Thursday 31 March 2022

📖 Blog Tour ~ Three Cheers for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

31 March 2022

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

Wedding bells are ringing at long last for Gloria and her soon-to-be husband Jack. But she can't rest until her youngest son is safely home.

Head welder Rosie is delighted her own husband has returned from enemy territory. But the promise of victory brings more change. Her squad has come so far - what will happen when the war ends?

Meanwhile Helen is caught between two men - but must hide her true feelings from the one she loves. Can her fellow women welders help Helen follow her heart?

Only by working together will the Shipyard Girls win the day.

📖 My Review..

Even though victory bells are ringing loud and clear for the Shipyard Girls there's an element of sadness because this is the final part of this epic series of eleven novels which have charted the progress of this stalwart group of women as they survived whatever the war threw at them, whilst at the same time keeping the home fires and the Sunderland shipyards flourishing. In this final novel we meet again with the women who have become such an intrinsic part of the story and hope with the end of the war they can each go on to find the happiness they deserve. 

I think the emotional investment in this series is such that for readers who have followed from the beginning there is a real sense of sadness that the story has come to its natural ending. And what a journey it has been, delighting readers and inspiring a real interest in the north east where the story is set. As always the author writes with real historical knowledge and gives her characters such a sense of their worth that they spring with lively enthusiasm off the page making their stories so hard to resist. Of course, as with any final novel there is a sense of the wrapping up of loose ends.  I was pleased that those who needed to received their comeuppance and that there was resolution for those who needed to move on with their lives. 

Beautifully written and with a real sense of time and place Three Cheers for the Shipyard Girls is a worthy conclusion to this wonderful historical series which has delighted over half a million readers. This fascinating wartime journey with all of the Shipyard Girls has been a joy to read and is definitely a series which will continue to delight for many years to come.

🍵Best read with... a healthy dose of nostalgia and a good strong pot of tea 

About the Author

Nancy Revell is the pen name of writer and journalist Amanda Revell Walton, who has worked for the national press for the past 25 years, providing them with hard-hitting news stories and in-depth features. She has also worked for just about every woman’s magazine, writing amazing and inspirational true life stories.

Nancy Revell is spearheading a campaign to honour the real women of the Sunderland shipyards in her home town with a new public statue that will be displayed within the historic Sunderland Shipyards. Nancy has worked closely with the Sunderland City Council and the Sunderland Soroptimists, a worldwide volunteer service organization for women, and after putting out a call on her own social media channels, Nancy was approached by local artist Rosanne Robertson who has been commissioned to create the statue that will be unveiled later this year.

Sunderland boasted the largest shipyard in Europe during WWII, and produced a quarter of Britain's merchant shipping at the time. When the men went away to war, the courageous Shipyard Girls took up the back breaking work building ships for the British Navy. Due to its size, the Sunderland Shipyards were a key target of Hitler’s Blitzkreig, making the work not only backbreaking but incredibly dangerous. Historians have estimated that without the courageous women working in Sunderlands’ shipyards during the war, WWII could very likely have been lost due to lack of ability to transport troops, provisions and ammunition.

Follow the blog tour

Twitter @arevellwalton #ShipyardGirls #ThreeCheersForTheShipyardGirls

@centurybooksuk @PenguinBooksUK

Sunday 27 March 2022

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Natalie Kleinman

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 Natalie Kleinman to Sunday Brunch

Thank you for inviting me, Jo. They don’t let us writers out much so it’s a great opportunity to let my hair down and have a good chinwag.

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

It has to be dessert. Much as I love savoury food, I have in later years developed a very sweet tooth, so it’s Raspberry Pavlova. With lashings of cream of course.

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

English breakfast tea with barely a touch of milk. My sweet tooth doesn’t extend to tea and I’m so fussy about my brew that friends now leave me to make my own. So, if you don’t think I’m being rude…

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

Around the kitchen table please. A nice place to chat. I’ve never taken to eating outdoors and can you just imagine the bees making, well, a beeline for that Pavlova? Maybe a cup of tea in the garden later if the weather’s nice?

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

My all time favourite piece of music may well be The Pearl Fishers duet, "Au fond du temple saint" – sorry, just nipped away for a few minutes as your question prompted me to call it up on You Tube. It was the version by Jussi Björling and Robert Merrill that I listened to but there are so many. Not in the background though, if you don’t mind, as it would definitely distract from our brunch and kill our conversation at the same time.

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

How many can I have? Agatha Christie, with Hercule Poirot on one hand and Miss Marple on the other. I’d like to hear them discussing some of their cases. My top-of-the-pedestal author though is Georgette Heyer whose writing I discovered when I was about eleven and who has entertained me over so many years. The only writer whose books I have read so often that some have fallen to bits and had to be replaced. She has a whole shelf to herself in my home. What an honour it would be to meet her.

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

The Unknown Ajax. Yes, it’s a Georgette Heyer. She weaves such wonderful story. A great hero but the dénouement is I think the most skilfully-written I have ever read and it never fails to satisfy.


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. So many people to meet between the covers, so many worlds to investigate. There will never be enough time but it’s amazing what you can get through if you ignore the housework. As for a particular book, there are some classics I have yet to read. Well, quite a lot actually.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

All around me. I love people-watching. It’s amazing how just the grain of an idea can grow into a whole field waiting to be harvested.

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

Mostly I write with my laptop in the place it was designed for. I have one of those chairs where the feet raise and my laptop sits on a cushioned tray. I do like my comfort. Some years ago my husband had the smallest bedroom converted into an office for me but it was cold, both in atmosphere and in its ability to inspire me. Too clinical. Winter or summer? It makes no difference.

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

I can procrastinate with the best but I am also quite disciplined. A deadline is an obligation and writing is a job as well as a pleasure.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

Discipline – a book doesn’t write itself.

Imagination – unless it’s non-fiction.

Patience – it takes a while to write and then hone one’s work into something (hopefully) worthy of being sent out into the world.

A sense of humour – but I think that’s essential for every walk of life.

Can I add focus as well please.

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

It’s less than three weeks since Love’s Legacy was published, my fifth Regency with Sapere Books, and early reviews are very encouraging.

9 March

Patience Worthington is left without a home when her reverend father dies and the vicarage passes to the new incumbent. She looks to his brother for help, only to discover that he too has died and it is his son, Gideon, who is the new viscount. A long-standing family feud drives a wedge between them and Patience seeks to stand on her own feet. She has a social conscience and looks for a way to help unmarried mothers and their children. But Gideon has a secret and it’s not one he’s prepared to share with her, even when she confronts him. Will these warring cousins ever find comfortable ground?

Natalie, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @NatKleinman

Facebook @NatalieKleinmanAuthor

Instagram @nataliekleinman6279

Natalie Kleinman began her writing career with short stories, of which some fifty have been published in magazines in the UK and internationally. She was winner of the Christmas-themed John Walter Salver Competition 2021 run by the SWWJ. Her first three novels were contemporary romantic fiction before she moved to Regency historical romance. Raised on a diet of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, she is never happier than when immersed in an age of etiquette and manners, fashion and intrigue, all combined into a romping good tale. She now has five books published in this genre.

When she isn’t writing, Natalie enjoys lunching at country pubs with her husband and friends. In addition, a lifelong resident of London, she has been able to take advantage of all the culture and entertainment that amazing city has to offer, with visits to museums being top of the list and where much research for her books has taken place.

Natalie is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists.

Natalie, thank you for sharing Sunday brunch with us today

It’s been a lovely visit, Jo. Thank you so much for having me.

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Friday 25 March 2022

📖 Pick a shelf, 7th book along... Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker



Everyone has a secret in Tall Oaks . . .

When three-year-old Harry goes missing, the whole of America turns its attention to one small town. Everyone is eager to help. Everyone is a suspect.

Desperate mother Jess, whose grief is driving her to extreme measures.

Newcomer Jared, with an easy charm and a string of broken hearts in his wake.

Photographer Jerry, who's determined to break away from his controlling mother once and for all.

And, investigating them all, a police chief with a hidden obsession of his own . . .

In Chris Whitaker's brilliant and original debut novel, missing persons, secret identities and dangerous lies abound in a town as idiosyncratic as its inhabitants.

📖 My Review..

Just occasionally when stuck for inspiration for something different read, granted that doesn't come around too often, but when it does I employ the pick a shelf, 7 books along method of choice. When Tall Oaks popped up as the 7th book along on my second book shelf, I must confess it has lingered there since it was first  published back in 2016. 

The story takes us to the small American town of Tall Oaks where three year Harry has gone missing from his home, not only does this tragedy devastate his mother, Jess, but also continues to haunt Jim, the enigmatic police chief, whose hidden obsession with the case is what keeps him focused. Into the mix comes a selection of townsfolk, each have their quirks and differences, but all have something about them which makes them utterly unique and which connects them in so many different ways.

The story moves seamlessly, with moments of humour which made me laugh out loud but there's also a haunting sense of sadness especially as the story of the missing child runs throughout. The beautifully reflective writing brings the angst of small town America so perfectly to life that I felt as if I stood watching the scenes unfold before me with an almost cinematic precision. With a delicious subtlety, which belies its strength, Tall Oaks is one of those stories which lingers long after the last page is turned.

Tall Oaks was a brilliant debut for this talented writer who has since gone on to write a number of bestselling novels.

Just goes to show that on every book shelf lies a hidden gem ...😄

🍺Best read with..a glass of cold beer..

About the Author

Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks, All the Wicked Girls, We Begin at the End, and The Forevers (YA). His debut Tall Oaks won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award. An instant New York Times bestseller and the #1 Indie Next Pick, We Begin at the End was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, a Barnes & Noble Book Club Pick and a Good Morning America Buzz Pick. The novel won the CWA Gold Dagger Award, the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year, and the Ned Kelly International Award.We Begin At The End has been translated into twenty-five languages, with screen rights going to Disney. He lives in the UK with his wife and three children.

Twitter @WhittyAuthor #TallOaks

Thursday 24 March 2022

London Book Fair 2022

The London Book Fair Keynotes and Seminar Highlights Announced

Olympia, London  5th-7th April 2022

Programme to include UN, Google, HarperCollins, Amazon, PRH, Sharjah Book Authority, Nielsen and more

Authors include Maggie O’Farrell, Monique Roffey, Daisy Johnson, Stacey Halls, Derek Owusu, Peter James, Louise Candlish, Natasha Carthew, KL Slater, Mahsuda Snaith and Milly Johnson

Ben Okri and Louise Moore to deliver keynotes

Main Stage introduced for 2022, featuring expert panels

The London Book Fair (LBF) has announced Booker Prize winning novelist and poet Ben Okri and Penguin Michael Joseph Managing Director Louise Moore as the keynote speakers for this year’s Fair.

Okri, acclaimed author of The Famished Road, will appear in conversation with journalist Sarah Shaffi, discussing the role of art during challenging and divisive times. Publishing expert Moore will shine a light on the importance of commercial fiction for the book industry and explore why it does not receive the same respect as other genres.

This year’s The London Book Fair will feature the introduction of the Main Stage is a theatre, sponsored by Legible, which will host agenda-setting talks and panel sessions led by experts from across the publishing industry.

Highlights from the Main Stage, sponsored by Legible, include:

Ben Okri: Art in a Time of Crisis. Wednesday 6th April, 11:00 -11:45, Main Stage. Booker Prize winning novelist and poet appears in conversation with journalist and editor Sarah Shaffi to discuss the importance and role of art in challenging times.

Why does the publishing industry not better recognise the merits and importance of commercial fiction? Tuesday 5th April, 10:30-11:15, Main Stage. Louise Moore, Managing Director of Penguin Michael Joseph, discusses the importance of commercial fiction for publishers, and asks why the industry does not champion its success.

The Role of Publishing and Culture During Global Conflict. Tuesday 5th April, 15:15-16:00, Main Stage. In a session led by the Publishers Association, representatives from the British Council, International Publishers Association and Cambridge University Press consider the role of publishers and wider cultural institutions during global conflict, and debate how culture can play a role during difficult times around the world.

COVID-19: What's next for publishing? Tuesday 5th April, 11:45-12:30, Main Stage. Representatives from Nosy Crow, HarperCollins, Bookouture, Amazon Publishing and the Booksellers Association explore how the pandemic has impacted the publishing industry and how it may shape the future of the book world.

Nielsen Report –The UK book market: Pandemic effects and the picture in 2022. Wednesday 6th April, 12:00-12:45, Main Stage. Nielsen Books highlights the publishing trends which emerged during the pandemic, and reveals what readers have been buying over the past two years.
The Future of Book Supply. Wednesday 6th April, 10:00-10:45, Main Stage. HE Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority, speaks with David Taylor, MD of Lightning Source UK, about the future of the supply chain and print on demand, with examples of the work being done at Sharjah Publishing City.

The Future of Work is Hybrid. Tuesday 5th April, 13:00-13:45, Main Stage. Spokespeople from Google Workspace, Hachette and Tsedal Neeley, author of Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere look at how technology could help the publishing industry to build a successful hybrid working model.

In addition to the series of world class sessions on the Main Stage throughout the three days of The London Book Fair, a seminar programme of expert panels, author talks, and industry presentations will be taking place across Olympia.

The seminar programme runs across Author HQ, Highlights from the seminar programme include:

Tuesday 5th April

Maggie O’Farrell In Conversation. Tuesday 5th April, 13:30-14:15, English PEN Literary Salon. Author of the Day Maggie O’Farrell, Sunday Times bestselling author and winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, appears in discussion with journalist Jo Finney, giving an insight into her writing process, talking about Hamnet, and highly anticipated upcoming novel The Marriage Portrait.

The Power of the Bookshop: The Role Booksellers Play in Championing Your Book. Tuesday 5th April, 13:15-13:45, Buzz Theatre. Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns at Booksellers Association, joins Bookbar founder Chrissy Ryan and author Ingrid Persaud to discuss how bookshops can celebrate and amplify titles.

Celebrating Working Class Writing. Tuesday 5th April, 14:20-15:05, Author HQ. Working class writers Eva Verde, Natasha Carthew and Mahsuda Snaith discuss why it is important to include conversations around class when it comes to improving diversity and representation in publishing.

Trending on TikTok= book sales: the perfect equation? Tuesday 5th April, 12:10-12:55, Author HQ. Social media experts including Naomi Bacon from Tandem Collective, author Fiona Lucas, Zaahida Nabagereka, Head of Social Impact at Penguin Random House UK and Ashley Baugh, Associate Director at Midas, discuss the role of TikTok in the book world and ask which trends on the platform are here to stay.

London Book Fair Charity of the Year presents… Happy Here: Centering Traditionally Marginalised Narratives in Children’s Publishing. Tuesday 5th April, 13:00 – 13:45, Olympia Theatre. LBF 2022 Charity of the Year, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), hosts a panel with author and academic Darren Chetty, trailblazing independent publisher Knights Of, and national charity, BookTrust, discussing how the three organisations came together to publish and champion Happy Here, as well as exploring the importance of moving discourse away from defending the necessity of inclusive literature towards the value of improving the quality of publishing output to better serve the readership.

How publishers can successfully create a culture of diversity and inclusion. Tuesday 5th April, 16:30-17:15, Main Stage. Cat Mitchell, Lecturer and Programme Leader for the Creative Writing and Publishing BA at the University of Derby provides actionable guidance for creating a diverse and inclusive workspace.

Sharjah Market Focus: In Conversation with HE Mohammed Al-Murr. Tuesday 5th April, 16:30-17:15, English PEN Literary Salon. Short story writer Al-Murr discusses his work and the influence of Emirati literature.

Across language and time: translating classics. Tuesday 5th April, 16:30-17:15, Olympia Theatre. The Polish Book Institute and the Spotlight on Catalan organisers Institution Ramon Llull host a panel on the challenges of translating classic literature from William Shakespeare and Jane Austen.

Wednesday 6th April

From Book to Screen: Crime and Thrillers. Wednesday 6th April, 13:15-14:00, Author HQ. Bestselling crime writers Peter James, Kate Ruby and Louise Candlish share how they keep readers gripped, both on the page and onscreen.

The Cover Design Wheel of Fortune. Wednesday 6th April, 17:00-17:45, Author HQ. By popular demand, designers Ceara Elliot, Jack Smyth and Nico Taylor return to The London Book Fair, using real life case studies to explore the book cover design process from beginning to end.

In conversation with Afra Atiq, Emirati poet, spoken word artist and PhD Candidate and LBF Author of the Day. Wednesday 6th April, 13:30-14:15, English PEN Literary Salon. Market Focus Author of the Day Atiq appears in conversation, discussing her career and what inspires her poetry.

Independent Women: The Tale of Three Start-ups. Wednesday 6th April, 12:30- 13:15, Olympia Theatre. Magic Cat Publishing, Guppy Books and Hashtag Press, three small independent presses run by award-winning women, discuss the realities of setting up a publisher in the Children’s sector and what their experiences have taught them.

Illustrator of the Fair: Diane Ewen. Wednesday 6th April, 14:30-15:00, Author HQ. Award-winning illustrator Ewen speaks about her career, what she hopes to communicate through her illustrations, and representation in Children’s books.

KL Slater in Conversation: Writing for Audio. Wednesday 6th April, 11:00-11:30, Author HQ. Audible bestselling author KL Slater discusses publishing fifteen titles in just six years, the challenges and rewards of writing specifically for audio, and how audiobooks have helped to build her fanbase and brand as an author.

Pajtim Stavoci in conversation with Octavia Bright. Wednesday 6th April, 12:00-12:45, English PEN Literary Salon. Award-winning novelist Stavoci speaks to writer and broadcaster Bright about love, war and migration on the eve of the publication of his latest novel Bolla.

Bringing Dutch Literature to the World. Wednesday 6th April, 12:10-12:55, Literary Translation Centre. The London Book Fair’s dedication to translation continues as the Dutch Foundation for Literature and Amazon Crossing host a conversation on the importance of Dutch literature and the nuances of translating works from the Netherlands.

Sustainability Conference: programmed by IPA, PA and Elsevier. Wednesday 6th April, 13:30-16:30, Main Stage. High level discussion on how sustainability translates for the publishing industry.

Thursday 7th April

Greg James and Chris Smith In Conversation. Thursday 7th April, 13:30-14:15, English PEN Literary Salon. The Great Dream Robbery and Kid Normal writers Greg James & Chris Smith will discuss their bestselling work and their upcoming release Super Ghost.

How to Make a Living From Writing. Thursday 7th April, 10:45-11:30, Author HQ. An expert panel from the Society of Authors, including Nicola Solomon, Juliet McKenna, Abie Longstaff and Katrina Naomi, share their tips for earning money through writing, and the best opportunities for aspiring authors.

Building A Better, Greener Business. Thursday 7th April, 10:00-12:00, Olympia Theatre. Nielsen Books explores how the pandemic has impacted supply chains, and what can be done to build a more sustainable, resilient system.

Derek Owusu in conversation with Tice Cin. Thursday 7th April, 12:00-12:45, English PEN Literary Salon. Owusu, award-winning author of That Reminds Me discusses displacement, mental health across generations and the desire to find one’s voice in his forthcoming book Losing The Plot.

How I Write. Thursday 7th April, 13:00-13:45, Author HQ. Bestselling novelists Stacey Halls, Milly Johnson and Tim Sullivan provide a behind-the-scenes look at their writing routines, offering insight into how they write.

Publishing Outside of London: what are the benefits? Thursday 7th April, 15:15-16:00, Author HQ. The benefits of regional publishers’ offices is discussed by a panel consisting of Chief Executive of New Writing North Claire Malcolm, Publishing Director at HarperNorth Genevieve Pegg, Publishing Director at Sweet Cherry Publishing Sanjee de Silva, and Publishing Director at Comma Press, Ra Page.

New Fiction at the Threshold of Myth. Thursday 7th April, 11:45-12:30, Author HQ. Catalan author and European Union Prize for Literature winner Irene Solà speaks to acclaimed novelist Daisy Johnson about the influence of folktales on literature, and how modern fiction blurs mythology and reality.

Subscription Reading Programs and Translated Literature. Thursday 7th April, 12:10-12:55, Literary Translation Centre. Amazon Publishing shares more on their subscription reading programmes Amazon First Reads, Prime Reading, and Kindle Unlimited, and explains how these help readers discover global translations.

Andy Ventris, Director of The London Book Fair, said: “We are delighted to share highlights from this year’s agenda-setting seminar programme, and to announce 2022 keynote speakers. Ben Okri is one of the most celebrated poets and authors of our time, while Louise Moore is at the very forefront of British publishing, and we are honoured to have them both at this year’s fair. We know that attendees will be eager to hear their thoughts on publishing, the impact of books in our society, and how the industry may evolve in future.

”The London Book Fair's events programme is renowned for its insight into publishing and the introduction of the Main Stage for 2022 provides a platform for some of the most exciting sessions we have ever programmed. We are thrilled to have such an incredible range of organisations appearing across this year’s seminar programme, and look forward to learning from the knowledge and experience of our speakers.”

The London Book Fair (LBF) is the largest spring book trade and publishing event in the world, and will take place in person for the first time in two years at Olympia London, 5-7th April 2022.

Visitor registration is now open, click here for details 

The full 2022 seminar programme is available to view on The London Book Fair website

Follow on Twitter @LondonBookFair #LBF22

Wednesday 23 March 2022

📖 Blog Tour ~ The Painter's Girl by Helen Fripp

22 March 2022

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

Paris, 1860s. For Mimi Bisset, survival is everything on the cobbled streets of the Paris slums. She tries to forget the pain of losing her daughter Colette: born out of wedlock and forcibly given away to a rich family. But Mimi’s world turns upside down after a chance encounter with handsome artist Édouard Manet. Boldly posing for portraits on Manet’s chaise longue, Mimi feels a wild freedom – and as Manet teaches her how to layer the vivid paints on canvas herself, a passion grows between them that breaks all the rules…

At Manet’s side, Mimi is caught up in his world. They dance all night at Paris’s new can-can clubs and drink absinthe at masked balls. But one day, strolling by the Seine on her lover’s arm, Mimi catches a glimpse of familiar green eyes… it’s Colette, with a family who Manet knew all along.

Although she’s reeling that the man she loved kept such a secret from her, Mimi is filled with hope she’ll finally get her daughter back. But when a terrible rumour begins to circulate about Mimi, the only place she has to go is back to the slums. Destitute, hungry and alone, can Mimi clear her name? Or will her heart shatter all over again when she loses her daughter for a second, final time?

📖My review...

Growing up on the Montmartre streets of Paris have made Mimi Bisset into someone who can look out for herself and who isn't afraid to take chances. When she is offered work in a Parisian circus she grasps the opportunity with, quite literally, both hands as she trains to fly through the air as a trapeze artist with the renowned, Jules Léotard. When an untimely event brings her into contact with a group of artists who spend their time sketching the circus performers, Mimi finds that she is drawn into the progressive world of the French Impressionists. Her burgeoning relationship with Édouard Manet will take her far beyond the poverty stricken world she inhabits and into a glittering world of artists and their muse.

Beautifully reminiscent of a bygone era, the very essence of nineteenth century Paris comes alive with vibrant expectancy, whether it be high kicks at the Folies Bergère or mixing a paint palette of alizarin crimson and yellow ochre at Édouard's studio on the rue Bonaparte, the story brings us firmly into the colourful work of the Impressionist painters. And as her own artistry blossoms so Mimi starts to grow in confidence, seeing ahead of her a whole world of possibility. Cleverly combining historical fact with fiction this fascinating story allows us a glimpse into Mimi's world, her hopes and fears and her express wish to be reunited with someone very precious to her.

The Painter's Girl is beautifully written historical fiction. Imaginative and expressive I have loved following Mimi's poignant journey as she follows her dreams into a better future.

🍷 Best read with...a bowl of oysters and a glass of Muscadet

About the Author

I love delving into the past and uncovering new stories, and in my writing, the tiniest historical detail can spark an idea for a whole chapter. My female characters rail against the social constraints to which they are subject and often achieve great success, but they are of course flawed and human, like the rest of us. It’s the motivations, flaws, loves and every-day lives of my characters that I love to bring life, against sweeping historical backdrops - and I will find any excuse to take off and research a captivating location or person for my next story.

My first novel is set in the Champagne region in France, and I’m currently working on my next one, set in late eighteenth century Paris. I spent a lot of time in France as a child, have lived in Paris and spent a year with my family in a fishing village in South West France, so that’s where my books have ended up being set so far. Who knows where next!

Twitter @helenfripp #ThePaintersGirl

@bookouture #BooksOnTour

Monday 21 March 2022

📖 Book Review ~ The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola


2 March 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city's celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker's experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker's intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles...

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

📖 My Review...

Into the festering world of eighteenth century Paris we move from the debauched atmosphere of the brothel where Madeleine Chastel lives with her mother, sister and young nephew, into the sinister world of Dr Maximilian Reinhart, an expert clock maker, with an interest in creating automaton. Reinhart employs Madeleine, not only as a chambrière, in his house where shadows lurk in every dark corner, but also as a femme de chambre to his seventeen year old daughter, Véronique. 

The story moves seamlessly between the mean and moody streets of Paris where children seem to be vanishing into the ether, to the decadent luxury of the French court of Louis XIV, where the King wiles away his time ensconced with Madame de Pompador, his maîtresse-en-titre, whose own obsession in the macabre is never far from the surface. The sinister atmosphere allows a fascinating glimpse into this shadowy world and through it all Madeleine and Véronique try to keep one step ahead of a deadly game.

Beautifully written, The Clockwork Girl is this author writing at her absolute best in a story which takes you whirling back to a long ago era where the streets were dark and the Parisian gutters reeked of sewage and bitter despair. 

📖 Best read with...a steadying cup of wine and a hot house orange

Anna Mazzola is an award-winning and critically acclaimed novelist. Her debut novel, THE UNSEEING, won an Edgar Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK. Her second novel, The Story Keeper, was longlisted for the Highland Book Prize.

Twitter @anna_mazz #TheClockworkGirl


Sunday 20 March 2022

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Mollie Walton

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 Mollie Walton to Sunday Brunch

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

Warm croissants, chocolate spread and strawberries

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

Earl Grey with honey for me, please

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

On the sofa!

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

My favourite song right now is I Want You in My Dreams by Edith Whiskers. It’s so chill.

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

Charles Dickens

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Great Expectations and I want to quiz Charlie on its structure!

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 read so much non-fiction stuff for historical research that I barely have any time left to read for pleasure. If I do, it’s graphic novels these days. I recently read My Favourite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris, which was incredible. I waiting for the sequel to come out this year!

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

Oh everywhere! Conversations, something on the radio or TV, a news story, eavesdropping on other people’s gossip!

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

I write much better when the weather is bad outside, so definitely winter. In fact, I love writing most when it’s snowing. If I were rich, I’d have a writing cottage in the Swiss mountains so I could write all my novels there. If only!

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

Never distracted, really. I don’t get paid until I meet the deadline so I have to be extremely disciplined, to pay the bills!

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

Perseverance, self-belief, work ethic and imagination.

What can you tell us about your latest novel?

My latest Mollie Walton is the story of a widow and her five daughters, living in a house on a cliff in North Yorkshire, just as WW2 breaks out. It’s the first in a new series called the Raven Hall Saga. The first book, A Mother’s War is out now.


My latest Rebecca Mascull is set during the Holocaust, following two characters – one in the Blitz in London and another in the Warsaw Ghetto – who are connected but don’t know how yet…It’s called The Seamstress of Warsaw.

Rebecca Mascull is an author of historical novels. She also writes saga fiction under the pen-name of Mollie Walton.

Rebecca’s latest book under the Mascull name is THE SEAMSTRESS OF WARSAW, the powerful tale of two people unknowingly connected to each other, caught up in the whirlwind of World War II, whose perilous journeys we follow from the Blitz to the Warsaw Ghetto and beyond, published by SpellBound.

Mollie Walton’s The Ironbridge Saga series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE (2019). The second book in the trilogy is THE SECRETS OF IRONBRIDGE (2020), set in the brickyards of the 1850s. The third book is set in the coalmines and servants’ quarters of the 1870s: THE ORPHAN OF IRONBRIDGE (2021). All three are published by Bonnier Zaffre. Mollie’s next trilogy is about a widow and her five daughters living in WW2 North Yorkshire, published by Welbeck. The first book of this saga is A MOTHER’S WAR, out now and the next book in the series will be coming in October 2022.

Her first novel as Rebecca Mascull, THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.

She also completed the finishing chapters of her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye’s final work, a novella called MISS MARLEY, a prequel to Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL. This novella is published by HarperCollins.

Rebecca has worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, based at the University of Lincoln.

Rebecca / Mollie, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter: @rebeccamascull

 Facebook page: MollieWaltonbooks & RebeccaMascull

Instagram: beccamascull

Thank you for sharing Sunday Brunch with us today

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Friday 18 March 2022

📖 Feature Friday ~ Breakneck Point by T. Orr Munro


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

14 April 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

A gripping new crime series for fans of Val McDermid, Jane Casey, Cara Hunter and Mare of Easttown

CSI Ally Dymond follows the evidence – wherever it leads.

Her commitment to justice has cost Ally her place on the major investigations team. After exposing corruption in the ranks, she’s stuck working petty crimes on the sleepy North Devon coast.

Only when the body of nineteen-year-old Janie Warren turns up in the seaside town of Bidecombe can Ally put her skills to good use. Yet the evidence she discovers contradicts the lead detective’s theory. And no one wants to listen to the CSI who landed their colleagues in prison.

Time is running out to catch a serial killer no one is looking for – no one except Ally. What she doesn’t know is that he’s watching, from her side of the crime scene tape, waiting for the moment to strike. When he does, Ally will be forced to question the true nature of justice like never before.

The idea of starting a different crime series from the beginning is very appealing especially when it is a new author who is also just starting on this literary crime journey. I read a lot of gritty crime stories set mainly in UK cities so to retreat to the sleepy Devon coast will be a nice change of scene.

So as they this space..

@jaffareadstoo #FeatureFriday #amreading

Breakneck Point is available to pre-order from wherever you buy books.

Twitter @TinaOrrMunro #BreakneckPoint #FollowtheEvidence


Thursday 17 March 2022

📖Publication Day Review ~ The Awakenings by Sarah Maine


Hodder & Stoughton
17 March 2022

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Yorkshire, 1890. Having lost her father and brothers in tragic circumstances, Olwen Malkon is forced to leave her childhood home to live with her uncle's family. In his chill vicarage, however, she fears that she is also losing her mind, as strange dreams take her into the life of Ælfwyn, a woman from a distant past whose fate is overshadowed by menace and betrayal.

In the grip of these afflictions, Olwen finds sympathy with the local doctor, John Osbourne, who is intrigued by her case. Suspecting darker undercurrents are at work, John comes into conflict with Olwen's family, who dismiss her as a hysteric and, when he seeks to protect her, with the law.

As the dreams intensify, danger awaits them both. But when they begin to mirror reality, she and John start to suspect that it is these visions of the past which hold the answers.

📖 My Review..

This dual time story has one foot firmly placed in the Victorian era as we meet Olwen Malkon who has recently come to live with her uncle, aunt and cousins in a vicarage in Yorkshire. Grieving the loss of her own family Olwen is troubled by dark thoughts, which is especially interesting to local doctor, John Osborne, whose interest in the mind, and all its manifestations, is particularly relevant.

Whilst the story captures the restricted atmosphere of the Victorian era with all its prejudices and stifling morality, it also take us further back to the more interesting time of the Anglo-Saxons, and with links which binds Olwen to both her past and her present.

The story gets off to an interesting start, I enjoyed reading about of Olwen's new life at the Vicarage especially as she becomes more and more drawn into her past life as the daughter of a long forgotten Anglo-Saxon King. Both time elements are well done and the thread that binds the two periods in history together has been done in an imaginative way.

I was initially drawn to the story by the book's striking cover and I'm pleased that the timeslip story inside the cover lived up to my expectations.

📖 Best Read with.. a fine beef dinner

Sarah Maine was born in England but grew up partly in Canada before returning to England for university. She studied archaeology and for many years worked in the profession but is now a freelance writer and researcher.

Twitter @SarahMaineBooks #TheAwakenings


Wednesday 16 March 2022

📖 Blog Tour ~ The York King by Amy Licence


Lume Books
3 March 2022

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

1464. Family conflicts, Lancaster against York, the fight for the English throne continues... During the early years of his reign, Edward IV of York battles to bring peace and stability to the country, as Henry Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, raises support in the north, attempting to return the Lancastrian king, Henry VI, to the throne.  

With uprisings imminent, the Earl of Warwick pursues a marriage alliance with France, determined to bring about a friendship between the two countries and suppress support for Lancaster. Unhappy with the match, Edward meets Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of a squire, and marries in a secret ceremony. With verbal agreements broken, friendships damaged and old divisions reappearing, Edward finds himself facing new enemies much closer to home. 

Set during the Wars of the Roses, this is the second volume in the House of York trilogy.

📖 My Review...

If there is one period in history where I would like to go back to be a fly on the wall it would be to spend time at the court of Edward IV. This charismatic young man had all the attributes of a King and was certainly no stranger when it came to facing danger. In this second volume of the House of York trilogy we meet Edward when he is keeping a somewhat tenuous hold on his newly acquired crown. Political maneuverings notwithstanding this is a time of great change. The old Lancastrian order is in decline and even three years into Edward's reign there are still schemers who would prefer to see the red rose of the House of Lancaster prevail again over the white rose of the House of York.

Although I haven't read the first book in the series I was easily able to pick up the story and soon became engrossed in the political, and courtly, shenanigans which makes this such a vibrant time in history. Concentrating on the key moments in Edward IV's early reign we start to build up a picture of just how momentous his time on the throne was and how he sought to bring peace and prosperity to a country which had been bedeviled by war. There were some nice romantic interludes, it was interesting to see Edward's clandestine relationship with Eleanor Butler mentioned and of course his passionate, and sometimes stormy, marriage with Elizabeth Woodville is expertly brought to life..

The York King is a very readable account of the early tumultuous years of Edward IV's reign. Beautifully written, and intricately researched, the steam of battle and the whispers of intrigue bring the history of the age alive in a vibrant and imaginative way. I felt that the story ended in a perfect place to take the story forward in the final book in the trilogy.

📖 Best read with... a cup of freshly brewed ale and the tang of woodsmoke..

About the Author

Amy Licence is an historian of women’s lives in the medieval and early modern period, from queens to commoners. Her particular interest lies in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, in gender relations, queenship and identity, female orthodoxy and fertility and childbirth. She is also interested in modernism, specifically Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, Picasso and Post-Impressionism. She has been a teach for over twenty years. Amy has written for The Guardian, The TLS, The New Statesman, BBC History, The Huffington Post and contributes regularly to BBC History Magazine.

Twitter @PrufrocksPeach #TheYorkKing