Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Audible Review ~ The Monster Collection

The Monster Collection Audiobook
My thanks to Midas and for my listening copy of The Monster Collection

Written by: Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Maria Mellins, Peter Howell
Narrated by: Richard Armitage, Dan Stevens, Greg Wise, Rachel Atkins

Length: 30 hrs and 24 mins 

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date:24/10/2017

Publisher: Audible Studios

These stories need no introduction as I am sure that everyone is aware of the continuing and timeless fascination for this trio of classic stories.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is narrated by Richard Armitage
Frankenstein is narrated by Dan Stevens 
Dracula is narrated by Greg Wise

All the narrators have their own unique way of telling the story and I found, in listening, whole new aspects of the stories which I had previously not registered or had forgotten entirely. That the stories remain spookily credible in today's modern world is testament to the absolute strength of the original, which never need any embellishment to make them as fresh and as compelling as the day on which they were written.

The length of the audible narration, over 30 hours, needs a level of commitment, but I also think that these are amongst the best sort of stories for listening to in snippets rather than in whole great chunks as that way the individuality of the stories can be savoured and enjoyed rather like vintage wine,

My favourite has always been Dracula and Greg Wise does a superb job of bringing this fascinating story to life. There's a subtle blend of suspense mingled with the classic story telling tradition of dark tales told around a flickering fireside, and as always, Bram Stoker's classic really comes alive in the imagination. 

The Gothic elements of all three novels are timeless and sit within the imagination really well and if you haven't time to read all three novels then listening to The Monster Collection would make an ideal accompaniment to a long journey. 

You can find the Audible edition of The Monster Collection by clicking here 


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, 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