Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Christmas Read ~ The Christmas Stocking and Other Stories by Katie Fforde

2 November 2017

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

A wonderfully festive Christmas collection of short stories from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of A Summer at Sea and A Secret Garden 

The perfect gift for Christmas, escape to the countryside with Katie Fforde

Inside this Christmas Stocking you will find...

A Christmas in Disguise
Candlelight at Christmas
The Christmas Fairy
The Christmas Stocking

Plus much, much more to unwrap and enjoy...

Sometimes in the hectic run up to Christmas its difficult to find time to settle down to reading as there's so many other things to concentrate on, but in the hustle and bustle it's even more important to find a quiet half hour to recharge your batteries and that's where The Christmas Stocking and Other Stories comes into play.

Each story is perfectly proportioned to help you while away a quiet hour or so and whilst, its worth mentioning that two of the stories have been previously published in magazines I hadn't read them, so it didn't affect my enjoyment at all, but other readers may need to be aware of that.

The six stories which make up the whole of the book have a delightful seasonal theme and feature an array of people, and animals, who very quickly make an emotional impact. I really enjoyed reading the stories and each one, when finished, left me with a smile on my face and a lovely warm glow inside.  As with any short story collection, there are some which stand out more than others and my two particular favourites are The Christmas Stocking and A Dream Christmas. I could have happily read on for much longer than their sixty or so pages, and was, in a way, disappointed when the stories ended, only because I had grown to love the characters and wanted to read more of their story

If you are familiar with this author's work, you will instantly recognise her trademarks of lovely character definition and fine attention to detail which is so reminiscent of her writing. And for those who can't wait until her next novel is due, there is a sneak peek of A Country Escape, which is coming in February 2018.

So if you're looking for an escape from the rush of the shopping mall, then take a breather and enjoy a short break with The Christmas Stocking and Other Stories.

Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family, and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a different profession or background and her research has helped her bring these to life. She’s been a porter in an auction house, tried her hand at pottery, refurbished furniture, delved behind the scenes of a dating website, and she's even been on a Ray Mears survival course. She loves being a writer; to her there isn’t a more satisfying and pleasing thing to do. She particularly enjoys writing love stories. She believes falling in love is the best thing in the world, and she wants all her characters to experience it, and her readers to share their stories. 

To find out more about Katie Fforde step into her world at www.katiefforde.com, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KatieFforde.

The Christmas Stocking and Other Stories is published by Century in Hardback and eBook 02/11/2017, £9.99

Monday, 20 November 2017

Christmas Blog Tour ~ A Winter Love Song by Rita Bradshaw

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on A Winter Love Song Blog Tour

My thanks to the publishers for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour
and to the publicists at edpr for my copy of A Winter Love Song and the permission to share this book extract.

It's with real pleasure that I share this lovely extract from 


It was shortly before Christmas when she confided to Betty that she wanted to become a singer and it had been her main reason for coming to London. Betty was all agog, and immediately wanted to hear her. It was their day off and they were sitting in a little square of park eating a meat pie before they went to see Fred Astaire at the cinema. Bonnie looked around her, shaking her head.

‘I couldn’t, not here.’

‘Course you can, there’s no one about, and if you want to do that sort of thing you can’t be shy,’ said the ever practical Betty. ‘Go on, Bonnie, sing us a song. I can’t believe you haven’t told me about this before.’ Bonnie shrugged. ‘I tried for ages when I first came to London and got nowhere. I didn’t even get one audition. Perhaps I’m no good.’

‘How can you say that if no one even heard you?’ 

That was true. Bonnie knew she’d gone red. ‘What shall I sing?’ she asked uncomfortably, wishing she hadn’t said anything.

‘Don’t mind. I know, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”. I love that one. Do you know the words?’

It had been one of the hits of the year and Bonnie nodded. ‘I only have to hear a song once and I remember the words and the tune. My da was the same. He had a lovely voice.’ She had told Betty the same story she’d told everyone else since coming to the capital; that her mother had died when she was a baby and her father had brought her up, and it was his death that was the catalyst for making the move to London. Which was partly true.

‘Go on then,’ Betty said again. ‘Look, I’ll introduce you.’ She jumped up from the bench and lifted her arm in an extravagant gesture much as Dennis did. And in an imitation of his ringing tones, she announced, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, for your pleasure for one night only, the amazing, the beautiful, Miss Bernice Cunningham will sing “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”.’

Grinning, she pulled Bonnie to her feet and then sat down expectantly, her face bright.

Bonnie stood for a moment and then shut her eyes. 

Outside the small square London went about its business; the noise of traffic and people only slightly dampened by the trees and bushes surrounding the perimeter of the tiny oasis. When she had been living with the fair community after her father’s disappearance she had sung most nights – her grandma had seen to that – but even during the day when she’d been doing other things she would sing for the sheer enjoyment of it. Since coming to London there had been little opportunity to practise, though, and for a second or two she was suddenly frightened she might be too rusty. She had never had any difficulty in deciding how to sing a song and bring out the emotion in the words – it was part of the feeling she experienced that she was the song, that was the only way she could describe it to herself. Now, after the first line or two, that familiar

feeling took over and she sang as she had always sung, with her soul laid bare.

She didn’t open her eyes until she had finished the last word, and when she did it was to see Betty sitting with her hand to her mouth while the tears rolled down her cheeks.

A Winter Love Song
is out now and published by Pan Macmillan

A Winter Love Song is a heartwarming and moving story of survival and love from bestselling author Rita Bradshaw.

Bonnie Lindsay is born into a travelling fair community in the north-east in 1918, and when her mother dies just months later, Bonnie’s beloved father becomes everything to her. Then at the tender age of ten years old, disaster strikes. Heartbroken, Bonnie’s left at the mercy of her embittered grandmother and her lecherous step-grandfather.

Five years later, the events of one terrible night cause Bonnie to flee to London where she starts to earn her living as a singer. She changes her name and cuts all links with the past.

Time passes. Bonnie falls in love, but just when she dares to hope for a rosy future, WW2 is declared. She does her bit for the war effort, singing for the troops and travelling to Burma to boost morale, but heartache and pain are just around the corner, and she begins to ask herself if she will ever find happiness again?

About the Author

Rita Bradshaw was born in Northamptonshire, where she lives today. At the age of sixteen she met her husband - whom she considers her soul mate - and they have two daughters and a son, and six grandchildren. Much to her delight, Rita's first novel was accepted for publication and she has gone on to write many more successful novels since, including the number one bestseller Dancing in the Moonlight.

Follow the blog tour on Twitter

#AWinterLoveSong @ed_pr @panmacmillan

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

November is the Month of Remembrance

Now to be still and rest


P H B Lyon

Now to be still and rest, while the heart remembers
All that is learned and loved in the days of long past,
To stoop and warm our hands at the fallen embers,
Glad to have come to the long way’s end at last.

Now to awake, and feel no regret at waking,
Knowing the shadowy days are white again,
To draw our curtains and watch the slow dawn breaking
Silver and grey on English field and lane.

Not to fulfil our dreams, in woods and meadows
Treading the well-loved paths – to pause and cry
‘So, even so I remember it’ – seeing the shadows
Weave on the distant hills their tapestry.

Nor to rejoice in children and join their laughter,
Tuning our hearts once more to the fairy strain,
To hear our names on voices we love, and after
Turn with a smile to sleep and our dream again.

Then – with a new-born strength, the sweet rest over,
Gladly to follow the great white road once more,
To work with a song on our lips and the heart of a lover,
Building a city of peace on the wastes of war.


Saturday, 18 November 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Butcher's Block by Lucienne Boyce

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...18th Century, London 

SilverWood Books
August 2017

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

I first met Bow Street Runner Dan Foster in Bloodie Bones which is the book which starts this excellent historical fiction series, and where I was transported to the dark and dangerous world of Georgian crime. In this second book, Dan is again caught up in a distinctly murky underworld, this time with body-snatchers who are visibly connected with the grisly discovery of some rather interesting human remains. Arresting the culprits is only the first step in a long process which will take Dan into some dark and dangerous places, and which will put him and others in grave danger.

The Butcher's Block is a really exciting continuation of the series, rather darker in content than the first book, but no less compelling and just as intricately plotted. Eighteenth century London, with its dark and shadowy corners, and mean and moody criminal fraternity, really sparkles with intent. And Dan finds to his cost that investigating the activities of the aptly named resurrection men will lead him right into the heart of some dangerous hidden societies who are hell bent on causing insurrection and rebellion.

Discovering the multi-layers and the hidden depths of the story is one of the absolute joys of reading this author's very cleverly controlled novels. Throughout The Butchers Block there is much to take in, not just in terms of plot and malice, but also in the wonderful array of new characters who arrive in the story fully fleshed and with enough deadly intent to keep the story rollicking along at a fast pace.

In this story, it is also interesting to discover a little more about Dan Foster. We see him very much on his own turf, and walking out with him in the areas of London he calls home, makes both the place and the people come vividly to life. In the treacherous undercurrent of Georgian London, Dan Foster strides out with all the gusto of a super hero and I can't wait to see where his adventures will take him next.

25587091 35917840


Friday, 17 November 2017

Blog Tour ~ The Man in the Needlecord Jacket by Linda MacDonald

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the Man in the Needlecord jacket

Blog Tour


My thanks to the author and to Anne at Random Things Tours for my review copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this blog tour.

What's it about ...

When Felicity meets Coll, a charismatic artist, she has high hopes of being distracted from her failed marriage. What she doesn’t know is that he has a partner, Sarah, with whom he has planned a future. Sarah is deeply in love with Coll, but his controlling behaviour and associations with other women have always made her life difficult. When he becomes obsessed with Felicity, Sarah’s world collapses and a series of events is set in motion that will challenge the integrity of all the characters involved. 

My thoughts about it..

There's something very modern about this story which resonates from the beginning and the way that the reader is drawn into the story is testament to the strength of the story telling. That The Man in the Needlecord Jacket is a continuation of sorts made me wonder whether I would be able to sit comfortably with the story but it is perfectly possible to read the book as a stand alone, although I suspect that those who have read the previous novels will understand references to the back story a little more than I did.

I enjoyed the way the story unfolded, especially the unique viewpoints which we get in separate chapters. The way that we get to see both Felicity and Sarah's individual perspective on this rather complex relationship triangle, makes for interesting reading. There is much to take in, especially in terms of how the women's relationship with Coll develops, and whilst I didn't like Coll at all, I did feel great sympathy for these two women who he manipulated, and then betrayed, so selfishly.

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket looks at life, and the mature nature of love, in a different sort of way. Its perceptive insight into the faults, foibles and weaknesses of all of its characters is one of the absolute strengths of the novel.

It's probably better to have first read the other books which make up the series but regardless of that, and if like me you haven't, then don't worry, as this is still a very readable standalone story by a talented author.

Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria. She is the author of Missing Lydia,A Meeting of a Different Kind, and The Alone Alternative, which although can be read independently , they form a trilogy. The Man in the Needlecord Jacket continues the series but also stands alone in its own right.

Follow on Twitter @LindaMac1


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Candlestick Press ~ A Feast of Prose for Christmas and the New Year

The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown

Holly and Ivy by multi award-winning writer Sean O’Brien is a spooky winter fable that’s guaranteed to add an extra frisson to everyone’s Christmas.

Published by Candlestick Press
October 2017, priced £4.95
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of Holly and Ivy

My thoughts...

This is a spooky little Christmas story which looks at the concept of family and the expectations which tend to overshadow the meaning of Christmas, the superficiality which, all too often, becomes far more important than it should, and when offered the chance of a new beginning, we should grasp the opportunity.

The story begins and ends with two lovely poems, one by Emily Bronte, and the other by contemporary poet, Suzannah Evans.

It's a lovely story to read on a cold December afternoon, with a warming cup of hot chocolate nearby.

Purchase of Holly and Ivy ensures a donation to Save the Children 

In contrast, Gift of the Old One by smallholder and goat-breeder Eunice ‘Pixie’ Day is a heart-warming tale from America that will delight readers of all ages and reminds us of the true spirit of Christmas.

Published by Candlestick Press
October 2017, priced £4.95
My thanks to the publishers for my copies of Gift of the Old One

My thoughts...

There is something profoundly moving about this story which looks at the concept of love and loyalty and the generosity of spirit which comes from looking after and caring for animals. That animals can offer a source of comfort and constancy is without question but in this beautifully narrated, and illustrated, short story we see the best of the human spirit.

The story starts and ends with two lovely poems which nicely compliment the story of the Gift of the Old One.

I think this is definitely my new favourite Christmas story.

Purchase of Gift of the Old One ensures a donation to Buttercups Goat Sanctuary 

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, Puddings, Birds, Kindness, Home, Grandparents, Mothers and Fathers. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Find out more about about Candlestick Press by clicking here

Follow on Twitter @PoetryCandle


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Candlestick Press ~ A Feast of Poetry for Christmas and the New Year

Two anthologies of brand new poems by leading contemporary poets mark an exciting first for Candlestick Press and sit at the heart of its Christmas offering of six festive titles of both poetry and prose.


All published by Candlestick Press
October 2017, priced £4.95
My thanks to the publishers for my copies of these poetry pamphlets 

Christmas Garland and Christmas Crackers contain poems commissioned from major poets including this year’s TS Eliot Prize winner Jacob Polley, New Generation Poets Tara Bergin and Helen Mort, Oxford Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage, former Ireland Professor of Poetry Paula Meehan and Queen’s Gold Medal winner John Agard. Each poet has responded with characteristic verve and originality to Candlestick’s invitation to write a poem in celebration of a particular aspect of Christmas.

Candlestick’s poetry title for children is Christmas Stocking edited by poet and grandfather George Szirtes. The title is enchantingly illustrated throughout by David&Rews and features five magical poems; there’s one about the traditional pantomime trip and another about a first uncertain meeting with Santa – plus a beautiful new poem by George himself.

Purchase of Christmas Stocking ensures a donation to UNICEF

Fourteen Festive Sonnets, edited by poet James Nash completes Candlestick’s Christmas Collection. This sumptuous selection of sonnets old and new offers a kaleidoscope of reflections on the festive season. The poems invite us to reflect on the chilly beauty of winter and the lovely blaze of Christmas at its heart.

Purchase of Fourteen Festive Sonnets ensures a donation to Samaritans

My thoughts...

It's no secret of my love for these sumptuous editions published by Candlestick press and this Christmas collection is particularly lovely with some wonderful poems by poets old and new. In each of the pamphlets there is something rather special. Poems to make to you smile and remember Christmas past, poems which make you look forward to Christmas present, and always with a hint of memory and a sense of surprise.

The pamphlets are always beautifully presented and printed with wonderful covers and include a perfectly appropriate book mark. They make perfect little gifts to tuck into a Christmas stocking or to send to a friend instead of a card.

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, Puddings, Birds, Kindness, Home, Grandparents, Mothers and Fathers. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Find out more by visiting their website 

Follow on Twitter @PoetryCandle


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Christmas Read ~ Away for Christmas by Jan Ruth

Celtic Connections
13 November 2017

My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this book

What's it all about...

Jonathan Jones has written a novel. Losing his job a few days before Christmas means the pressure is on for his book to become a bestseller, but when his partner drops her own bombshell, the festive holiday looks set to be a disaster. 

When he’s bequeathed a failing bookshop in their seaside town, it seems that some of his prayers have been answered, but his publishing company turn out to be not what they seem, and when his ex-wife suddenly declares her romantic intent, another Christmas looks set to be complicated. 

Is everything lost, or can the true meaning of words, a dog called Frodo, and the sheer magic of Christmas be enough to save Jonathan’s book, and his skin?

My thoughts about it...

Sometimes we need to make changes in our lives before we can move forward, and for Jonathan Jones giving up his job just before Christmas will give him, he thinks, just the jolt he needs to finish off writing and promoting his novel. However, he finds out, to his cost, that the publishing world can be fraught with difficulties and not every book to hit the book shelves has 'best seller' written all over it. 

What then follows is a delightful seasonal story which looks at the vagaries of the publishing world alongside Jonathan's journey of self discovery. The North Wales setting, is as always, lovingly recreated by this author who knows the area well, and who writes about the small seaside town of Rhos-on Sea with such wonderful attention to detail that I felt as if I was strolling down the main street, with the tang of sea salt and the harsh cry of seagulls resonating in my head.

As you would expect of a novella of just over a hundred or so pages, the story moves along quickly, as there is much to pack into a small space, and yet, the story never feels rushed or incomplete. I'm not going to say any more about the story as you would do well to read it for yourself, but there were some lovely observations of the book world, and reviewers, which as a reader and a book blogger made me smile and laugh out loud in places. I loved the whole concept of Beachside Books, in my opinion, every town should have one, and when I am next in this small corner of North Wales, I am sure I will be keeping an eye open for Frodo as he encourages customers into the book shop to peruse the shelves and drink the excellent Colombian coffee.

I was completely charmed by Away for Christmas, from the beauty of its stunning cover, to the bookish world which is so lovingly recreated by an author who writes, not just for herself and her readers, but also to bring alive this beautiful area of North Wales, a place which she calls home.

If, in the busy rush towards Christmas, you only have time to squeeze in one short story, then let it be this one. Feed your e-reader, brew your coffee, turn off your phone and, courtesy of this talented author go Away for Christmas.

Jan Ruth writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic with a generous helping of humour, horses and dogs. Her books blend the serenities of rural life with the headaches of city business, exploring the endless complexities of relationships.

Visit the author on her Website

Follow on Twitter @JanRuthAuthor

Find the book on Amazon UK

Check out on Goodreads


Monday, 13 November 2017

Guest Author ~ Kathryn Freeman

I am delighted to introduce to Jaffareadstoo, Choc Lit Author

Kathryn Freeman

Hi, Kathryn, welcome to Jaffareadstoo...

Thank you Jo, (and Jaffa of course) so much for inviting me onto your lovely blog. To help celebrate the paperback publication of A Second Christmas Wish, I’ve chosen the following extract to share with you. It features William, Melissa’s shy young son, having his first lesson with his new tennis coach, ex-professional tennis player Daniel McCormick. 

Daniel was enjoying his session with William. At some point during the warm-up games and the chats he’d instigated during them, the boy had forgotten to be shy. He’d also begun to demonstrate an uncanny eye for the ball.

‘You know you could be a really good tennis player if you’re willing to stick with it,’ he told him as they collected the balls up after the final exercise.

‘Yeah, sure.’ William focused on tipping two balls from his racket into the ball carrier.

‘You don’t believe me?’

His head shot up guiltily. ‘Yes, Sir, I believe you.’

‘That’s good.’ When his head began to drop again, Daniel tapped him on the shoulder to regain his attention. ‘You’ve got a good eye and fast feet. Those are two things you can’t learn. The rest is only technique and practice.’

William took his time to consider this. ‘Will I be as good as you when I’m older?’

Laughter rumbled in Daniel’s chest. ‘Maybe. It depends how badly you want it.’ He took hold of William’s racket and pressed the strings. ‘It would help if you had a decent racket. Perhaps next month you can ask Father Christmas for one.’

William’s face immediately shuttered. ‘He doesn’t exist.’

‘Who told you that?’

‘My dad.’

Daniel already disliked Lawrence Raven from the few hints Alice had dropped about Melissa’s ex. Now he wanted to punch his lights out. ‘So your dad’s the world expert on Father Christmas, is he?’

William frowned. ‘I don’t know.’

‘Tell me, what does your mum say about Father Christmas?’

‘She says he’s real.’

‘Clever lady. And do you get any presents on Christmas Day?’

‘Yes. She says they’re from Father Christmas, but I reckon they’re from her.’

Daniel hoisted his tennis bag over his left shoulder – the right still bugged him now and again – and picked up the ball carrier. ‘Strikes me you need some evidence to decide who’s right, your mum or your dad. How about you write to Father Christmas and ask for a racket, but don’t tell your mum about it. If you get one on Christmas day, you’ll have your answer.’

About the book:

A Second Christmas Wish is now available to purchase in both paperback and eBook format from all good book retailers and platforms. Click HERE for buying options. 

Choc Lit
1 November 2017

Do you believe in Father Christmas?

For Melissa, Christmas has always been overrated. From her cold, distant parents to her manipulative ex-husband, Lawrence, she’s never experienced the warmth and contentment of the festive season with a big, happy family sitting around the table.

And Melissa has learned to live with it, but it breaks her heart that her seven-year-old son, William, has had to live with it too. Whilst most little boys wait with excitement for the big day, William finds it difficult to believe that Father Christmas even exists.

But then Daniel McCormick comes into their lives. And with his help, Melissa and William might just be able to find their festive spirit, and finally have a Christmas where all of their wishes come true …

Author Contact details

Jaffareadstoo has a wonderful festive feel on this cold, wintery day.

Huge thanks to Kathryn for spending time with us and for sharing her lovely extract from



Sunday, 12 November 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

November is the month of Remembrance

In Flanders Fields


John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

On Remembrance Sunday in our family we remember

Private John Hopkins
The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Died 24 January 1919
Buried Ince Cemetery, Wigan, Lancashire

Driver Frederick Arkwright
Royal Army Service Corps
Died 1 February 1945

Buried Schoonselhof Cemetery 
Antwerp, Belgium

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Dark Clouds Over Nuala by Harriet Steel

On Hist Fic Saturday 

Let's go back to... 1930s Ceylon

Stane Street Press
My thanks to the author for  my copy of this book

Returning to 1930 Ceylon in the company of Inspector Shanti de Silva and his delightful wife, Jane, is rather like becoming reacquainted with old friends, in whose convivial company you enjoy a pleasant afternoon in a delightful setting.

It also sees a welcome return of all the lovely characters we met in the first book and it's a real pleasure to see how they are all progressing, especially, Constable Nadar as he struggles with the pitfalls of new parenthood, and Sergeant Prasanna's rather dangerous entanglement with a young lady from a neighbouring village gives us a rather shadowy side to the story.

The mystery at the heart of the novel is perhaps a little more complex in this second book and I enjoyed watching how all the clues pieced together. As always, Inspector de Silva is a shrewd operator, keeping everything perfectly in control and never giving too much away until all the pieces of the puzzle fit comfortably together.

The author writes well, both in terms of keeping a complicated plot ticking along nicely but also in the way the people and place come vividly to life so that it becomes very easy to imagine the genteel brightness of 1930s Ceylon. The whirl of social activities and the well mannered behaviour of the colonials is in direct contrast with the sinister activities in which Silva finds himself immersed in, especially when his investigation into an alleged suicide turns into something far more complicated.

There is no need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this second Inspector de Silva mystery however, Trouble in Nuala is such a lovely start to the series that, for greater enjoyment, you would do well to follow the series from the beginning.

You can find out more about the author on her blog

Follow on Twitter @harrietsteel1

Amazon UK


Friday, 10 November 2017

Blog Tour ~ Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on the Wilde in Love Blog Tour

October 2017
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book and the opportunity to be part of this blog tour

The first book in Eloisa James’s dazzling new series set in the Georgian period glows with her trademark wit and sexy charm-and introduces a large, eccentric family. Things are about to get Wilde... 

Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks.

Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father's castle, but just as he grasps that he's not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

Willa presents the façade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.

Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own . . . until he meets Willa. He’s never lost a battle. But a spirited woman like Willa isn’t going to make it easy ...

My thoughts about it...

As with any first book in a proposed new series there is always a certain amount of getting to know the characters and I think this is certainly the case with Wilde in Love. Our introduction to Lord Alaric Wilde begins as he returns to England and, thanks to his exploits as an intrepid adventurer, ladies are queuing up to meet him. That he is handsome and debonair goes a  long way to making him absolutely irresistible to the opposite sex.

Used to getting his own way with any lady he chooses, Alaric definitely meets his match, when attending a house part at his family home, Lindow Castle in Cheshire,  he is introduced to Miss Willa Ffynche, a young woman who is determinedly curious about the world around her but who, at first, seems decidedly unmoved by Alaric's obvious romantic interest in her.

What then follows is a delightfully romantic 'will they, won't they' story. Alaric's pursuit of Willa is met with difficulties along the way but their eventual mutual attraction is written with a light and easy touch and with charming attention to romantic detail. The author writes to entertain her reading audience and Wilde in Love bears all the trademarks of her successful romantic fiction. Light and frothy in place, wildly passionate in others , this latest offering has a sweet sort of charm. At times, I had to suspend belief, but then, this is romantic fiction, and the author does this genre with practiced ease.

I enjoyed this first book in the Wildes of Lindow Castle series and I am sure that fans of this author's writing will also enjoy starting on a new series of romantic adventures.

A New York Times bestseller many times over, Eloisa James lives in New York City, where she is a Shakespeare professor (with an M.Phil. from Oxford). She is also the mother of two children and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight.


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Blog Tour ~ Legacy of Spies by John le Carré

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the blog tour for Legacy of Spies

For the first time in over 30 years, John le Carré returns to the Cold War 

in this thrilling masterpiece

Viking Books
September 2017

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, has retired to his family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London are to be scrutinised by a generation with no memory of the Cold War. Somebody must be made to pay for innocent blood once spilt in the name of the greater good. 

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own story, John le Carré has given us a novel of superb and enduring quality.

My Thoughts...

Legacy of Spies work well as a standalone story, however, those readers who have read a couple of its Smiley predecessors, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy will probably gain more from reading what is, in effect, a 'tieing up of loose ends' sort of story.

That John le Carré is the undisputed king of the espionage novel is without doubt and I enjoyed reading of the intricacies of the British Secret Service, which he brings to life so vividly, and of the ethical uncertainties and petty squabbles which linger in the shadows.The author's succinct turn of phrase, and the way his characters are allowed to quietly infiltrate the novel without any fuss, or of never quite knowing who is truthful or trustworthy, is all part of the espionage game, and the author does this ambiguity extremely well.

Although the story covers events from the past, there is also a very modern feel to the story, especially in the details of the 21st century spy headquarters and the way in which that operates, which is a far cry from the dim and distant days when George Smiley and his gang ruled the roost.

My feeling is that if you have read the series you will be happy with this book but it's perhaps not the place to start if you haven't read any of the stories before. The back story references need to be appreciated in order to understand just how clever is this conclusion.

About the Author

John le Carré was born in 1931. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. His recent novels include A Most Wanted Man, Our Kind of Traitor and A Delicate Truth. His only work of non-fiction, The Pigeon Tunnel, was a number one bestseller in 2016.


Twitter@lecarre_news #ALegacyofSpies


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Blog Tour ~ Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hostng today's stop on the Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe 

Blog Tour

Hodder & Stoughton
16 November 2017

My thanks to the publisher for my ecopy of this book and the invitation to be part of this blog tour

Here's what's the story is about ...

As partner at a major New York hedge fund, Darcy's only serious relationship is with her work cellphone. The truth is, she's too busy being successful and making money to have time for Christmas... let alone to allow romance into her life.

But this year Darcy is coming home to Pemberley, Ohio, for the holidays. There, she runs into her old neighbour and high-school foe Luke Bennet - the oldest of five wayward brothers. When Darcy's enmity with Luke is re-opened, along with a hefty dollop of sexual chemistry... well, sparks are sure to fly. Can Darcy fall in love - or will her pride, and Luke's prejudice against big-city girls, stand in their way?

This sparkling retelling of Pride and Prejudice will warm your heart over the festive season.

Thanks to the publishers, Hodder&Storughton, I am delighted to be able to share this tantalising extract from Chapter Two of Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz...

Darcy’s childhood bedroom was half a floor beneath her parents’ and on the end of a marble landing. It overlooked an Olympic- size swimming pool surrounded by checkerboard tile and white lounge chairs, with an infinity waterfall segueing into a clear blue hot tub. The room hadn’t changed one bit since she had last seen it eight years ago. The navy sateen of her canopy bed, the wall of plaques and trophies from high school debates and academic honors and horseback riding competitions. It was all still there. She locked the door behind her and went to her bookshelf, which still held all her old favorite books: The Great Gatsby, Atlas Shrugged, Sense and Sensibility, War and Peace, and so many more. These had been the books to get her through the loneliness of high school. She ran her finger along their spines.

“Oh my God.” She laughed, her eyes falling on the stuffed animal perched at the end of the shelf.

“Little Lion!” Little Lion had been a present from her father when she was nine years old and had to have her appendix removed. She could still remember waking up from surgery to find her father at the side of the bed, holding the stuffed animal with a red bow around its neck, made extra bright and shimmery by the painkillers. She had named him Little Lion because, even then, she didn’t like the idea of making things up. She liked cold, hard facts that couldn’t be argued with, and so she gave him a name that would most accurately represent who he was.

Now she took him in her arms and laid down on the cool cotton sheets of her childhood bed. As she lay there, the sun began to set outside the wide window, where freshly cut flowers sat in Le Creuset vases. And as the sun set, her thoughts spun. It had been a whirlwind twelve hours since she received the phone call with news of her mother’s heart attack and she hopped on the first morning flight to Ohio. The transition from her new life suddenly into her old life felt surreal and jarring. She couldn’t reconcile the person she was now with the person she used to be, and she couldn’t get the image of her father’s disappointed, resentful face out of her head.

At the same time that her old life felt light-years away, it was also hard to believe that it had been eight whole years since things had gone sour between her and her father. In some ways, it felt like just yesterday that she had “let her whole family and community down” by not agreeing to follow her father’s plan for her. What he wanted was for her to marry her high school (and on- and- off- again college) boyfriend, Carl, who came from a respectable family of lawyers, doctors, and war heroes who had been the pride and joy of Pemberley, Ohio, for generations.

Darcy had tried hard to feel passionate about Carl, tried to convince herself that he was the one, but at the end of the day their days together felt dry and their nights left much to be desired.

Mr. Fitzwilliam’s wishes for his daughter were twofold, and the second fold involved her doing what a truly good and honourable woman would do: give birth to children and dedicate her life to raising them. Like the first fold of his plan, this didn’t work for her either.

“I don’t have to marry him, Dad,” she had said, sitting across from him at the long, stretching dining room table.

“No, you don’t,” he had replied triumphantly, as if the card he held would surely win this game. “Not if you don’t mind living on your own money.”

“You mean—”

“That’s right. I’ll restrict you from access to your inheritance, and I certainly won’t finance your life while you gallivant around New York City doing Lord knows what.”

Darcy had considered this momentarily, but ultimately knew what she had to do. Her happiness was in jeopardy, after all. She rejected her family money, broke up with Carl for the dozenth time, and moved to New York in search of what it meant to be independent.

“We made the right decision, didn’t we, Little Lion?” Sometimes she wasn’t so sure. After all, this was her first Christmas with people other than herself, and here she was talking to a stuffed lion, the only thing she had ever truly been able to confide in. It wasn’t that she didn’t have any friends; it was just that nobody could understand her the way an inanimate, nonresponsive object could.

“You’re pathetic,” she said to herself, then apologized for the insult. Her therapist, Dr. Springs, liked to talk to her about self-love and going easy on oneself, something Darcy knew almost nothing about. In the way of self- care, all Darcy really knew was setting goals and working toward them, then rewarding or punishing herself depending on the outcome.

“Don’t beat yourself up,” Dr. Springs liked to say. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first, otherwise you’ll have nothing to work with.”

She repeated these messages in her head, telling herself that she’d have to relax and put her life back in New York aside if she wanted to be of any real help to her mom at all. Her mom would be okay, wouldn’t she? If Mrs. Fitzwilliam was telling the truth, then she was on the mend and would be good as new by Christmas. This would be a one-time thing and life would go on as usual. But Darcy knew all about her mom’s bad habits and faltering health. She’d been a lifelong smoker, had a sweet tooth the size of Mount Everest, and was one of those women who made it look glamorous to start drinking Belvedere at ten in the morning. When Darcy had held her hand upstairs, it had felt cold and frail. A small wave of fear rolled through the pit of Darcy’s stomach.

She unzipped her Louis Vuitton suitcase and took out her favorite Kate Spade deco dot pajamas. She took out her toothbrush and the lavender- scented, self- cooling eye mask that she never slept without. As she carried these items to bed, she felt exhaustion rise up as if from nowhere to claim her. It closed in around her foggy head, causing her eyelids to droop suddenly.

I’ll just sit down for one minute, she thought, letting the weight of her body plop down onto the bedding. She let her eyes close, and before she had time to protest, she fell asleep, clutching her belongings to her chest.

The next morning, Darcy woke, startled and disoriented, at the first sign of sunlight. Where am I? She wondered for a brief moment, before the reality of waking life came flooding back. There was a knock at her door.

“Who is it?” she called out.

“Lorna, dear.”

“Just a second!” Darcy looked down at her fully clothed self. She tore off her clothes and slipped into the Kate Spade pajamas,not wanting word to get around that she had fallen asleep in her clothes. 

“Okay, you can come in,” she said, once she felt presentable, more like a civilized human being and less like the sleep- deprived workaholic she was.

The door opened and there stood Lorna with a silver breakfast tray, supplied with a pot of steaming-hot coffee and a sprig of honeysuckle.

“You didn’t have to do that!” Darcy insisted, standing up to meet Lorna halfway.

“Your mother insisted,” Lorna said, brushing off Darcy’s attempt to help her and setting the silver tray down on Darcy’s nightstand.

“How is she doing?” Darcy sat cross- legged on the bed and picked up an orange from the tray.

“Honestly, dear, she’s not doing very well. Nothing to worry about, really, but Dr. Law doesn’t want her going to the party tonight. He thinks it’s better she rest. Gather her strength.”

“Lucky,” Darcy said, before she could stop herself.

“Sorry, dear?” Lorna looked alarmed.

“Oh, ha,” Darcy scrambled to explain, “of course I didn’t mean she’s lucky to be ill. I just meant that I myself am sort of . . .uncomfortable about going to the party, so I meant my mom is lucky that she has a good excuse not to go. I didn’t mean for it to be insensitive. I’m worried about her, of course, I hate to think—”

“Darcy.” Lorna’s tone was gentle, warm, and forgiving. “I’ve known you long enough to know that you’re anything but insensitive.”

“Really? Most people think I’m a cold hearted bitch. Excuse my language.”

“Well, those people don’t know the real you. They only know your tough exterior you’ve developed from years of having to fend for yourself. But I’ve known you since you were a baby, don’t forget. You can’t fool me.”

“Well, thank you, Lorna,” Darcy said earnestly. “That means a lot to me.”

“You’re very welcome. Now, why don’t you want to go to this party?”

“The same reason I never come home!” Darcy explained, throwing her hands up. “Because half the people in this town take it as a personal offense that I left! And they’re all going to be at the party. Not to mention my own dad, who uses every opportunity he possibly can to try to make me feel bad for leaving. And if my mom’s not well enough to go to the party, why should I? She’s the whole reason I’m here, isn’t she? I should stay upstairs with her and keep her company.”

“First of all, your mother knew you would say that, and she wants me to tell you that she insists you attend the party. She’s been wanting you at an annual Christmas party for eight years, and now that you’re here, she won’t take no for an answer.”

“What? Why?”

“Because,” Lorna explained, “she wants you to reconnect with the people who love you, the place where you came from.”

“Oh boy.” Darcy rolled her eyes, but she had a gnawing feeling that her mother was right, that maybe she actually could benefit from reconnecting to her roots. Pemberley wasn’t perfect, and she’d had her reasons to flee, but living here she’d never been half as lonely as she was in New York. Her life back in Pemberley had been slower, sure, but it had feeling, it had substance. It had late- night conversations at the Tavern and all- day picnics in the fall. And, lastly, her life in Pemberley had familiar faces with good intentions, people who knew her and always wanted what was best for her, even though they never understood her, not really.

“Now, second of all, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but besides your father, nobody cares that you left. They’re all over it. They have their own lives to worry about. And nobody thinks you’re a freak; they’re all too busy thinking about themselves to think of you at all.”

“Lorna!” Darcy laughed.

“It’s true, dear. Nobody blames you for leaving home and following your dreams. If anything, you’re probably respected for it by now.”

“I hope you’re right, Lorna.” Darcy smiled.

My thanks to the publishers for their permission to share this extract.

Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publisher's Weekly and #1 Indie Bound bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages. Melissa lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with her husband and daughter.