Saturday, 17 February 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ In Love and War by Liz Trenow

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back in time to ... Flanders, 1919

Pan Macmillan
January 25th

My thanks to the publishers for the copy of the book

It was understandable that once the First World War was over grieving relatives would want to visit the towns and villages of Flanders to see the places where the lives of their loved ones had ended so violently. Within a few short months of the Armistice in 1918 travel operators, like Thomas Cook, were organising tours to the battlefields, which although a comfort for some, were also seen by others to be in poor taste and disrespectful to the war dead.

In July, 1919 Ruby, Alice and Martha have their own reasons for visiting the small Flemish village of Hoppestadt. Each of them have lost someone important to them and whilst their backgrounds are very different, their shared loss binds them together in ways they could never have imagined. The women find out, to their cost, that searching for loved ones is fraught with worry and whilst they each have a different story to share, it is the rawness of their grief and their need to understand what happened which eventually unites them.

The repercussions of The First World War are still profoundly real in 1919 and this story highlights the struggle of those small communities who were trying so desperately to bring some semblance of order to areas which had been devastated by war. The descriptions of the remnants of the battlefields and trenches and the huge expanse of grave markers particularly at the Tyne Cot cemetery are so vividly described that I felt like I was seeing them at first hand.

Impeccably researched and beautifully written In Love and War is a gentle story with a powerful message. Its quiet realism doesn’t seek to sensationalise what happened during the momentous years of WW1 but rather focuses on the emotional impact of loss and of the eventual hope of reconciliation.

Twitter @LizTrenow #InLoveAndWar

Friday, 16 February 2018

Review ~ Final Girls by Riley Sager

Ebury Press
Penguin Random House

My thanks to the publishers for my review copy of this book

After an enigmatic introduction to something dreadful which happened at a remote cottage in the woods, we are introduced to Quincy Carpenter who is a successful baking blogger with a swanky New York apartment and a loving partner. All would be perfect except that Quincy is one of those interesting characters who has survived a horrific massacre. Dubbed by the media as a Final Girl, Quincy is only one of three such massacre survivors who, in recent memory, walked away from violent bloodshed. When news reaches Quincy that one of the other survivors has taken her own life, it opens up a whole series of memories which she has long since buried.

What then follows is a taut psychological suspense story which focuses on Quincy's life in the here and now whilst at the same time giving us flashbacks to what actually went on at Pine Cottage.  The story is an interesting observation into how people go into survivor mode and how the brain locks down painful memories in order to protect itself. Whilst Quincy thinks she is coping reasonably well, the terror of her past traumatic experience is never very far away.

Throughout the story the author does a really good job of cranking up the tension, particularly when the other final girl makes an appearance. This really shakes things up and takes the story in a whole different direction. Final Girls is a cleverly thought out psychological thriller with more than enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and although I did sort of work out where the story was heading, I certainly enjoyed getting to understand Quincy's complex character and of seeing just how the story would eventually play out.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley Sager is a writer,editor,movie lover and aspiring baker
Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey

Twitter @riley_sager #FinalGirls

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Review ~ The Homecoming by Rosie Howard

Allison & Busby
15 February 2018

My thanks to Emma Finnigan PR and also to the publishers for my copy of this book

The Homecoming is the first book in the Havenbury series and introduces us to Maddy who has returned to the pretty market town of Havenbury Magna. Hearing the devastating news that her godfather Patrick has had a heart attack, Maddy knows that, until Patrick recovers, she must take over the running of the Havenbury Arms, a place she once called home.

What then follows is a delightful depiction of English village life. Maddy finds that running the pub is fraught with difficulties and that being back in Havenbury opens up a whole set of emotions which Maddy has buried for a long time.

The story flows really well and the author has done a really good job of setting the scene and introducing us to an array of characters who I hope will feature in future stories about Havenbury. I particularly enjoyed the village atmosphere and of how everybody seemed to pull together. There are some lovely light moments which made me smile, and yet there are also some quite dark elements, especially as we find out that Maddy is coping with something traumatic in her past.

As with all first books in a series there is a sense of 'getting to know' everyone and this is done in  a light and easy style and with a lovely contemporary feel. 

Overall the story is an enjoyable read and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

With a father in the forces and the diplomatic corps, Rosie Howard spent much of her childhood in UK boarding schools, joining her parents in exotic destinations during holidays. After obtaining a degree in music she pursued a career in public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and freelance journalism but realized her preference for making things up and switched to writing novels instead. She lives in a West Sussex village with her husband and two children in a cottage with roses around the door.

Twitter @RosieHowardBook

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Valentine's day ~ Ten Sexy Poems from Candlestick Press

Candlestick press
February 2018

This intoxicating selection of poems – a mini-anthology to complement our ever-popular Ten Poems about Love – is published especially for Valentine’s Day.  The poems capture the extraordinary power of desire, from Neil Rollinson’s tenement building stirred by the passion of loving couples on St Valentine’s night, to DH Lawrence’s painterly celebration of a beautiful woman as she washes in early morning sunshine.

Elsewhere, beds become roiling vessels for lovers with “persistent hands”:

We are bare. We are stripped to the bone
and we swim in tandem and go up and up
the river…”

from ‘December 11th’ by Anne Sexton

There are poems that evoke passion’s intensity, alongside others in which the sensuality is more obliquely expressed – an apple bitten to expose surprising pink flesh or a shipwright rhapsodising over the alluring curves of his ship.

 Roses, oysters, chocolate – even a pungent cheese – stir the senses and capture the heady urgency of erotic love. These poems are seductive, and irresistible.

Poems by Kim Addonizio, Jo Bell, Wayne Burrows, Hilary Davies, DH Lawrence, MR Peacocke, Shazea Quraishi, Neil Rollinson, Anne Sexton and James Sheard.

My thoughts about the poems...

I've really enjoyed reading through this diverse collection of love poetry and was pleased to discover some excellent new poems alongside one of my favourite authors. 

D H Lawrence's poem, Gloire de Dijon is every bit as good as I remember it..

"In the window full of sunlight
Concentrates her golden shadow
Fold on fold, until it glows as
Mellow as the glory roses"

and the poem A Kiss Remembered by MR Peacock is really rather beautiful.

"a kiss searching for itself, neither looked for
nor expected, but like the rapt coupling of dragonflies..."

From the erotic to the sentimental, there is something for everyone in this beautifully presented pamphlet of ten sexy poems. A perfect gift for Valentine's Day.

About the Publishers

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 Cricket, London, Lesbian and Gay, Birds, Clouds, Puddings and Fathers. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Enter this giveaway to win a copy of Ten Sexy Poems 

Good Luck

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Blog Tour ~ Our Little Secret by Claudia Carroll

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on 

Our Little Secret Blog Tour

A sparkling story about what happens when you let someone into your life… but they turn out to want more than you’d bargained for!

Sarah Keyes has the perfect life. A high-flying job in a law firm, a beautiful daughter and a house to die for. So how does she find herself looking in through the kitchen window while another woman enjoys it all?

When Sarah takes pity on a struggling young graduate who can’t get a job, she thinks she’s doing the right thing. She’s being kind, generous and helpful to others, as she always is. But as Sarah allows the younger woman into her home, her law firm and even her family, is there more to this pretty youngster than meets the eye? And could this be a good deed that goes further than expected?

Claudia Carroll does it again with an incredible new novel about what happens when your life becomes up for grabs…

My thoughts about it...

Sarah is inexplicably drawn to the young beauty therapist who is doing her manicure and shellac nail varnish in a slightly rundown nail bar. When she finds out that Lauren is a young law graduate who is struggling to find a decent job, Sarah decides to do something to help her. Using her influence at her own law firm, Sarah decides to take Lauren under her wing, and even introduces Lauren to her friends and family.

Told from the differing points of view of Sarah, her teenage daughter, Darcy, and Sarah's best friend, Liz, what gradually unfolds is a suspenseful story which looks at the way people can be used and manipulated, and of how even the kindest of intentions can go disastrously wrong. The multiple story strands are well developed and I especially enjoyed trying to work out more about Lauren and the reasons why she acted in the way she did. 

Our Little Secret is my first novel by this author. I liked her contemporary writing style and will look forward to reading more of her books.

About the Author

Claudia Carroll is a top ten best selling author in the UK and a number one bestselling author in Ireland, selling over 700,00 copies of her paperback alone. Three of her novels have been optioned for movies and one for  a TV series on Fox TV. 
In 2013 , her tenth novel Me and You was shortlisted for the Bord Gais Energy Popular Choice Irish Book Award.
Her latest novel, Our Little Secret ( All She Ever Wished For) spent ten weeks in the Irish Top Ten
Claudia was born in Dublin where she still lives.

Twitter @carrollclaudia # OurLittleSecret


Do visit the other stops on the Blog Tour


Monday, 12 February 2018

Review ~ Aphrodite's Tears by Hannah Fielding

London Wall Publishing
25th January 2018

In the summer of 1977, Oriel Anderson is nursing a broken heart and goes to the Greek island of Helios where she hopes to fulfil her lifelong dream of joining an archaeological diving team. However, making her way in this male dominated activity is going to test Oriel's considerable resolve to the limit. When she finds that the island's enigmatic owner, Damian Lekkas, is attracted to her, Oriel has some difficult decisions to make. Will Oriel be guided by her head or her heart?

At its heart, Aphrodite's Tears is a passionate and romantic love story with a fascinating and complex mystery. Combining passionate romance and Greek legends, a story emerges which has its roots in ancient mythology but which also has a place very firmly in the 1970s. What then follows is a beautifully written romantic saga which has all the trademarks of this talented author's ability to weave together a magical tale.

What I love about this author's writing is her ability to take the reader on a journey of discovery whilst at the same time giving us a wonderfully passionate story. The romantic connection between Oriel and Damian is strong and passionate and yet, the darker elements of the story are equally as compelling and add depth and richness to the narrative. 

As always, with this author’s stories, time and place come beautifully alive. The stunning Greek setting acts as a glorious backdrop to a story which is rich in romance and alive with all the sunshine and culture of this beautiful country.

Twitter @fieldinghannah 

Aphrodite’s Tears is out now in ebook and in paperback 

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

This week, on the 6th February, it was a 100 years since The Representation of the People Act which gave women over thirty and men over 21 the vote.

 And whilst it didn't go very far, it did, however, allow a glimmer of hope to those brave women who had long been campaigning for Votes for Women.

And so I started to think about all those women who kept the country functioning during the long years of WW1, and this 1917 poem by war poet, Jessie Pope speaks eloquently about their public service contribution.

War Girls

There's the girl who clips your ticket for the train,
  And the girl who speeds the lift from floor to floor,
There's the girl who does a milk-round in the rain,
  And the girl who calls for orders at your door.
      Strong, sensible, and fit,
      They're out to show their grit,
    And tackle jobs with energy and knack.
      No longer caged and penned up,
      They're going to keep their end up
    Till the khaki soldier boys come marching back.

There's the motor girl who drives a heavy van,
  There's the butcher girl who brings your joint of meat,
There's the girl who cries 'All fares, please!' like a man,
  And the girl who whistles taxis up the street.
      Beneath each uniform
      Beats a heart that's soft and warm,
    Though of canny mother-wit they show no lack;
      But a solemn statement this is,
      They've no time for love and kisses
    Till the khaki soldier-boys come marching back.


The Women's Work in the War Production 1914-1918

A female switchboard cleaner of the tramways department of the Corporation of Glasgow (now Glasgow City Council). Two such women were employed by the department, starting in November 1915. They worked forty-five hours per week and earned 25 shillings per week, including a bonus.

Women taking up the challenge of public service work during 1914-1918 allowed more men to go to war.

© IWM (Q 110155)

A female worker operating a slugging machine at the boot manufacture of J. Rawson and Sons Limited in Leicester.

© IWM (Q 109965)

Source IWM  archive collection.