Sunday, 18 March 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Ordinary Lives of the First World War

Imperial War Museum
“The war had begun and my heart beat then as it had never beaten before.”—Rosie Neal on the outbreak of war, 1914

In Their Own Words: Untold Stories if the First World War brings together for the first time, the personal accounts of 11 people who lived through the conflict, in a compelling and poignant collection from IWM's unparalleled Documents Archives.

In Their Own Words is a unique collection of stories and more, all of which look at the war from a different perspective.

My thoughts about it...

The eleven stories contained within the collection are a fascinating and poignant look at the effect of the First World War on the lives on ordinary people.

From Rosie's story at the outbreak of war in 1914, through to the reminiscences of Arthur on Armistice, 1914, the collection focuses on the personal accounts of those who were caught up in the evnts that happened between 1914-1918 and includes:

Gallipoli , 1915
The Battle of Loos, 1915
Prisoner of War, 1915-1916
Conscientious Objection 1916-1918
The Battle of Jutland, 1916
The Battle of the Somme, 1916
War Work and The Home Front
The Third Battle of Ypres 1917
The German Spring Offensive, 1918
Armistice, 1918

I am fascinated by the stories of the ordinary men and women who were caught up in the events of WW1 and this collection of stories gives a fascinating and very personal account of what happened and explains just how lives were affected.

Using archive material from the huge amount of WW1 information that is held by the IWM, and being presented in a very readable form makes this collection all the more interesting.


Saturday, 17 March 2018

Hist Fic Saturday...The War Widow by Lorna Gray

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's Go back to...1947

Harper Impulse
22 March 2018
(ebook out now)

My thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book
The story opens in November 1947 as we meet the eponymous War Widow of the story. Kate Ward, a troubled young woman, is staying at a genteel hotel in the small Welsh town of Aberystwyth, where she hopes to discover more about the mysterious disappearance of her ex-husband, Rhys. However, circumstances are against her, and from the very start of the novel, Kate suspects that there are some sinister people shadowing her, who seem determined to prevent her discovering more about what has happened to Rhys.

What then follows is a suspenseful story about Kate’s determination to discover the truth, whilst at the same time trying to keep herself safe from harm. However, it soon becomes apparent that anything to do with her ex-husband has been buried so deep that it takes a great deal of tenacity on Kate’s part to get to the bottom of this dark mystery.

It is this complex mystery which is at the heart of the novel and the many twists and turns in the plot are certainly designed to keep you on the edge of your seat. The overall pace of the story is fast, and there is so much going on within the story that you really do need to concentrate on what’s unfolding. I enjoyed trying to fit all the numerous pieces of the puzzle together.

I definitely had the feeling of this being in a post war setting, the way the places were described added an authentic and believable edge to the story, and I especially liked the references to newsreel information about Princess Elizabeth‘s wedding to Philip Mountbatten which again helped to put this story into its historical context.

There is no doubt that author has, with great enthusiasm, brought this spirited War Widow to life in an suspenseful story which thrives on excitement.

More about the author can be found on her website

Follow on Twitter @MsLornaGray

Friday, 16 March 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Ocean Liner by Marius Gabriel

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hosting today's stop on 

The Ocean Liner Blog Tour

Lake Union Publishing
20 March 2018

My thanks to the author for this guest post, to the publishers for my copy of the book
and to Midas PR for the invitation to be part of the blog tour.

The Story that didn’t make it: The Black Eagle

Sometimes the parts an author finds most interesting are the ones that editors cut out! 

That happened to me with my "factional" novel, The Ocean Liner, which contains a number of real-life characters.

One of them who ended up on the cutting-room floor was Hubert Fauntleroy Julian, the Black Eagle of Harlem.

This larger-than-life character was celebrated and vilified in equal measure in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Handsome, golden-tongued and elegant, Julian billed himself as the first Black aviator at a time when Negroes were considered too primitive to drive a car, let alone fly an airplane. He was part authentic pioneer, part huckster. His detractors said he was merely a bootlegger and a daredevil stuntman who threw himself out of airplanes in red long johns. 

The Harlem Eagle's penchant for raising money on behalf of grand schemes, and then pocketing the proceeds, tarnished his career more than once. In fact, it was to escape prosecution that he was forced into a hasty flight from Harlem in a seaplane built by himself, which fell to pieces shortly after take-off and precipitated him into Flushing Bay with serious injuries. 

He also patented various ingenious aerial devices, including a motorized parachute for airplanes, which he called the parachutta-gravepreresistra. Demonstrating a smaller model, the saxophoneparachut-tapreresistationist, he sailed across the New York skyline, playing the saxophone, but unfortunately crashed through a Harlem police station window, and was arrested. Despite this inauspicious start, Julian had sold the patents to a Canadian aircraft company as the 'Airplane Safety Appliance.' The craziest of his schemes had a strange way of turning into something profitable for himself, if not for others. 

When Mussolini's Fascist army invaded Ethiopia (then known as Abyssinia) in 1935, Julian rushed to the defence of the African nation. Wearing a dramatic uniform designed by himself, and accorded the rank of Colonel in the Ethiopian Air Force, he cut an impressive figure as he trained the barefoot tribesmen. As usual, his career was chequered. He crashed the Emperor's personal Gypsy Moth biplane into a thorn tree during a ceremonial parade in Addis Ababa. The plane had been a present from Selfridges department store in London, the Emperor's favourite shop, and the Emperor was furious. The number of Julian's flights which ended in crashes led to the suspicion that he didn't really know how to fly a plane at all. 

He managed to talk his way out of the disaster, and Haile Selassie awarded him the Order of Menelik, a spectacular red-and-green enamelled cross on a brilliant yellow ribbon. However, Ethiopia tragically proved no match for Mussolini's mechanized modern army, and Julian was forced to retire. 

During the Second World War which followed, Julian challenged Air Marshall Hermann Goering, the chief of Hitler's Luftwaffe, to an aerial duel over the Channel, saying that the Nazis had insulted the black races unforgivably, and offering to settle the matter like gentlemen, in fighter planes. Goering did not respond to the challenge. 

Julian followed this with a scheme to raise an army of Negro pilots, nurses and doctors, 'The Friends of France,' to assist the French in their war against the Nazis. France, he said, was among the few European nations to have treated the black peoples with kindness. 

Julian recommended that every Negro volunteer should receive French citizenship and a degree from the Sorbonne. This proposal, like so many others, failed to win approval. 

The Black Eagle gave up aviation after the war but found his metier as an arms dealer during the 1960s and 1970s, selling munitions to various states in South America and Africa. He remained a controversial figure until his death in 1983 at the age of eighty-six. The enduring memory he leaves is of a magnificent swashbuckler who inspired a generation of Black pilots. 

About the Author

Marius Gabriel served his author apprenticeship as a student at Newcastle University, where, to finance his postgraduate research, he wrote thirty-three steamy romances under the pseudonym Madeleine Kerr. Gabriel is the author of several historical novels, including the bestsellers The Designer, The Seventh Moon, The Original Sin, and the Redcliffe Sisters series: Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye and Take Me To Your Heart Again. Born in South Africa, he has lived and worked in many countries including Italy and Spain, and now divides his time between London and Cairo.

Huge thanks to Marius for spending time with us today and for this fascinating guest post.

Twitter @Scribbler4Bread #TheOceanLiner

Do visit the other blog tour stops for more exciting content

The Ocean Liner by Marius Gabriel is published by Lake Union Publishing on 20th March.

What's it all about 


In September 1939, cousins Masha and Rachel Morgenstern board the SS Manhattan bound for New York, leaving behind everything – and everyone – they know in war-torn Europe. America offers a safe haven, but to reach it they must survive an Atlantic crossing fraught with the danger of German U-boats and their lethal torpedoes, 

Their only distraction from peril is the drama of life on board. Among their fellow passengers are the composer Igor Stravinsky, making a new start after a decade of personal tragedy; and Rose Kennedy, wife of the US ambassador to London, determined to keep her four young children from harm. And then there’s Thomas, a young Nazi with a secret ... 

All 1,500 passengers on board are hoping to find a bright future at the end of their perilous journey. But as they discover, fate is not smiling upon them all. 

Thoroughly researched, The Ocean Liner is a fictionalised portrayal of some of the true stories from The Golden Age of the Ocean Liner, and sensitively pays tribute to some of true tragedies of the period. From the destruction of the SS Athenia, the heroics of Commodore Albert ‘Rescue’ Randall, to the events that changed Rose Kennedy’s life forever, Gabriel brings to life a cast of refugees escaping WW2.


Thursday, 15 March 2018

Author Spotlight...Lorna Gray

I am delighted to introduce the author

Hi Lorna, welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for spending time with us today.. Will you explain to us a little more about the plot of The War Widow without giving too much away?

Harper Impulse
22 March 2018

Absolutely - no spoilers here! The War Widow is a sequel to 1940s adventure In the Shadow of Winter. It is about identity, courage and self belief. Danger stalks the coastline of Wales while the bells of a Royal Wedding peel out to the fading echoes of war.

Labelled a hysterical, grieving divorcee in the wake of her ex-husband’s death, no one will believe heroine Kate Ward is being pursued by two violent men demanding answers she cannot give. Not the police, not the guests at the Aberystwyth hotel, and certainly not the reclusive war-veteran-turned-crime-novelist, Adam Hitchen, a reserved widower who is the only source of kindness in a shadowy world of suspicion and fear. 

As ghosts old and new rise to haunt her, Kate must rely on all her strength and courage to uncover the shocking truth hidden within a twisted web of lies.

Kate is the main protagonist of The War Widow. Tell us about her and why you decided to tell her story?

Kate is wonderful. She isn’t an extrovert but she’s steadfast. For me there is no more proof of her bravery than in the way she faces her most personal challenge of all - the question of who she is set against the way other people perceive her. 

When things get a bit tricky in the wake of her ex-husband’s apparent suicide, Kate finds herself feeling very isolated because it’s not just the underlying mystery that is dangerous. In the year or so since the divorce, Kate’s been trying to start again but now she’s in a position of having to depend upon other people’s judgement once more. And they are so busy making assumptions about her that they start taking charge in a very wrong way. This feeling of powerlessness is I think one of those fearsomely dangerous moments in a test of self-belief. It’s also a wonderfully romantic way to meet Adam - it takes a man like him to perceive Kate’s oft-underestimated inner resolve and decide, despite the odds, to help her. 

Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. Do they ever dictate how the story progresses or do you stick with a writing plan from the beginning and never deviate?

I’m the sort of author who maps out the basic narrative and swiftly finds that the characters start dictating their own actions. I find it quite funny really when I set out to write a scene a certain way only to discover about half way through that one of the characters is letting me know quite plainly that they simply wouldn’t behave that way. It’s great actually. It’s the moment I know they’re not just mannequins on a page.

Location seems to play a major part in your novels. Can you tell us why you decided to set The War Widow mainly in Aberystwyth?

I know and love Aberystwyth from my years there as an art student. These days I live near Cirencester and it was in a local charity shop window that I found my inspiration for this book. It came in the form of the chance discovery of a 1925 Guide to Aberystwyth (complete with instructions on where to catch one’s charabanc). The guidebook united my memory of life in Aberystwyth with my new life in Cirencester. It made me think about how much my heroine might try to reinvent herself after the end of a relationship and how certain elements of the past might quite simply refuse to let her go.

The War Widow is your second post war novel. What makes this era attractive to you?

To be frank, my original inspiration came from a conversation I had with a next door neighbour. He’s in his eighties now and was in his teens at the end of the war. He started talking about the years of recovery and change and I realised just how abruptly my education had stopped with the final days of the war. WWII is naturally a period that vastly influences the world I know today but the time that came afterwards is almost as important because this was when an awful lot of people had to deal with what had happened to the life they knew and attempt to build a new idea of normality for themselves. Everybody’s idea of what constitutes ‘normality’ is so different, I think it’s the most evocative era for an adventure.

And finally , what do you hope that readers will take away from The War Widow?

I hope you’ll love Kate and Adam as much as I do, and the era and the mystery and danger. I also hope you’ll begin to spot the fine threads that run from one book to the next. And please get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter. It’s lovely to talk!

 The War Widow by Lorna Gray

More about Lorna can be found on her website

Follow on Twitter @MsLornaGray

Huge thanks to Lorna for being our special guest today

Thank you for sharing your writing with us, Jaffa, Timmy and I wish you continued success.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Review ~ Bring Me Back by B A Paris

8 March 2018

My thanks to the Publishers, Lovereading and Netgalley for my copy of this book

When Finn’s girlfriend, Layla, goes missing on their journey home from a skiing holiday in France, the finger of suspicion falls on him, but twelve years later and with no further clues to Layla’s disappearance, Finn has moved on, but then, strange things start to happen which upsets the balance of Finn’s ordered life.

What then follows is an exciting page-turner which has all the hallmarks of this author’s exceptional writing. Her meticulous attention to the connection between people, and her fine observation of human frailty, is captured in this emotional story, which is rich in detail and alive with malice. The multiple story strands, which move backwards and forwards in time, gradually reveal a dark story of lies and deceit and as we get further into the nitty-gritty of the story, so the chill levels start to rise.

I raced through Bring Me Back at top speed as the concise chapters lend themselves to speedy reading. And as the story evolves, so the need to know more about what’s going to happen next gets more and more gripping. Over the course of the book, I tried to second guess where the plot was taking me, only to have it veer off in a completely unexpected direction.

There is no doubt that this talented author has captured the domestic noir genre to perfection and her ability to control a complicated plot whilst holding the reader’s attention, from start to finish, is to her credit.

Bring Me Back is a taut and tight psychological thriller with more than enough suspense to keep you guessing from beginning to end.

I read Bring Me Back for the Love Reading Review Panel which you can find by clicking here

About the Author

B. A. Paris Book and Novel

B A Paris grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. Bring Me Back is her third novel.

Twitter @BAParisAuthor #ForgetSleep #BringMeBack

@HQstories @Lovereadinguk

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Review ~ The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

8 February 2018

In this, the tenth, book in the Ruth Galloway series of mysteries, The Dark Angel, sees Ruth away from her beloved Norfolk. On the invitation of an old flame she is is invited to act as a consultant on an archaeological discovery in the pretty Italian town of Castelli degi Angeli, which is about an hour's drive from Rome. Ruth's fleeting romantic association with archaeologist, Angelo Morrelli, was over twelve years ago, so when she gets his phone call asking for her advice on a difficult case, she is at first reluctant to get involved. However, the idea of getting away from Norfolk is an attractive proposition, and using this consultancy work as an excuse for a holiday, Ruth travels with her daughter, Kate, and her friend Shona, with her little boy, Louis.

From the start all is not as it seems at Castelli degi Angeli and as Ruth gets drawn further and further into the mystery surrounding the archaeological discovery, so she realises that there is far more to this investigation than Angelo Morrelli is admitting.

It was interesting in this tenth anniversary story to take Ruth out of her comfort zone and place her in an environment which allowed her to work without the usual background of a wild and windswept Norfolk. However, Ruth's natural ability to get things moving is just as creative in Italy, as it is back at home, and I didn't feel that the story lost anything by taking it to a different location.

I read through The Dark Angel at top speed, always eager to see where the story will lead and it's not always the crime aspect of the investigation which grabs my attention, often, it's more the interaction between the other characters which I enjoy the most, especially around Ruth's complicated relationship with DCI Harry Nelson. So, even though Ruth may be away from Norfolk, there is still quite a bit of complicated stuff happening back at home, which undoubtedly adds a different dimension to the story. There's a bit of a surprise in this book which I didn't see coming, and which shakes things up a lot ,and whilst I can't give the game away, it did sort of startle me a little, as I hoped that this particular aspect of the story would gather momentum.

The writing is, as always,  sharp and beautifully observed, and the complex relationship which has been created between these well loved characters continues to be the absolute strength of the series. I have grown really fond of everyone, and hope to see Ruth Galloway and her mysteries continue for another ten ...or more years.

Of course, it must be said that if you are new to the series, and if so, wherever have you been for the last ten really should start these books from the very beginning. You won't be disappointed.

Elly Griffiths was born in London. She worked in publishing for many years. Her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist are set in Norfolk.The series has won the CWA Dagger in the library, and has been shortlisted three times for the Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of theYear. Her Stephens and Mephisto series is based in 1950s Brighton. She lives near Brigton with her husband and their two children.

Twitter @ellygriffiths 

Monday, 12 March 2018

Author Spotlight ~ Joanne Nicholson

I am delighted to welcome author Joanne Nicholson to the blog today

I’m thrilled to be featured on Jaffareadstoo today. I’m Joanne Nicholson, an Australian indie author of contemporary women’s fiction.

There is no better feeling than to sit down and allow the creative juices to start flowing when an idea for a story has been buzzing around in your head for a while. Writing is a solitary act, but when you have the adoration of a pet nearby it doesn’t seem like such a lonely pursuit.

Those familiar with this blog will know that Jaffa and Timmy are well read bookish cats that keep an eye on Jo’s reading and blog writing. Similarly, I have a lap warmer who keeps me company when I write. My cavoodle puppy Tilly is either sitting on my lap or curled up by my side whenever I read or write.

I was once told to read my dialogue out loud to myself when writing to see how well it flows. I don’t look half as mad doing that when I have my dog by my side to listen (who am I kidding, of course I do, but it’s in the privacy of my own home so it doesn’t matter).

The other advantage of writing with a pet by my side is that she forces me to periodically take breaks, either to take her for a walk or at least to stretch my legs and put her outside. This makes the world of difference to how my back feels after an intense session of writing where I’m sitting in the same position for hours on end.

When writing my latest novel ‘Positive’ it was comforting to have my dog Tilly by my side as I began exploring the pain of my main character Ruth as she went from planning an engagement, to the sudden realisation that she had been dumped and would have to start looking for love once more. In ‘Positive’, Ruth has her heart set on becoming a mother and being in her mid-thirties, feels her time is running out. After multiple online dating disasters, Ruth contemplates IVF as an option to become a mother without a partner. She leaves no stone unturned in her quest to become pregnant and is thrilled and shocked when she gets her positive test result. Her caring friends provide a supportive network to help her through her rollercoaster of emotions as she becomes accustomed to her new reality.

I’m thankfully very happily married with four kids and a cute dog, so this story is by no means autobiographical. I think everyone has a time in their lives when they have a ‘sliding doors’ moment when they consider what life would have been like had they made different choices along the way. Would I have been content with being single without children, or would I have moved mountains to make sure I was a mother, regardless of whether it was on my own?  I guess the beauty of writing is that you can explore the thoughts and feelings of alternate lives, without having to leave the comfort of the life you lead. Writing ‘Positive’ definitely made me feel grateful for having never had to endure an awkward online date or having to consider alternate technology to make sure I could have a baby. I know plenty of people who have had their own struggles with these scenarios and my heart goes out to them.

If you are interested in reading ‘Positive’, it is available for purchase at Amazon, together with my other contemporary women’s fiction novels ‘In Another Life’ and ‘Intuition’.

31360758 25822299

Feel free to follow me on social media (you may even get a sneak peek of Tilly from time to time):

Twitter: @jolnicholson

Instagram: joannenicholsonauthor

Facebook: Joanne Nicholson Author

 Huge thanks to Joanne and Tilly for being our special guests today

Thank you for sharing your writing with us, Jaffa, Timmy and I wish you continued success.