Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Halloween Read ~ Tales of Horror by Edgar Allan Poe

29081007
Alma Classic
2016
297 pages

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this anthology of short stories


What's it all about...

A murderer is forced to reveal his crime by the sound of a beating heart, a mysterious figure wreaks havoc among a party of noblemen during the time of the plague, a grieving lover awakens to find himself clutching a box of his beloved blood-stained teeth, a man is obsessed with the fear of being buried alive – these are only some of the memorable characters and stories included in this volume, which exemplify Poe’s inventiveness and natural talent as a storyteller.

Immensely popular both during and after his lifetime, and a powerful influence on generations of writers and film-makers to this day, Edgar Allan Poe is still counted among the greatest short-story writers of all time and seen as one of the initiators of the detective, horror and science-fiction genres


What did I think about it...

This collection of twenty six tales of horror range from the macabre to the terrifying and all carry the characteristic trademark of Edgar Allan Poe doing what he does best, that is to entertain and disturb in equal measure.

It took me a little while to read this edition as the font is quite small and needs some concentration, however, what always comes across is the skillful level of writing, and whilst some of the stories didn't appeal, others most certainly did and left me with a feeling of disquiet for quite a while afterwards. Of course, the first story I turned to was that of The Black Cat, a clever little story which left me with a real feeling of unease and caused me to look at Jaffa with more than a hint of suspicion. There's also the classic short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, which was first published in 1839 and remains just as pertinent today as it did back then. The Murders in the Rue Morgue, published in 1841, is thought to be the first modern detective story. Poe's detective C. August Dupin is probably the blueprint from which other authors took their inspiration in the portrayal of what we now consider to be the classic detective.

My feeling is that this is one of those anthologies which you can easily dip into and out of at whim, and once you get used to Poe's style of writing and his way of accentuating the oddness and the morbidness of the human spirit, then the appeal of these classic horror stories is strong as ever.


About the Author


Born in Boston, Edgar Allan Poe (1809–49) was brought up by the Allan merchant family after the death of his mother and being abandoned by his father. While studying at the University of Virginia he started self-publishing volumes of poetry, and after a stint in the military began writing essays and fiction for a living. He died of unknown causes – with rabies, cholera, alcoholism and tuberculosis among the hypotheses – in Baltimore.











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Monday, 30 October 2017

Review ~ City of Friends by Joanna Trollope

32202163
Mantle
An imprint of Pan Macmillan
2017
327 pages

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

The day Stacey Grant loses her job feels like the last day of her life. Or at least, the only life she'd ever known. For who was she if not a City high-flyer, Senior Partner at one of the top private equity firms in London? As Stacey starts to reconcile her old life with the new - one without professional achievements or meetings, but instead, long days at home with her dog and ailing mother, waiting for her successful husband to come home - she at least has The Girls to fall back on. Beth, Melissa and Gaby. The girls, now women, had been best friends from the early days of university right through their working lives, and for all the happiness and heartbreaks in between. But these career women all have personal problems of their own, and when Stacey's redundancy forces a betrayal to emerge that was supposed to remain secret, their long cherished friendships will be pushed to their limits...


What did I think about it..

I've been a fan of this author's writing for years and I always enjoy the way that Joanna Trollope presents her stories. Whilst City of Friends is something of a slow burner of a book it nevertheless explores, in detail, the minutiae of the lives of her female characters. The story explores the reasons why four talented women act in the way that they do, covering the anxieties and difficulties of what it is like to be a forty something career woman with all the pressures of home, family and work. Stacey, Beth, Melissa and Gaby have been friends for a long time, and as so often happens life and family can get in the way of friendship. Occasionally the trust between close friends can break down and the reasons for this are nicely explored in City of Friends.

Whilst I don't think this is the strongest book by this author, I did engage with the story and felt some sympathy for the situations that the women find themselves in, however, they're not always a very likeable bunch of women and there were times when I wanted them to act in a different way. 

Overall, I enjoyed seeing how their individual stories unfolded in the wider context, and by the end of City of Friends,  I cared enough about them all to hope that it would work out for them.


More about the author can be found on her website 

Find the book on Amazon UK




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Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered..



This week The Royal British Legion has launched its 2017 Poppy Appeal

The Poppy Appeal supports the Armed Forces community, past and present.


The bright red Flanders poppy is a hardy flower. Flourishing in the dark and gloomy days of war, it would spring up in unexpected corners of foreign fields.

In 1915 Lieutenant Colonel John Macrae was inspired by the sight of hundreds of these beautiful red poppies to write his now famous poem 'In Flanders Fields'..


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place..


The poem inspired an American Academic, Moina Micheal to make and sell red silk poppies, and when this idea was brought to the UK by a French woman, Anna Guérin, the British Legion bought 9 million of them and sold the poppies on Armistice Day,11th of November, raising £106,000, which was a vast amount of money in 1921.

In 1922, The Poppy Factory was set up by Major George Hewson and employed disabled ex-service men. Today the factory in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year.


The poppy remains a symbol of hope and remembrance.





Follow on Twitter @PoppyLegion



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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Author spotlight on ...Jean Fullerton



On Hist Fic Saturday I am thrilled to welcome Historical Fiction writer


Jean Fullerton





Why do I write historical fiction? 


Apart from the gorgeous Jamie Fraser I think one of the reasons the Outlander books and TV series are such a hit is because Claire, the heroine, get the chance to live two very different lives. 

I've been fascinated by history since Roger Moore galloped over the hill on a white horse in Ivanhoe and delving into the past has been a passion of mine ever since. My real dream is to have a time machine but until one is invented I'll satisfy my desire to revisit the past by writing about it. 

In the past 14 years, I've been a Welsh princess battling against the invading Normans and an heiress caught in the struggle for power between Empress Matilda and King Stephen. I've sailed the Caribbean on a tall ship with a handsome undercover agent of the Crown during the age of pirates and fallen in love with a redcoat in Boston on the eve of the American Revolution in 1776. 

More recently in my 19th and 20th century East London series I cross the class divide as the lover of a doctor. I’ve found my long-lost love and fought underworld crime, then outwitted a corrupt landowner to successfully build up a business and stood up to a violent, drunken husband and won the love of my life. 

In my East London Nurse series, I’ve nursed people back to life, successfully delivered awkwardly aligned babies and stood up to an overbearing doctor to save a child's life. Along with falling in love with a war hero and overcoming prejudice to marry an Anglo-Indian doctor. 

In my current book, I'm a ARP warden in London in 1939 trying to keep people safe during the Blitz while doing battle with Mosley followers who are hell-bent on helping Hitler invade England. 

I write historical fiction by creating historical characters and telling their story so I am also living other lives. 

I've fallen in love with strong-minded, handsome heroes and lived all these lives while sitting at my computer so why do I write historical fiction? Well, why wouldn't I? 


About Jean: 

A Londoner who worked as a district nurse in East London for over twenty-five years and is now a full-time author. She has won multiple awards and all her books are set in her native East London. Her first series was set in the early 1800s but her most recently four books about nurses Millie and Connie have jumped forward a century and are set at the end of WW2. Her latest book, POCKETFUL OF DREAMS, is the first of her East London WW2 series featuring sisters Mattie, Jo and Cathy Brogan and their extended family. 



Twitter: @JeanFullerton_





Corvus
2017


It's 1939, and the Brogan family of London's East End are ready to show Hitler what for. But things don't seem so rosy when rationing, evacuation and air-raids start to put this larger-than-life family to the test.

When a mysterious young man arrives at the Brogans' local parish church, he provides just the dazzling distraction they need - and for eldest daughter Mattie, the promise of more than she'd ever wished for. But as the pair fall deeper in love, they are drawn into secret dangers, rife on the very London streets they call home.

As the young couple race to protect the East End as they know it, can their dreams survive the darkening backdrop of war-time...?

My review of Pocketful of Dreams can be found by clicking here


Warmest thanks to Jean for being a very welcome guest on Hist Fic Saturday


and for being the first author in my monthly spotlight 


My Hist Fic Author next month is ...Nicola Pryce


~****~

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Review ~ Christmas at the Falling Down Guest House by Lilly Bartlett


Michele Gorman writing as Lilly Bartlett


Publisher : Notting Hill Press
25 October 2017


My thanks to the author and publisher for my e-copy of this book


Blurb...

Too bad the same can’t be said for single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie. When her beloved Aunt Kate ends up in hospital just before Christmas, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter rush to rural Wales to take over her B&B. A picky hotel reviewer and his mad family are coming to stay, and without the rating only he can give them, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood. 

But Lottie can barely run her own life, let alone a hotel. How will she manage to turn the falling-down guesthouse into the luxurious wonderland the reviewer expects? And could the mysterious taxi driver, Danny, who agrees to help her, turn out to be the real gift this season?

As the snow sparkles on the trees and hot chocolate steams in your hand, snuggle into the delicious magic of Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse.


My thoughts...

A ramshackle guest house in rural Wales is the setting for this delightful Christmas read. 

Following a devastating accident to her aunt Kate, Lottie and her seven year old daughter Mabel, arrive in Wales, ostensibly to take over running their aunt’s guest house, however, they are dismayed to find that the guest house, far from being a rural retreat, turns out to be something from a hammer horror film. The faded elegance and shabby chic of this rural idyll and the way in which Lottie enlists the help of local taxi driver Danny to help her turn the business around, forms the basis of the story.

From the beginning, I loved the story, the setting, and the characters, who made me, laugh out loud. It has a wonderful light hearted charm and whilst it’s a quick read, I read it in one sitting over the course of a rainy afternoon; it really helped to lighten my mood and provided great escapism.





So, if you want something to cheer you up on a cold wintery day – put the kettle on, grab a cup of tea, and a packet of chocolate hob nobs, and immerse yourself in Christmas at The Falling Down Guest House.

Just to add that this is a novella and was originally published as The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman.





Find on Twitter @MicheleGormanUK

Amazon UK




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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Review ~ The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe



30323987
Published by Bonnier Zaffre
April 2017
386 pages

Translated by Elizabeth Clark Wessel

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about...

The Ice Beneath Her is a deeply disturbing psychological thriller about love, betrayal and obsession. Fast paced and peopled with compelling characters, it hurtles towards an unforgettable ending with a terrible final twist.


Here's what I thought about it...

This is a hugely compelling and fast paced thriller which starts off with a horrific killing. The search for the perpetrator of this despicable act leads the police investigative team to question all those who are associated with the business tycoon, Jasper Orr, CEO of the retail giant, Clothes&More.

From the very beginning, this character driven novel looks at the dynamics between love and obsession and throws the individual stories of three very different narrators into the melting pot. There is much to take in, both in terms of plot and malice,  and the psychological suspense keeps you guessing throughout the whole of the story. 

I was engrossed in The Ice Beneath Her from the very start of the novel. The opening chapter is particularly compelling and sets the scene for the rest of the novel, which moves along at a cracking pace. The writing is strong throughout and even though this edition is the translated version, nothing at all is lost in translation.


About the Author


Camilla Grebe is a Swedish writer. The Ice Beneath Her is her first novel as a solo author.



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Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Review ~ The GirlBoss Work Book by Sophia Amoruso



⚝Happy Publication Day⚝



Published by Portfolio Penguin
24 October 2017
Paperback : 176 pages


My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book



What's it all about...


The GirlBoss Work Book is a quirky but empowering book for girls and young women who want to make an impact and be their own boss. Filled with to-do lists, timelines, exercises, illustrations and plenty of scribble room, The GirlBoss Workbook is fit for both the dreamer and the doer.



Here's what I thought about it...

Having retired from work some time ago, I didn't feel, at first, that I was in the right demographic for The GirlBoss Work Book. However, I spent an informative couple of hours reading through the book and looking at the exercises and found myself nodding my head in agreement at the little nuggets of wisdom it contains and, by the end of my first read through, I was of the opinion that this book would have helped enormously when I was just setting out on my career, all those years ago. It would seem that whilst so much has changed in terms of encouraging young women, there are still areas where women need to grasp the opportunity to empower themselves.

The book is fun, easy to carry around in a handbag and, I would imagine would be just as easy to pick up and read when travelling around on public transport. All with the intention of encouraging confidence and self-worth, the exercises within the book are listed so that they are easy to complete, nothing is too taxing or too onerous, just little snippets of wisdom which will make you think about what you want and how you intend to get it. There's some great advice, from the etiquette of networking, to having the perfect interview, and even beyond into how to keep from going bankrupt and how to calm your biggest fears.

The book’s quirky graphics made me smile. Its interactive format is both practical and entertaining, and whilst it encourages creativity, it also fosters the belief that taking the initiative and being in control of your own destiny, really is the way forward.

I think that The GirlBoss Work Book is going to be one of those little gems that could easily find its way, in the next few weeks, into secret Santa parcels in offices throughout the land, or could just as easily be wrapped up in sparkly paper for a young woman you know to find under her Christmas tree.



Sophia Amoruso is the Founder of Nasty Gal and the Founder and CEO of Girlboss. Named by Forbes as "Fashion's New Phenom," bestselling author Sophia has become one of the most prominent figures in retail and a cultural icon for a generation of women seeking ownership of their careers and futures. Netflix's forthcoming TV series Girlboss, based on Sophia's life, is debuting in spring 2017.

Visit Sophia on her website 

Watch GirlBoss on Netflix

Amazon UK





~****~

Monday, 23 October 2017

Review ~ The Science of Food by Marty Jopson




Published by Michael O'Mara Books
7 September 2017
224 pgs

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


What's it all about ...

Ever wondered what modified starch is and why it's in so much of the food we buy? What do instant mash and freeze-dried coffee have in common? What's the real truth behind the five-second rule? And as the world population grows and the pressure on agriculture to produce more cost-effective and sustainable products increases, what could the future hold for both farmers and consumers?

From mind boggling microbiology to ingenious food processing techniques and gadgets, The Science of Food takes a look at the details that matter when it comes to what we eat and how we cook, and lays bare the science behind how it all works. By understanding the chemistry, physics and biology of the food we cook, buy and prepare, we can all become better consumers and happier cooks!


Here's what I thought about it...

Food preparation is something I do everyday without thinking and yet, I never give any conscious thought to the science of food and even in my dim and distant past, Domestic Science lessons at school mainly involved making cherry scones and Shepherds Pie with no thought at all about the actual science of what was happening to the ingredients as I shoved them into the oven.

The Science of Food is a nifty little book which looks at some fascinating topics and answers all those questions you never knew you needed to know about food science, and does so in a fun and informative way.

 Divided into five topics, the book covers;

  • Essential Technology
  • The Magic of Processed Food
  • Critical Kitchen Chemistry
  • Sharing our food with Bugs
  • The Future of Food

I really enjoyed dipping into and out of the book and learning something I didn't know, like the size of bowl really does matter when you are beating eggs, the bigger, the better apparently, and that whipping egg whites in a copper bowl makes your egg whites stiffer...who knew ?

The really clever science bits are all there for those who like the technical stuff and yet, it's written in a way that makes it fun and interesting and not like those interminable science books at school, which in my case were usually filled with flower doodles and boy's names!

There's a few pages entitled, 'Knowing when to eat your food' which is all about use by and sell by dates, something which always confuses me and I know that I often throw food away that's perfectly edible and not going to do me any harm.

If you're a foodie, or have a foodie in the family or even if you are just like me and quaintly curious then The Science of Food is one of those books that will sit quietly on your recipe book shelf, just waiting for the right moment to astound you with it's brilliance.


About the Author

Marty Jopson has a PhD in Cell Biology and is the resident scientist on BBC One's The One Show. Marty has been working in television for eighteen years since his first job building props and has been performing stage science around the UK for twenty years.


Follow the author on Twitter @martyjopson

Visit his website 

Find the book on Amazon



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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered ...




Richard Aldington

1892 - 1962


Field Manoeuvres


The long autumn grass under my body
Soaks my clothes with its dew;
Where my knees press into the ground
I can feel the damp earth.

In my nostrils is the smell of the crushed grass,
Wet pine-cones and bark.

Through the great bronze pine trunks
Glitters a silver segment of road.
Interminable squadrons of silver and blue horses
Pace in long ranks the blank fields of heaven.

There is no sound;
The wind hisses gently through the pine needles;
The flutter of a finch's wings about my head
Is like distant thunder,
And the shrill cry of a mosquito
Sounds loud and close.

I am 'to fire at the enemy column
After it has passed' -
But my obsolete rifle, loaded with 'blank',
Lies untouched before me,
My spirit follows after the gliding clouds,
And my lips murmur of the mother of beauty
Standing breast-high, in golden broom
Among the blue pine-woods!




'Richard' Aldington christened Edward Godfree Aldington was an English writer and poet . He was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, on July 8, 1892. At an early age, he moved with his mother, Jesse May, and father, middle-class lawyer Albert Edward Aldington, to Dover. There he grew up with his sister Margery and attended preparatory schools, after which he studied for four years at Dover College.

Aldington was commissioned as a second Lieutenant  in the Royal Sussex Regiment and served on the Western Front, 1916-1918



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Saturday, 21 October 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Captain's Girl by Nicola Pryce

On Hist Fic Saturday


Let's go back to ...Cornwall, 1793




33814316
Corvus Books
6 July 2017

Beautiful and feisty, Celia Cavendish is about to be betrothed to a man for whom she has no romantic feelings. Inspired by her cousin Arbella, who has recently eloped, Celia decides to try and break away from the horror of the life ahead of her. However, escaping her marriage, under the watchful eyes of her parents, is a risky affair, and even though she enlists the help of her neighbours, Sir James and Lady Polcarrow, Celia is little prepared for the adventure which unfolds before her.

This is the second book in this series of historical romantic fiction, set in Cornwall and which features a strong set of characters, some will be familiar from the author's previous book, Pengelly's Daughter, whilst others are completely new to the story. I really enjoyed getting to know Celia Cavendish, her flight for freedom is done with a fine degree of excitement and I particularly enjoyed watching how her relationship, with the enigmatic and handsome Arnaud, who is the captain of the cutter, L’Aigrette, unfolded within the context of the story.

There are some lovely moments between Celia and Arnaud which add a delicious frisson of romantic entanglement all of which sits comfortably against the darker elements of the story which involve subterfuge and mystery. The mixture of light and shade works well and of course, the wonderful Cornish landscape comes alive with a hint of sea-spray and the shrieking cry of seagulls.

I think that the author has captured the time and place very well, there is a distinctly authentic historical feel to this narrative, and there is also a good blend of romance and excitement which, I think, work well together.

I am excited to learn that there will be a further story in this series which is due to be published in 2018.



Nicola Pryce trained as a chemotherapy nurse before completing an Open University degree in Humanities. She is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. Together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure.

Website

Twitter @NPryce_Author

@CorvusBooks



Huge thanks to Karen at Atlantic Books for my review copy of The Captain's Girl



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Friday, 20 October 2017

Blog Tour ~ The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosties by Paul Anthony Jones



Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the blog tour for The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosties





Who knows where each day will lead you?

Open The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities on any day of the year: you might leap back in time, learn about linguistic trivia, follow a curious thread or wonder at the web of connections brought to you by popular language blogger Paul Anthony Jones.

Within its pages you will discover a treasure trove of language, with etymological quirks and connections for every day of the year.

Here's the fascinating entry for today 20th October..

limitrophe (n.) a borderland, a neighbouring country 

On 20 October 1818, Great Britain and the United States signed a treaty that established the 49th parallel – the line of latitude lying 49° north of the equator – as the permanent land border between the United States and British North America (now Canada). According to the treaty, it was agreed that the border should follow ‘a line drawn from the most north-western point of the Lake of the Woods’ in Ontario, and travel due west along the 49th parallel ‘until the said line shall intersect . . the Stony Mountains’, as the Rocky Mountains were known at the time. 

As part of the deal, both countries agreed to share control of Oregon County (a disputed territory in the Pacific Northwest), with both ceding territory to the other elsewhere: the US handed the northernmost stretches of Missouri Territory, which it had claimed as part of the Louisiana Purchase, to Britain, while in return Britain ceded the southernmost stretches of one its major Canadian territories, Prince Rupert’s Land. The changes marked both countries’ last major territorial losses in North America. 

A borderland, or a neighbouring country on the opposite side of a border, can be known as a limitrophe, a word first used in English in the mid sixteenth century. Although adopted from French (wherein it was once an adjective describing anywhere located on or near a boundary or frontier), limitrophe was originally a Latin word referring to a borderland region set aside for the training and support of troops. In that sense, it combines the Latin word for a boundary line, limitem, with a suffix derived from a Greek word, trophe, meaning ‘nourishment’.



PAUL ANTHONY JONES is something of a linguistic phenomenon. He runs @HaggardHawks Twitter feed, blog and YouTube channel, revealing daily word facts to 39,000 engaged followers. His books include Word Drops (2015) and The Accidental Dictionary (2016). His etymological contributions appear regularly, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, Buzzfeed to Huffington Post and BBC Radio 4.


Follow on the Blog Tour on Twitter @HaggardHawkes #ForgottenWords @eandtbooks



My thoughts about the book


Elliot & Thompson
October 2017



If you have a fascination for words, and most readers seem to like individual words almost as much as they like lists of words, then The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities will appeal, not only to your sense of fascination, but will also appeal to your sense of order and which ever way you choose to read the book, there will always be something which intrigues, educates and amuses.

There's something about words which soothes my soul and to have chance to take a look at words which have fallen out of common use and yet, when seen, still make the utmost sense, I am reminded of those people who have gone before and of the rich contribution they have made to our vocabulary.

Of course like any sensible person who likes books with daily musings in, I turned, at first, to those notable dates in my life and those of my family and found some hidden little gems. 

Amongst the strange and forgotten words there are some real beauties to be discovered. Some made me smile, others made me nod my head in sage agreement, whilst others made me realise just how beautiful is our language.

Amongst my favourites are:

17 April : Pisgah - which is a view or glimpse of something which is unobtainable or unreachable. Rather like my dream to be a extra on the set of Outlander 😔

19 May : Spousebreach - which means adultery. I mean, could that be any more apt?

31 May : Tell-clock - something or someone who marks or tells the time; an idler. I think we have all known people like that !

And my very favourite from my grandmother's birthday , 4 December : Premonstrance : which means a portent or omen.

My feeling is, that if words float your boat as much as they float mine,  then I will premonstrate that this book will work just as well for you as it did for me.



Huge thanks to Alison at Elliot & Thompson for her kind invitation to be part of this blog tour and also for my review copy of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities.



~***~

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Review ~ Earthly Remains by Donna Leon


Earthly Remains - Brunetti (Paperback)
William Heinemann
 April 2017

In 'Earthly Remains', the twenty-sixth novel in this series, Brunetti’s endurance is tested more than ever before. During an interrogation of an entitled, arrogant man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, Brunetti acts rashly, doing something he will quickly come to regret. In the fallout, he realizes that he needs a break, needs to get away from the stifling problems of his work.

When Brunetti is granted leave from the Questura, his wife, Paola, suggests he stay at the villa of a relative on Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the laguna. There he intends to pass his days rowing, and his nights reading Pliny’s Natural History. The recuperative stay goes according to plan until Davide Casati, the caretaker of the house on Sant’Erasmo, goes missing following a sudden storm. Now, Brunetti feels compelled to investigate, to set aside his leave of absence and understand what happened to the man who had become his friend.


My thoughts...

Even if you haven't read any of the excellent books in the Commissario Brunetti series of crime novels, and this is now number 26, you will be able to pick up and understand the story from the start as each of the novels work well as stand alone stories. Of course, if you have followed Brunetti's progression from the start, you will pick up the subtle references to what has sometimes gone before, however, I do think that new readers, coming straight into book 26, might be a little perplexed by some of the more subtle references.

In Earthly Remains, Brunetti is granted leave to recuperate following an incident in which he acted rather out of character. Staying on the island of Sant' Erasmo, he  tries to relax and enjoy the tranquility of his surroundings. When he is befriended by the caretaker of the house in which he staying, Brunetti becomes embroiled in a series of events which will have devastating consequences.

The story flows well and the authors attention to even the smallest, detail cannot be faulted. The mystery at the heart of the novel is revealed quite slowly and there were times when I felt like nothing much was happening but I think this is quite deliberate. as at times the place with its beautiful scenery almost takes over from what is happening with the people. That the author knows and understands this area is obvious in the way that she lovingly recreates Brunetti's world.

I am sure that fans of this author will find much to enjoy in this latest book and like all fans will look forward to see what is coming along in book number 27 😊



About the Author

Donna Leon was named by The Times as one of the 50 Greatest Crime Writers, She is an award winning crime novelist, celebrated for her bestselling Brunetti series. Earthly Remains in the #26 book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series , set in Venice.



My thanks to the publishers for my review copy of Earthly Remains. 



~***~

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Blog Tour ~ Christmas at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn



Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the Christmas at Conwenna Cove Blog Tour






I'm delighted to be able to share this tantalising extract from  Christmas at Conwenna Cove


Canelo
E-book only
9 October 2017


When Grace​ ​Phillips​ travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. As Grace meets local vet​ ​Oli​ ​Davenport​ she initially finds him rude, but learning more about his passion for animals and how much he cares for his two kids helps Grace to see a softer side to Oli.

It’s been three years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. Though he loves eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom​ more than anything it’s hard to be mum and dad, as well as hold down a busy job. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto fear about letting someone into their heart.


          
Extract from Chapter 1...

Grace loved how her parents still made time for each other, even after thirty-four years of marriage. They cooked together, exercised together and even did the crossword together. She knew that they had a special bond, and sometimes wondered whether it was so strong because of what they’d been through. Would they have stayed so close if things hadn’t happened the way they had? She just couldn’t imagine them being any other way, and the idea of one having to cope without the other was too awful to contemplate.

Conwenna Cove was a new start for them and they deserved to be happy. Her mother had always told her that life had its ups and downs, but it was important to grab happiness whenever one had the chance. Grace tried to follow that advice, although sometimes her head overruled her heart. Which was one reason why she was probably still single, having turned down a marriage proposal just last year – much to her parents’ dismay. They’d told her that they just wanted to see her happy and she’d insisted that she was; as happy as she expected to be anyway. She didn’t need a man, especially one like Marcus, to make her feel fulfilled. 

She’d known Marcus since school but not had much to do with him at all, then she’d bumped into him in a café the summer before last and he’d been all over her. She’d thought it strange at the time but also been flattered by his attention, although when she thought about it now, his interest had increased when he’d stopped talking about himself and his woes for five minutes to ask what she did. When she admitted that she was a successful author, he’d wanted to know more and insisted they trade numbers. He’d taken her out about six times after that, and come to her flat for dinner and coffee, but for Grace there had been no spark. That was why, when he’d proposed, she’d been completely shocked. She’d let him down as gently as she could, but he’d been quite rude and left her reeling with a barrage of insults and a few unpleasant text messages. Then two weeks later, as she’d been queuing in Costa, he walked past with another woman, his arm wrapped possessively around her shoulders, and Grace had known that she’d had a very lucky escape.

Before Marcus, she’d had lovers: men she’d met through acquaintances and a few through dating apps, but none of the love affairs had developed into anything more serious. Grace had always found a reason not to commit, and sometimes the men had too, thereby, saving her the trouble of ending their flings.

She poured boiling water onto tea bags, then went to get the milk from the rickety old fridge that stood in the corner of the kitchen. Her parents’ own fridge was currently in the hallway, left to settle after the long journey in the removal van. As Grace bent over to open the fridge, something shot out from underneath, causing her to yelp.

‘Grace?’ Her father rushed to her side. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘Something just ran across the floor.’ She pointed in the direction of the hallway that led off the kitchen.

‘What was it?’

‘I don’t know. A mouse, maybe? Not big enough to be a rat. At least, I don’t think so anyway.’

Simon shook his head. ‘Think we might need to consider getting a cat. What with the woods and all those fields behind, I bet there’ll be plenty more where that came from.’

‘Dad, you don’t want your house littered with dead rodents.’

‘I didn’t mean I want a cat to kill them, Grace. Just as a deterrent.’

Grace smiled. Her father had such a big heart that he wouldn’t even kill a fly, just usher it rather politely out of the house. 

‘Although I have to admit that your mother and I still hope to have a dog now that she’s retired. We were just holding off until we’d moved, but I can’t see what’s stopping us now.’

‘Well, if you do get one, go to a rescue centre. There are so many dogs needing homes.’

‘Of course. Adopt don’t shop, right?’

‘I’ll just see if that mouse, or whatever it was, is lurking in the hallway.’

They both peered into the cool darkness of the hallway, but with the large boxes, the fridge and a pile of books that belonged to Grace’s parents in the way, it was highly likely that the small rodent had already found itself a new hideaway.

‘I guess we’ll have to look for it later.’ Simon shivered. ‘Hope the poor thing isn’t too scared.’





Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.



My thanks to Darcie and also to Ellie at Canelo for their kind invitation to be part of this blog tour and also for the permission to share this extract from Christmas at Conwenna Cove.



Follow on Twitter @DarcieBoleyn @Canelo_co


#ChristmasAtConwennaCove





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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Review ~ The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

29910780
Quercus
July 2017



Blurb...

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich's web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they are recent - the boiling not the medieval curiosity she thought - DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she's gone 'underground'. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast network of old chalk-mining tunnels under King's Lynn, home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history - but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart - before it claims another victim.


My thoughts...

There is always a sense of real excitement when I open a new Ruth Galloway book and having followed the series from the very beginning , I have never been disappointed by the way each new mystery unfolds.

In The Chalk Pit, Ruth is confronted by another dark and perplexing mystery which involves the discovery of a set of human bones which have been found in one of Norwich's underground tunnels. When homeless people start to be targeted by a ruthless killer both the police investigation and Ruth's interest in the underground tunnels start to coalesce.

As always the plot is controlled meticulously by an author who really brings her characters to life. Those readers who have followed the series from the start will be aware of the subtle nuance of the relationship between Ruth and DCI Nelson and I am pleased to say that this continues to develop, lending more of a 'will they', won't they' element back into their complicated relationship. I enjoy seeing the other detectives get a chance to shine and am always pleased when DS Johnson makes an appearance, she lends a different sort of dynamic to the detective grouping which is always very welcome. The mystery at the heart of the novel is dark and complicated and the many twists and turns in the plot kept me guessing right to the end.

As one book finishes I immediately look forward to the next one and hope that it won't be too long in coming. As always, I would recommend that new readers start at the beginning of this excellent series, that way the faults and foibles of the characters who make up the major players can be fully appreciated.



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

Follow on Twitter @ellygriffiths



My thanks to the publishers and Bookbridgr for my review copy of The Chalk Pit



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Monday, 16 October 2017

Review ~ Hades by Candice Fox



34932319
Arrow Books
21 September 2017


Blurb...

Homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there’s something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can’t quite put his finger on.

At first, as they race to catch a very different kind of serial killer, his partner’s sharp instincts come in handy. But soon Frank’s wondering if she’s as dangerous as the man they hunt.


My thoughts...

This is the first book in a detective crime series which focuses on the newly developed partnership between homicide detective Frank Bennett and Eden Archer. Set in Australia, Hades is the dark and twisted story of a criminal underworld, a deeply troubled world which is inhabited by evil. And as evil stalks, so the net grows ever tighter,but the game of hunter and prey is filled with complex and complicated motives.

That the story is not not the faint hearted must be stated but if you are not put off by gritty realism then this book will work for you. The writing is good and the plot is clever but it is in the characterisation where the story really comes alive. Eden Archer, and her brother Eric are quite something, their unique and very different upbringing has made them into people who have more secrets about them than they do answers, and when combined with Eden's partnership with Frank Bennett, the whole trio start to come alive in the imagination.

As with all new series there is that element of getting to know the people and the places and I think that the author has done a great job of bringing everything together. I am sure that the series will go from strength to strength as the stories and the relationship between the key characters continues.



About the Author



Candice Fox is an award-winning author and commercial success in her native Australia. Her first novel, Hades, won the 2014 Ned Kelly Award for best debut crime novel, with the sequel, Eden, winning the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel. Candice is also the author of the critically acclaimed Fall, and co-writer of the James Patterson blockbuster Never Never.

Twitter @candicefoxbooks

@arrowpublishing @DeadGoodBooks






My thanks to Clare at Penguin Random House for my review copy of Hades.


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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered..



Ellis Humphrey Evans

13 January 1887 - 31 July 1917

Trawsfynydd, Meirionnydd

North Wales


In 1917, the Welsh poet Ellis Humphrey Evans, 'Hedd Wyn' died at the third Battle of Ypres.  He was one of 25,000 British casualties on the first day of the battle to take Pilckem Ridge.

The thirty year old  shepherd poet had enlisted into the Royal Welch Fusilers at Blaenau Ffestiniog and was initially sent to Liverpool for basic training. He was there at the same time as another WW1 poet, Siegfried Sassoon. In July, Hedd Wynn joined his battalion at Nord-Pas-de-Calais and on the 31st July he went 'over the top'. He was fatally wounded by shell fire and died later that same day.

This is one of his poems.


War

Why must I live in this grim age,
When, to a far horizon, God
Has ebbed away, and man, with rage,
Now wields the sceptre and the rod?

Man raised his sword, once God had gone,
To slay his brother, and the roar
Of battlefields now casts upon
Our homes the shadow of the war.

The harps to which we sang are hung,
On willow boughs, and their refrain
Drowned by the anguish of the young
Whose blood is mingled with the rain


Ellis Humphrey Evans is buried at the Artillery Wood Cemetery, near Boezingeat, Belgium. 


He was posthumously awarded the bard's chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod.



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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Blood's Game by Angus Donald



On Hist Fic Saturday


Let's go back to .....Restoration England and London 1670


Zaffre
September 2017

I think most of us have heard the story, and marveled at the audacity of Captain Thomas Blood, the man, who in 1671, stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. And whilst I knew the vague details of the story, I wasn't aware that Thomas Blood had in fact been captured, imprisoned and then by some sheer twist of fate, had not only been freed without trial, but had been granted a generous gift of lands by the gracious permission of King Charles II. This novel explains , perhaps, just how this all came about...

Blood's Game is a real romp into Restoration England. All of its glorious bawdiness comes alive with descriptions of the King's court, his amorous exploits, and the schemes and machinations of unscrupulous individuals. Into this scheming hotchpotch comes Holcroft Blood, Thomas Blood's youngest son, who has real flair for doing things in a quite unusual way. Holcroft becomes enmeshed in the plots and schemes of the notorious, Duke of Buckingham, and learns of information which will ultimately make or break those dearest to him.

The author writes with skill and understanding, and brings to life his characters, both real and imaginary with such  a fine eye for detail, that I felt like I was a fly on the wall and observing events first hand. Even the notorious criminal, Thomas Blood comes across as a rather likeable rogue and I couldn't help but be drawn into his story, which is regaled with great gusto. Holcroft Blood is rather the hero of the story and I thought that his character, and his rather special personality, was handled with sensitivity, and yet totally in keeping with the time in which he lived.

Blood's Game is the start of  a new series for this talented writer, who in his previous novels gave us the excellent series about Robin Hood. Moving forward by several hundred years now gives the author scope to take his historical fiction into a new direction. I can't wait to see where the next book takes us.




You can read a guest post by the author explaining the background to Blood's Game by clicking here.


Follow on Twitter @angus_donald #BloodsGame


Visit on Facebook







Huge thanks to the author for sharing his work with me and also to Emily at Bonnier Zaffre for sending a copy of Blood's Game to me .





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Friday, 13 October 2017

#OneInAMillion Competition...

#OneInAMillion Competition Launches on Bookshop Day

Celebrate 1 Millionth Books Are My Bag Supporter

One Lucky Book Lover Will Win:

A one-off Orla Kiely bag | £250 in National Book Tokens | A Golden Ticket to Hay Festival |A rare print signed by Quentin Blake | Special edition Handmaid’s Tale | Lots of new books expected to be bestsellers this Christmas | West End Tickets

And much more!

London. 9 October 2017. Book lovers in the UK & Ireland have the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime competition with an incredible bundle of prizes on offer to celebrate Books Are My Bag (BAMB) – the annual bookshop campaign – reaching one million supporters this year.




One lucky book lover is in with the chance of winning a host of extraordinary prizes donated from across the book industry and beyond, including a beautiful, totally one-off Orla Kiely luxury leather bag, in the style of this year’s Books Are My Bag tote bag.


To enter, book lovers just need to Tweet #OneInAMillion saying what their favourite bookshop is and why.



The #OneInAMillion Prize winner will take home:

· An exclusive, one-off Orla Kiely leather bag

· £250 in National Book Tokens

· A golden ticket to Hay Festival

· Afternoon Tea for Two at Claridges (Hachette)

· London Zoo tickets and a copy of Zoo Quest (Hachette)

· A limited-edition copy of Alan Bennett’s Keeping on Keeping On, RRP £200 (Faber)

· A limited-edition print from Billy and the Minpins, signed by Quentin Blake (Puffin)

· A special edition Handmaid’s Tale (Vintage)

· A set of Vintage Classics Dickens (Vintage)

· A signed Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World print by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury)

· A signed first-edition copy of Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst (Pan Macmillan)

· A set of PanMacmillan70th Anniversary edition books (Pan Macmillan)

· A pair of tickets to The Christmasaurus Live on Stage at the London Apollo (Penguin Random House) – any date between 20 – 28th December

wo runners up will also be in with the chance of winning the following fantastic prizes:



Second Prize

· A signed copy of Hurrah for Gin by Katie Kirby, together with a bottle of Sipsmith gin (Hachette)

· A copy of Nigella Lawson’s new cookbook, At My Table (Vintage)

· A signed copy of The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (Bloomsbury)

· A signed copy of My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley (Bloomsbury)

· A signed copy of Moonrise by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)

· Subscription to the New Scientist magazine (Hachette)

· Haunted House tour and a signed copy of Devil’s Day by Andrew Hurley (Hachette)

· A mounted Emily Sutton print (Bloomsbury)

Third Prize

· A copy of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and a box set of Stephen King DVD’s (Hachette)

· A signed copy of Down to Earth: Gardening Wisdom by Monty Don (DK)

· A copy of The Creakers by Tom Fletcher (Puffin)

· A signed print of Oliver Jeffers’ new book Here We Are (Penguin Random House)

· A Perfectly Norman print by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury)



The competition marks the 1 millionth Books Are My Bag tote bag to be worn by the public, showing their support for bookshops in the UK & Ireland.



Meryl Halls, Head of Membership Services at the Booksellers Association, said: “Reaching our one millionth supporter is a hugely exciting milestone, and we’re delighted to be able to show our thanks to bookshop lovers across the UK & Ireland with this fabulous prize. It is wonderful to see the book industry coming together to support bookshops with the amazing prizes they have donated. We wish everyone the best of luck, and look forward to hearing all about our supporters’ favourite bookshops!”



Bookshop lovers will have until 7th November to enter the competition, with the lucky winners being revealed on 25th November, when bookshops across the country will offer a Saturday Sanctuary as respite from the business of daily life.




Orla Kiely, said: “I am so happy to have collaborated with the Bookseller’s Association. As a great lover of books and bookshops, nothing gives me more pleasure than discovering a new book, whether it’s a beautiful edition on a new favourite photographer, a great novel or a rare out of print edition. There is nothing more relaxing, inspiring or stimulating than reading and losing oneself in another world. We should all take time to read and importantly, to encourage our children to love books.”



Now in its fifth year, the Books Are My Bag campaign highlights and celebrates the vital role of high street and campus bookshops. Over the last four years, a million people have worn a Books Are My Bag canvas bag in support of the campaign.



More details on Books Are My Bag 2017 will be unveiled in the coming weeks; keep an eye on www.booksaremybag.com for updates.



For more information on events, visit www.booksaremybag.com



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