Sunday 31 July 2022

☀ Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Sarah Mallory

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic

Summertime is here

 I'm delighted to welcome  Sarah Mallory to our Summer Picnic 

Welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, Sarah. Which favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

Succulent cold salmon accompanied by peppery salad leaves and potato salad. I am sure the weather will be hot so we will only need a light meal, but I will bring some fresh crusty bread, too. For dessert, something light; fresh berries, perhaps, with little pots of zingy lemon posset. A good friend prepared just such a picnic recently and the food tasted heavenly on a balmy summer’s evening.

What would you like to drink? We have white wine spritzers, locally brewed beer, traditional Pimms, sparkling elderflower cordial or a thermos of tea or coffee?

Bubbles! There has to be a glass of bubbles to start off, and yes, elderflower cordial served with sparkling water is a great way to quench the thirst. With the recent hot weather, I like to have plain water in the cool bag, too. And at the end of the meal, if it’s in the evening and the air is growing cooler, a cup of coffee would be lovely, perhaps with some buttery shortbread. Delicious!

Where shall we sit, by the pool, on a beach, in the garden or in the countryside?

I love picnics anywhere and would be very happy for you to choose. When the children were young the beach was favourite, although the sand always gets into the food, no matter how hard one tries to keep it out! Garden picnics are great, because you don’t have far to go if you forget something, whereas taking a picnic into the country is always a bit of an adventure, isn’t it? You never know quite where you will end up - at least, that is my experience. I like to “keep moving on” until I find the perfect spot, which can involve driving for miles! And then there’s the pool… you see, I really cannot decide!

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

I love the idea of a wicker hamper and everything elegant, but I can never get everything to fit in! In real life I find a cool box and bags are much more practical. I try not to use carrier bags but hey, if one of my heroes carried me off for an impromptu picnic and we stopped at a supermarket to buy the food I wouldn’t complain. In fact, some of the best picnics happen that way – totally spontaneous.

Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today?

Someone lively and entertaining: Lord Peter Wimsey, perhaps. He is urbane, witty and knowledgable – I think he would be great company.

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

A short walk from my home there is a promontory that looks out towards the Isle of Skye. Sometimes we are even lucky enough to see otters playing at the water’s edge there. When the weather is right (and being the Highlands of Scotland, you have to pick your moments), it is a lovely place to picnic, or even to sit and watch the sun setting, maybe with a wee dram. 

Carr Point
Author's photograph

Do you have a summer music playlist? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

When I am with friends, I like something quiet and instrumental in the background, especially piano music or maybe a solo guitar. That way it doesn’t intrude in the conversation. Music that makes me feel happy? That varies, it can be anything from Disney musicals to folk ballads!

Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

You mean we will stop talking long enough to read??? I am currently re-reading Lesly Cookman’s “Murder at the Laurels.” I love Steeple Martin, the village community she has created in deepest Kent for her cosy crime novels. Perfect summer reading.

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 try to find time to read for pleasure, although it’s not always possible when I am deep in a book. However, I avoid historicals when I am writing because I always worry the author’s voice rather than my own will creep into my own work. I tend to read crime or non-fiction. There are dozens of books I would like to read, the list just gets longer, but top of the pile at present is Christina Courtenay’s Whispers of the Runes, a dual-time Viking romance.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

It can come from anywhere. The honey-coloured houses of Georgian Bath and the mills of the Yorkshire valleys have both inspired stories for me, as well as the rolling hills of the West Country where I grew up. It was driving through the Highlands of Scotland that inspired The Lairds of Ardvarrick trilogy, set in the 18th century when times were hard and dangerous for everyone. An old house, a sudden breath-taking view or even conversation with a stranger can set up a “what if?” moment, and from that I begin to weave a story. That is always a magical moment.

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

I write best in my office with the door shut. It is the one room in the house that doesn’t have a view of the sea, and that was a deliberate choice! I am so easily distracted. Summer or winter doesn’t matter, really. In summer one can be lured away from the desk by a sunny day but the long dark nights in the north of Scotland mean roaring log fires, which are equally appealing to me – I just love to curl and watch the flames.

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

It’s difficult, I admit. I set myself a target of a certain number of words to write each day, but that won’t work when I am researching. I have a timer on my desk I can set for the number of hours I should be working and that helps to focus the mind. It doesn’t always happen, of course. Life has a way of interfering in the best laid plans, but it does help to keep me on track.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

A good computer. It can be a laptop or desktop, but these days an author needs to present a professional image, so a typed manuscript is essential. The internet is where most publishing business is conducted these days, so you do need to know a little about that, too. Somewhere to work. It doesn’t have to be an office or desk, although that is where I work best. Some authors I know work from their laptop while sitting on the sofa! It needs to be somewhere you can be comfortable and quiet – so preferably not where people are constantly walking past you. Determination. Books do not write themselves. The initial spark may set you off but then you have to keep going, even when you think what you are writing is rubbish (and most authors get to that point at some stage of their writing). Belief in yourself. Writing is a tough business, there is now more competition than ever before and it is easy to be downhearted. Stay focussed, stay professional.

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

My latest novel is The Laird’s Runaway Wife, the last of the Lairds of Ardvarrick trilogy, but I am now getting excited about my Christmas-set Regency that it will be published at the end of October. The Duke’s Family for Christmas is about a young man forced to give up his first love and years later discovers he has a son. It’s a heart-warming romance about bringing a family together and I hope it will give readers that lovely, festive feeling.

Grant and Maddie’s marriage had been full of joy, but tragedy has struck and Maddie runs away. When Grant discovers she has joined her father, a dangerous Jacobite sympathizer, he follows her to London, vowing to do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

More about Sarah

Sarah Mallory is an award-winning author of over 50 published books, including more than 30 historical romances for Harlequin/Mills & Boon, and she also writes sparkling adventure romances as Melinda Hammond.

Originally from the West Country, Sarah lived for many years high on the Yorkshire Pennines, but in 2018 she ran away to the Scottish Highlands and now lives by the sea, enjoying a whole new adventure.

Sarah, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter - @SarahMRomance

Facebook page - Melinda SarahMallory Hammond

Instagram - sarahmallory21

Thank you for sharing your summer picnic with us today.

Follow us on Twitter @Jaffareadstoo #SummerPicnicwithJaffareadstoo

Saturday 30 July 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low


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

As a flight to St Lucia leaves the runway, four passengers meet for the first time.

After escaping her controlling husband, Bernadette Manson is taking the first extravagant holiday of her new life. But when her best friend cancels, will she be strong enough to fly solo?

Tadgh Donovan is about to jet off to his destination wedding when he sees a shocking text. Has his bride-to-be written her wedding vows… or already broken them?

Hayley Ford is the wife of a top fertility specialist yet her battle to get pregnant has almost broken her marriage. Can a trip to the sun heal their relationship or should she brace for a crash landing?

Dev Robbins is crossing oceans to track down the woman he fell in love with at first sight. Will it be a one way trip to happy ever after or a return journey to singledom?

πŸ“– My Review..

Firstly, I was drawn to the story by the pretty book cover however, I have really enjoyed getting to know the four main characters who are inadvertently brought together when they are seated next to each other on a long haul flight from London to St. Lucia. Bernadette, Dev, Hayley and Tadgh are all visiting the Caribbean for their own very personal reasons and over the course of the flight we get to be privy to some of their innermost thoughts and feelings. The foursome are all very different and yet they each find something that resonates and which, over the space of a nine hour flight, brings them all together in a special way.

Whilst the story is light, with some genuine laugh out loud moments, it does cover some difficult subjects but this doesn't detract from the general appeal of the story. I enjoyed how each individual chapter gave the characters their own moment in the spotlight and even though some of the peripheral characters who flit into the story are not very likeable their inclusion into the story is important and works well. Every long haul flight needs Stefan, the attentive steward, his liberal generosity with mini bottles of prosecco and pretzels made me smile.

Beautifully written and wonderfully descriptive, The Last Day of Summer is a really lovely holiday read. Perfect for your own long haul flight, or even a sunny afternoon in the garden.

🍷Best read with.. Pretzels and Prosecco 

About the Author

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 30 novels, including My One Month Marriage and One Summer Sunrise and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow.


Twitter  @sharilow


NewsletterSign Up


@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers @bookandtonic


Friday 29 July 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ A Wedding at Sandy Cove by Bella Osborne

21 July 2022

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

Escape to Sandy Cove, where the scent of summer and the sound of wedding bells are in the air!

Ella makes brides’ dreams come true - there’s no dress she can’t make perfect with her sewing skills and some sparkle. But Ella’s own love life is no fairy tale. Recently dumped, surrounded by fussy brides and with the prospect of wearing a hideous brown bridesmaids dress to her friend’s wedding, Ella feels more alone than ever so agrees to go on a blind date.

A mix up on the night introduces her to Kit.

Kit is definitely not the man she was supposed to meet, but he could end up changing her life in ways she never thought possible…

A perfectly funny, feel-good summer romance that will whisk you away to sandy beaches and a seaside wedding. Fans of Cathy Bramley, Katie Fforde and Milly Johnson will adore Bella Osborne.

πŸ“– My Review..

Ella is an absolute magician on a sewing machine and it is her job to alter wedding dresses at the bridal shop, imaginatively named Frills, Frocks and Fairy Tales. Mostly it's Ella dream job and she loves making brides look special for their big day however, her boss, Wanda, is something of a tyrant and takes advantage of Ella's kind nature and skillful workmanship. 

Ella's calm and steady manner endears her to everyone but to be honest she is a little bit of a doormat, that is, until she finds the courage take back control of both her personal and professional life. After a devastating mix up on a blind date, Ella meets Kit and together they embark on a quest to make important changes to a worrying situation which, inadvertently, leads them both on an entirely unexpected journey of discovery.

On one of the hottest days of the year, I flew through this lovely story. It had me laughing out loud at the antics of some of the bridezillas Ella has to deal with and there is much to enjoy about Ella's personal journey, both in reinventing herself and also in finding the courage to reach for her dreams. I enjoyed watching Ella grow in confidence, her trusting relationship with her best friends is really special, and the added bonus of the handsome Kit, especially when life gets a little bit perilous for them, make this charming story such a joy to read.

Filled with life, love, laughter and friendship A Wedding at Sandy Cove is a lovely feel-good summer read. 

🍷Best read with.. Cromer crab sandwiches and a glass of Prosecco

About the Author

Bella 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. Since then she’s written a number of best-selling romantic comedies and book club reads and won the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year Award 2022.

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. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

For more about Bella, visit her website or follow her on social media:



Thursday 28 July 2022

πŸ“– Publication Day Review ~ Where the Magic Is by Giselle Green


Yule Press
28 July 2022

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Sofia’s due to marry rich Rio businessman, Cristian… only, she’s just learnt that her daughter Ida is about to lose her eyesight. When she decides to take Ida on one, last ‘memory trip’ to the Scottish Highlands, Sofia’s impoverished family become alarmed. So close to the big wedding, she’s forced to keep the real reason for her trip a secret…

Handsome Scotsman Cal’s a dream tour guide… but he’s got some secrets of his own. Unknown to the others, caring Cal usually works as a male escort… a job which keeps him trapped and compromised, and also keeps any real chance of love at bay. Meeting the girls, Cal is poignantly about to reconnect with the side of him that once longed for more.

Meanwhile, Sofia’s faced with the dilemma of how best to support Ida whilst keeping her fiancΓ© and family on side. Questioning how ‘free’ she really is… Sofia’s now forced to consider what price she’s prepared to pay, to follow her conscience and her heart?

πŸ“– My Review..

Sofia is due to marry Cristian, a successful Rio de Janeiro business man, but when she learns that her daughter, Ida is about to loose her eyesight, Sofia is determined to take Ida on a trip of a lifetime. Ida is passionate about the Scottish hero, William Wallace, and so, with some trepidation, Sofia and Ida arrive in Scotland to find a rather handsome tour guide, called Cal, waiting to take them to the magical Scottish Highlands.

The trip is all about timing and since Sofia's spectacular marriage is due to take place very soon the trip to Scotland couldn't have come, according to Cristian's family at a more inopportune moment since there are still wedding preparations to get ready. However, Sofia is equally determined, regardless of the consequences, to give Ida a memory trip she will remember forever. The story moves steadily into the genuine rapport between Cal and his two passengers. He is aware of Sofia's air of sadness and so is determined to give both Ida and her mother a magical trip to his native Scotland. 

Where the Magic is is lovely road trip through some magical parts of Scotland in the company of three very special people. I enjoyed getting to know Sofia, Ida and Cal and began to see the natural beauty of Scotland through Ida's enthusiastic responses and Cal's perceptive awareness of how to treat his passengers. Gently lyrical, with a fine eye for detail, and with a lovely romantic story at its heart, Where the Magic Is is a perfect summer read by an author who knows how to create a genuine sense of time, place and atmosphere.

🍡Best read and sweet cakes

Giselle Green is an award winning, bestselling contemporary women's fiction author. Mum to six boys (half of whom have flown the nest) and owner of one bright orange and cinnamon canary who hopefully never will, Giselle enjoys creating emotionally gripping storylines about family and relationships.

Twitter @gisellegreenuk


Tuesday 26 July 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Other People's Husbands by Elizabeth Noble

Penguin Michael Joseph
21 July 2022

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

A group of close friends, their bonds forged at the nursery gates twenty years ago, have celebrated, commiserated, and grown together. Georgie and Phil, Sarah and Dom, Natalie and Kit, Annie and Rupert, Flick and Andrew, Vanessa and Ross, know everything about each other…until that is, they find out about the affair. Now a crack appears in everything. Could one betrayal really destroy friendships forged over decades? A story about long-term friendship, love, marriage, parenthood, and middle-life, this beautifully written, sensitively wrought drama asks, ‘what happens when boundaries are crossed, and friendships betrayed’. How would you fix what you believed could never be broken?

πŸ“– My Review..

Six couples have been friends for twenty years. They have shared the ups and downs of life, seen their children grow from children to adults, survived heartache and illness but through everything they have kept one date in the diary when they all share a weekend at the holiday home of Annie and Rupert. This is usually the highlight of the year but when we meet Georgie and Phil, Sarah and Dom, Natalie and Kit, Flick and Andrew, Vanessa and Ross, there is an undercurrent just bubbling below the surface and emotions seems to be heightened more than ever. 

When evidence of an affair between two of the friends emerges it alters the dynamic of this group forever and threatens the stability of what were once thought of as rock solid marriages. The affair devastates everyone and as heightened emotions are brought to the surface so the question remains of how everyone will  deal with the inevitable fall-out.

The story flows well, highlighting the close friendships which have developed over time and the minutiae of life as each of the six couples bring their own distinct personalities into the mix, closely observing all the actions and reactions, and the heightened emotion of anger, sadness, lust and mistrust.

Other People's Husbands is an observational look at the complexities of friendship and of the devastating consequences of betrayal.

🍷Best read with...a large glass of chilled RosΓ©

About the Author

Credit: Bill Waters

Elizabeth Noble is a Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author who has sold over 1 million books to date. She was born in Buckinghamshire and had a peripatetic childhood, moving often with stints in both Canada and Australia. She studied English at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford before working in editorial, marketing, publicity and sales in various publishing houses.

Elizabeth wrote her first novel, The Reading Group, to avoid going back to work. It became an instant No.1 bestseller, was nominated for Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and sold over a quarter of a million copies. Since then she has written many bestsellers including the Richard and Judy Book Club picks, Between a Mother and her Child and Love, Iris. 

Elizabeth lived briefly in New York when her children were young but now lives in a small village in Surrey. She loves walking, yoga, cooking, and is an active part of her local community where she writes a monthly column for the parish magazine. She is a grandmother of two and has recently taken in a family of Ukrainian refugees.

Other People’s Husbands by Elizabeth Noble is out 21st July, published by Penguin Michael Joseph in hardback, priced £14.99

Twitter #OtherPeoplesHusbands



Monday 25 July 2022

Author in the Spotlight ~ Liza Perrat


I am delighted to have author, Liza Perrat in the spotlight today

Welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, Liza. Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Lake of Echoes?

There was no real flash of inspiration, but after writing a French historical trilogy (The Bone Angel), each of which can all be read as a standalone, then three Australian-set drama novels, I hankered to return to a backdrop of rural France, where I live. I’ve always loved history and given that I write about strong female characters, the late 1960s seemed like an ideal era.

Without giving too much away – what can you tell us about the plot, place and people?

Lake of Echoes –– the first in the new Sainte-Marie-du-Lac series –– is set in late 60s France, a time of great social unrest, change and feminism. Also a time of fear of communism and the Cold War. I wanted to “echo” (excuse the pun!) these themes through the characters and setting.

As for the plot, I have always been (a bit morbidly) fascinated by psychopaths, but I’m not a crime writer (others do it far better than me!). I’ve also been fascinated, and horrified, for much of my life, by the disappearance of the Beaumont children, three Australian siblings, from Glenelg Beach in South Australia, in 1966. The children, aged 9, 7 and 4, like many other children of that time, were allowed to catch the bus to the beach and spend time there alone. That would never happen these days. Lake of Echoes explores both of these themes.

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

I like to have a general idea of the story before starting, just vague notions that will develop, and change, as the story is written. The novel often comes out as a completely different story from the initial idea though!

Your writing is always atmospheric – how do you ‘set the scene’ in your novels and how much research did you do in order to bring Lake of Echoes to life?

I live in rural France, so the atmosphere of these novels is very much created from my day-to-day environment. I always need to visualise a scene before writing it, which, I think, helps.

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

By the time a book is published, I have written, edited and tweaked at least 10 versions of it, so I’m usually sick of it at that stage, and keen to move on to the next story. Sometimes characters surprise me, so I generally let them do what they want, if possible. I am though, thinking about carrying some of the Lake of Echoes characters over into book 2 of this series.

Your style of writing is very much ‘from the heart’. Does this take its toll on you emotionally, and if so, how do you overcome it?

It can do, for especially emotional scenes. Though once I’m away from my writing desk, I usually forget about it. I was a nurse in a previous life, and tended to take home my emotions with me then but that was ‘real life’!

Tell us about your writing day- are you disciplined, strictly 9 til 5, or are you more of a have a cup of coffee and think about it sort of writer?

I would love to be retired, but I’m not yet, so I write on my days off (I work part-time) and weekends. When my children were young and spare time was as precious as gold, I was very disciplined and made the most of every free second. Now they’re grown up, I’m not very disciplined, and mostly write when I feel like it.

What do you hope readers will take away from Lake of Echoes?

Well, mostly I hope they’ll be entertained, and I hope they’ll enjoy the story.

A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.

1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.

Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.

Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.

But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.

LΓ©a, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.

Despite the villagers’ scepticism, LΓ©a’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.

But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?

Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.

Emotionally gripping historical women’s fiction for Kelly Rimmer and Kristin Hannah fans.

"A testament to female resilience, depth and strength, this is a universal story set in a changing world." JJ Marsh, author of The Beatrice Stubbs Series.

About Liza Perrat

Liza grew up in Australia where she worked as a general nurse and a midwife. When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty-nine years, working as a medical translator and a novelist.

Several of her short stories have won awards, and been published in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture are published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.

Sign up for Liza’s occasional newsletter about new book releases and receive a FREE copy of Friends & Other Strangers, her award-winning collection of Australian short stories.

If you enjoy Liza’s books, follow her on BOOKBUB




TWITTER @LizaPerrat

Universal Retail book link: 

Huge thanks to Liza for being my Author in the Spotlight today

Sunday 24 July 2022

☀ Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Claire Voet


Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic

Summertime is here

 I'm delighted to welcome Claire Voet  to our Summer picnic 


Welcome, Claire. Which favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic? 

Strawberries and cream, and freshly baked scones.

What would you like to drink? We have white wine spritzers, locally brewed beer, traditional Pimms, sparkling elderflower cordial or a thermos of tea or coffee? 

I would prefer a red wine spritzer or sangria with fresh fruit and lots of ice!

Where shall we sit, by the pool, on a beach, in the garden or in the countryside? 

Definitely the countryside.

Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

In style - wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery.

Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today? 

I’d like to invite certain characters from Outcast. Handsome Laird Fergus McDaniel, leader of Clan McDaniel, (great eye candy) his lovely wife Ella (charming and a pleasure to chat with) and straight forward no nonsense speaking Aunt Daphne (guaranteed to make you laugh!) and maybe to put a spanner in the works, Henry Hazleton, a wannabe, amusing budding author (to add even more entertainment).

Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic? 

In the countryside, maybe by the riverside or in the woods.

Do you have a summer music playlist? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy? 

I love listening to Spotify and have lots of playlists and songs ideal for the summer. One of my favourite songs that always gets me in the summer mood and makes me feel happy is Flowers In The Window by Travis. Another is Lovely Day by Bill Withers.

Which summer read are you bringing with you today? 

There are too many for me to decide on. Instead I will enjoy the conversation and the wonderful scenery around us.

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! 

Sadly, I get very little time to read. I would like to read The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine, I’m hoping to get around to that soon.

Harper Collins

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels? 

Television/movies, dreams, and ideas that just pop into 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 normally write at my desk. It is in a quiet part of the living room but if my family are at home, I write in my bedroom.

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

Once I get going there’s no stopping me, so no, I don’t get distracted.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs? 

A vivid imagination, the ability to paint a picture in the readers mind, be able to create believable characters with equally believable dialogue.

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

The title is called Outcast and it is the first book in a trilogy. This is the back cover description explaining what it is about:

In 1945 Molly Hazleton is heart broken when her fiancΓ© doesn’t return from the war after being reported “missing in action.” So when Aunt Daphne comes to visit with news of having bought a 17th century manor house at auction in Scotland, Molly welcomes the opportunity to start afresh and help her aunt turn Aberdoch Manor into a hotel.

With a strange sense of dΓ©jΓ  vu, Molly struggles to understand her connection with the property having never stepped foot inside of it or even Scotland for that matter. Ross McDaniel, the newly appointed gardener, knows more than he is letting on. And when he shows Molly an ancient yew tree named by the locals as The Ghost Tree, after touching it, Molly discovers a remarkable ability to vividly see and experience her own past life - a life of extreme danger and hardship on the road with the Jacobite in 1745, hunted by the Red Coats for crimes she hasn’t committed. She is also in love with a brave, Scot warrior, leader of the McDaniel clan who soon becomes her husband.

Stirring up forgotten memories and an uncontrollable yearning to be back with those she once loved, Molly is hopelessly torn between very different worlds, two hundred years apart!

Claire Voet is an English author, born in Gosport across the shores of Portsmouth Harbour. Claire started writing in 2010 and has since then written a number of books to include The Ghost of Bluebell Cottage, The Other Daddy A World Away, Captain Hawkes, short story A Helping Hand, Echoes In The Mist and the Outcast series.

Claire demonstrates her love for history and also the supernatural in many of her spellbinding stories.

As a commercial participator for the BBC Children in Need Appeal, Claire donates money from her book sales once a year.

Claire also has a profile page on Blossom Spring Publishing 

Thank you, Claire, for sharing your summer picnic with us today. 

Thank you too, I have enjoyed our picnic!

Follow us on Twitter@jaffareadstoo #SummerPicnicwithJaffareadstoo

Saturday 23 July 2022

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ Small Eden by Jane Davis


On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...19th Century England

Rossdale Print Productions
30 May 2022

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

A boy with his head in the clouds. A man with a head full of dreams.

1884. The symptoms of scarlet fever are easily mistaken for teething, as Robert Cooke and his pregnant wife Freya discover at the cost of their two infant sons. Freya immediately isolates for the safety of their unborn child. Cut off from each other, there is no opportunity for husband and wife to teach each other the language of their loss. By the time they meet again, the subject is taboo. But unspoken grief is a dangerous enemy. It bides its time.

A decade later and now a successful businessman, Robert decides to create a pleasure garden in memory of his sons, in the very same place he found refuge as a boy – a disused chalk quarry in Surrey’s Carshalton. But instead of sharing his vision with his wife, he widens the gulf between them by keeping her in the dark. It is another woman who translates his dreams. An obscure yet talented artist called Florence Hoddy, who lives alone with her unmarried brother, painting only what she sees from her window.

πŸ“– My review...

The powerful start of the story resonated as I too had a dangerous dose of scarlet fever as a tiny baby but thanks to modern medicine I lived to tell the tale, unlike the situation in which Robert Cooke and his pregnant wife Freya find themselves in at the start of this fascinating story.

Shielding their grief from one another Robert and Freya move through the years of their lives like automatons, communicating on a level which isn't really communication at all but is merely going through the motions of living their lives bereft with sorrow. Years later, and now a successful businessman, Robert, still with his head full of dreams, takes an interest in purchasing a parcel of land on which to build a pleasure garden and in doing so works through his feelings of loss for those who he has loved and lost.

Small Eden looks at the challenges of grief in a time when people seemed to wallow in despair but as we discover by channeling his energy Robert Cooke allows his grief to have a focus and with the help of those who work on the garden with him a story of resilience and fortitude starts to shine through. Everything in the story comes together so beautifully, with an immediate sense of atmosphere, and a true sense of historical accuracy, which the author develops with such skill and fine attention to detail. 

Based on the author's research into her family home, Small Eden is not a story to rush as there is much to think about but it is rather one to take at a more leisurely pace in order travel back through time to the intricacies of the late Victorian era.

🍡Best read with... Tea, from a beautifully patterned teacup and saucer

Jane Davis’ first novel, 'Half-Truths and White Lies', won a national award established with the aim of finding the next Joanne Harris. Further recognition followed in 2016 with 'An Unknown Woman' being named Self-Published Book of the Year by Writing Magazine/the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust, as well as being shortlisted in the IAN Awards, and in 2019 with 'Smash all the Windows' winning the inaugural Selfies Book Award. Her novel, 'At the Stroke of Nine O’Clock' was featured by The Lady Magazine as one of their favourite books set in the 1950s, selected as a Historical Novel Society Editor's Choice, and shortlisted for the Selfies Book Awards 2021.

Interested in how people behave under pressure, Jane introduces her characters when they are in highly volatile situations and then, in her words, she throws them to the lions. The themes she explores are diverse, ranging from pioneering female photographers, to relatives seeking justice for the victims of a fictional disaster

Jane Davis lives in Carshalton, Surrey, in what was originally the ticket office for a Victorian pleasure gardens, known locally as ‘the gingerbread house’. Her house frequently features in her fiction. In fact, she burnt it to the ground in the opening chapter of 'An Unknown Woman'. In her latest release, Small Eden, she asks the question why one man would choose to open a pleasure gardens at a time when so many others were facing bankruptcy?

When she isn’t writing, you may spot Jane disappearing up the side of a mountain with a camera in hand.

Twitter @janedavisauthor

Friday 22 July 2022

πŸ“– Review ~ Ten Poems from the Coast from Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press
July 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this pamphlet

The British archipelago has over 7,000 miles of coastline – everything from limestone cliffs to muddy estuaries and from sand dunes to saltmarshes. The variety of these landscapes – and of others far beyond – is reflected in these glorious poems selected by naturalist Miriam Darlington.

There are poems about wild Scottish shorelines and mudflats filled with birds, along with a ballad that celebrates the shingle of a Suffolk beach where:

“The shelving’s steep
With stones to skim
As if they’d feet
To hop and skip
Across the deep…”

from ‘The Ballad of Shingle Street’ by Blake Morrison

Everywhere, there’s a sense that we go to the land’s edge to step away from the hurly-burly of our daily lives. Being close to the ocean is “as near as we come to another world” as Anne Stevenson says in her paean to the North Sea.

Poems by Matthew Arnold, Miriam Darlington, Helen Dunmore, Jen Hadfield, Kathleen Jamie, Blake Morrison, Kenneth Steven, Anne Stevenson, Giles Watson and Derek Walcott.

Cover illustration by Sam Cannon.

πŸ“– My Review...

On the first day of the school summer holidays it seems appropriate to share my thoughts about this fine collection of poems which extol the virtues of the coast.

I have always felt great excitement being near the coast. There's something about the crash of the waves or the gentle trickle of the tide which resonates and I think, we all, being so much part of an island nation, feel something special when we are by the sea. In this collection of verse each of the ten poets share their thoughts so eloquently bringing both the  beauty and the lure of the coast to life.

No anthology of coastal verse is complete without Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach so I was pleased to see it included, with it's exquisite opening line..

"The sea is calm tonight
The tide is full, the moon lies fair..."

Cliffs of Fall (to the memory of Gerald Manley Hopkins) by Helen Dunmore also caught my imagination..

..." of pebble that tumbles. All the grey scree stirs
Slip-rattles and stills itself. Here is the slope's
Angle, implacable. Here's where you look..."

Giles Watson's poem Estuary reminded me forcibly of my early Sunday morning walks along the beach at Crosby, watching the Mersey estuary ebb and flo..

"..Here of all places I am most alien, and most delighted, where every voice is otherworldly, curlewing into space wide as mudflats at low tide..."

As always the anthology has something for everyone to enjoy and Ten Poems from the Coast is a perfect staycation escape for these sunny days of summer.

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

Twitter @poetrycandle