Sunday 31 December 2023

πŸ“– Jaffareadstoo - Reads of the Year 2023 πŸ“–


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.

πŸ“– My Featured Books of the Year πŸ“–



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 these talented authors for taking me on the most amazing journeys during what has been a challenging year for me

Saturday 30 December 2023

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. Lee Geum-yi -The Picture Bride
  2. Siobhan Daiko - The Flame Tree
  3. Georgina Moore - The Garnett Girls
  4. Disha Bose - Dirty Laundry
  5. Katie Bishop - The Girls of Summer 
  6. Jane Lark - The Illicit Love of a Courtesan
  7. Brian Klein - The Counterfeit Candidate
  8. Fulton Ross - Unnatural Ends
  9. Clare Swatman - The World Outside my Window
  10. Jenny O'Brien - The Puppet Maker
  11. Ian Moore - The Man Who Didn’t Burn
  12. Elisabeth Hobbes - The Promise Tree

πŸ“– Twelve authors I have read before:

  1. Elaine Everest - The Woolworth Girl's Promise
  2. Liz Nugent - Strange Sally Diamond
  3. Pam Howes - The Girls of Mersey Square
  4. Kerry Wilkinson - The One Who Fell
  5. Sharon Gosling - The Forgotten Garden
  6. Lesley Pearse - Betrayal
  7. Rosie Hendry - Digging for Victory at Rookery House
  8. Helen Hollick - A Meadow Murder
  9. Ruby Speechley - Missing
  10. J J Marsh - Salt of the Earth
  11. S D Robertson - The Playground
  12. Christie Barlow - A Winter Wedding at Starcross Manor

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

  1. Stardust in Nuala - Harriet Steel
  2. 1989 - Val McDermid 
  3. The Hidden Letters - Lorna Cook
  4. Old God’s Time - Sebastian Barry
  5. New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls - Polly Heron
  6. The Shell House Detectives - Emylia Hall
  7. The Summer Holiday - S E Lynes
  8. Hell Bay - Kate Rhodes
  9. For the Want of Silver -Michael E Wills
  10. The Christmas Appeal - Janice Hallett 
  11. Welcome to the Cornish Country Hospital - Jo Bartlett
  12. Four Weddings and a Christmas - Phillipa Ashley

🎧Twelve Audio Books I have enjoyed listening to:

  1. Guard Her with Your Life  - Joy Ellis
  2. The Only Truly Dead  - Rob Parker
  3. The Mother Sun - Sui Annuka
  4. Lady MacBethad - Isabel Schuler
  5. The Witching Tide - Margaret Meyer
  6. The Wild Coast - Lin Anderson
  7. Mad Honey - Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
  8. Lady’s Well - L J Ross
  9. The Wild Coast -Lin Anderson
  10. The Woman I Was Before - Kerry Fisher
  11. The Ashes of London - Andrew Taylor
  12. The Perfumist of Paris - Alka Joshi

πŸ“– Twelve books with covers I particularly liked:

  1. Encyclopedia of Fairies - Heather Fawcett
  2. The Mirror of Simple Souls - Aline Kiner
  3. Promises of the Runes - Christina Courtenay
  4. Weyward - Emilia Hart
  5. The Department of Conspiracy - Cal Georgeson
  6. The Marriage Season - Jane Dunn
  7. Lady MacBethad - Isabelle Schuler
  8. Azucar - Nii Ayikwei Parkes
  9. The Last Remains - Elly Griffiths
  10. Almanac - Lia Leendertz
  11. Ten Poems about Mountains - Candlestick Press
  12. The Locket - Natalie Meg Evans

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

  1. Mrs Van Gogh - Caroline Cauchi
  2. Weyward - Emilia Hart
  3. Dark Queen Wary - Paul Doherty
  4. Ascent  - Cathie Dunn
  5. The Night She Met the Duke - Sarah Mallory
  6. An Unsuitable Heiress - Jane Dunn
  7. Rivers of Treason - K J Maitland
  8. Henry VIII: The Heart and the Crown - Alison Weir
  9. The Redemption of Isabel Farrar - Alan Robert Clark
  10. A Courtesan's Worth - Felicity George
  11. The Housekeepers - Alex Hay
  12. Daughter of the Fens - Elisabeth Hobbes

πŸ“– Twelve books that led me into a life of crime:

  1. Dirty Briefs - Dave Fendem
  2. The Beautiful Dead - Belinda Bauer
  3. The Only Suspect - Louise Candlish
  4. Exiles - Jane Harper
  5. The Last Dance - Mark Billingham
  6. Slaughter House Farm - T Orr Munro
  7. The Shell House Detectives - Emylia Hall
  8.  The Vanishing of Class 3B - Jackie Kabler
  9. The Lies She Told - Lynda Renham
  10. One Armed Jack - Sarah Bax Horton
  11. The Nurse - Valerie Keogh
  12. The Traitor - Ava Chase

πŸ“– Twelve Featured Books of the Month

  1. The Trophy Wife - Valerie Keogh
  2. The  Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels - Janice Hallet
  3. The Hidden Letters - Lorna Cook
  4. Dirty Laundry - Disha Bose
  5. Go As a River -  Shelley Read
  6. Lessons in Chemistry  - Bonnie Garmus
  7. The Square of Sevens - Laura Shepherd Robinson
  8. The Witching Tide - Margaret Meyer
  9. The Forgotten Shore- Sarah Maine
  10. The Unpicking -Donna Moore
  11. Fifteen Wild Decembers - Karen Powell
  12. Divorced Not Dead - Harper Ford

πŸ“– Twelve Feel-Good Novels :

  1. Dear Mr Pop Star  - Dave Philpotts, Derek Philpotts
  2. Nobody Puts Romcoms in the Corner - Kathryn Freeman 
  3. An Italian Island Summer - Sue Moorcroft
  4. The Night She Met the Duke - Sarah Mallory
  5. The Forgotten Garden - Sharon Gosling
  6. New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls - Polly Heron
  7. The Chancer - Fiona Graham
  8. Happy Ever After for the Cornish Midwife - Jo Bartlett
  9. Love on the Island - Jessica Gilmore
  10. Summer Wedding on Santorini - Samantha Parks
  11. Christmas at the Cat Cafe- Jessica Redland
  12. Cat Society - Ray Sadri

πŸ“– Twelve Must Read Books :

  1. The Garnett Girls - Georgina Moore
  2.  The Marriage Act - John Marrs
  3. The Girls of Summer  - Katie Bishop
  4. The Fascination - Essie Fox
  5. Eighteen Seconds - Louise Beech
  6. Fyneshade - Kate Griffin
  7. All of Us Are Broken -  Fiona Cummins
  8. Bad Summer People - Emma Rosenblum
  9. The Turnglass - Gareth Rubin
  10. Secret Diary of a Royal - Henry Morris
  11. Ostler -Susan Grossey
  12. Solstice - Helen Steadman

πŸ“– Twelve books I am looking forward to reading in 2024:

  1. Loot - Tania James
  2. The Happiest Ever After - Milly Johnson
  3. The Glass Woman - Alice McIroy
  4. The Woman on the Ledge - Ruth Mancini 
  5. The Daughters of Mersey Square- Pam Howes
  6. The Young Widows - S J Short
  7. The Other Tennant - Lesley Kara
  8. Clickbait - L C North
  9. The Darkest Night - Victoria Hawthorne 
  10. The Hunter - Tana French
  11. Fourteen Days - Margaret Atwood and Douglas Preston
  12. The Gathering  -  CJ Tudor

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.

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

Friday 29 December 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Hangman Island by Kate Rhodes #TeamScilly

Simon &Schuster
22 October 2023

DI Ben Kitto #7

My thanks to the publishers and Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my copy of this book 
And for the opportunity to be part of this epic readalong during 2023.


When Jez Cardew’s boat is found drifting empty on the Atlantic Ocean, DI Ben Kitto and his fellow lifeboat crew members immediately fear the worst. After an extensive search yields no results, the team are forced to retreat to dry land as darkness sets in.


But Kitto can’t let it go. Why would Jez – an experienced sailor – get into difficulty when the sea has been calm for weeks? Unless his disappearance was no accident.


The gruesome discovery of a hand washed ashore on the beach confirms his hunch. Because a medal is attached to the index finger, and it can only have been placed there by the killer.

This strange clue is the only lead to an agenda as cold as the ocean itself. Kitto must work fast, before the small, isolated community closes ranks. And it’s only a matter of time before the murderer among them strikes again.

πŸ“– My Review

When a crew member of the local RNLI goes missing, Ben Kitto and the rest of the team speed into action, desperate to find one of their own before the sea claims him. However, this is no ordinary search as pretty soon it becomes obvious that the crew members are being targeted in a series of violent attacks. When then follows is a claustrophobic and highly charged story which takes Ben Kitto, and his investigative team, into the very heart of the community they serve only to find that there are some deadly secrets amongst the inhabitants St Agnes and beyond.

Once again the beautiful Isles of Scilly take centre stage and those readers who are familiar with this best selling series will know just how passionately the author brings this beautiful area to life in a series which captures the imagination from the start. Even though this is now book number seven in the series, each book feels just as fresh and compelling with the added advantage of knowing, and caring about,  the characters.

The pace is fast and furious and the claustrophobic nature of the investigation adds an extra dimension so that my heart was racing during the last few chapters as all the complex threads of the mystery start to come together. What I love most about these stories is that I can never predict the outcome, each of the endings have surprised me and Hangman Island is no different. 

Atmospheric and compulsive reading, Hangman Island is every bit as good as I expected it to be and long may this series continue. Can’t wait for book number eight…but I’ll have too ! 

About the Author

Kate Rhodes is an acclaimed crime novelist and an award-winning poet. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, the writer and film-maker, Dave Pescod. She visited the Scilly Isles every year as a child which gave her the idea for this new series. She is one of the founders of the Killer Women writing group.

Twitter @K_RhodesWriter #TeamScilly



Thursday 28 December 2023

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ The Power of Ancient Wellness by Gill Thackray


Michael O’Mara
28 December 2023

Thanks to the publisher and Alison Menzies for my copy of this book

Do you want to reduce stress, ease burnout, boost your energy and immunity but don’t know where to start? Look no further than the power of ancient wellness. 

The ancient world moved to a different rhythm. It was slower, more mindful and closely attuned to nature. The result? A harmonious connection between mind, body and spirit. Together with Gill Thackray, mindfulness teacher, coach and performance psychologist, learn the art of ancient healing: the perfect remedy for modern living. 

Featuring over 25 nature-based activities, discover how to improve your sleep, boost your energy and treat everything from anxiety to the common cold and much more. Explaining the science behind what our ancestors knew intuitively, this essential companion will help you to create your own holistic toolkit to optimize your health and wellbeing, as well as overhaul your beauty regime. 

Clear your mind with age-old breathwork techniques, restore balance in your body with the life-changing principles of Ayurveda and re-energise your soul with Reiki and more. From traditional tinctures to ancient superfoods, your healing journey starts now. Reconnect with the hidden secrets of our natural world and take care of yourself, the ancient way.

πŸ“– My Review

Beautifully illustrated, with so much to look at, this tactile little book has been just the tonic I needed in the post Christmas lull. Filled with a plethora of interesting facts and self help tips I have found much to encourage me over the coming months. The author writes knowledgeably and in using her own skill as a mindfulness practitioner the activities feel well researched and have certainly inspired me to give the activities a try.

During our busy lives we all need something to help us cope and this book certainly gives us a way forward. Cleverly divided into three sections, mind, body and spirit, each of the nature based activities are designed to help boost energy and alleviate stress and anxiety, which is something I will find really helpful. It’s beautifully illustrated with lovely drawings which really help to complement the activities. From breathing techniques, to the strength of rituals, and from the natural intelligence of plants, to the power of the ancient world, all this can still be visualised around us and acts as a timely reminder that these ancient techniques are still useful today. 

I’ve really enjoyed reading through this book and have found both inspiration and encouragement within its pages. It would make a perfect New Year gift for anyone who enjoys learning more about The Power of Ancient Wellness.

About the Author 

Gill Thackray has lived and worked with indigenous communities around the world, including Tibet, China, Thailand and India, studying the science of healing and ancient wisdom traditions. She is a trained shamanic practitioner, and teaches qigong and yoga. She is also a coach and performance psychologist working with FTSE 100 companies, sporting bodies, healthcare professional, universities and NGOs to create individual and organisational transformation. Fully accredited, she holds an MSc in Mindfulness Studies ad is currently working on her PhD, researching indigenous healing practices and eco-psychology.
Gill grew up in Yorkshire and now llives in the Lake District. Her books include The Mindfulness Coach, How to Manifest, and The Manifest Journal, all published by Michael O'Mara Books.

Twitter/X @GillThckAuth



About the Illustrator

Anna Stead is an illustrator based in the beautiful North Cotswolds. She draw from nature. legend, history, folklore, literature, folk art and the mythic arts.

Wednesday 20 December 2023

πŸŽ… Happy Christmas 2023


 Timmy and I are having 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.

Have a very Happy Christmas everyone.

πŸŽ… Love from Jo and Timmy πŸŽ…

Tuesday 19 December 2023

πŸŽ„Festive Read ~ Last Christmas at Ballyclare by Emily Bell


19 October 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Natasha is flying home for Christmas to Ballyclare - a beautiful old house in the Wicklow hills. When her friend Ben - who she was so sure could be more than that - abandons his plan to join her, she's devastated. Another year of just her mother and sister Doon for company.

To add to her woes, no sooner has she arrived home - her sanctuary through many a storm - than she is told it might have to be sold. And to the man whose younger brother broke Doon's heart all those years ago.

Will this be their last Christmas at Ballyclare? Or could a little bit of Christmas magic, and unexpected romance, help all three McDonnell women find their path?

πŸŽ„My Review..

Natasha returns home to Ballyclare for Christmas only to find that there is a crisis concerning her family home which may have to be sold as repairs to the old place are astronomically high. For Natasha, her mother, Aileen and sister, Doon, there are some tense times ahead but with Christmas approaching they are determined to enjoy one last Christmas at Ballyclare. 

Filled with the warmth of family, and the support of friends, Last Christmas at Ballyclare is a lovely festive story which looks at the trials and tribulations of keeping an old family home safe whilst at the same time allowing each of the three women to share their hopes and fears for the future. It’s not all hearts and flowers as the story covers some serious topics but it’s all done with a lovely light touch and a fine eye for detail. I’ve really enjoyed spending time in this little Irish village, there is an abundance of festive charm, a smattering of romance and enough festive spirit to give you a lovely warm glow. 

Best read with...cheese and crackers by front of a roaring fire.

About the Author

Emily Bell is an Irish Times bestselling author who grew up in Dublin and moved to London after university. She has had various jobs including tour guide, bookseller and pub singer, and now writes full time. She lives in north London with her husband and daughter. She is the author of Baby It's Cold Outside and This Year's for Me and You, winner of the RNA Christmas Festive/Holiday Romantic Novel award

Twitter #EmilyBell  #LastChristmasarBallyclare


Friday 15 December 2023

πŸŽ„Festive Read ~ The Christmas Highland Lodge by Julie Shackman


πŸŽ„Time for some lovely festive reads πŸŽ„

One More Chapter
20 October 2023

Scottish Escapes #5

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Lottie Grant loves the festive season so much that she works at the incredibly successful Christmas shop, Christmas Crackers, in her pretty Scottish home town of Craig Brae. But when the shop is sold, her world is turned upside down, leaving her wondering what she will do next.

Just as she’s about to give up hope on finding a new dream job, an offer comes that she can’t refuse, managing a set of luxury wooden cabins… and opening just in time for Christmas!

As she gets to work decorating the cabins, and hanging lights on the fir trees, Lottie can’t believe her luck. That is until the arrival of Blake Dempster, a moody but handsome hiking expert, who threatens to bring down her festive joy. But never one to shy away from a challenge, Lottie is determined to change Blake’s mind about all things festive.

And as the snow falls and the fairy lights sparkle, will work-obsessed Lottie and frozen-hearted Blake make their Christmas wishes come true?

πŸŽ„My Review..

Just before Christmas Lottie Grant is given the devastating news that the Christmas shop she manages in the pretty Scottish town of Craig Brae is to close down however, an amazing opportunity presents itself and Lottie is given the chance to use her designer skills on preparing a group of themed holiday cabins. Given carte blanche to get the cabins ready for the festive season Lottie does her best to add some much needed sparkle only to find opposition from the handsome, but decidedly grumpy, Blake Dempster who seems determined to take away Lottie's Christmas shine.

This is a lovely warm-hearted story and you can't help but be drawn into Lottie's enthusiasm for all things festive. Her growing relationship with Blake, although off to a rocky start, adds a certain frisson of excitement and I certainly enjoyed watching how their relationship would play out. The other characters who flit into and out of the story add a sense of community and I loved how Craig Brae came alive, with its quirky shopkeepers, seasonal festive markets and an intrepid mountain rescue team. Although the book is book number five in the Scottish Escapes series it reads perfectly well as a standalone story.

Wonderfully festive, with a hint of will they, won't they romance the The Christmas Highland Lodge is a perfect read for the holiday season.

🍷Best Read with...a glass of mulled wine and a cinnamon and hazelnut mince pie

About the Author

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

Twitter @G13Julie #TheChristmasHighlandLodge


Wednesday 13 December 2023

πŸŽ„Festive Read ~ This Christmas by Emma Heatherington

πŸŽ„Time for some lovely festive reads πŸŽ„

26 October 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book


Rose used to love Christmas – until the year everything changed. She hasn’t been home to visit her family for the holidays since.

Charlie is facing his first Christmas alone. It may be the most wonderful time of the year for some, but not for him. Not this year.

In search of comfort and seclusion, Rose escapes to a cottage in rural Donegal to hunker down for the festive season alone.

But when Charlie opens the door to Seaview Cottage, the two strangers realise that their holiday rental has been double-booked.

Both of them expected to spend this Christmas alone. But their lives could be changed forever if they agree to spend it together.

πŸŽ„My Review..

Rose Quinn and Charlie Sheerin should never have met but when they are both inadvertently brought together by a Christmas double booking at Seaview Cottage they have no choice but to make the best of the situation. Both of them, for very different reasons, are nursing a broken heart and this gentle story about the healing power of love is sprinkled with a generous helping of friendship, romance and Christmas magic.

With a winter wonderland setting, magical walks through a snow-laden forest and with a tug away at the old heartstrings with Rose's poignant connection to a majestic old lighthouse This Christmas had everything I wanted in a festive read. There's  definitely a 'will, they, won't they romantic vibe and with a generous cast of quirky characters who each bring something quite special, including two wonderful canine companions, this magical story captures your heart from the beginning. The ending melted my heart and left me with a wonderful warm glow.

Best read chocolate with gooey marshmallows and a hint of Christmas magic

About the Author

Emma Heatherington is the international best-selling author of thirteen novels, including the Amazon UK Top 10 and USA Kindle hit The Legacy of Lucy Harte, as well as Secrets in the Snow and The Promise. Her novels are set in Ireland, each exploring life affirming issues combined with heart-warming love stories. Emma's distinctive style, full of poignancy and warmth has developed a loyal and ever-growing fan base.

X/Twitter @EmmaLouWriter


Monday 11 December 2023

πŸŽ„Festive read ~ Four Weddings and a Christmas by Phillipa Ashley


πŸŽ„Time for some lovely festive reads πŸŽ„

Avon Books UK
13 November 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Can the spirit of Christmas reignite an old flame?

With her thriving business Cottage Angels, Freya Bolton prepares the Lake District’s holiday homes for Christmas visitors. It’s her job to think of everything, from cinnamon-scented candles to tasteful decorations and hampers of seasonal treats.

If only her love life were such a success… After being burned by past relationships, she’s now determined to steer clear of love for good.

So when she bumps into gorgeous – and single – ex-boyfriend Travis, a no-strings festive fling seems perfect.

But when her feelings for him begin to develop, is she on track for another romantic calamity? Or could this Christmas give her the gift of true love?

πŸŽ„My Review

Freya Bolton lives in the pretty Lake District village of Bannerdale where she has a thriving holiday homes business. Everything is running smoothly in Freya's life, with just the occasional hiccup when something goes wrong with one of the holiday lets, that is until Freya's ex-boyfriend Travis returns to the village. With so much history between them Freya and Travis have lots of wrongs to put right before they can each move on with their lives.

This lovely festive story goes right into what makes relationships successful, past secrets and misdemeanors come to the surface but ultimately what shines through is the love and friendship of close family and special friends. The Lake District setting adds an unashamedly romantic element to the story as who could fail to be emotionally reactive to the sweeping majesty of the hills, lakes and fells of this magical place.

Four Weddings and a Christmas is a warm and wonderful story with a hefty dose of Christmas cheer which is the perfect antidote to festive stress.

🍡Best read aromatic coffee with a hint of spirit

About the author

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

Twitter @PhillipaAshley #FourWeddingsAndAChristmas