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