Saturday 31 December 2022

Jaffareadstoo ~ Reads of the Year 2022


It's that time of year when I highlight those books which have made an impact on me and I hope you might find inspiration for your own reading enjoyment.

My Featured Books of the Year





Here are the books I thought were deserving of a place on my

Reads of the Year List

So no particular order





Huge thanks to all these talented authors for taking me on the most amazing journeys and for colouring my imagination when the world sometimes seems a very grey place.

Friday 30 December 2022

πŸ“– End of the Year Book List ~ 12 in 12

As the end of my reading year approaches

Here are my much anticipated 12 in 12

πŸ“– Twelve authors who were new to me:

  1. Lisa Hobman - Wishing Under a Starlit Sky
  2. Annabel Abs - The Language of Food
  3. Fay Keenan - New Beginnings at Roseford Hall
  4. Julie Shackman - A Scottish Highland Surprise
  5. Jayne Cowie - After Dark
  6. Siobahn MCGowan - The Trial of Lotta Rae 
  7. Elena Collins - The Witch's Tree
  8. Eliza Knight - The Mayfair Bookshop
  9. Penny Ingham - Twelve Nights
  10. Sarah Duguid - The Wilderness
  11. Kerri Beevis - The Sleepover
  12. Angela Britnell - A Little Christmas Panto

πŸ“– Twelve authors I have read before:

  1. Rachael English - The Letter Home 
  2. Jane Lovering - A Cottage Full of Secrets
  3. Jennifer Bohnet - Villa of Second Chances
  4. Three Cheers for the Shipyard Girls - Nancy Revell
  5. Eva Glyn - An Island of Secrets
  6. Kathryn Freeman - The Italian Job
  7. Jo Bartlett - A Leap of Faith for the Cornish Midwife
  8. Liza Perrat - Lake of Echoes
  9. Linda Green - In Little Stars 
  10. Kerri Beevis - The Sleepover
  11. Robert J Lloyd - The Poison Machine
  12. Phillipa Ashley - The Christmas Holiday

πŸ“– Twelve books from authors I know will never let me down:

  1. The Key in the Lock - Beth Underdown
  2. Nicola Pryce - The Cornish Captive
  3. Anna Mazola - The Clockwork Girl
  4. Alison Weir - Elizabeth of York
  5. Louise Beech - Nothing Else
  6. Charlotte Betts - Letting in the Light
  7. Sarah Stovell - Other Parents
  8. Julia Prima - Alison Morton
  9. Caroline Scott - Good Taste
  10. Sue Moorcroft - A White Christmas on Winter Street
  11. Yellow is for Sunflowers - Kathryn Freeman
  12. Debbie Macomber - The Christmas Spirit

πŸ“– Twelve Audio Books I have enjoyed listening to:

  1. Little Bones - Sam Blake
  2. The Phantom Tree - Nicola Cornick
  3. The Winter Sea - Susanna Kearsley
  4. The Shadowy Horses - Susanna Kearsley
  5. Picture Her Dead - Lin Anderson
  6. The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths
  7. The Dream Daughter - Diane Chamberlain
  8. Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone - Diana Gabaldon
  9. The Rock - L J Ross
  10. The Various Haunts of Men - Susan Hill
  11. The Chocolate Maker's Wife - Karen Brooks
  12. Follow the Dead - Lin Anderson

πŸ“– Twelve books that surprised a good way:

  1. DalvΓ‘ - Laura Galloway
  2. Oak - Katharine Towers
  3. The Swallowed Man - Edward Carvey
  4. Dog Leap Stairs - Barbara Emmett
  5. Former Boy Wonder - Robert Graham
  6. Detective Dachshund - Decima Blake
  7. Writing from the Ukraine
  8. The White Hare - Jane Johnson 
  9. The Hollow Sea - Annie Kirby 
  10. Ten Poems about Swimming - Candlestick Press
  11. The Disobedient Women - Sangeeta Malay
  12. The Picture Bride - Lee Geum-yi

πŸ“– Twelve books that took me by the hand and led me into the past:

  1. The Lost Apothecary - Sarah Penner
  2. The Queen's Lady - Joanna Hickson
  3. Conversos - V E H Masters
  4. Traitor in the Ice - K J Maitland
  5. Treason - Michael E Wills
  6. The Missing Girls of Alardyce House - Heather Atkinson
  7. Small Eden - Jane Davis
  8. Daughters of Paris - Elizabeth Hobbes
  9. The Hidden Palace - Dinah Jefferies
  10. Good Taste - Caroline Scott
  11. The Winter Garden - Nicola Cornick
  12. Of All Faiths and None by Andrew Tweeddale

πŸ“– Twelve books that took me into a world of crime and psychological suspense:

  1. I know What You've Done - Dorothy Koomson
  2. Sapphire - Heather Burnside
  3. The Patient - Tim Sullivan
  4. Breakneck Point - T Orr Munro
  5. Dog Leap Stairs - Barbara Scott Emmett
  6. Local Gone Missing - Fiona Barton
  7. Deception - Lesley Pearse 
  8. The Party House - Lin Anderson
  9. Hope to Die - Cara Hunter
  10. The 6:20 Man - David Baldacci
  11. A Question of Identity - Susan Hill
  12. The Hiker - M J Ford

πŸ“– Twelve Non Fiction books 

  1. The Fairy Tellers - Nicholas Jubber
  2. 100 Voices  - edited, Miranda Roszkowski
  3. Snow Widows - Katherine McInnes
  4. The Heeding - Rob Cowen
  5. Light Rains Sometimes Fall - Lev Parikian
  6. End of Innocence - Zoe Apostolides
  7. Britain by Night - Mark McNeil
  8. Abandoned Britain -Simon Sugden 
  9. Child of the East End - Jean Fullerton 
  10. Lady Sapiens -Thomas Cirotteau, Dr Jennifer Kerner and Γ‰ric Pinca
  11. The Boleyns : From the Tudors to the Windsors - Anna Harvey Purse
  12. A Banker's Journey - Daniel Gross

πŸ“– Twelve Books From Debut Authors :

  1. Carole Johnstone - Mirrorland
  2. June Wentland - Foolish Heroines
  3. Susan Stokes- Chapman - Pandora 
  4. Tricia Cresswell - The Midwife
  5. Sally Page - The Keeper of Stories
  6. Mel Giedroyc - The Best Things
  7. Sophie Irwin - A Lady's Guide to Fortune Hunting 
  8. Ellee Seymour - The Royal Station Master's Daughter  
  9. Anita Faulkner - A Colourful Country Escape 
  10. Cristina Bendek - Salt Crystals
  11. Greg Mosse - The Coming Darkness 
  12. Liz Hyder - The Gifts 

πŸ“– Twelve Books I bought for myself :

  1. The Locked Room - Elly Griffiths
  2. The Lighthouse Witches - C J Cooke
  3. The Whalebone Theatre - Joanna Quinn
  4. Two Storm Wood - Philip Gray
  5. The Plague Stones- James Brogdan
  6. The Marriage Portrait - Maggie O'Farrell
  7. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stephenson
  8. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carol
  9. Letters in Chemistry - Bonnie Garmus
  10. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Dubois - Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
  11. Daughter if the Forest - Juliet Marillier
  12. The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley - Sean Lusk

πŸ“– Twelve Feel-Good Novels :

  1. Wishing under a Starlit Sky - Lisa Hardman
  2. A Spring Surprise for the Cornish Midwife - Jo Bartlett
  3. Tea for Two at the Cornish Kitchen - Jane Linfoot
  4. The Girls - Bella Osborne
  5. Three Cheers for the Shipyard Girls - Rosie Hendry
  6. The Villa of Second Chances - Jennifer Bohnet
  7. A Colourful Country Escape - Anita Falkener
  8. Spring Tides at the Starfish Cafe - Jessica Redland
  9. Summer at the French Cafe - Sue Moorcroft
  10. The Italian Escape - Catherine Mangan
  11. A Wedding at Sandy Cove - Bella Osborne
  12. Christmas Castle in Scotland - Julie Caplin

πŸ“– Twelve books I am looking forward to reading, and reviewing, in 2023:

  1. Exiles - Jane Harper
  2. The Witches of Vardo - Anja Bergman
  3. For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain - Victoria Mackenzie 
  4. River Sing Me Home - Eleanor Shearer
  5. Weyward - Emilia Hart
  6. The Only Suspect - Louise Candlish
  7. Strange Sally Diamond - Liz Nugents
  8. Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Fairies - Heather  Fawcett
  9. Dirty Laundry - Disha Bose 
  10. Mrs Van Gogh - Caroline Cauchi
  11. We All Want Impossible Things - Catherine Newman 
  12. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels - Janice Hallett 

To all the blog readers and book bloggers who support Jaffareadstoo

To all these talented authors for sharing the gift of your imagination with me and to the publishers who continue to support Jaffareadstoo in so many generous ways.

Your books have taken me on the most wonderful armchair adventures 😊

Come back on the 31st December when I reveal the books I thought were truly special

Monday 19 December 2022

πŸŽ„ Merry Christmas 2022

 Taking a festive break now to enjoy family time 

Thank you all very much for your company on Jaffareadstoo over the year and for reading

 and commenting on all my book musings.

Merry Christmas, one and all, and happy reading.

Love from Jo and Timmy 😻

Friday 16 December 2022

πŸ“– Book Review~ The Soul of Discretion by Susan Hill



Simon Serrailler #8

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book 

The cathedral town of Lafferton seems idyllic, but in many ways it is just like any other place. As part of the same rapidly changing world, it shares the same hopes and fears, and the same kinds of crime, as any number of towns up and down the land.

When one day DC Simon Serrailler is called in by Lafferton’s new Chief Constable, Kieron Bright, he is met by four plainclothes officers. He is asked to take the lead role in a complex, potentially dangerous undercover operation and must leave town immediately, without telling anyone – not even his girlfriend Rachel, who has only just moved in with him.

Meanwhile, Simon’s sister Cat is facing difficult choices at work that will test her dedication to the NHS. But an urgent call about her and Simon’s father, Richard, soon presents her with a far greater challenge much closer to home.

To complete his special op, Simon must inhabit the mind of the worst kind of criminal. As the op unfolds, Lafferton is dragged into the sort of case every town dreads. And Simon faces the fight of his life.

πŸ“–My Review..

When DC Simon Serrailler is approached by a group of plain clothes officers and asked to take part in an undercover operation to infiltrate a paedophile gang, Serrailler fears that this will be his most challenging case yet, however, he is determined to bring to justice the perpetrators of some truly heinous crimes. With his undercover persona established Serrailler enters into the minds of these deadly criminals whilst at the same time cutting off all contacts with his family thus placing his life in grave danger. With Serrailler away from the family it leaves his sister Cat to deal with some difficult family challenges both in her personal and professional life.

The Soul of Discretion is the eighth book in the Simon Serrailler series and whilst the books may be read out of order, as I have done, it is better to start at the beginning in order to appreciate the character progression. I’m beginning to get to know Simon Serrailler well and enjoy observing how this enigmatic detective sets out to rid the streets of his home town of Lafferton of criminals. Whilst each story is undoubtedly a well plotted crime novel, it is never gratuitously violent and I enjoy how much is explained without too much gory detail.  I also enjoy spending time with the Serrailler family and in this novel we get to learn a little more about Simon’s father whose difficult personality is so often at the root of family problems.

Of all the Serrailler novels I have read to date I think  that The Soul of Discretion has been my favourite and as the story ends with a rather dramatic cliffhanger I look forward to seeing what happens next in book number nine.

🍺Best read with…a glass of strong beer

About the Author

SUSAN HILL has been a professional writer for over fifty years. Her books have won awards and prizes including the Whitbread, the John Llewellyn Rhys and a Somerset Maugham, and have been shortlisted for the Booker. Her novels include Strange Meeting, I'm the King of the Castle, In the Springtime of the Year and The Mist in the Mirror. She has also published autobiographical works and collections of short stories as well as the Simon Serrailler series of crime novels. The play of her ghost story The Woman in Black is one of the longest running in the history of London's West End. In 2020 she was awarded a damehood (DBE) for services to literature. She has two adult daughters and lives in North Norfolk.

Twitter #SusanHill


Wednesday 14 December 2022

πŸŽ„ Festive Read ~ The Christmas Holiday by Phillipa Ashley

Avon Books UK
10 November 2022

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

She’s planned the perfect Christmas. But fate might have other ideas…

Krystle didn’t have a normal childhood and longed for warm family Christmases with presents under the tree. Now she makes sure everyone else has the perfect Christmas she never had, bringing beautiful decorations to cheer as many people as possible.

With her festive business booming, she decides to celebrate by renting a secluded house in the Lakes, with a plan to make this the ultimate yuletide getaway.

But fate immediately throws a spanner in the works in the form of a broken-down car, a flooded river and Max; a man who despises Christmas.

Krystle becomes determined to show Max the joys of the holiday. She won’t take no for an answer.

Can she melt Max’s Grinch-like heart? And can he show her that life doesn’t need to go to plan to take you somewhere magical…

πŸŽ„My Review…

Krystle once visited the pretty Cumbrian village of Thorndale as a child and never forgot her view of what she called the Christmas house. Now grown up and with the opportunity to hire the house for the festive period, Krys is determined to have the perfect Christmas. However, right from the start, the fickle finger of fate intervenes and her time in Thorndale soon becomes a Christmas which Krys will never forget.

Beautifully festive the story wraps around you like a comfort blanket and pretty soon the warmth of the people who call Thorndale home soon become as familiar as friends. I particularly enjoyed meeting members of the Mountain Rescue Team whose bravery and steadfastness reiterates just what an important service this is to the hillside communities of Cumbria. I also enjoyed watching the development of Krys’s burgeoning friendship with the taciturn, Max who lives in a nearby bothy as this brings a lovely element of will they, won’t they romance into the story. 

Setting the story amongst the hills and fells of the Lake District lends itself perfectly to this light and easy festive read and The Christmas Holiday certainly has all the lovely elements which this author does so well. Festive escapism at its best and a perfect read when you need to chill out during the stress of Christmas.

🍷 Best Read with… a glass of festive fizz

About the Author

Phillipa Ashley is a Sunday Times and Amazon Top 10 best selling author of uplifting romantic novels.

Twitter @PhillipaAshley #The ChristmasHoliday


Monday 12 December 2022

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Gifts by Liz Hyder


Manilla Press
10 February 2022

My thanks to Historia Magazine for my copy of this book

It will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in the English countryside as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

In London, rumors of a "fallen angel" cause a frenzy across the city, and a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

The Gifts is an astonishing novel, a spellbinding tale told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition..

πŸ“–My Review..

I’m rather late to the party with this book as I have only just discovered this lovely story after winning a copy of The Gifts in a competition run by Historia Magazine. And what a treat of a read this has turned out to be with its intricately plotted story about four courageous young women who dared to flaunt the confines of Victorian society. Dipping into the boundaries of science, nature, religion and enlightenment we venture into the realms of dangerous possibility.

Male domination abounds in this tale of thwarted mastery and with four strong female characters there is never a moment when you are not cheering on Natalya, Etta, Mary and Annie as they seek to find the answers they so desperately need in a world which is dominated by overpowering, and misguided, men. Carefully blending history, magical realism and fantasy, this story took me on a wonderful journey into the dark, dark world of Victorian melodrama, from its vividly described opening chapter, to the very last sentence, the story grabbed my attention. 

The Gifts is a beautifully written historical novel which takes the idea of the classic fallen angel and turns this violently on its head in a powerful story which shocks in places but which is also wonderfully empathic in its depiction of four women who dared to be different in a world where men really wanted to keep them firmly in their place.

Best Read with…a large glass of port wine 🍷 

About the Author

Liz Hyder has been making up stories ever since she can remember. Originally from London, she now lives in South Shropshire. She has a BA in drama from the University of Bristol, and in early 2018, she won the Bridge Award/Morniak Mhor Emerging Writer Award. Bear mouth, her debut young adult novel, won a Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize, the Branford Boase Award and was chosen as Children’s Book of the Year in The Times. The Gifts is her debut adult novel.

Twitter @LondonBessie #TheGifts


Friday 9 December 2022

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Virago Book of Witches by Shahrukh Husain


8 September 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Beware the women who are called witches, or those who claim the name for themselves…

Banshees – a howling night-witch and harbinger of death; She-devils – Lilith and her daughters; or Bitches – Hecate, whose chariot is drawn by dogs.

Alluring women, enchantresses, seekers of revenge, wise old women and badly-behaved girls. As Shahrukh Husain says, witches are ‘womanhood in all its complexity’.

Over fifty stories of crones and nixies, shape shifters and beauties are here, including the loving fox witch of Japan; Italy’s Witch-Bea-Witch; Scotland’s Goodwife of Laggan; Biddy Earl and the terrifying Kali and Baba Yaga who comes in many forms to haunt, entice, possess, transform and challenge.

From every corner of the globe, with tom-foolery, fun, strife and victory, these folklore and legends celebrate women who step out of line.

πŸ“– My Review..

The fifty, or so, stories which form the basis of this anthology take the reader on a fascinating journey into the myths, legends and folklore which has so long been associated with witches and witchcraft. With a comprehensive preface and introduction the author gives a lengthy explanation of how women have, over many centuries, been persecuted for witchcraft often with no evidence of wrongdoing.

This is definitely a book to savour, not to read quickly, but rather to become immersed in the variety of stories on offer, so with that in mind, I dipped into and out of the book at whim, picking stories here and there which piqued my interest. The stories, from all around the globe, are immersive and quickly take you into a forgotten world of superstition, intrigue, magic and mayhem. Some were more compelling than others but all of them took me on an intricate journey in the best tradition of keeping the story telling art alive in the imagination.

Recently re-issued with a stunning new cover The Virago Book of Witchcraft is one of those wonderful anthologies which is happy to sit on your book shelf content to be taken down regularly and each time to find something new to read and enjoy, especially if you have an interest in global folklore and legend.

🍷Best read with…a comforting cup of warm chocolate

About the Author

Shahrukh Husain was brought up in Pakistan and has studied myth and folklore from around the world. She is the editor of The Virago Book of Witches, author of Women Who Wear the Breeches, Temptresses :The Virago Book of Evil Women, a novel, several children's books and a play for children. She also writes screenplays and created the TV drama Beecham House. A practicing psychotherapist, she is married with two children and lives in London.

Twitter @shahusain  #TheViragoBookofWitches

@ViragoBooks @LittleBrownUK

Thursday 8 December 2022

πŸŽ„Festive Read ~ The Duke's Family for Christmas by Sarah Mallory


25 October 2022

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

A heartwarming Regency romance

He has until Christmas Eve

…To make them a family!

Determined to claim the son his late wife kept secret from him, Leo, Duke of Tain, is working in disguise as his tutor. Until Miss Lily Wrayford, the child’s fiercely protective guardian, discovers Leo’s true identity…and gives him until Christmas to prove she can trust him! All Leo wants is to be a good father, but might this brave, captivating woman be the final missing piece of his family?

πŸŽ„My Review..

Lily Wrayford is fiercely protective of her young ward, so when the charismatic Leo Devereux enters her life and offers to be Toby’s tutor Lily accepts with, it must be said, some trepidation. Little does Lily know that Leo has an altogether more important reason for wanting to get to know young Toby.

The Duke's Family for Christmas is a delightful Regency romance which has all the lovely little historical details which this author does so well. I found so much to enjoy in getting to know Lily, she is such a brave and loyal character whose love for Toby shines through and yet it is in her relationship with Leo Devereux where the heart of the story lies. It took me a while to really warm to Leo, he is an enigmatic figure with a brooding presence but this only makes his involvement in the story all the more poignant. However, as the story progresses and as each of the characters start to gel together as a unit so the subtle nuances in the burgeoning relationship between Lily and Leo becomes all the more magical. Whilst the story has a delightful festive edge to it, it’s not so Christmassy that you couldn’t read and enjoy at any time of the year.

Beautifully recreating the Georgian era with all of its complicated social niceties, The Duke's Family for Christmas is a lovely story about opening your heart the possibility of love especially when it comes with all the joy of a ready made family.

Best read with...a warming glass of claret

About the Author

Sarah Mallory was born in the West Country and grew up with a love of books and history. She has had over 40 historical novels published and won the Rona Rose Award from the Romantic Novelists Association in 2012 and 2013.

Twitter @SarahMRomance

Wednesday 7 December 2022

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Contraband Killings by Lucienne Boyce

September 2022
Dan Foster #4

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

Principal Officer Dan Foster of the Bow Street Runners is sent to collect smuggler Watcyn Jones from Beaumaris Gaol on Anglesey, and bring him back to London for trial at the Old Bailey. As if having to travel to the wilds of North Wales isn’t bad enough, Dan is saddled with an inexperienced constable as his interpreter and assistant. At least it’s a routine assignment and shouldn’t take more than a few days.

But when the prison escort is ambushed and Watcyn Jones escapes, a straightforward transfer turns into a desperate manhunt. And as Jones’s enemies start to die, the chase becomes more urgent than ever. Dan’s search for the killer brings him up against a ruthless smuggling gang – and his chances of getting off the island alive begin to look far from promising.

πŸ“– My Review...

Having read the previous three books in the Dan Foster series of historical crime novels, it is with a real sense of enjoyment that I join Bow Street Officer Foster and his companion Constable Evans as they journey into North Wales to escort a dangerous prisoner from Beaumaris gaol on the Isle of Angelsey to his trial at the Old Bailey in London. This task is not without its challenges especially when they are ambushed on their return journey and the prisoner escapes.

What then follows is a very well plotted historical adventure which was every bit as exciting as I hoped it would be as I really enjoy observing Dan Foster in action. He is a stalwart protagonist, calm, methodical and usually unruffled but this particular case sees him tested to the limit of his endurance. Throughout the story there is an authentic sense of time and place and the late eighteenth century is described well. I particularly enjoyed the setting of the book on the isle of Anglesey as it is a place I know very well so, for me, this added an extra level of enjoyment.

The author has certainly found her niche with this sort of historical adventure as each story seems to just get stronger and stronger and The Contraband Killings is no exception. Running alongside a strong sense of history comes the added excitement of intrigue and mystery and with several twists and turns I didn’t see coming I can safely say that, for me, this is Dan Foster’s most exciting challenge yet. 

🍴Best read with...Alamode beef and a glass of rich red wine

About the Author

Lucienne Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA in English Literature, specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical novel, To The Fair Land (2012, reissued 2021), an eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.

Her second historical novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (2015, reissued 2022) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016, and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block (2017, reissued 2022), was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction (2019, reissued 2022), is also an IndieBrag Medallion honoree, recipient of Chill With a Book Premium Readers’ Award, and a joint Discovering Diamonds book of the month. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was published by S-Books. The Fatal Coin is now available in paperback.

The Bristol Suffragettes, a history of the suffragette campaign in Bristol and the South West of England, was published in 2013. In 2017 Lucienne published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign.

Other Publications

‘Not So Militant Browne’ in Suffrage Stories: Tales from Knebworth, Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth (Stevenage Museum, 2019)

‘Victoria Lidiard’ in The Women Who Built Bristol, Jane Duffus (Tangent Books, 2018)

‘Tramgirls, Tommies and the Vote’ in Bristol and the First World War: The Great Reading Adventure 2014 (Bristol Cultural Development Partnership/Bristol Festival of Ideas, 2014)

Twitter @LucienneWrite #TheContrabandKillings

Tuesday 6 December 2022

πŸŽ„Festive Read ~ The Christmas Spirit by Debbie Macomber


18 October 2022

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Will they find their happy-ever-after this Christmas?

Peter and Hank are lifelong friends, but when it comes to their jobs they couldn't be more different. Peter is a small-town pastor and is devoted to helping the community, while Hank runs the local pub and is never too far from a party. But this Christmas, everything is about to change . . .

Having never settled down, Peter and Hank believe their demanding jobs are keeping them from finding love. Convinced that the other has it easier, they hatch a plan to swap places the week before Christmas to put their theories to the test and find time for themselves.

But as Hank quickly becomes overwhelmed by nativity plans, and Peter struggles to control the rowdy festive pub-goers, they each begin to worry they're in over their heads. Luckily, church assistant Grace is on hand to help Hank navigate a church/life balance, and a young woman seeking shelter at the pub might be exactly what Peter needs to realise there's more than one way to help his community . . .

This Christmas, will Peter and Hank's stunt fall flat, or will it open their eyes to the possibility of love at last?

πŸŽ„My Review

One thing that is always guaranteed when reading one of Debbie Macomber’s Christmas stories is that you will be taken right into the heart of the festive spirit with an array of characters who come springing into life from the very beginning. The Christmas Spirit is no exception and the story comes across with all the warmth and humour we have come to associate with this lovely writer.

When life long friends Peter Armstrong and Hank Colfax swap roles in the lead up to Christmas it makes for interesting reading especially as Peter’s normal role is that of pastor in a small town, whilst Hank’s clientele are usually the ones who spend time in his bar. Each man is at a particular crossroads in life and each think that it is their lifestyle which is preventing them from finding a special someone to share their life with however, this lovely story shows that sometimes love is waiting when you least expect to find it.

The Christmas Spirit is a lovely, warm-hearted festive story which has all the right ingredients for a gentle escapist sort of read and is just a perfect pick-me-up in the run up to Christmas when life can get a little bit too hectic.

πŸŽ„Best Read with..a peanut butter and jelly sandwich 

Debbie Macomber is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of over 100 books, and one of today’s most popular writers. In addition to fiction, Debbie has also published two bestselling cookbooks; numerous inspirational and nonfiction works; and two acclaimed children’s books. The beloved and bestselling Cedar Cove series became Hallmark Channel’s first dramatic scripted television series, and was ranked as the top program on US cable TV when it debuted in summer 2013. Debbie also owns her own tearoom and a yarn store, A Good Yarn, named after the shop featured in her popular Blossom Street novels. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and her husband Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington (the town on which her Cedar Cove novels are based) and winter in Florida.

Twitter @debbiemacomber #AWalkAlongTheBeach


Monday 5 December 2022

πŸŽ„Festive Read ~ A Christmas Miracle for the Railway Girls by Maisie Thomas


13 October 2022

Railway Girls #6

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Manchester, 1942. There are surprises in store for the railway girls this festive season...

When Cordelia's daughter Emily falls for a young chap who doesn't meet the approval of her father, Cordelia is reminded of her own first love - a love that she has never forgotten.

Mabel is determined to get to the bottom of a spate of local burglaries. Her heart is in the right place as she sets out on a quest to clear her friend's name, but there will be unforeseen consequences.

It's nothing short of a miracle when Colette returns to Manchester. But it's not going to be easy for her to keep living the life she once knew, and an impossible situation lies ahead.

There will be more than one storm for the railway girls to weather but with the friendship and support of one another, there's hope that all will be well by Christmas...

πŸ“– My review..

It’s always such a treat to be back in Manchester with The Railways Girls and this latest story, set in 1942,  is particularly poignant as it sees the return of a much loved character with a storyline which really tugs away at the heart strings. As we have discovered in previous stories, the railway girls are a very close knit bunch and whilst they are all from very different social backgrounds when the going gets tough they all pull together. There is a true sense of camaraderie amongst the women who, in their various roles, do so much to keep the northern rail network functioning, and even with the threat of bombs dropping around them they still maintain the stoic war time spirit of making do, and carrying on regardless.

I’ve spent a few delightful afternoons in the company of this strong set of women who refuse to be beaten by whatever life throws at them, be be it sheltering from falling bombs, organising a Christmas Eve children’s party or the rescue of a much loved friend. Within any of the books in this series there is a real sense of how the Second World War impacted on daily life and it’s all so beautifully recreated by a skilful author who has developed this delightful series into something rather special. 

Whilst this one definitely has a festive feel to it, it is perfectly possible to read the story at any time of year. However, as this is book number six in the series I would advise that you start right the beginning with the first book as that way you will find so much to enjoy in this popular series and will grow to love the railway girls as much as I do.

A Christmas Miracle for the Railway Girls is every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be and is the perfect escape from the stress of a hectic Christmas.  

🍴Best read with..Colette’s potato floddies and a strong cup of tea.

About the Author

Maisie Thomas was born and brought up in Manchester, which provides the location for her Railway Girls novels. She loves writing stories with strong female characters, set in times when women needed determination and vision to make their mark. The Railway Girls series is inspired by her great aunt Jessie, who worked as a railway clerk during the First World War. Maisie now lives on the beautiful North Wales coast with her railway enthusiast husband, Kevin, and their two rescue cats. They often enjoy holidays chugging up and down the UK’s heritage steam railways.

Twitter @MaisieThomas99 #AChristmasMiraclefortheRailwayGirls