie lives in Nuneaton, the setting for many of her books, with her husband and their beloved dogs.

Twitter @RosieGoodwin #ASimpleWish


To enter the special Christmas giveaway visit 

The Memory Lane Book Group on 26th November on Facebook

Sunday 21 November 2021

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Tracy Rees

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 Tracy Rees to our Sunday Brunch today

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

It’s either Greek yoghurt with berries, nuts and honey… or banana pancakes with Nutella depending if I’m having an angelic or a devilish kind of a day!

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

I’m normally a green-tea-in-the-morning kind of person, but for a special brunch like this one, definitely a glass (or 3) of Buck’s Fizz!

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

Outside on the patio! If it’s cold, we can wrap up warm, if it’s wet, we can huddle under the canopy (is there a canopy?) and if it’s sunny – perfection!

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

It had better not be Tchaikovsky or I’ll end up twirling round the garden – especially after the Buck’s Fizz! How about Una Mattina by Ludovico Einaudi? Or else just the birdsong…

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

Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte and Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

I’ll bring Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid so that we can just have it on the table nearby to admire the beautiful cover. Oh and from time to time I might open the covers and sigh over the endpapers. You can too if you like.



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!

I always have to have a novel on the go, no matter how busy I am. Even if the only time I have for reading is ten minutes before bed, I need that brief storytime to help me unwind. Escapism is really important for the human psyche I think, especially when life is so full and pressured. I can’t think of one specific book – my tbr list usually hovers around 60 books or so and there are always more that I want. As fast as I read I replace… I suppose it’ll always be that way.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

I’m very fortunate – ideas tumble into my head all the time from I don’t know where – that magical realm of story that hovers around us I think! They can be triggered by films, other books, music, conversations with friends, a shift in the weather, a beautiful piece of clothing or any number of things but often they really do seem to come out of nowhere. It’s a blessing (for obvious reasons) and a curse, because I can’t keep up with them. I can only write one at a time so they have to queue up!

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

I write all year round. I love every season and am inspired by every season. It’s definitely easier to write on dark rainy days, however. When the sun’s shining I really find it hard to be deskbound – I love to be lazing in the garden in summer or out walking on crisp winter days. As for a favourite place… I love my study because it’s all set up for writing. I light a candle, settle down with a mug of tea and let the magic happen. I have a large desk and a stunning view of the estuary and hills… If I’m at the research stage of a project I have a favourite cafΓ© by the sea that I go to for a couple of hours with the history books!

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

I don’t get easily distracted. I tend to have tunnel vision when I work, especially when a deadline looms. Then I tend to work and work to the exclusion of all else and end up feeling a bit weird – wobbly and light-headed – for a while afterwards!

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

Kettle, teabag, water, mug!

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

My current wip is a historical novel set in the late nineteenth century. It's about a very wealthy, spoiled society beauty who is thoughtless and bored. She falls in love with an utterly unsuitable man and it sets off a chain of events that change her forever. Those who have read my latest historical book The Rose Garden, which was published in the UK in September this year, will recognise the setting and some of the characters, but it's a complete, standalone story so readers don't need to have read The Rose Garden to enjoy it.

Pan Macmillan

1895. Hampstead, London.

Olive Westallen lives a privileged, if rather lonely, life in her family’s grand Hampstead home. But she has radical plans for the future of her family – plans that will shock the high-society world she inhabits.

For her new neighbour, twelve-year-old Ottilie Finch, London is an exciting playground to explore. Her family have recently arrived from Durham, under a cloud of scandal that Otty is blissfully unaware of. The only shadow over her days is her mother’s mysterious illness, which keeps her to her room.

When Mabs is offered the chance to become Mrs Finch’s companion, it saves her from a desperate life on the canals. Little does she know that all is not as picture-perfect as it seems. Mabs is about to become tangled in the secrets that chased the Finches from their last home, and trapped in an impossible dilemma.

Tracy where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @AuthorTracyRees

More about Tracy

Tracy Rees was born and grew up in Swansea, South Wales. An only child, she spent a great deal of time lost in books and always dreamed of being a writer. A graduate of Jesus College, Cambridge, she moved to London and worked in medical publishing for many years, before training and then working as a counsellor for people with cancer and their families. She has also been a waitress, bartender, shop assistant, estate agent, classroom assistant, university lecturer and workshop leader.

In 2014 her first novel, Amy Snow, won the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and the Love Stories Best Historical Read award. She has published six historical novels and two contemporary novels. Her books have been published in twenty countries around the world.

She lives on the Gower Peninsula of South Wales where she enjoys walking, yoga, line dancing and endless cups of tea with friends.

Tracy, thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo.

My pleasure!

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Saturday 20 November 2021

πŸŽ„Festive Read~ The Country Village Winter Wedding by Cathy Lake


28 October 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Clare Greene and Sam Wilson are getting married and everyone in Little Bramble is excited for the event of the year. But Clare and Sam are busy people and have left organising their wedding to the last minute.

Luckily, wedding planner Hazel Campbell has recently moved to the village. She had what she thought was a wonderful life in Edinburgh with a successful business, a loving fiance and her own wedding coming up. But when she caught her groom-to-be in bed with her best friend she fled, leaving everyone and everything behind.

Little Bramble seems like the ideal place for Hazel to start over. As she throws herself into planning the perfect country village winter wedding, she starts to find herself again. And soon she realises that a second chance at happiness might just be on the cards.

πŸŽ„ My thoughts..

It's been so lovely to return to Little Bramble in this story of a sparkly winter wedding. I've quite fallen in love with this quintessential English village where everyone seems so supportive of each other and for Hazel Campbell starting over in a safe place is just what is needed to mend her broken heart. Newly arrived from Scotland, Hazel is keen to get her fledgling wedding planning business off to a good start and what better way than to help villagers Clare Greene and Sam Wilson have their perfect Christmas wedding.

As always the village, and its inhabitants, come beautifully to life and by cleverly intertwining a couple of story threads we get to learn more not just about Hazel, and the joys and pitfalls of organising a last minute winter wedding, but also about another new arrival whose reasons for being in the village are just as poignant as Hazel's. The run up to Christmas is done really well and both the chaos, and the joy, of meeting deadlines, and getting involved in all the Christmas activities, is what makes this story so special.

The Country Village Winter Wedding is now the third book in the Country Village series of cosy romances and each one brings something quite special. I enjoy how the villagers we have grown to love make little appearances in each novel and whilst the main focus of the story is on someone new to the village, it's really great to catch up with those characters we have met before in previous novels.

Beautifully written, and charmingly romantic, there is no doubt that this cosy series has captured the hearts of its readers. I am certainly looking forward to reading book #4, The Country Village Allotment, which is planned for 2022.

About the Author

Cathy Lake is a women's fiction writer who lives with her family and three dogs in beautiful South Wales. She writes uplifting stories about strong women, family, friendship, love, community and overcoming obstacles.

Twitter @LakeAuthor #TheCountryVillageWinterWedding