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


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?



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.


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


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 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


Thursday, 19 May 2022

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

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



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.


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

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...


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


Tuesday, 17 May 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Elizabeth of York : The Last White Rose by Alison Weir

12 May 2022

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

Mother. Survivor.Queen.

An English Princess, born into a war between two families. Eldest daughter of the royal House of York, Elizabeth dreams of a crown to call her own. But when her beloved father, King Edward, dies suddenly, her destiny is rewritten. Her family's enemies close in. Two young princes are murdered in the Tower. Then her uncle seizes power - and vows to make Elizabeth his queen. But another claimant seeks the throne, the upstart son of the rival royal House of Lancaster. Marriage to this Henry Tudor would unite the white rose of York and the red of Lancaster - and change everything. A great new age awaits. Now Elizabeth must choose her allies - and husband - wisely, and fight for her right to rule.

πŸ“– My Review ...

A few years ago I read Alison Weir's excellent biography of Elizabeth of York which put the early years of the Tudor dynasty into political perspective and this fictional account of Elizabeth fleshes out those moments of her life which we can only imagine. As the eldest child of Edward IV, Elizabeth was always aware of her place in royal life but her turbulent early years were often filled with uncertainty as her father fought and re-fought to claim the English crown. This instability continued after her father's untimely death and later when Richard III's defeat at the Battle of Bosworth resulted in Elizabeth's expedient marriage to Henry VII, a marriage which did so much to unite the warring factions of the War of the Roses.

First and foremost the story is fiction but the author's in-depth knowledge of the Tudor age helps to lend credence to the story, particularly in the warm and loving relationship between Elizabeth and Henry. Beautifully written and meticulously researched as all of this author's writing, I found much to enjoy in this comprehensive account of Elizabeth of York's short life. Her tenacity and determination shine through, personality traits which I think she passed on to her granddaughter, and namesake, Elizabeth I.

Politics, passion and intrigue all combine to paint a dramatic picture of the tentative early years of the Tudor dynasty and thanks to the joy of good historical fiction we can spend intimate time with Elizabeth  and be a fly on the wall at some of the most momentous events in early Tudor history.

🍷Best Read with... cups of good strong wine

Alison Weir is the bestselling female historian in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 3 million books worldwide. She has published twenty history books. Alison is also the author of twelve historical novels, including the highly acclaimed Six Tudor Queens series all of which were Sunday Times bestsellers. Alison is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an honorary life patron of Historic Royal Palaces.

Twitter @alisonweirbooks

#RedRoseWhiteRose #TudorRoseTrilogy



Monday, 16 May 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Hidden Child by Louise Fein


Head of Zeus

My thanks to the publisher for the invitation to this blog tour

Londoners Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have wealth, status, and a happy marriage—but the 1929 financial crash is looming, and they’re harboring a terrible, shameful secret. How far are they willing to go to protect their charmed life—even if it means abandoning their child to a horrific fate?

Eleanor Hamilton is happily married and mother to a beautiful four-year-old girl, Mabel. Her wealthy husband, Edward, a celebrated war hero, is a leading light in the burgeoning Eugenics movement—the very ideas that will soon be embraced by Hitler—and is increasingly important in designing education policy for Great Britain.

But when Edward and Eleanor’s otherwise perfectly healthy daughter develops debilitating epileptic seizures, their world fractures. Mabel’s shameful illness must be hidden or Edward’s life’s work will be in jeopardy and the family’s honor will be shattered.

When Eleanor discovers Edward has been keeping secrets, she calls into question everything she believed about genetic inferiority, and her previous unshakeable faith in her husband disintegrates. Alarmed, distressed, and no longer able to bear the family’s burden, she takes matters into her own hands.

On Today's Blog Tour Stop I am delighted to have an exclusive guest post from the author

Here are Louise's writing tips

It is very easy when writing a first draft to feel what you are putting on the page is never in a million years going to match up to the books you read, admire, and aspire to write. Try to remember that all those beautiful books were once rough first drafts that possibly bore little resemblance to the finished product. Every book goes through multiple drafts, and has input from many people, from beta-readers to agents and editors. It really does take a small village to produce a book!

Related to that, I would also say, don’t try to fix everything in the first draft, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes and experiment. Subsequent drafts are for layering, improving, adding and deleting. Even if you are a planner, when writing the book it is fine to go ‘off plan’. Sometimes this can lead to great things! When writing The Hidden Child, I never planned to include epilepsy itself as a character. One day I just had the feeling this could work, and I decided to write a section as ‘him’. That character has indeed remained a part of the book. Sometimes it doesn’t work. I tried originally to write from a very young child’s point of view but getting into the head of a four-year-old simply wasn’t working, and all that ended up being scrapped. Never be afraid to throw words away – cutting things out can improve the book as much, if not more so, than adding to it.

I would also advise not being in too much of a hurry. I think this is a mistake many new writers make, including me! I finished the first draft of my debut novel, which truthfully took several years to write, and was so keen to send it off to agents that I did so much too early. Of course, rejections followed. It took another two years of getting a professional editor’s report, an extensive rewrite and several more edits before I sent it out again. Only then was I successful in obtaining my agent. Never be afraid to get other opinions on your work before trying to submit it. If you can afford a professional editor to look at it that is one option, but not a necessity. An avid reading friend or two who you trust to be entirely honest is also just as valuable. Be prepared to listen to advice or thoughts about your work. It can always be improved, but not every opinion from others may be correct. You should trust your own judgement as to whether you think they have a point or not.

Finally, do remember to be proud of all your achievements along the way, however small and insignificant they may seem. Our brains are programmed to keep moving the goalposts and what once would have seemed an impossible dream can, once it’s been achieved, feel suddenly like not an achievement at all.

Remind yourself of where you were, and where you are now, and be sure to celebrate all the steps in between.

Louise writes twentieth century historical fiction, based around unheard voices, or from unusual perspectives.Louise lives in Surrey with her husband, children, two naughty cats and small dog Bonnie, who is the best writing companion she could ask for. Always at her side when she writes and listens most patiently when Louise needs to talk through a tricky plot problem. She is currently working on her third novel.

Twitter @FeinLouise #TheHiddenChild



Sunday, 15 May 2022

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Janet Dean Knight

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 Janet Dean Knight to Sunday Brunch 

Janet, welcome to Jaffareadstoo,what favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

A lovely piece of smoked haddock cooked in milk, topped off with a poached egg.

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

Let’s celebrate, I’ll go with the fizz! (Might even miss out the orange juice…)

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

Weather permitting the patio please, preferably in May or June.

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

For brunch I’d be happy to have something lively like jazz or soul music – Otis Redding’s Happy Song would be perfect to set the mood.

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

I have a long list – is there a nice big table?

Early influences I would love to have met include Lynne Reid Banks (The L-Shaped Room) JD Salinger, (The Catcher In The Rye, still a favourite, I know it’s a marmite choice), Chaim Potok (The Chosen), James Baldwin (Giovanni’s Room) and Doris Lessing (The Golden Notebook). Also Isaac Bashevis Singer (The Slave), Carol Shields (Larry’s Party) and Angela Carter (Nights at the Circus).

Living writers I would love to meet and chat over brunch include Kate Atkinson, Anne Tyler, Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood, Patrick Gale, Sebastian Barry, Bernardine Evaristo, Donna Tartt and Maggie O’Farrell.

As I said, big table!

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Probably Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – I read it last year and it’s still haunting me. I don’t normally go in for any kind of magic realism, but she creates a world which is fascinating and although confusing, entirely readable. And there’s an amazing twist at the end!


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 do find it hard to read a lot when I’m in writing mode – I want to keep my writing voices in my head and not crowd them out with others. So I read in spurts and hopefully that feeds into my writing.

I’ve got a pile in my study and pile by my bed which includes Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy, How To Be Both by Ali Smith and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. At the moment I’m reading The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry and Lowside of the Road a biography of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskyns.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

My published debut novel The Peacemaker was based on family history research and stories from my mother about her parents and her own life – it covers the first and second world wars and is about a young woman whose life follows her mother’s – both are overshadowed by war or the prospect of war.

My second novel Does She Love Us? is looking for a publisher. It is set in 1963 and draws on my own early memories and observations of my mother and her friends. The story is about women who struggle to find their independence in that period and is driven by my interest in social history.

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 study which also doubles as a formal dining room a couple of times a year. If I’m stuck or really need to focus, I go to a library to write, or actually go away for a week or more, in a holiday let or to stay at a friend’s if they are on holiday. I haven’t noticed much difference between summer or winter, it depends whether I am in a writing ‘groove’ or not.

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

Deadlines are great for me, they help me focus and I don’t get distracted. It’s writing not to a deadline that allows me to leave work and fiddle about with other things. If I’m stuck on my novel I’ll write poetry. If I’m stuck on poetry I’ll be on Twitter, probably.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

A place to write – preferably A Room of One’s Own in the Virginia Woolf mode, but if not a space and some quiet if you need it.

Good writing tools – a decent desktop (not expensive, but easy to use), a laptop or tablet for working on the go, nice notebooks (my current favourites are called Conceptum by Sigel which are like Moleskines but I like the paper more and the pages are numbered. I write on squared paper with a flowing ballpoint.

Financial stability – I found it hard to write when I was younger because I didn’t believe I could earn a living from it, so I had a different career, and had to wait until I had financial security before spending the time I needed on writing. Some people are able to fit writing around full time work and/or families, but I couldn’t. Most people earn very little from writing and do other jobs, it can be tough.

Support – For me this covers feedback about my writing from readers, other writers, mentors, family and also the support of other writers in the process of writing. I belong to writing groups and have writing ‘buddies’ who help to improve my writing and help with things like marketing.

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

My current work in progress (I’m doing final edits at the moment) is The Man In The Street Has No Shoes. It’s about a woman who passes a homeless man in the street and recognises him as the man she almost married forty years before. It’s set in the present day and the 1980s and is influenced by work I did in the housing sector. I hope it will be a good book group read, it’s an emotional drama, but explores lots of social issues.

Janet, here can we follow you on social media?

• Twitter: @jdeanknight

• Facebook page: Janet Dean Knight | Facebook

• Instagram: jdeanknight

• Blog/web url:

Thank you for sharing Sunday Brunch with us today

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Saturday, 14 May 2022

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday~ Treason by Michael E. Wills


On Hist Fic Saturday

 Let's go back to ...1940

Nielson UK
30 April 2022
Cliff Top Farm #1

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

A thrilling story of children in wartime

In the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of children were evacuated from British cities and sent to areas of the country where it was regarded that they would be safer from bombing.

This Government operation was named "Pied Piper". The first evacuations were in 1939 and the second wave in 1940, at the time of the Blitz.

Children went to stay with complete strangers, who had been deemed by the authorities to have spare space in their homes. The hosts were obliged to take the children. Many were unenthusiastic about having a young guest staying with them for an unspecified length of time and there were incidences of unkindness and even cruelty.

"Treason" is a story about two such city children. Judith is a twelve-year-old girl from London, an only child from a very privileged background. She finds herself billeted in a farm on the Isle of Wight. The farm is run by Mrs Orton, a widow, who lives with her twelve-year-old son, Jimmy, and her handicapped brother-in-law. They are joined by another evacuee guest, Alfie, an eleven-year-old boy from a working class family in Portsmouth.

The story tells how their lives change and how the guests adapt to a very different way of life. Like all children they enjoy adventure, but the one on which they embark gets them involved in a danger to their lives and leads them to TREASON!

πŸ“–My review..

Aimed primarily at the younger end of the young adult market this historical fiction story is especially interesting as it focuses on both the excitement, and emotion, of those children who were evacuated to the countryside during Operation Pied Piper, which, at the start of the Second World War, saw hundreds of thousands of children taken to places of safety.
Judith Neville is twelve years old and Alfie Field is eleven when they are taken from their families and relocated to the Isle of Wight. Judith's privileged background in a wealthy London suburb couldn't be more different from Alfie who has been brought up in a working class household in Portsmouth and yet neither of their upbringings have prepared the children for life on Cliff Top Farm where they are cared for by kind hearted Vera Orton and her eleven year old son, Jimmy. 

The story is really interesting and has more than enough adventure to satisfy the confident reader and yet it is also a story which could be read by an interested adult, I certainly enjoyed reading of Judith, Alfie and Jimmy's adventures. The story has a sympathetic edge which allows a glimpse into the emotional wrench of leaving behind their homes and the difficulties in learning to adapt to new and very different surroundings. The little snippets of historical fact which are highlighted at various points in the story help to put the whole thing into context.

The dramatic ending certainly lends itself to a continuation of this Cliff Top Farm series with the next adventure "Treachery" to they say, watch this space.

🍡 Best read with...a glass of warm milk and a slice of Vera's apple pie.

Michael Wills was born in Newport on the Isle of Wight and attended the Priory Boys School and Carisbrooke Grammar. He trained as a teacher at St Peter’s College, Birmingham, before working at a secondary school in Kent.

Twitter @MWillsofSarum