Saturday 30 April 2022

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley


On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ... 1707

Simon & Schuster
4 May 2022

Slains #1

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book


An ill-fated expedition for the New World left Sophia Paterson an orphan, cared for by her uncle. On his passing, a distant relative offers what Sophia longs for most: a home. Slains Castle, on the rugged Scottish coast, is much more comfortable than she is accustomed to. But danger is right around the corner, as rebels conspire to bring the exiled James Stewart to Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Present day

Enchanted by the ruins of the castle, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn this all-but-forgotten story into her next novel. Settling in the nearby village, she creates a heroine named after one of her ancestors and starts to write.

Discovering her novel contains more than she researched, Carrie wonders if this is ancestral memory – making her the only living person to know what truly happened all those years ago. With each new chapter she uncovers the secrets of the past in a sweeping tale of love, loyalty and ultimate betrayal.

πŸ“– My Review ..

Reading The Winter Sea again has been a real trip down memory lane for me as I first read this time slip novel back in 2008 when it was first published. I am thrilled to see that it has been reissued with a delightfully evocative cover all ready for a new audience to discover the magic of this talented author's historical fiction.

When best-selling novelist, Carrie McClelland finds that she is lost, in Scotland, on her way to Peterhead, she is inadvertently drawn to the ancient Slains Castle at Cruden Bay. After visiting her friend, and literary agent, Carrie is compelled to return to Cruden Bay where she takes up temporary residence in order to write the novel which is clamouring inside her head. With the pull of history behind her, Carrie finds that the story she sees, and hears, so clearly is that of her ancestor, Sophia Paterson whose involvement at Slains Castle, in 1707, will take her deep into the heart of the first Jacobite conspiracy. 

Weaving the history of the time into a creative time slip novel is what this author does best and The Winter Sea has all the necessary ingredients for both an intriguing historical adventure and a poignant love story. Touching on the complex subject of ancestral memory also gives the book an added sense of mystery which runs like a silken thread throughout the novel.

History, betrayal, intrigue and danger all combine to make The Winter Sea an unforgettable novel and a worthy start to the trilogy. 

*Just a note to say this novel has also been previously published as Sophia's Secret.

🍷Best Read with .. a wee dram of good Scottish whisky

Susanna Kearsley is a New York Times best-selling Canadian novelist of historical fiction and mystery, as well as thrillers under the pen name Emma Cole. In 2014, she received Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Paranormal Romance for The Firebird.

Twitter @SusannaKearsley #TheWinterSea


Friday 29 April 2022

πŸ“– Author in the Spotlight ~ Barbara Scott Emmett


I am delighted to welcome author, Barbara Scott Emmett to our spotlight today

Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Barbara. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.

My first book, THE MAN WITH THE HORN, was published by a small press many years ago. Around the same time, I wrote several short stories which were accepted by magazines, and two of which won prizes. All this encouraged me to keep writing and I now have five novels out plus a book of short stories.

Dog Leap Stairs is your latest book, without giving too much away what can you tell us about the story?

DOG LEAP STAIRS is set in Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1950s and is told from the point of view of Monica Brown, who hangs around the quayside at night. Men are being murdered in that area and Monica falls under suspicion. Her friend Jan’s husband, who is a policeman, is biased against her as he’s never liked her. When she meets Bobby Wilson, a good looking but down to earth lad, she realises she needs to make some changes to her lifestyle. Secrets from her childhood are gradually revealed as she struggles to put her past behind her and ensure her future with Bobby is trouble-free.

Where do you find your inspiration – are you inspired by people, places or do you draw purely from your imagination??

Very often it is a place I’ve visited that inspires me. My last book, DELIRIUM was set in Charleville, France, the home town of the poet Rimbaud, and previous books have been set in Nuremberg in Germany and the Northern Territory of Australia. DOG LEAP STAIRS is set in my home town of Newcastle upon Tyne. I was initially prompted to write DLS after I read IN A LONELY PLACE by Dorothy B Hughes (which I heartily recommend). This is a dark tale set in California and my book is really nothing like it but it did provide the spark that set me going.

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

I tend to simply set off and see where the writing takes me. Usually, I have an opening sentence or paragraph that comes to me out of nowhere and I follow it through, hoping that the inspiration will keep on coming. I sometimes wish I was a plotter – it might make things easier – but until I get to know the characters, I have no idea what they are going to do.

In researching the background to the story did anything leave a lasting impression on you?

I know Newcastle reasonably well because I was brought up there and, after many years away, now live there again. I already had a good grasp of the locations and the way people speak and live. However, DOG LEAP STAIRS is set in the 1950s, so there was certainly some research to be done. It’s been interesting looking at old maps and seeing what changes have been made in the last 60 years. I also enjoyed looking up the music, films, clothes and current affairs of the time. Reminding myself of the way women were treated and expected to behave in the fifties, has also been eye-opening. Things were very different in those pre-feminist days.

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? And do you have a favourite character?

DOG LEAP STAIRS almost seemed to write itself. I wrote it during the first lockdown and it poured out of me. The characters arrived fully formed and showed up exactly when they were needed. It is the easiest piece of writing I’ve ever done – it usually takes me years to write a book but this one was pretty much complete in a few months. Some of the characters aren’t very nice, but they are how they should be and I’m happy with them. My favourite from DLS is a minor character, Al Hughes, who doesn’t feature much in this book but comes into his own in the follow up.

What were the challenges you faced whilst writing Dog Leap Stairs and what keeps you motivated as a writer?

To be honest, I had no real challenges while writing DOG LEAP STAIRS – as I say above, it flowed out of its own accord. I wish it was always like this but the follow up I’m currently working on is not flowing nearly as well. My main challenge with DLS was when I came to send it out to publishers and agents. I was told that because it was a mix of crime and psychological realism it would be unlikely to get published as it didn’t conveniently fit one genre. Being shortlisted for, and getting a special second prize in the Lindisfarne Competition gave me the encouragement I needed to push ahead with it and bring it out independently.

And finally …can you share with us anything about your next writing project?

I’m working on a follow up to DOG LEAP STAIRS, also set in fifties’ Newcastle and featuring some of the same characters. Called PINK LANE, this one is more of a police procedural and centres around a series of murders in the gay community. I have ideas for a third one, also named after a real place in Newcastle, but I’d better finish this one before I commit myself to any more.

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

For limited time 29th and 30th April

Dog Leap Stairs is available for 99p/99c

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

Thursday 28 April 2022

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ Detective Dachshund and the Fluffy Thief by Decima Blake

Nightingale Books
Pegasus Publishing
28 April 2022

My thanks to the publishers and author for my copy of this book

Detective Dachshund of Battersea Police wears a smart blue hat and a matching fleece.

He has boundless energy for fighting crime, but his detective skills, sadly, are far from sublime.

Now, Detective Dachshund one night was told, to catch a fluffy thief who was sneaky and bold.

The thief went by the name of Clawdius Cat... and should our detective trust Reece the Rat?

Wanted posters showed the cat's cheeky face, blowing raspberries from lamp posts all over the place!

Officers had already scoured the city... how could Detective Dachshund find this bad kitty?

πŸ“– My thoughts..

I've just spent a delightful hour in the company of Detective Dachshund as he is given the task of tracking down a decidedly dastardly cat burglar who goes by the wonderful name of Clawdius Cat. The story really comes to life in well written verse with delightful illustrations, all of which give the animals such strength of character, Reece the Rat, in particular, just made me laugh out loud whenever he appeared on the page.

The verse, which flows so well, had me turning the pages, in eager anticipation, to discover if Detective Dachshund would get to the bottom of the mysterious goings on. I also enjoyed the twist in the tale, which made me smile. Given the success, and general appeal of this latest case, I am sure this is not the last we have seen of Detective Dachshund's adventures with the Battersea Police πŸ˜ƒ

I especially enjoyed the expressive nature of the story and whilst the book is aimed at young readers who like an adventurous story, Detective Dachshund and the Fluffy Thief would also appeal to those who enjoy reading bedtime stories to their children.

🍺Best read with...a sleepy child and a cup of milk

In recognition of Detective Dachshund's home turf and all the fantastic work undertaken to care for animals in need, a percentage of royalties will be donated to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

About the Author

Decima Blake, author of the Hingston series, has a long-standing interest in child protection and is deeply passionate about child victims of crime. Hingston: Smoke and Mispers is the second in the series, following Hingston's Box which was published in 2016. Decima combines historical research, accurate police procedure and a touch of spookiness to provide readers with an immersive experience as they join Hingston on his race to solve cases involving missing persons and murder. Decima's first illustrated children's book, Detective Dachshund and the Fluffy Thief, is published on 28 April 2022.

Twitter: @decimablake

Instagram: @detectivedachs


Wednesday 27 April 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Former Boy Wonder by Robert Graham

Lendal Press
An imprint of Valley Press UK
24 February 2022

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

A bittersweet comedy that takes a sidelong look at first love, mid-life crisis and the challenges of the relationship between fathers and sons .

With his 50th birthday approaching and his career in tatters, Peter Duffy is hard at work trying to repair his marriage when an invitation arrives in the post. Caitlin, one of his university friends, is having a party at the country house where he met his first love, the exotic Sanchia Page. If all his old friends are going to be there, there’s a slim chance that – just maybe – she will, too. Faced with this possibility, re-living his time with Sanchia threatens to turn his head and ruin all his good intentions. Set in the new Manchester of the 21st century and the old Manchester of 25 years before, The Former Boy Wonder takes a wry look at mid-life men and the women who have to live with them.

πŸ“– My Review.. 

Peter Duffy is approaching fifty and his half decade is weighing heavily upon him as he reflects on the life he has now, and the imagined life he may have had if only his relationship with his first love, the beautiful Sanchia Page, had gone the way he hoped it would. When an invitation arrives with the possibility of getting together with the old crowd from his uni days, he desperately hopes, and secretly dreads, that Sanchia will be there too.

What then follows is a brisk skip back to the eighties when Peter was a student in Manchester and which incidentally, years late, he still calls home. We meet the uni crowd, understand Peter's fascination for Sanchia, and with considered perception we start to understand the angst which Peter has carried with him ever since he was abandoned as a ten year old in Northern Ireland when his father left him to pursue his own career. 

There is much to enjoy in the story, parts of it made me smile, Peter, for all his melancholy moods is actually quite a likeable guy and I warmed to his story as he traversed Manchester, a city I know well. The flashbacks are done well and blend nicely with Peter's experience as he tries to understand where his life is heading. I felt enormous sympathy for Lucy, Peter's wife, who seems to be the only one keeping things afloat as Peter wallows in nostalgia.

The Former Boy Wonder is a fascinating glimpse into the trials and tribulations of growing older, the unhappiness of living with regret, disappointment at fatherhood and not realising what you have until it's gone.

πŸ“– Best Read with .. a proper cup of builder's tea

Robert Graham is the author of the novel Holy Joe; the short story collections The Only Living Boy and When You Were a Mod, I Was A Rocker; and the novella A Man Walks Into A Kitchen. His play about fans of The Smiths, If You Have Five Seconds To Spare, was staged by Contact Theatre, Manchester. He is co-author, with Keith Baty, of Elvis – The Novel, a spoof biography; and, with Julie Armstrong, Heather Leach, Helen Newall et al, of The Road To Somewhere: A Creative Writing Companion; Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Creative Writing; and How To Write A Short Story (And Think About It). He grew up in Northern Ireland and for most of his adult life has lived in Manchester. He teaches Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University.

For more information please see and follow Robert on Instagram @robert55graham

Twitter @LendalPress #TheFormerBoyWonder


Tuesday 26 April 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Who's Lying Now by Susan Lewis


Harper Collins
14 April 2022

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

You think you’re safe.

You think you know your neighbours.

But can you ever really know who’s telling the truth?

Jeannie Symonds is a force to be reckoned with – an eccentric, award-winning publisher, spending lockdown with her husband in a house near Kesterly-on-Sea. She seems to have it all: a high-flying career, a happy marriage, a niece she adores.

And then one day, she vanishes.

Cara Jakes is a new trainee investigator – young, intelligent and eager to prove herself. When she teams up with detective Andee Lawrence to look into the disappearance, she is determined to find out what has really happened to Jeannie. Cara begins to question the residents of this close-knit community, sure that someone has a secret to hide.

But how can she separate the truth from the lies?

πŸ“– My Review... 

Jeannie Symonds seems to have the perfect life, she's a successful publisher, has a handsome and charismatic husband, and lives in a beautiful property in Kesterly-on-Sea however, as we soon discover, this ideal life is far from perfect. When Jeannie disappears without trace her friends and family are all suspected of knowing far more than they appear.

Trainee investigator Cara Jakes and detective Andee Lawrence have their work cut out as they try to uncoil the interweaving stores which Cara's family and acquaintances seem to have constructed but trying to discover who is guilty of anything is just as baffling as Jeannie's mysterious disappearance. Over the course of this tightly knit story we travel back to the time before Jeannie's disappearance and then forward to the days after she's goes missing.  We get several perspectives from a group of unreliable narrators who all seem to have something to hide.

As always this talented author gets right into the heart of a small community. Kesterley-on-Sea is the type of town where everyone seems to know everyone else's business and yet when confronted no-one seems to be accountable for their actions. The undercurrent layer of mystery which runs throughout the story gradually builds up the tension, which is made all the more poignant for being set during the lockdown periods of the COVID-19 pandemic when people became more distrustful of those around them

Who's Lying Now is an intricate study into human nature - the suspicious, the ambiguous, the sensitive and the arrogant, all combine in a calculated mystery which kept me guessing from start to finish. 

🍡Best read with... strong coffee and sugary doughnuts

About the Author

Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including I Have Something To Tell You, One Minute Later, My Lies, Your Lies and Forgive Me. Susan’s novels have sold over three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s.

Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dog, Mimi.

Twitter @susanlewisbooks #WhosLyingNow



Monday 25 April 2022

πŸ“– Book review ~ Six Days by Dani Atkins

14 April 2022

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Two people. One love story. Six days.

He loves me... He loves me not... He loves me...

Gemma knows that she and Finn are destined to be together. They are soulmates. But then, on their wedding day, he never arrives at the church.

Gemma is convinced Finn wouldn't abandon her like this, even though he has disappeared once before. But back then he had a reason. She feels sure something terrible has happened, but no one else is convinced. Even the police aren't concerned, telling Gemma most people who disappear usually turn up in a week... assuming they want to be found, that is.

For the next six days Gemma frantically searches for Finn, even though every shocking revelation is telling her to give up on him. Before long, even she begins to doubt her own memories of their love.

πŸ“– My Review...

Gemma should have been marrying her soul mate but when Finn doesn't show up at the church on the day of their wedding, Gemma is left heartbroken but determined to find out why her fiancΓ© has disappeared. Gemma is convinced that Finn wouldn't just abandon her but as time goes on it seems she is the only one who thinks this. Over the course of the eponymous six days we get to follow Gemma as she attempts to unravel the mess that Finn has left behind.

The story moves gently between the past and present as we get to learn more about Finn and Gemma as people, discovering how they initially came together and then gradually over time we start to see their complex relationship develop. The enemies to lovers angle of the story works well with both characters imprinting their personalities on the page.

Overall I enjoyed reading Six Days, the author writes about relationships with a fine eye for detail. I enjoyed putting together all the jigsaw pieces of the puzzle which is as complicated as Finn and Gemma's relationship. Emotional, and heartbreaking in places, Six Days is one of those lovely stories which stays with after you close the last page.

🍡Best Read and cup cakes

 About the Author

Dani Atkins is an award-winning novelist. Her 2013 debut FRACTURED (published as THEN AND ALWAYS in North America) has been translated into sixteen languages and has sold more than half a million copies since first publication in the UK.

Dani is the author of five other bestselling novels (THE STORY OF US, OUR SONG, THIS LOVE, WHILE I WAS SLEEPING and A MILLION A DREAMS) and PERFECT STRANGERS, a standalone eBook novella. In 2018, THIS LOVE won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award at the RNA awards in London.

Dani lives in a small village in Hertfordshire with her husband, one Siamese cat and a very soppy Border Collie.

Twitter @AtkinsDani #SixDays


Sunday 24 April 2022

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Elaine Roberts

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 Elaine Roberts to Sunday Brunch 

Thank you for inviting me to your Sunday brunch. For someone who doesn’t really enjoy breakfast brunch is a brilliant time, and it’s an opportunity for a good natter.

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

One of my favourite foods, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and I might bring an avocado as well. Sometimes I have a slice of toast or a muffin with it, but not today. I’m trying to be good so it’s better the temptation isn’t there. I’m attempting to get ready for the summer dresses.

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

Normally it would be a strong, but not stewed, cup of tea but today I think we’ll celebrate with a Bucks Fizz. That will surprise my friends because I very rarely drink alcohol, unless it’s a Pimms of course. I do like a drink that comes with a snack.

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

The kitchen table will be great, thank you. I like the homely feel of it and we don’t have to interrupt our chatting for any top ups. I’m not one for eating outside; I don’t like having to fight with nature for my food.

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

I’m not really into background music, I don’t object to it. I’m probably more into music I can sing along to, which is why I can’t have music on when I’m working. I find it quite emotive so I either start singing or crying, of course if it’s Bohemian Rhapsody then you can also add a bit of air guitar as well.

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

I would like to invite C. S. Lewis, not because he is my literary hero but because as a child I read The Chronicles of Narnia so many times. I still love the stories and never realised the theological links to them, so I would love to discuss that with him. I’m sure that would be a fascinating conversation to have.

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Gosh, this is a difficult question. I have so many favourite authors, in different genres. I thoroughly enjoyed and would like to bring The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson, there was something about it that touched me. Being a hopeless romantic P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Aherne, is crying out to be invited, I cried buckets when I read that book. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult is another one. I could just go on and on, haha can I bring more than one because I haven’t even mentioned any saga authors that I love to read. All of the books I have mentioned have been made into films or a television series, and while they have been enjoyable, they were nowhere near as good as the books.


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!

Reading has been a passion of mine since I was a child; in fact I preferred to stay in with a good book than go out to play. I find now that between writing and my large extended family I don’t have as much time to read as I once did. My e-reader and bookshelves are full of books I’ve bought and yet to read so to name one would be impossible.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

Some of my ideas come from my research. I’ll see a photograph, hear a podcast, or read an article and I just think I’ve got to write about that. One of those was The Foyles Bookshop Girls at War. When I was listening to a podcast from some of the Canary girls who worked in the munitions factory in the First World War it moved me so much I knew it had to be written about. Having said that, like most writers I’m a people watcher and you would be amazed what stories I make up in my head.

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

I used to have an office in my home, which I shared with my late husband. Since he unexpectedly passed away I can’t bring myself to use it, so I now work in my front room with my laptop on my lap and my feet up. I’m not a winter person so I definitely prefer to work in the summer with the longer bright evenings.

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

I definitely need a deadline; I work so much better under pressure. If procrastination was an Olympic sport I would definitely be a gold medal holder. To keep my focus I give myself a good talking to and remind myself of my deadline. I also try to stay off social media and the Internet because that can just swallow my time so easily.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

Be open-minded – I look on this as serving an apprenticeship. There’s a thought that because we learn to write at school everyone can write a book, and they can, but it’s about learning your craft.

Patience – the time from idea to a finished and fully edited novel can be months, depending on the genre and the length of the book.

Determination – do not to allow rejections/criticism put you off. Your novel will never be everyone’s cup of tea.

Write because you love it – not many authors are in J.K. Rowling’s income bracket and your love for the subject shines through.

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

Secret Hopes for the West End Girls is my sixth World War One family saga published by Aria, Head of Zeus and is out the 28th April 2022. It is a standalone novel but is the third book in the West End Girls series, and is available for pre-order.


Secret Hopes for the West End Girls

1915, London. World War I has been raging for over a year, but despite it all Rose Spencer is feeling hopeful about the future. She's in love and planning her wedding to lovely, bicycle-shop owner Charlie.

She loves working as a seamstress at the glamorous London's Lyceum Theatre but secretly can't help fantasising about seeing her own designs come to life. And even when she won't believe in her talent, thankfully best friends Joyce and Annie are always around to push her to have faith in her dreams.

But when a German bomb is dropped on The Strand and the city falls to chaos, her life is turned upside down – is hope for a better future lost for good? And if one dream ends, can she find the strength to fight for a different one?

When the war destroys everything, can you still keep hope alive?

More about Elaine

Elaine Roberts is writing her sixth World War One saga. The Foyles Bookshop Girls and The West End Girls are series based in London. She also has short stories published worldwide. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Women Writers & Journalists. Elaine and her late husband, Dave, have a home in Kent. Without her wonderful family and supportive friends, she knows the dream would never have been realised.

Elaine where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter: @RobertsElaine11

Thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo.

Thank you for inviting me, it’s been absolutely lovely chatting and eating our brunch together.

Follow us on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchWithJaffareadstoo

Saturday 23 April 2022

πŸ“– Book review ~ A Scottish Highland Surprise by Julie Shackman

One More Chapter
20 April 2022

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

When wedding planner Sophie Harkness refuses to move a friend’s wedding to accommodate a spoilt bridezilla, she finds herself out of a job. That is until she discovers her late grandma has purchased a local shop for her in the pretty Scottish town of Briar Glen.

Surprised and delighted, Sophie opens her own porcelain shop in honour of her grandmother. But when an unusual tea set is left with Sophie, along with a mysterious letter, she can’t help but be intrigued by the story behind the antique.

And when the handsome but aloof art critic Xander North comes knocking on her door, Sophie is about to find out the true colourful past of her latest treasure.

πŸ“– My Review...

When Sophie Harkness resigns from her role as wedding planner at the prestigious Castle Marrion she follows her heart and opens a crockery shop in the small Scottish town of Briar Glen. Sophie's love of fine porcelain comes from her maternal grandmother who also had a love for teapots, cups and saucers, so when an unusual antique tea set is left at Sophie's shop, it sparks an interest in the past and the need to get to the heart of a mystery.

I enjoyed this feel-good story, I mean what's not to like about a story filled with beautiful items of crockery and with an enigmatic arts expert who makes Sophie's heart flutter, Xander North definitely adds that element of will, they won't they to the story. I liked how the author brought the strands of the past into the main body of the story especially learning more about Sophie's grandmother and of the sad secrets of the antique tea set which added a nice touch of both history and mystery.

A Scottish Highland Surprise is a gentle story which has all the right elements to entertain and brighten up a dull afternoon.

🍡Best read with...tea from a porcelain cup and saucer.  

About the Author

Julie Shackman trained as a journalist and studied Media & Communication before turning her hand to women's fiction. She lives in Scotland with her husband and two teenage sons.

Twitter @G13Julie


Friday 22 April 2022

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Lawn Darts and Lemonade by Steven Manchester


Luna Bella Press
March 2022
My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

It’s the summer of 1984, a season of dodging lawn darts and chugging lemonade—or at least the discolored tap water Ma tried to disguise as lemonade.

Growing up is never easy, no matter what era you do it in. For generations, teenagers have suffered peer pressure, bullying, fear of rejection, and a sadistic obstacle course of one unexpected challenge after the next. Three brothers, Wally, Herbie, and Cockroach, learn that the past can be filled with questions—even shame and regret—while the future might be shrouded in worry and fear. But staying in the moment, now that’s where the sweet spot is...

πŸ“– My Review...

Lawn Darts and Lemonade is a nostalgic look back at the summer of 1984 with brothers, Wally, Herbie and Alphonse, aka Cockroach, as they spend their time doing what all boys do best, namely, getting up to mischief, and worrying their parents.  

Whilst this is a sequel to Bread Bags And Bullies: Surviving The '80s you don't have to have read this in order to understand the premise of the story as the author does a great job of bringing time, place and people alive. I think most of us of a 'certain age' can remember what it was like to grow up and experience all the emotional pangs of first jobs, first dates, young love, sibling rivalry and family traumas. Lawn Darts and Lemonade brings this emotion into sharp focus with all the trademarks of this author's unique ability to get into the minutiae of family life with all the poignancy, love and laughter  that brings. Whilst many of the 80's references made me smile and nod my head in agreement, being in the UK, there were some references I had never heard of and I had great fun looking up the meaning of quahogs and Country Time Lemonade.

Regardless of which era you spent your growing up years, for me it was the 1970's, I do think that this story will resonate. It's a lovely heartwarming account of family life with all its ups, downs, happiness and sadness, and shows how precious it was to spend time with those we loved, especially when they are longer with us, except in our hearts.

πŸ“– Best Read with... cups of ma's 'delicious' lemonade 😊

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island; the national bestsellers, Ashes, The Changing Season and Three Shoe boxes; the multi award-winning novel, Goodnight Brian; and the beloved holiday podcast drama, The Thursday Night Club. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show and BET’s Nightly News.

Twitter @authorSteveM

Thursday 21 April 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

14 April 2022

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

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her. So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace? Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is - or even whether she is still alive. A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her. 

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence - and with the trauma that shattered her life. 

For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past - secrets that have been hidden for years? Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever ... 

The Shadow Child is a book of hope and reconciliation, of coming to terms with trauma and learning to love again. Most of all, it’s about how you can never quite escape from the shadows of your past - especially when one of those shadows is a child.

πŸ“– My Review ...

When eighteen year old Emma leaves her comfortable home, her parents, Cath and Jim, struggle to come to terms with her disappearance. A year on after her disappearance and with no clue as to whether Emma is still alive, both Cath and Jim are struggling to cope, retreating into themselves where the hurt lingers and festers in the shadows. When Nick and Lara take over as tenants of their rented property Cath is inexorably drawn toward Lara and starts to become her confidante much to the detriment of Lara's relationship with Nick.

This is an interesting look at the effects of devastating loss and the associated trauma of guilt issues which have been unresolved for far too long. We start to see cracks appearing in both these marriages but none more poignant than that between Cath and Jim who have had more than their fair share of anguish over the years. The story moves slowly, which I think is quite deliberate, as it allows the setting of the story to appear quite intimate and gives an insight into the minutiae of life with both couples. The added mystery of what has happened to Emma runs like a thread throughout the novel and I enjoyed wondering how all this would eventually play out.

The Shadow Child is a sensitive portray of love, loss and those sad secrets which have been hidden away in the shadows for far to long.

πŸ“– Best read with ...a comforting cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit

About the Author

RACHEL HANCOX read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel has five children, three dogs and a cat. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

Twitter #RachelHancox #The ShadowChild





Tuesday 19 April 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Girls by Bella Osborne

14 April 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book
and the invitation to take part in the blog tour

Four old friends. Thrown back together after forty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?

In the 1970s, The Girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara the famous diva actor, Val the uptight solicitor, Jackie the wild child and Pauline the quirky introvert. Now they're in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.

As the women confront their demons they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control can they save their friendships and each other.

πŸ“– My Review...

Once housemates in the 1970s, and after an absence of fifty years, four old friends get together to celebrate the 80th birthday of Zara, the one who made it as an actress and who is now fabulously wealthy. That the others haven't been quite so successful is obvious from the start as we are introduced to Jackie who is eking out a living as a carer in a care home, Val, the sensible one, who is struggling with loneliness and then there's Pauline, the sad one, who has secrets in her past which constantly overshadow her present. Now in her advancing years Zara is a becoming a little more fragile so when she puts forward the idea of living together to her friends it opens up a dialogue between them which will have great impact on how they go forward as a group.

The story focuses on friendship, loyalty, love and trust and does so in a lively account as this indomitable group eventually find their raison d'Γͺtre. Although it may look like a frivolous account of five old friends living the high life, after all there is quite a bit of champagne consumed,  it also takes a look at the intricacies of growing older. The author brings each of these very different women to life in a considerate and compassionate way and whilst there are some moments of fun, particularly with Toby, the outspoken, parrot, there are also poignant moments which test their friendship to the limit. I don't want to say too much as that would give away the whole premise of the story which would be a great disservice to both book, and author.

The Girls is a lovely entertaining read which captured my imagination from start, to finish.

🍷Best read with... A glass, or two, of champagne

About the Author

Bella Osborne has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. In 2016, her debut novel, It Started At Sunset Cottage, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award. Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays. She lives in the Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

Twitter @osborne_bella #TheGirls

Facebook @BellaOsborneAuthor


Sunday 17 April 2022