Saturday, 28 May 2022

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Storytellers by Caron McKinlay

 

Bloodhound Books
16 May 2022

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book


Trapped between life and the afterlife, three women met and share their stories while discovering the truth about the men in their lives—and about themselves.

Suspended in an eerie state of limbo, an entity called the Gatekeeper tells Nikki, Ronnie, and Mrs. Hawthorne they are on the cusp of entering the afterlife—but only if the women can persuade him that in their earthly lives, they knew the meaning of love.

Fragments of their memories return, plunging them back into their pasts, and forcing them to face the desires, disappointments, addictions, lies, and obsessions they battled in life.

But before time runs out, will they find the answer to the ultimate question: what is love?


πŸ“– My Review...

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading The Storytellers but as each of the main characters are introduced there was something quite intriguing about all of them and it is this intrigue which kept me turning the pages. The story takes a little getting used to but once I had the author's writing style fixed and as I got to see the way the story was panning it it became a real delight to ponder on just how everything would eventually play out in the wider scheme of the story.

The idea that when we depart this life we may have the chance to change things is the premise of the story but for the three women Nikki, Ronnie and Mrs Hawthorn, there is rather more to them, and their lives, than we are led to believe. Each of the characters come vibrantly life and whilst they are not always very likeable there is something quite defining about them which makes their individual stories quite fascinating. I'm being quite deliberately vague as The Storytellers is a story which you should go into with no fixed idea of where these three women will take you, so just relax and let this clever storyteller take you on an emotional, and rather clever, journey.

Brutally honest, with flashes of dark humour The Storytellers is a multi-layered novel about the intricacies of life and, ultimately, about the power of love

🍷Best read with..a double vodka and coke


About the Author


© Chris Watt Photography

Caron grew up in a mining town on the east coast of Scotland where her dad would return from the pit and fill her life with his tall tales. She never thought about making a career in writing – that was what posh people did, not someone from a working-class council estate. However, her father’s death was the cause of deep introspection and her emotions gave birth to a short story, Cash, which was published in the Scottish Book Trust’s anthology, Blether. This gave her the confidence to try and believe in herself. When not blogging, reading, and writing, Caron spends her time with her daughters. She doesn’t enjoy exercise – but loves running around after her grandsons, Lyle and Noah, to whom she is devoted. Caron had three childhood dreams in life: to become a published author, to become a teacher, and for David Essex to fall in love with her. Two out of three ain’t bad, and she’s delighted with that.


Twitter: @caronmckinlay #TheStorytellers

Facebook: @mckinlaycaron

Instagram: @caronmckinlay


@Bloodhoundbook







Friday, 27 May 2022

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Dog Leap Stairs by Barbara Scott Emmett



Pentalpha Publishing

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book




Newcastle 1955

Monica haunts the quayside picking up men of a certain age.

Then one of them is found dead.

Since nobody knows what she does at night,

she can't be in the frame for the murder.

Can she?

At her lowest point, she meets Bobby Wilson,

an ordinary lad, handsome in his way.

But is this the right time to fall in love?

As the oily Tyne flows past the wharfs and under the iconic bridge, middle-aged men are being targeted by a vicious killer. Monica Brown, damaged, abused, just happens to be in the area - just happens to be excited by the murders.

Dog Leap Stairs is a blend of psychological realism and crime; dark, claustrophobic and atmospheric, it is both a portrait of Tyneside in the 1950s and an account of one woman's struggle against her true nature.


πŸ“– My Review ...

Dog Leap Stairs took me by surprise, in a good way, because although we sense that Monica Brown has a dark and rather suspicious lifestyle I couldn't help but warm to her and with this beautifully drawn depiction of a deeply troubled character she comes vibrantly to life. Monica is such a complex women that it takes the length of the story to really get to know her and even then there were still elements of her personality which took me by surprise. All credit to the author for making this rather sinister character into someone who, in the end, I came to rather admire.

The series of brutal murders which are taking place in the city are what forms the crux of the plot and although we may our suspicions about the perpetrator there's enough complexity in the plot to keep us guessing and it's certainly what kept me turning the pages to find out just what's going on in Monica's complex life and the final denouement, when it comes, doesn't disappoint.

Whilst the strength of the characters who flit into and out of Dog Leap Stairs give the story its soul, the wonderful depiction of 1950s Newcastle certainly gives the book its beating heart. The city comes vibrantly to life especially in the dark and damp alleyways where a murderer stalks the night. 

Deliciously chilling, and darkly atmospheric, Dog Leap Stairs is one of those immersive stories which stays with you long after the last page is turned.


🍫Best Read with...bitter and deliciously dark chocolate


Read an interview with Barbara Scott Emmett by clicking here.








After many years away, Barbara Scott Emmett is now back living in her home town of Newcastle upon Tyne. She has been writing for many years and has five novels, a book of short stories and a selection of quirky poetry to show for it. She lives in a house overlooking the river with her husband, the writer Jimmy Bain, and their cat, Kitty.


Twitter @BSE_Writer








Thursday, 26 May 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour Review and Guest Post ~ The Trial of Lotta Rae by Siobhan MacGowan

 

Welbeck Publishing
26 May 2022

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


Lotta Rae is a young working-class woman who is viciously attacked by a wealthy gentleman. Lotta's family are firm believers in justice and Lotta makes the brave decision to testify in court against her attacker. The guardians of justice support her, or so it seems. William Linden is a barrister about to lose everything. He is failing to live up to his father's formidable reputation and if he loses one more case, how will he house, clothe and feed his wife and young son? Both Lotta and William have decisions to make that will change the course of their lives and the lives of everyone around them for generations to come. Notorious after her trial and unable to return to the life she had before her attack, Lotta’s quest for her own form of justice takes her from the streets of Spitalfields to a Soho brothel, into the heart of the Suffragette movement, to an unimaginable place. One she could never have foreseen.



I'm delighted to be able to share Siobhan's inspiration
for writing The Trial of Lotta Rae


There were three main inspirations for my novel, The Trial of Lotta Rae. 

Firstly, much of its setting, the ancient square mile of London on the cusp of the East End is where I lived as a child, and Sunday morning walks with my father on its deserted streets whispered to me of long ago ghostly steps and of those who had walked there before. I often imagined their lives and Lotta Rae took up residence in my mind, taking on a life of her own. 

 Secondly, the period in which it is set, the turn of the 20th century, that precipice before the First World War has always fascinated me. It was a time of such great hope and promise with incredible scientific advances, a Liberal Government introducing unheard of welfare measures, the suffragettes rising and women finding their voice. All that hope only to be quashed by the darkness of a war which stole and damned a generation. Yet that same war brought about everlasting change. For, innocence having died on those battlefields of France, neither man nor woman was so willing to bow to King & Country and so came mental and social revolution. Which laid the map for our world today. 

 And lastly. The trial. Often on those City walks I would pass the Old Bailey. And, like Lotta, I would gaze up at the Golden Lady ‘…standing so high. So high, she kept watch over all the children of London; she bid them come. For, she would deliver them justice. And I believed her promise.’ Just as Lotta did.


πŸ“– My Review ...

The Trial of Lotta Rae captured my imagination as right from the start I was on Lotta's side and yet as we discover justice isn't always on the side of the righteous. Bringing the mean moody streets of the East End of London to life we get to experience Lotta's downfall, her naive trust in authority and her search for justice and retribution. 

Beautifully written with such a fine eye for historical detail, I felt immersed in the story and raced through the pages eager to discover more, not just about Lotta's sad life but also about the state of England in the early part of the twentieth century with the stalwart rise of the suffrage movement and the creeping threat of war.

The Trial of Lotta Rae is one of those haunting stories which stays with you long after the last page is turned and even as I closed the book my heart was still heavy at everything Lotta had suffered. It's definitely on my book of the year list.


🍷Best read with.. a glass of port and a heavy heart.



About the Author


Siobhan MacGowan is a journalist and writer who lived and worked in London for much of her life before returning to Ireland several years ago. She is from a family of great storytellers, the most prominent of which is her brother, Shane MacGowan of The Pogues. Highlights of Siobhan’s eclectic career include a highly acclaimed solo album ‘Chariot,’ touring with Van Morrison across the US and Europe and appearing in the Johnny Depp produced and Julien Temple directed 2020 film ‘Crock of Gold.’ Siobhan has connections with many of the locations which feature in The Trial of Lotta Rae including Spitalfields, Bishopsgate, Soho and Kings Cross. She lives in County Tipperary.



Twitter @EtainsDream #TheTrialOfLottaRae

@welbeckpublish






Wednesday, 25 May 2022

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Ten Poems about Music : The Yellow Album and The Blue Album from Candlestick Press

 

Candlestick Press
2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this poetry pamphlet



This mini-anthology is one half of our double album of music poems. Musician and poet Kim Moore’s selection beautifully explores what it feels like both to hear and play music.

The poems take us from Tennyson’s eerily echoing bugle to Faisal Mohyuddin’s evocation of a father singing a song his own father taught him in the family kitchen. Music transforms us, and playing an instrument can transform the human body too:

“At the end of your hands, a troop of gymnasts,
who want to twist and twirl, who want to whirl
and dance, to do some mischief in this world.”

from ‘The Pianist at The Grand’ by Jonathan Edwards

The abiding spirit of the selection is the power of music to make its way straight to the heart. As Abeer Ameer writes in her beautiful poem about a reed flute: “all music yearns for home”.

Poems by Abeer Ameer, Emily Dickinson, Jonathan Edwards, Carrie Etter, WS Graham, Hannah Lowe, Edna St Vincent Millay, Faisal Mohyuddin, Kim Moore and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Cover illustration by Melissa Lhoirit.

Donation to Our Dementia Choir.


πŸ“– My Review...

What a treat it is to open one of these delightful poetry pamphlets from Candlestick Press. The subjects are as diverse as they are wonderful and as I read both The Yellow Album and The Blue Album from this latest collection I realised, once again, the emotional power of poetry. 

The Yellow Album has an eclectic mix of poetry which help to take you into the minds of each of the poets in a uniquely musical way. The music of words drifts over you, some  are quietly introspective whilst others take us to specific places. I enjoyed going to the Concert with Edna St Vincent Millay or practicing the piano with Miss Forbes in Γ‰tudier by Hannah Lowe.

My favourite is  The Reed Flute and I (after Mawlana  Jalaluddin Rumi) by Abeer Ameer

"As the reed flute sings you weep your sorrow;
your heart still beats in the place you left."

Others take us into specific places, such as into her father's kitchen with Faisal Mohyuddin in a poem aptly named, Song, which reminded me of my father belting out Elvis Presley hits in the 1960s 😊

"My father is in the kitchen 
making a morning cup of tea, singing a song 
he first heard when he was a schoolboy..."

The Yellow Album is a perfect accompaniment to The Blue Album but think of them as siblings rather than twins as each is uniquely different in its own way.



Candlestick Press
2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this poetry pamphlet


This mini-anthology is one half of our double album of music poems. Musician and broadcaster Cerys Matthews’ lively selection celebrates the power of music in a dizzying variety of ways. Some poems capture how music makes us feel – the irresistible urge to dance is brought vividly to life, for example, and there’s a merry gathering of poets and musicians with assorted instruments. Others explore the emotions that music can stir, as in the poem about listening to a Frank Sinatra record:

“If love is some kind of dissolving,
I wanted to melt into the vibrato of your vocal chords,
to be carried, to be carried in your arms.”


from ‘Frank Sinatra’ by Jehane Markham

This selection spans the genres and the centuries – evidence (if needed) that music has been with us since we lived in caves and that it may well be true that we sang before we could speak.

Poems by Mandy Coe, Hafiz, Adam Horovitz, Michael Horovitz, Jehane Markham, Roger McGough, Kei Miller, Kim Moore, Siegfried Sassoon and Belinda Zhawi.

Cover illustration by Melissa Lhoirit.

Donation to Our Dementia Choir.


πŸ“– My Review...


The Blue Album is another lovely collection with each of the poems sharing a musical theme. Complementing The Yellow Album perfectly, this Blue Album has a lively feel with poems celebrating such diverse subjects as Frank Sinatra in the poem by Jehane Markham and also in The Can-can by Mandy Coe.

One of my favourite poets, Roger McGough kicks of the collection with The Sound Collector, which made me smile 😊

" A stranger called this morning
dressed all in black and grey
Put every sound into a bag
And carried them away"

I know over lockdown I came to rely on music to lift my spirits and enjoyed creating Spotify playlists to suit my mood. Just as music can raise us up, so the power of words can help to enhance our mood. Both these poetry pamphlets, with their pretty covers, would make a perfect gift instead of a card for anyone who enjoys music, or the musical magic of poetry.





Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.


Twitter @poetrycandle








Monday, 23 May 2022

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Light Rains Sometimes Fall by Lev Parikian

 

Elliot & Thompson

Out in paperback 19 May 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book



See the British year afresh and experience a new way of connecting with nature – through the prism of Japan’s seventy-two ancient microseasons.

Across seventy-two short chapters and twelve months, writer and nature lover Lev Parikian charts the changes that each of these ancient microseasons (of a just a few days each) bring to his local patch – garden, streets, park and wild cemetery.

From the birth of spring (risshun) in early February to ‘the greater cold’ (daikan) in late January, Lev draws our eye to the exquisite beauty of the outside world, day-to-day.

Instead of Japan’s lotus blossom, praying mantis and bear, he watches bramble, woodlouse and urban fox; hawthorn, dragonfly and peregrine. But the seasonal rhythms – and the power of nature to reflect and enhance our mood – remain.

By turns reflective, witty and joyous, this is both a nature diary and a revelation of the beauty of the small and subtle changes of the everyday, allowing us to ‘look, look again, look better’.






πŸ“– My Review..

From the birth of spring (risshun) in early February to ‘the greater cold’ (daikan) in late January the Japanese have an ancient set of micro-seasons which allows more scope to appreciate what is going on around you than do our own four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. In this delightful appreciation of the British year, Lev Parikian takes the notion of this micro-season and applies it to the intricacies of the world of nature on his doorstep. All of which is brought into sharp focus when the country goes into lockdown in March 2020. Set in the area of London the author calls home we undertake, with him as our guide, a rather special journey of discovery.

The idea of dividing the year into short four day bursts inspires each cleverly worded introduction and each of the different sections are so wonderfully descriptive I found myself going back to read parts again. Easily readable in short chapters which you can dip into and out of at whim, the book unfolds in delightful kaleidoscope of natural beauty. In the 72 short chapters of Light Rains Sometimes Fall we are enriched by the wonder of nature as the author appreciates all that he has previously passed without a second glance. A quiet cemetery with it's watchful gaze is home to a myriad of creatures who scuttle and bustle away from prying eyes. The glory of butterflies who flutter and dance in tall grasses, some naturally camouflaged and others gloriously splendid with wings outstretched in a rare burst of sunshine.  A kestrel, a cormorant, a family of finches, the chip of a woodpecker, the rat-at-tat of a wren, the ragged sleekness of an urban fox , all are creatures hiding in plain sight but who are there if only we would stop, look and listen.

Whilst lockdown brought its many challenges, it also gave us a unique opportunity to see the world around us with an entirely different focus. With time on our hands we had the chance to observe the intricacies of nature in all its natural beauty and Light Rains Sometimes Fall is testament to the art of natural observation and whether we be townsfolk or country folk it's good to be reminded that nature is all around us, we only need look.


Best read with .. an unexpected Jaffa cake in a tin of rich tea biscuits


About the Author





Lev Parikian is a writer, birdwatcher and conductor.  He lives in West London with his family, who are getting used to his increasing enthusiasm for nature. As a birdwatcher, his most prized sightings are a golden oriole in the Alpujarras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station.



Twitter @LevParikian


@eandtbooks






Sunday, 22 May 2022

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo~ Caron McKinlay




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 Caron McKinlay to Sunday Brunch





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

Oh it will have to be bacon rolls with brown sauce and lashes of butter. I’m not a morning person so much prefer brunch for my Sunday breakfast. And I just don’t get people that put ketchup on bacon! Although I think its fascinating how we all stick to one particular sauce to a type of food.


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

A glass of Bucks Fizz please as I’m strange in the fact I don’t like hot drinks. My mother used to always worry about that and say “ what will you do if someone asks you around for a coffee!” I think she thought it might make me socially isolated.


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

I always love the idea of sitting outside on the patio. I am fortunate to have a lovely garden and spend far too much time looking at garden furniture! But the crazy thing is that I never want to sit there and eat as I hate flies and bees buzzing around. So the kitchen table please.


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

Yes please anything by Abba or David Essex as I love them both. They are the soundtrack to my life growing up.


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

VE Schwab I just adore her writing and loved The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue. It would be amazing to chat about how she comes up with her ideas. And I’d also love to meet the author of Spacehopper Helen Fisher – such a beautiful clever book that mesmerised me.


Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Oh can I sneak in two please from very different genres. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger such a gorgeous book with a unique premise that had me in tears. And Silence of the lambs by Thomas Harris about a serial killer which had the best misdirection I have ever read. Not to mention the best the famous line about chianti.






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!

Yes, I am a reader first and foremost and read every night. For me it’s the only way to tune out my thoughts and switch off. I’m a massive over thinker! I cannot wait to read all the fabulous debuts this year. I am in a group with them and they are so talented.


Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

I’m not one of those writers who carries a notebook and jobs down ideas. I have to wait for one to come for me and let it flutter around in my thoughts. At the moment I’m still waiting but I hope it’s not for much longer.


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

I write in my bedroom as I find that the most peaceful and I much prefer to write in winter as there are less distractions. Although during lockdown when The Storytellers was written it was hard to tell the difference in the seasons as we never really went out anyway.


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

I’m very easily distracted and I’m not the kind of writer who spends a certain amount of hours a day getting words down. I have to wait until the words come to me. There is little I can do to make that happen so deadlines scare me no end!


Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

Imagination.

Resilience

A good critique partner who is honest and blunt.

A support group of authors who understand the rollercoaster journey of publishing and the insecurities you feel.


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





The Storytellers

Trapped between life and the afterlife, three women meet and share their stories while discovering the truth about the men in their lives—and about themselves.

Suspended in an eerie state of limbo, an entity called the Gatekeeper tells Nikki, Ronnie, and Mrs. Hawthorne they are on the cusp of entering the afterlife—but only if the women can persuade him that in their earthly lives, they knew the meaning of love.

Fragments of their memories return, plunging them back into their pasts, and forcing them to face the desires, disappointments, addictions, lies, and obsessions they battled in life.

But before time runs out, will they find the answer to the ultimate question: what is love?



More about Caron

Caron grew up in a mining town on the east coast of Scotland where her dad would return from the pit and fill her life with his tall tales. She never thought about making a career in writing – that was what posh people did, not someone from a working-class council estate. However, her father’s death was the cause of deep introspection and her emotions gave birth to a short story, Cash, which was published in the Scottish Book Trust’s anthology, Blether. This gave her the confidence to try and believe in herself. When not blogging, reading, and writing, Caron spends her time with her daughters. She doesn’t enjoy exercise – but loves running around after her grandsons, Lyle and Noah, to whom she is devoted. Caron had three childhood dreams in life: to become a published author, to become a teacher, and for David Essex to fall in love with her. Two out of three ain’t bad, and she’s delighted with that.


Caron, where can we follow you on social media?


Twitter: @caronmckinlay

Facebook: @mckinlaycaron

Instagram: @caronmckinlay




Thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo


Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayLunchwithJaffareadstoo






Saturday, 21 May 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Witch's Tree by Elena Collins



On Hist Fic Saturday


Let's go back to ...1682




Boldwood Books
17 May 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book
and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the tour



A tale as old as time. A spirit that has never rested.

Present day

As a love affair comes to an end, and with it her dreams for her future, artist Selena needs a retreat. The picture-postcard Sloe Cottage in the Somerset village of Ashcombe promises to be the perfect place to forget her problems, and Selena settles into her new home as spring arrives. But it isn’t long before Selena hears the past whispering to her. Sloe Cottage is keeping secrets which refuse to stay hidden.

​1682

Grace Cotter longs for nothing more than a husband and family of her own. Content enough with her work on the farm, looking after her father, and learning the secrets of her grandmother Bett’s healing hands, nevertheless Grace still hopes for love. But these are dangerous times for dreamers, and rumours and gossip can be deadly. One mis-move and Grace’s fate looks set…

Separated by three hundred years, two women are drawn together by a home bathed in blood and magic. Grace Cotter’s spirit needs to rest, and only Selena can help her now.






πŸ“– My Review..

Selina finds that taking refuge at Sloe Cottage in the heart of Somerset is just the place she needs to get over a disastrous love affair. The glorious countryside around the cottage proves to be the perfect inspiration for Selina's paintings which capture the eerie nature of both the cottage and the surrounding landscape. That there is a ghostly presence in the cottage is obvious from the start and as the story blends and weaves between past and present we get the story of Grace Cotter, a troubled young woman who, living in the seventeenth century, has unfinished business with Sloe Cottage and the village of Ashcombe.

The time-slip elements of the story work really well with neither one outshining the other. I felt equally at home with Selina at Sloe Cottage in the present day as I did at Slaugh Cottage with Grace in 1682 during a time when the country was gripped by witch fever and to be a woman alone was to invite scurrilous gossip and sly innuendo. The story is really rather special and so beautifully reminiscent of both time elements that I quite forgot the passage of time. I loved learning more about Selina's life at the cottage and could visualise her beautifully imaginative paintings as she brings time and place into wonderful context.

Beautifully written, with lovely historical detail, The Witch's Tree is a wonderful time-slip novel which shows that the passage of time doesn't always heal a troubled soul but by blending the shared experiences of two rather sad young women the author has created a wonderful bridge between the despair of past and hope for the present. 

 

🍷Best Read with...a glass of Joely's mint lemonade and a slice of Mrs Harper's angel cake


About the Author






Elena Collins is the pen name of Judy Leigh. Judy Leigh is the bestselling author of Five French Hens, A Grand Old Time and The Age of Misadventure and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.



Twitter @JudyLeighWrite #TheWitchsTree

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers @bookandtonic

@rararesources







Friday, 20 May 2022

πŸ“– Feature Friday ~ Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton



Welcome to Feature Friday


It's a warm space to a highlight a book coming soon which is on my radar


and one I am looking forward to reading



Random House Transworld
Bantam Press
9 June 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book


Everyone watches their neighbours.

Elise King moves into the sleepy seaside town of Ebbing. Illness has thrown her career as a successful detective into doubt, but no matter how hard she tries to relax and recuperate, she knows that something isn't right.

Everyone lies about their friends.

Tensions are running high beneath the surface of this idyllic community: the weekenders in their fancy clothes, renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes. A town divided, with the threat of violence only a heartbeat away.

Everyone knows a secret.

This peaceful world is shattered when two teenagers end up in hospital and a local man vanishes without trace. Elise starts digging for answers, but the community closes ranks, and the truth begins to slip through her fingers. Because in a small town like this, the locals are good at keeping secrets...

Everyone's a suspect when a local goes missing.


****

I remember when this author's debut novel, The Widow hit the book shops in 2016 and I was immediately blown away with the strength of writing and the author's ability to keep the reader so engrossed in the plot that you don't notice time passing. Local Goes Missing sounds like another immersive read and one I am going to enjoy reading.

So as they say...watch this space 😊

@jaffareadstoo #FeatureFriday #amreading


Local Gone Missing is published on the 9 June and is available to pre-order from wherever you buy books.



Twitter @figbarton #LocalGonemissing


@TransworldBooks





Thursday, 19 May 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Summer at the French CafΓ© by Sue Moorcroft



Avon
Harper Collins
12 May 2022

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



Sparkling sun, strolls in the gorgeous French countryside, that first sip of cool, crisp wine – Summer is Kat’s favourite season. And this year should be no exception…

As soon as Kat Jenson set foot in the idyllic French village of Kirchhoffen, she knew she’d found her home.

Now she has a dreamy boyfriend, a delightful dog and the perfect job managing a bustling book cafΓ© in the vibrant Parc Lemmel.

But when she learns her boyfriend isn’t all he seems, it’s the start of a difficult summer for Kat. Vindictive troublemakers, work woes and family heartache follow, and the clear blue sky that was her life suddenly seems full of clouds.

Then she gets to know the mysterious Noah, and her sun begins to shine brighter than ever. But Noah has problems of his own – ones that could scupper their new-found happiness. Together, can they overcome their many obstacles, and find love again?


πŸ“– My Review...

Parc Lemmel is a wonderful place to spend a holiday, maybe having fun on the funfair rides or taking part in water activities on the lake but the best place, by far, is spending time at the Livres et CafΓ©, a wonderful place to sit for a while with delicious French pastries on offer with the tantalising aroma of freshly brewed coffee in the air, and the promise of a best selling novel to while away a sunny afternoon. Kat Jensen, the conscientious manager of the Livres et CafΓ©, seems to have the perfect life, a handsome boyfriend and a fulfilling job but when things start to go wrong she finds help and support from a wonderful character called Noah who, it must be said, has his own share of personal problems.

What's always guaranteed with a Sue Moorcroft novel, and this is no exception, is an amazing array of characters who give the story such a warm and compassionate feel that it's a real delight to spend time with all of them. Bringing to perfect life Kat's dilemma as she faces, not just problems in her personal life but also in her business life and the way she copes with everything that life has thrown at her is what makes this such an engrossing story. It goes without saying that each novel is beautifully written which seamlessly immerses the reader in the imaginative world which this talented author creates so skillfully.

Totally unputdownable, Summer at the French CafΓ© has definitely stolen its way into my heart, with Kat, Noah and the delightful, Angelique taking centre stage in a wonderful story which brings the French region of Alsace to glorious life. As always, a perfect afternoon in the garden sort of read.


πŸ“– Best Read with..a rich expresso and a delicious Pain au Chocolat










Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle UK as well as top 100 in the US. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s emotionally compelling, feel-good novels are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers around the world. She’s also well known for short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses.

Born in Germany into an army family, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire, England aged ten. She loves reading, Formula 1, travel, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.



Twitter @SueMoorcroft #SummerAtTheFrenchCafe


@HarperCollinsUK

@rararesources








Wednesday, 18 May 2022

πŸ“– Author in the Spotlight ~ Marie Laval

 


 I am delighted to welcome author, Marie Laval to our spotlight today 





Hello Jo and thank you very much for inviting me on your blog today to chat about QUEEN OF THE DESERT, my latest historical romance novel which was recently released by Choc Lit.


Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Queen of the Desert?

My inspiration for both the plot and the setting was my fascination for the history and landscapes of Algeria. My mother grew up there, and it’s a place I always wanted to visit. I especially dream of travelling to the Sahara desert, the Hoggar and the Tassili N’Ajjer national parks, and I have been fascinated by the people who live in these vast and beautiful regions - the Tuaregs – for a long time. One day I read about Tin Hinan, who is rumoured to be the Tuaregs’ ancestral queen, and I knew I had the basis of a plot. Tin Hinan’s tomb is located in Abalessa in Southern Algeria. It was discovered in 1925 by archaeologist, adventurer and alleged con artist Byron Khun de Prorok (you couldn’t make up such a name!).

I changed the facts in my story so that it’s Harriet’s father, British Museum archaeologist Oscar Montague, who discovers the tomb.



Algeria
Pixabay


Without giving too much away – what can you tell us about the story?

QUEEN OF THE DESERT is set in the mid-nineteenth century. It is first and foremost a love story between a brave and unconventional heroine who inherited a passion for archaeology from her father, and a hero who hides a broken heart under a harsh, roguish exterior.

Harriet hires former army scout Lucas Saintclair to take her to Tamanrasset where she believes her father was taken captive by a gang of Tuareg fighters. At first, she completely despises Lucas who appears to be only interested in money, taverns and women, but in the course of their long and arduous journey through Algeria she discovers that he isn’t quite what he seems...


Tuareg Tassili
Pixabay



Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they what you expected them to be?

I do love my characters, and you are right to say that I live with them every single day. In fact, my friends who aren’t writers give me strange looks when I start talking about my characters as if they are real. Sometimes my characters surprise me and say and do things that I hadn’t quite expected, but then again it’s their story!


Are you a plotter...or ...a start writing and see where it takes you, sort of writer?

I am definitely not a plotter. I usually know vaguely what will happen at the end, but much of the story depends on chance and on where my imagination takes me. Most of the time I feel that it’s the characters themselves who dictate what happens...


Do you write the type of books you like to read and which authors influence you?

Definitely! I have always loved romantic fiction, both contemporary and historical, and that’s what I always wanted to write. When I first moved to England, one of the first novels I read entirely in English was Barbara Erskine’s ‘Lady of Hay’ and I was completely blown away! I also used to devour novels by Victoria Holt, Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood, to name but a few, and lots and lots of Harlequins romances.


What do you enjoy most about writing stories and do you write for yourself, or other people?

I write for myself, Jo. I am a bit of a dreamer and now more than ever I need to escape into another world...


How do you manage to balance writing with your everyday life and what do you do to relax?

It’s not easy, and since losing my husband last year, I have had very little time – and to be honest, inclination – to write. I work full-time as a teacher, so evenings and weekends are taken by planning and marking, chores and shopping, and I want to spend time with my children too of course. But I have now started writing again and I realise how much I need it...


Can you tell us what you have planned next?

I have several projects on, which is far too ambitious for my limited writing time... Firstly I am trying to complete a Christmas romance set in the Lakes, which features the same village and some of the characters from BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC. It feels very odd to write about snowy mountains, Christmas trees and mince pies when the sun is shining and there are daffodils everywhere! I am also writing two other contemporary romances, one set in Lancashire (although that might change), and one set both in Yorkshire and France, but I am only a few chapters in for them both...



QUEEN OF THE DESERT





Sometimes the most precious treasures exist in the most barren and inhospitable of places...

Harriet Montague is definitely too much of a gentlewoman to be frequenting the backstreet taverns of Algiers. But her father has been kidnapped whilst on an expedition to the tomb of an ancient desert queen, and she’s on a mission to find the only person who could save him.

It’s just unfortunate that Lucas Saintclair, the man Harriet hopes will rescue her father from scoundrels, is the biggest scoundrel of the lot. With a bribe in the form of a legendary pirate treasure map, securing his services is the easiest part – now Harriet must endure a treacherous journey through the desert accompanied by Saintclair’s band of ruffians.

But on the long, hot Saharan nights, is it any wonder that her heart begins to thaw towards her guide – especially when she realises Lucas’s roguish faΓ§ade conceals something she could never have expected?

QUEEN OF THE DESERT is available as ebook from Amazon and Kobo



More about Marie

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire and writes historical and contemporary romance. Best-selling LITTLE PINK TAXI was her debut contemporary romantic novel with Choc Lit. A PARIS FAIRY TALE was published in July 2019, followed by BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC in November 2019 and bestselling romantic suspense ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Award. HAPPY DREAMS AT MERMAID COVE is her latest contemporary romance. QUEEN OF THE DESERT is Marie’s second historical romance, following on from ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE which features another member of the Saintclair family.

Marie also writes short stories for the bestselling Miss Moonshine anthologies, and is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her novels are available as ebooks and audiobooks on Amazon and various other platforms.



Thank you so much, Marie. It's always an absolute pleasure to have you as our Author in the Spotlight. Come back and see us again soon 😊



Twitter @marielaval1


@ChocLituk