Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Blog Tour ~ Secrets of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the 

Secrets of the Shipyard Girls Blog Tour

Arrow Books
21 September 2017

The third book in the compelling saga series The Shipyard Girls 

Perfect for fans of Donna Douglas and Ellie Dean

Sunderland, 1941

As the world war continues the shipyard girls face hardships at home, but work and friendship give them strength to carry on.

Gloria is smitten with her newly arrived bundle of joy, but baby Hope’s first weeks are bittersweet. Hope's father is missing at sea, and with their future as a family so uncertain, Gloria must lean on her girls for support.

Meanwhile, head welder Rosie has turned her back on love to keep her double life secret. But her persistent beau is determined to find out the truth and if he does, it could ruin her.

And there is finally a glimmer of hope for Polly and her family when Bel and Joe fall in love. But it isn’t long before a scandalous revelation threatens to pull them all apart.

My thoughts:

Even if you haven't read the previous books in this wartime saga series it is very easy to pick up the gist of the back story as the author is very good at explaining what has happened before and I quickly became accustomed to the central characters and enjoyed reading of their lives and loves in war time Sunderland. That these women were able to keep such a vital industry, as the shipyards functioning, and doing so with great success, is testament to their strength of spirit.

In this third volume of stories about The Shipyard Girls we focus on lives of Gloria, Rosie and Polly. All are strong and feisty women, but they each have something hidden in their backgrounds which threaten their future happiness. They are all employed at the shipyard of J. L. Thompson in Sunderland and even though their work is tough and often fraught with danger, the camaraderie between the women is palpable and heart-warming and, as they all look out for each other, so their lives become intertwined.

The author writes with a real sense of history and using her local knowledge of the area is able to bring both the place and its people to life. The characters are entertaining and appealing with some perhaps more likeable than others. But always, there is a real sense of purpose and an authenticity, bringing everything to life in such a vibrant way, that you can’t help but become emotionally involved in each of their stories. The plot weaves together well, and there are more than enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages until all the hidden secrets are revealed.

The fourth book in the series, Shipyard Girls in Love publishes 22nd March 2018 and is available to
pre-order now

Nancy Revell is a writer and journalist under another name, and has worked for many national newspapers, providing them with hard-hitting news stories and in-depth features. She has also worked for just about every woman’s magazine, writing amazing and inspirational true life stories.

Nancy has recently relocated back to her home town of Sunderland,Tyne & Wear, with her husband Paul and their English Bull Mastiff, Rosie.

They live a short walk from the beautiful, award-winning beaches of Roker and Seaburn, within a mile of where The Shipyard Girls series is set. The subject is close to Nancy’s heart as she comes from a long line of shipbuilders, who were well-known in the area.

Follow the rest of the Blog Tour on Twitter @arevellwatson


Thanks to Clare at Penguin Random House for my review copy of Secrets of the Shipyard Girls and the kind invitation to be part of this blog tour.


Monday, 25 September 2017

Review ~ Genuine Fraud by e lockhart

Hot Key Books
7 September 2017


The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.

Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. 
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. 

A bad romance, or maybe three.

Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. 

A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.A girl who refuses to be the person she once was

A girl who is ....a genuine fraud

My thoughts:

It's difficult to know where to start with this one as from the very beginning there is a sense that nothing you are witnessing bears anything like a resemblance to truth. That the central character, Jule has far too many secrets is obvious from quite early on but just how this impacts on the story is revealed in pieces only where the writer thinks is necessary. The way the story is written and presented, and I won't spoil it at all by telling you what that is but it takes some getting used to and won't be everyone's cup of tea. I'll leave it for readers to decide if it works. I still have mixed feelings about it, but it certainly keeps you guessing 😁

Even after finishing the story, I'm not convinced that I fully understand everything the writer wanted to achieve, perhaps it's one of those stories which works better on a re-read, as by then you may be able to pick up the clues which are missed on a quick first read through. The initial part of the story I found sharp and snappy and I really enjoyed Jule's ability to change chameleon like when life got too complicated. It's only a short book, coming in at 260 pages, but it certainly packs a punch and is memorable because it's just that bit different from the current batch of psychological suspense novels and I applaud the author for being brave enough to shake things up a little.

If you enjoyed The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith then this book will most certainly appeal as, by the author's own admission, she was influenced by this author, amongst others. I especially enjoyed the literary references which are scattered like pearls throughout Genuine Fraud, especially Jule's interest in Charles Dickens and his novel, Great Expectations.

E. Lockhart is the author of nine novels, including the best selling We Were Liars. 

Visit her website

Follow on Twitter @elockhart  #GenuineFraud

My thanks to Tina at Bonnier Zaffre for my review copy of Genuine Fraud


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

The Dead Kings

By Francis Ledwidge

All the dead kings came to me

At Rosnaree, where I was dreaming,

A few stars glimmered through the morn,

And down the thorn the dews were streaming.

And every dead king had a story

Of ancient glory, sweetly told.

It was too early for the lark,

But the starry dark had tints of gold.

I listened to the sorrows three

Of that Eire passed into song.

A cock crowed near a hazel croft,

And up aloft dim larks winged strong.

And I, too, told the kings a story

Of later glory, her fourth sorrow:

There was a sound like moving shields

In high green fields and the lowland furrow.

And one said: ‘We who yet are kings

Have heard these things lamenting inly.’

Sweet music flowed from many a bill

And on the hill the morn stood queenly.

And one said: ‘Over is the singing,

And bell bough ringing, whence we come;

With heavy hearts we’ll tread the shadows,

In honey meadows birds are dumb.’

And one said: ‘Since the poets perished

And all they cherished in the way,

Their thoughts unsung, like petal showers

Inflame the hours of blue and grey.’

And one said: ‘A loud tramp of men

We’ll hear again at Rosnaree.’

A bomb burst near me where I lay.

I woke, ’twas day in Picardy.

Francis Ledwidge was an Irish writer and poet. 

He was killed in action at Passchendaele in 1917


Saturday, 23 September 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Pocketful of Dreams by Jean Fullerton

On Hist Fic Saturday let's go back in time...

to East London, 1939 

August 2017

It's 1939 and the East End of London is facing difficult times. However, the people's stoical spirit and long held notion of always making the best of everything reverberates throughout this war time saga which focuses on the tumultuous first years of the Second World War.

The Brogan family of Mafeking Terrace are East Enders through and through, and their indomitable spirit shines throughout this story which focuses on Mattie, the eldest Brogan girl, and her relationship with a mysterious young man who has arrived in the area.

The author has really brought to life the camaraderie and close knit community of the East End and shows what life could have been like for those who made their home in this area. There's some wonderful Brogan family moments, particularly at the wedding which opens the novel and also in the glorious character of the family matriarch , Granny Queenie, who rules the roost in her own unique style.

I enjoyed the many twists and turns in the novel and the inclusion of the unsettling and rather frightening actions of a handful of Nazi war sympathisers, who terrorised the area, added some darkly realistic moments, and which highlighted just what a dangerous time this was for those who just wanted to live their lives in peace.  Her characters are filled with oodles of personality, and whilst some are not likeable, there is one in particular who you hope will get his comeuppance, the majority of the people are filled with genuine East End charm, making the story such an enjoyable and fascinating read.

Pocketful of Dreams starts a new series of historical fiction by this author. Readers may well be aware of her previous historical series which have been set in the East End. Turning to World War Two history gives the author scope to show another side of this area and she does so with great aplomb and fine eye for detail. With warmth and wit she brings the place and it's people to vibrant life.

I really enjoyed getting to know the Brogan family and am already looking forward to seeing where the next book in the series will take us.

Jean Fullerton is the author of eight historical novels and two novellas She is a qualified District and Queen's nurse who has spent most of her working life in the East End of London, first as a Sister in charge of a team, and then as a District Nurse tutor. She is also a qualified teacher and spent twelve years lecturing on community nursing studies at a London university. She now writes full-time.

More about the author can be found on her website by clicking here
Twitter @JeanFullerton_

My thanks to the author and  to Karen at Corvus for my review copy of A Pocketful of Dreams


Friday, 22 September 2017

Review ~ The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis



For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight's retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it's turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they've been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all - where has her husband gone?

My thoughts..

A paradise island, a handsome and loving husband, should all add up to an idyllic honeymoon but for Jemma, what should have been a wonderful start to married life very soon dissolves into the holiday from hell.

The Honeymoon is a really clever psychological suspense story and such is the creativity of the writing that even though I actively disliked the main characters, I couldn't help but want to know what happened to them, and more especially what happened to Jemma's husband, whose disappearance  and Jemma's reaction to this forms the core of the novel.

Throughout the story there are twists and turns aplenty and a huge jaw dropping moment that took me completely unawares and made me so surprised that I had to tootle off to make a restorative cup of tea.

If you like convoluted suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat then The Honeymoon will certainly appeal, perhaps, just don't read it if you intend to honeymoon in the glorious Maldive islands any time soon 😁

About the Author

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire , and after graduating from the University of Bath spent over twenty years working in marketing and advertising.She is the author of two other novels, One Step Too Far and A Serpentine Affair. Tina lives in London with her husband and son.

Twitter @tinaseskis #The Honeymoon

 My thanks to Sarah at Penguin for my review copy of The Honeymoon


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Review ~ Verdi : The Man Revealed by John Suchet

Elliot & Thompson
September 2017

It's always a real treat when one of these sumptuously produced books arrives for me to read and review and to have a glimpse into the life of Guiseppe Verdi, one of the greatest operatic composers , written by one of my favourite Classic FM presenters is, for me, something to really get excited about.

With wonderful glossy pages, this meticulously researched biography is easy to read and wonderfully informative, and  if, like me, you have little knowledge of the life of these great composers...well, to have everything you need to know in one lovely, glossy volume is a wonderful idea. I really enjoyed flipping through the book and reading chapters at whim, always finding something interesting and fascinating to learn about this most complex of individuals.

The author writes with real authority and includes, in this biography, all those snippets of information about Verdi's greatest works which are so important. From Rigoletto to Othello, La Traviata to Aida, all human emotion is to be found within his great catalogue of works, and the author ensures that all these are included and described in a very readable way. I particularly enjoyed reading of Verdi's early life in Italy, and the confusion surrounding his date of birth made me smile. 

Beautifully illustrated, the book is a sumptuous and beautiful journey through the whole of Verdi's very eventful life which I am sure will appeal to music lovers everywhere.

Verdi: The Man Revealed would make a perfect Christmas present for any classical music lover. My copy is definitely one to keep and cherish.

If you enjoy reading about the musical greats, then perhaps consider these composer

 biographies written for Classic FM by John Suchet

Published by Elliot & Thompson


26204875  16655520

About the Author

John Suchet presents Classic FM’s flagship morning programme, from 9am every weekday. His informative style of presentation, coupled with a deep knowledge of classical music, has won a wide spectrum of new listeners to the station. Before turning to classical music, John was one of the UK’s best-known television journalists. As a reporter for ITN he covered world events, including the Iran revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Philippines revolution. He then became a newscaster, regularly presenting ITN’s flagship News at Ten, as well as all other bulletins, over a period of nearly twenty years.

John has been honoured for both roles. In 1986 he was voted Television Journalist of the Year, in 1996 Television Newscaster of the Year, and in 2008 the Royal Television Society awarded him its highest accolade, a Lifetime Achievement Award. John has been given an honorary degree by his old university, the University of Dundee, and in 2001 the Royal Academy of Music awarded him an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his work on Beethoven, having written six books on the composer, including the highly acclaimed Beethoven: The Man Revealed (2012). His bestselling biography of the Strauss family, The Last Waltz: The Strauss Dynasty and Vienna, was published in 2015.

My thanks to Alison at Elliot&Thompson for my review copies of these books


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Reviews ~ These Darkening Days and Turning Blue by Benjamin Myers

Moth Publishing
22 September 2017


As autumn draws in, a series of unexplained vicious attacks occur in a small northern town renowned for being a bohemian backwater.

As the national media descends, local journalist Roddy Mace attempts to tell the story, but finds the very nature of truth being brought into question. He turns to disgraced detective James Brindle for help.

When further attacks occur the shattered community becomes the focus of an accelerating media that favours immediacy over truth. Murder and myth collide in a folk-crime story about place, identity and the tangled lives of those who never leave.

My thoughts about it ...

Those who have read this author's previous book, Turning Blue, will be entirely familiar with both lead protagonists in These Darkening Days. Roddy Mace, the struggling journalist, once again combines forces, with disgraced, Cold Storage, detective, James Brindle, and in their own indomitable style they endeavour to find out just what is happening in this dark corner of the Yorkshire Dales.

When a woman is found brutally attacked, the police hunt is on to find the perpetrator, which in this secretive Pennine valley town is easier said than done. Before long it becomes apparent that this vicious attack is the core of something which runs much deeper, and the desperate race against time to discover the attacker is fraught with difficulties and distractions. Tensions run high and secrets run deep and neither the town nor its occupants are prepared to give up their secrets easily.

To say more would be to give far too much of this complicated plot away, so rather than spoil it, I will concentrate on the interest I have in this author, who conjures time and place so realistically that you really feel like you stalk the high Pennine moors in company with misfits and murderers. The visceral nature of these stories are not for the faint hearted, and if you haven’t read Turning Blue, then I would suggest that you do before embarking on this one, as to understand the author and his writing you need to start at the very beginning. There is a dark lyricism to the stories, which is perhaps slightly more powerful in Turning Blue, which, believe me, takes a dark tale to the very extreme of darkness, but which is no less authoritative in These Darkening Days.

These Darkening Days is a compulsive and, at times, a distinctly uncomfortable read which brings rural-noir to life in a very convincing way. The brooding landscape of the high moors and the secluded nature of a small town at odds with itself is brought vividly and realistically to life. 

Small town crime has never been so interesting.

Moth Publishing

The depths of winter in the isolated Yorkshire Dales and a teenage girl is missing.

At a derelict farm high up on a hillside Steven Rutter, a destitute loner, harbours secrets. Nobody knows the bleak moors better than him, or their hiding places.

Obsessive, taciturn and solitary, detective Jim Brindle is relentless in pursuing justice. But he is not alone in his growing preoccupation with the case. Local journalist Roddy Mace has moved north from London to build a new life. 

As Brindle and Mace begin to prise the secrets of the case from tight-lipped locals, their investigation leads first to the pillars of the community and finally to a local celebrity and fixture of the nation's Saturday night TV. 'Lovely Larry' Lister has his own hiding places, and his own dark tastes.

My thoughts about it...

In the deep darkness of a snowy winter a local girl goes missing and for this small Yorkshire town life will be disturbed to such an extent that neighbour will look upon neighbour with more than a hint of suspicion. The malevolent forces which exist and flourish in the lonely corners of this wild and unforgiving landscape give refuge to the most depraved of individuals. That these debauched residents are well known within the town gives credence to the saying that you should keep your enemies close and your friends even closer. Steven Rutter is a depraved loner, eking out a miserable existence in the dilapidated and unkempt farm he vaguely calls home. That he has been victimised and abused throughout the whole of his miserable life lends a dark fascination to the overall visceral pull of the novel.

I read Turning Blue with an almost gruesome fascination, it’s not for the faint hearted and if you are offended by violence and graphic sexual description, then this is not the book, or the writer for you. It must be said that I did, at times read with one eye open and always with an air of trepidation about just what was going to happen next.

So, I will put the shocking contents aside and concentrate on the writing which is very good, and which is, at times, quite lyrical, something I really didn’t expect to find in a crime novel. The Yorkshire landscape is described in awesome detail and both the place and its people come vividly to life. It took a while to get used to the author’s distinct writing style, the no ‘speech marks’ confused me a little, but once this lack of punctuation sat more comfortably, and as the story started to bite, this, became no problem at all, but is perhaps worth mentioning.

Turning Blue is a dark and gloomy tale but which is perfectly written by an author who has given this rural noir genre a glorious new lease of life.

About the author

Benjamin Myers is an award winning writer His novel Beastings (2014) won the Portico Prize For Literature, was the recipient of the Northern Writers’ Award and long listed for a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Award 2015. Pig Iron (2012) was the winner of the inaugural Gordon Burn Prize and Richard (2010) was selected as a Sunday Times book of the year. Turning Blue (2016) was named Book of the Year 2016 by Loud and Quiet magazine and his recent novel The Gallows Pole ( 2017) has already won the Roger Deakin award.

Find out more on his website by clicking here

Follow on Twitter @BenMyer1 @MothCrime

My thanks to the team at Moth Publishing for my review copies of these books

These Darkening Days will be published on the 22 September 2017