Friday, 23 March 2018

Blog Tour ~ A Forsaken Friend by Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of A Forsaken Friend Blog Tour

Lakewater Press
21 March 2018

My thanks to the authors and Random Things Tour for my copy of the book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour


 No-one said friendship was easy.

Things can't get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad's factory isn't bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother's smallholding should do the trick - and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.

But then there's Declan, not to mention Duck's Arse back in Yorkshire...

It's not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend's ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up - except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy's opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren't as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee's juggling more roles - and emotions - than she ever imagined.

Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn't such a grand idea.

My thoughts ...

A Forsaken Friend starts where the previous book, A Falling Friend, left off and reintroduces us to the same characters who entertained us, first time around, with their antics. Time has moved on a little - Terri is in a precarious place, she has recently lost her job at the university, only to then have her father’s business go bust, so when her best friend, Lee, start a relationship with her ex-husband, Terri finally loses patience. However, Lee didn't start off wanting to get together with Dan, Terri's ex, and she still isn't sure she wants the relationship to go to the next stage of giving him a key to her house, but well, life has a funny old way of interfering in the quiet order of things.

With the two women's friendship on a very precarious footing there is an element of rivalry between the two and their frosty relationship is fun to read. I enjoyed reading of their petty jealousies and barbed comments. And yet, as the story develops,when Terri and Lee need someone to lean on, well, it just shows that when the going gets tough, strong friendship will invariably come to the rescue.

This talented team of authors write well and with great enthusiasm bring these lively characters to life. I really enjoyed watching where the story would take them this time around and found them just as feisty and determined in this follow up as they were in the first book. I especially liked having both Terri and Lee’s point of view, and the short and snappy chapters help to bring them, faults an all, to vibrant life.

I am always intrigued by a writing duo and spend some time trying to pinpoint individual writing styles. I can never work out which author writes which chapter but then, that really doesn’t matter as, collectively, the whole of the story is so well done that the writing appears seamless.

The Friends trilogy is set to continue and I hope we won’t be waiting too long for the conclusion.

About The Authors

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations. 

More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University. 

The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage). 

Their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, has been followed by a second book, A Failing Friend, in their Friends trilogy. 

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home. 

Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.

Sue and Susan blog about books at Book Lovers' Book List 

Twitter @SueF_Writer #ForsakenFriend

Twitter @wordfocus #ForsakenFriend

Do take a look at other blog tour stops

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Review ~ The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

22 March 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see..

My thoughts about it...

There's something perfectly ordinary about the families who live in Pleasant Court but under the surface of their orderly existence there is a whole bucket load of problems which are just waiting to be poured out. When the enigmatic, Isabelle Hetherington takes up a lease in Paradise Court curtains start to twitch and for the trio of friends, Ange, Fran and Essie, and their families, life will never be the same again.

The author captures the ennui of living in a small community. A place where everyone thinks they know what makes their neighbours tick, but what actually comes across is the fact that we never really know what is going on behind closed doors. She captures perfectly the art of always putting on a brave face for the neighbours, and of the irascibility of young motherhood when you long for a glass of wine and a good night's sleep.

I found The Family Next Door such a compelling story to read that I whipped through the book at top speed, pausing only occasionally look up in order to amble to the kettle to refresh my cup of tea. The story draws you in from the beginning and the author's ability to keep you turning the pages is nothing short of brilliant.The build up in done in a really subtle way so that when the skeletons start to emerge from their respective closets they come as something as shock. Discovering that the characters you have grown to like have so many secrets to hide, it soon becomes a real challenge to try to unravel all of their mysteries without loosing sight of them as people.

The more I connected with the characters, the more I found that I wanted to move into Pleasant Court just so I could observe all goings on at first hand, and believe me there are lots of shenanigans going on in this middle class suburb of Melbourne.

The Family Next Door is a real roller-coaster of  a ride from start to finish and I loved reading it.

Sally Hepworth us the bestselling author of three previous novels, and a human resource professional.
She has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK and Canada. Since the birth of her children, she now writes full time from her home in Melbourne, Australia.


Twitter @SallyHepworth


** Published by Hodder & StoughtonToday**

Amazon UK

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Invisible Hand by James Hartley (GIVEAWAY)

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the The Invisible Hand Blog Tour 

Lodestone Books

My thanks to the author and Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to be part of this blog tour

The Invisible Hand is about a boy, Sam, who has just started life at a boarding school and finds himself able to travel back in time to medieval Scotland. There he meets a girl, Leana, who can travel to the future, and the two of them become wrapped up in events in Macbeth, the Shakespeare play, and in the daily life of the school. The book is the first part of a series called Shakespeare´s Moon. Each book is set in the same boarding school but focuses on a different Shakespeare play.

My Review :

Written for a young adult reading audience, The Invisible Hand explores the themes in Shakespeare's, Macbeth, thus making the story accessible and hopefully readable for a modern young audience for whom Shakespeare's more ponderous prose can often seem insurmountable.

I liked the idea of setting the story in a boarding school,with a young protagonist who thrives on adventure, and even though Sam is challenged by his time travel experience, and who wouldn't be alarmed about landing in medieval Scotland, there are lots of elements of surprise and more than a hint of danger to be found in the story overall.

The author writes well with his target audience in mind and neither patronises, nor protects them from the danger which is so often inherent in Shakespeare's work, and in particular in Macbeth. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story which are nicely done and enjoyed Sam's reaction, particularly to the witches...well, it wouldn't be Macbeth without them, would it ?

The Invisible Hand is the start of a series of young adult novels entitled Shakespeare's Moon in which different Shakespearean plays will be featured but with the continuity of the same boarding school setting. I'm looking forward to reading more.

James was born on the Wirral, England, in 1973 on a rainy Thursday. He shares his birthday with Bono, Sid Vicious and two even nastier pieces of work, John Wilkes Booth and Mark David Chapman. His mother was a hairdresser with her own business and his father worked in a local refinery which pours filth into the sky over the Mersey to this day. They married young and James was their first child. He has two younger brothers and a still-expanding family in the area. As an Everton fan he suffered years of Liverpool success throughout the seventies and was thrilled when his father took a job in Singapore and the family moved lock, stock and two smoking barrels to Asia. He spent five fine years growing up in the city state before returning to the rain, storms, comprehensive schools and desolate beauty of the Scottish east coast. Later years took he and his family to baking hot Muscat, in Oman, and a Syria that has since been bombed off the surface of the planet. James studied journalism in London and later travelled through Ireland, France, Germany and India generally having a good time, before finally settling in Madrid, Spain, where he now lives with his wife and two children.

Social Media Links – 

Twitter @jameshartleybks


Giveaway – Win 5 x Signed copies of The Invisible Hand with special Invisible Hand tactile pens (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Do visit the other blog tour stops 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Review ~ Coming Home by Fern Britton

Harper Collins
February 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

When the only place you want to be is home…

When Ella’s beloved grandmother dies, she comes back to the beautiful Cornish coast to heal her heart. There she finds her home again and discovers a new life, and new love… But she also opens a treasure trove of secrets.

Sennen left Cornwall a young single mum but unable to cope. She left her children, her
family and part of her. She’s spent the years hiding from her past, hiding from herself.
Now it’s time to come back. To Cornwall. To face her mistakes. To pray for forgiveness. To hope for a future with her daughter.

My thoughts about it..

This is my first venture into the Cornish world that Fern Britton has been so busily creating since her first novel, New Beginnings, way back in 2011. This latest novel is now her seventh book and whilst they are all stand alone stories, they nevertheless share a Cornish theme, with some recurring characters. 

In Coming Home the story starts with the lovely Ella who has returned to Cornwall following the death of her adored grandmother, Adela. That there is more to Ella's return becomes apparent when family secrets concerning Ella, and her brother, Henry start to be revealed. For not only does Coming Home focus on Ella and Henry, but it also gives us the story of their mother, Sennen, who abandoned them, into the care of their grandparents, Adela and William, when she was just seventeen years old.

Allowing both strands of the story to evolve gives a real insight into the way that Sennen's abandonment of her children affected, not just Ella and Henry, but also that of her own parents, Adela and William, who bewildered by the disappearance of their much loved daughter, then had the responsibility of raising two tiny children who missed their mother, so dreadfully.

At times, this was a quite an emotional read, especially when Sennen's life after her disappearance is laid bare, and I found myself looking forward to the chapters in which she takes centre stage. Not that there is anything lacking in the modern day story, far from it, as the author captures the hurt and bewilderment which even now, years later as adults, Ella and Henry are still experiencing. I enjoyed getting to know Ella, her boyfriend Kit, who is rather special, and her brother Henry, whose hurt and sadness over his mother's abandonment is still raw and palpable.

The author writes with a fine eye for detail and has a lovely way of bringing the story to life so that it feels authentic and believable. The glorious Cornish setting comes alive and whilst it is obvious that this is forming an important backdrop to the story, it is in the character detail where the story really comes alive. The sense of family drama and hidden secrets is a theme which runs throughout the story and is skillfully and emotionally explored.

As I said at the beginning, this is my first visit to Fern Britton's, Pendruggan, but after reading Coming Home, I am sure that I will be making further visits, perhaps even starting at New Beginnings and working my way along from the start.

Fern Britton is a highly acclaimed Sunday Times bestselling author. Her books are cherished for their warmth, wit and wisdom, and have won Fern legions of loyal readers.

A hugely popular household name through iconic shows such as This Morning, Fern is also a much sough-after presenter.

Fern is deeply committed to a number of charities, in particular the Genesis Research Trust. She lives with her husband, Phil Vickery, and her four children in Buckinghamshire and Cornwall.

Twitter @Fern_Britton #ComingHome


Monday, 19 March 2018

Review ~ A Sweet, Wild Note by Richard Smyth

Elliot & Thompson
1 March 2018

When I was twelve I joined the Young Ornithologist's Club and so began my life long love of wild birds. There's nothing more relaxing,than listening, in the early morning, to the birds as they chirrup and tweet and go about their business, or to sit outdoors and listen to the steady chatter of busy sparrows, or the cheerful soaring of a blackbird in fine voice. I don't claim to be knowledgeable about birds, I just love them for joy they bring to my world.

A Sweet, Wild Note is a delightful book which allows a privileged glimpse into the complicated world of birdsong. From the reasons why birds sing the way they do, through to the association of birds in literature, drama, music and science, there is something very precious in what they share with us. I can still remember with great clarity the eeriness of the 1999 solar eclipse when all the birds went silent for a few minutes and I realised then just what a strange and unearthly world we would have if we had no birdsong.

The author writes very knowledgeably and shares his own personal stories and anecdotes alongside facts and figures which makes the book so easily readable. I really enjoyed dipping in and out of the chapters, picking up snippets of information that I never knew I needed to know about birdsong but which collectively enhance my understanding of what makes birdsong, and its connection to us, so very, very, precious.

The glorious book cover enhances what's inside to perfection and if you're a bird enthusiast I am sure that you will enjoy this book for its factual information, but it's also equally fascinating for those of us who just love the simple pleasure of listening to the daily soundtrack of the beautiful birds who inhabit our gardens, woodlands and landscapes. 

Richard Smyth writes about nature, history, books, philosophy, art, sport and anything else that occurs to him. His latest book, 'A Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When The Birds Sing', is an acclaimed cultural history of birdsong.

Twitter @RSmithFreelance

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Ordinary Lives of the First World War

Imperial War Museum
“The war had begun and my heart beat then as it had never beaten before.”—Rosie Neal on the outbreak of war, 1914

In Their Own Words: Untold Stories if the First World War brings together for the first time, the personal accounts of 11 people who lived through the conflict, in a compelling and poignant collection from IWM's unparalleled Documents Archives.

In Their Own Words is a unique collection of stories and more, all of which look at the war from a different perspective.

My thoughts about it...

The eleven stories contained within the collection are a fascinating and poignant look at the effect of the First World War on the lives on ordinary people.

From Rosie's story at the outbreak of war in 1914, through to the reminiscences of Arthur on Armistice, 1914, the collection focuses on the personal accounts of those who were caught up in the evnts that happened between 1914-1918 and includes:

Gallipoli , 1915
The Battle of Loos, 1915
Prisoner of War, 1915-1916
Conscientious Objection, 1916-1918
The Battle of Jutland, 1916
The Battle of the Somme, 1916
War Work and The Home Front
The Third Battle of Ypres, 1917
The German Spring Offensive, 1918
Armistice, 1918

I am fascinated by the stories of the ordinary men and women who were caught up in the events of WW1 and this collection of stories gives a fascinating and very personal account of what happened and explains just how lives were affected.

Using archive material from the huge amount of WW1 information that is held by the IWM, and being presented in a very readable form makes this collection all the more interesting.

This is me reading - In Their Own Words


Saturday, 17 March 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The War Widow by Lorna Gray

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's Go back to...1947

Harper Impulse
22 March 2018
(ebook out now)

My thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book
The story opens in November 1947 as we meet the eponymous War Widow of the story. Kate Ward, a troubled young woman, is staying at a genteel hotel in the small Welsh town of Aberystwyth, where she hopes to discover more about the mysterious disappearance of her ex-husband, Rhys. However, circumstances are against her, and from the very start of the novel, Kate suspects that there are some sinister people shadowing her, who seem determined to prevent her discovering more about what has happened to Rhys.

What then follows is a suspenseful story about Kate’s determination to discover the truth, whilst at the same time trying to keep herself safe from harm. However, it soon becomes apparent that anything to do with her ex-husband has been buried so deep that it takes a great deal of tenacity on Kate’s part to get to the bottom of this dark mystery.

It is this complex mystery which is at the heart of the novel and the many twists and turns in the plot are certainly designed to keep you on the edge of your seat. The overall pace of the story is fast, and there is so much going on within the story that you really do need to concentrate on what’s unfolding. I enjoyed trying to fit all the numerous pieces of the puzzle together.

I definitely had the feeling of this being in a post war setting, the way the places were described added an authentic and believable edge to the story, and I especially liked the references to newsreel information about Princess Elizabeth‘s wedding to Philip Mountbatten which again helped to put this story into its historical context.

There is no doubt that author has, with great enthusiasm, brought this spirited War Widow to life in an suspenseful story which thrives on excitement.

More about the author can be found on her website

Follow on Twitter @MsLornaGray