Staying in with Emma Venables

It’s an absolute privilege to start off a blog tour and today I’m thrilled to welcome Emma Venables on the eve of publication to tell me all about her debut novel. My enormous thanks to Julia Forster for inviting me to take part.

Let’s find out more:

Staying in with Emma Venables

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Emma. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Hi Linda, thank you for having me on your wonderful blog!

You are most welcome. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve brought along my debut novel, Fragments of a Woman, which will be published by Aderyn Press on 1st June 2023.

Happy publication day for tomorrow Emma. I know this is your debut so tell me a bit about how Fragments of a Woman came into being?

It has been a long road to publication – the novel was originally part of my Creative Writing PhD thesis which examined representations of German women in fiction about the National Socialist era and has been through many drafts and re-drafts, writes and re-writes, since then to become the book it is today. It’s a bit surreal to finally see it in print but I’m so excited to finally share it with the world.

I bet you are! What can we expect from an evening in with Fragments of a Woman?

I wrote Fragments of a Woman in an attempt to challenge the stereotypes we have of German women during the National Socialist era/World War Two and to give a voice to women whose stories may have been confined to the dregs of history (such as the character Gisela). I wanted to really sink in and examine the complexities of women’s experiences during this era and the decisions they might have had to make to survive. As a result, I didn’t feel I could write a novel with just one main character so there are five protagonists: Liesel, Lore, Ingrid, Greta, and Gisela.

That must have taken considerable plotting. I think it’s always fascinating to get herstory as well as history and can’t wait to read Fragments of a Woman. I’m so glad it’s on my TRB.

Fragments of a Woman is not always an easy read (a lot of it was difficult to write – at times I was in tears myself!) but if I’ve done my job right there will be pockets of joy and moments of intense sadness when reading the novel. Katie Munnik, author of the brilliant, The Aerialists, said it is ‘filled with hard love and raw light’ and I just love that description.

What a wonderful description.

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

Can I bring Berlin?

All of it? We can try to fit it in!

Here is the city that has relentlessly occupied my imagination for the past fourteen years and forms the backdrop of the majority of Fragments of a Woman. Whenever the wheels of a plane I’m on hit the tarmac in Berlin, I feel this strange sense of calm come over me. Perhaps it’s because I know that I’m going to find stories and characters I hadn’t expected to as I wander around the streets, visit museums and memorials. When researching and writing Fragments of a Woman, I went to Berlin several times and I’d always come back with extra bits I wanted to add to the novel – for example, Lore’s chapter on the beach with Wilhelm was inspired by a photograph I saw in The Topography of Terrors – and eventually I had to rein myself in. There’s a fine line in historical fiction between enough historical detail and information overload. Much of the research that didn’t make it into the novel has found its way into my short fiction and my second novel which follows Lore in the immediate aftermath of World War Two.

I think many authors find is hard to jettison so much of their research Emma.

I’ve also brought a gin and tonic which is my drink of choice.

Indeed you can. Many authors bring wine which makes me ill so I’m delighted to share a G+T with you instead.

One of the images I have in my head whenever I think of Fragments of a Woman is of Gisela and Volker in one of their Berlin bars – Gisela in her navy-blue tea dress and Volker in his purple waistcoat – dancing, with their glasses full. I love their friendship in the early parts of the novel, the fact they’re each other’s safe space in a world that’s tilting on its axis.

I have a feel that the kind of friendship you describe here Emma, is still very much needed today. Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat all about Fragments of a Woman. It sounds an intense and affecting book which I’m very much looking forward to reading. 

Now, you pour us a drink and I’ll give reader’s a few more details about tomorrow’s publication.

Fragments of a Woman

Five women, trapped by duty, fighting to survive…

Gentle Ingrid puts her life at risk when she tries to save her beloved daughter from her husband’s zealous beliefs.Liesel, a lesbian, marries a gay man in hopes that they can feign the ideal marriage and, in doing so, protect each other from persecution.

Lovesick Greta, spurned by Liesel and lost, joins the Resistance, then disappears.

Gisela, a prostitute once contentedly in control of her own destiny, is incarcerated at Ravensbrück, where she must fight for a future she cannot yet imagine.

While Lore, craving a life beyond Berlin, wifedom and motherhood, steps down a dark and dangerous path.

Exploring themes of motherhood, identity, trauma, fascism, and survival, Fragments of a Woman offers a nuanced and heartbreaking exploration of what it meant to be a woman living under National Socialist rule.

Praise for Fragments of a Woman:

A remarkable and memorable book, filled with hard light and raw love.” – Katie Munnik

“A novel that chronicles with an unwavering eye and sharp empathy the daily horrors of war.” – Douglas Cowie, author of Noon in Paris, Eight in Chicago

“Strong and original… heart-breaking… lives are ripped apart, lives are lost, love is forgone and love conquers as each of these trapped women attempts to survive.” – Jane Fraser

Fragments of a Woman is published by Aderyn Press in paperback on 1st June 2023 and is available to purchase from your local bookshop or directly from the publisher.

About Emma Venables

Emma Venables‘ short and flash fiction has been widely published in magazines and journals. Her short story, ‘Woman at Gunpoint, 1945’ was a runner-up in the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize 2020. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and has taught at Royal Holloway, University of London and Liverpool Hope University.

For further information you can follow Emma on Twitter @EmmaMVenables, or visit Emma’s website. You’ll also find Emma on Instagram.

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Sidle Creek by Jolene McIlwain

My enormous thanks to Nikki Griffiths at Melville House for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Jolene McIlwain’s Sidle Creek. I’m delighted to share my review today.

Published by Melville House on 18th May 2023, Sidle Creek is available for purchase here.

Sidle Creek

Set in the bruised, mined, and timbered hills of Appalachia in western Pennsylvania, Sidle Creek is a tender, truthful exploration of a small town and the people who live there, told by a brilliant new voice in fiction.

In Sidle Creek, McIlwain skillfully interrogates the myths and stereotypes of the mining, mill, and farming towns where she grew up. With stories that take place in diners and dive bars, town halls and bait shops, McIlwain’s writing explores themes of class, work, health, and trauma, and the unexpected human connections of small, close-knit communities. All the while, the wild beauty of the natural world weaves its way in, a source of the town’s livelihood – and vulnerable to natural resource exploitation.

With an alchemic blend of taut prose, gorgeous imagery, and deep sensitivity for all of the living beings within its pages, Sidle Creek will sit snugly on bookshelves between Annie Proulx, Joy Williams, and Louise Erdrich.

My Review of Sidle Creek

A collection of short stories.

Sidle Creek took me by surprise. Stupidly I hadn’t realised that all the stories revolve around the one place; the Sidle Creek of the title. This has the effect of deepening the impact of the stories and creating simultaneously the sense of community and of isolation that life in a small town often has. Jolene McIlwain writes with such beauty and economy that not a word is wasted and yet both nature and humanity are presented in their most raw state. I thought this collection was exceptionally good, completely moving and beautifully written.

With a few exceptions, these stories are frequently just a few paragraphs long – more akin to flash fiction – but each is steeped in emotion so that it is impossible to read them quickly. Rather, they need to be savoured and given the reader’s full attention to be fully appreciated. Perfectly crafted, the narratives don’t actually feel consciously created at all. They feel organic, natural and as if they have always been part of a literary canon. There’s real elegance in Jolene McIlwain’s writing even when she’s conveying the darkest of theme or action.

Every aspect of life is present between the pages of Sidle Creek. Life and death, relationships of all kinds, nature, employment, mental, emotional and physical health, great pragmatism and deep spirituality are presented with affecting insight. It’s impossible not to react in a kind of primeval and visceral manner to the writing in Sidle Creek. For example, I confess I was thoroughly undone by The Fractal Geometry of Grief and Seeds in particular. Indeed, all these stories pulsate with emotion, truth and luminosity, making them unforgettable. 

Sidle Creek is intense, literary and filled with a stark beauty conveyed through exquisite and varied prose. I thought this collection was quire, quite wonderful. I absolutely loved it.

About Jolene McIlwain

Jolene McIlwain’s fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and appears in West Branch, Florida Review, Cincinnati Review, New Orleans Review, Northern Appalachia Review, and 2019’s Best Small Fictions Anthology. Her work was named finalist for Glimmer Train’s and River Styx’s contests and semi finalist in Nimrod’s Katherine Anne Porter Prize and two American Short Fiction’s contests. She’s received a Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Grant, the Georgia Court Chautauqua Faculty scholarship, and Tinker Mountains’ merit scholarship. She’s taught literary theory/analysis at Duquesne and Chatham Universities and she worked as a radiologic technologist before attending college (BS English, minor in sculpture, MA Literature). She was born, raised, and currently lives in a small town in the Appalachian plateau of Western Pennsylvania.

For further information, visit Jolene’s website, follow her on Twitter @jolene_mcilwain or find her on Facebook and Instagram.

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Watching from the Wings by Christine Webber

It’s far too long since Christine Webber appeared here on Linda’s Book Bag with a guest post all about older characters in celebration of her book So Many Ways of Loving which is still waiting for me on my TBR. I’m delighted to rectify the fact that Christine has been missing by sharing my review of her latest book Watching From the Wings. My enormous thanks to Christine for sending me a copy of Watching From the Wings in return for an honest review.

Watching From the Wings was published on 23rd April 2023 and is available for purchase here.

Watching From the Wings

Watching From the Wings is a heartwarming tale of devotion, friendship, joy and passion, but also one involving disappointment, duplicity and betrayal. We all have our own journey of love. Katharine’s is more complex than most. And she comes to realise that she has always chosen the wrong door whenever she had the chance to exit by a more promising one.

At the age of 62, can she make a fresh start, or is it too late?

My Review of Watching From the Wings

Katharine is an aspiring actor.

What a smashing book. I thoroughly enjoyed Watching From The Wings because it is a well paced, involving and engaging story that has a resonance of truth making it highly entertaining and satisfying. The plot feels authentic and realistic even though it’s set in a theatrical world most of us know little about. Incidentally, I think Watching From The Wings would make a brilliant television series because the plot has depth and some real surprises along the way. 

I always know how much I’ve enjoyed a book and how effective the characterisation is when I have an emotional reaction to the people in the story. I this case, I absolutely loathed Nicholas. I wanted to climb into the book and punch him. Hard. As a result, initially I was incredibly frustrated by Katharine. She infuriated me as she lost sight of her individuality in her relationship with Nicholas. Katharine is an absolutely fabulous character because Christine Webber gets right inside the head of a young woman and then again when she is older in the story, giving readers of any age something relatable. There’s true development here. I loved it when I reached the later timescale and Katharine had matured, even though she remains a flawed person. She’s so true to life. 

And Moira was a triumph of loathsomeness. One of the real pleasures in reading Watching From The Wings was absolutely hating some of the characters. Equally, watching their growth and development was also thoroughly entertaining and I adored Simon and Cleo from the start. Indeed, everyone needs a Cleo in their life. Even the most minor characters have a vitality that makes them lifelike and realistic. 

There’s also a convincing flavour of realism through cultural references to actual theatre productions, television and actors so that Watching From The Wings feels true and engaging. The reader gets a vivid insight into the world of theatre that I found fascinating. I also thoroughly appreciated the exploration of a marriage and of relationships, friendships and family, control and trust and manipulation and self-doubt. These felt like grown up themes that added very pleasing depth. Most of all I loved the message that the time to start living your life to the full is now, regardless of your age or past experiences.

Filled with warm humanity, experience, emotion and entertainment, Watching From The Wings is an engaging narrative that I thoroughly enjoyed. I really recommend it.

About Christine Webber

Christine Webber tried various careers in her younger days – she was a classical singer, a Principal Boy in pantomimes, an undistinguished actress as well as a piano and singing teacher. Fortunately, for her, when she was thirty, she managed to get a job in television as a continuity announcer, and shortly thereafter she became a news presenter at Anglia TV. Finally, she had found an occupation she liked that other people thought she was good at. This was a massive relief.

In her early forties, she married the love of her life, David Delvin. Soon afterwards, she decided it was time to leave news presenting to train as a psychotherapist and she also became a problem page columnist for various publications including TV Times, Best, BBC Parenting, The Scotsman and Woman. In addition, she regularly broadcast relationship advice on Trisha, The Good Sex Guide …Late and from the BBC’s Breakfast sofa.

In her fifties, she and her husband set up a practice in Harley Street, and they worked together there and collaborated on several books. They also wrote the sex/relationships content on and penned a joint column for the health section of The Spectator.

Over the decades, Christine was commissioned to write ten self-help books including Get the Happiness Habit, How to Mend a Broken Heart and Too Young to Get Old.

Now, in her seventies, her focus is on the issues of mid and later life. She makes video podcasts on positive ageing and writes a column for various regional papers on that theme. She is also a life coach specialising in health and ageing. But she has no plans for any more non-fiction books. Instead, for the past five years she has concentrated on writing novels for and about older people. Previous titles in this genre have been Who’d Have Thought It? and It’s Who We Are.

So Many Ways of Loving, which made the shortlist of 2022’s Selfie’s awards, is about the major life changes we have to expect as we age, the possibilities of new beginnings as well as our crucial need for good friends and family.

Christine’s latest book, out in April 2023, is Watching From The Wings, a heart-warming tale of a woman finding her real self in her sixties.

You can follow Christine on Twitter @1chriswebber, visit her website and find her on Instagram and Facebook.

The Vienna Writers Circle by J.C. Maetis

My huge thanks to Georgia Taylor at Penguin for sending me a copy of The The Vienna Writers Circle by J.C. Maetis in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share that review today.

Published in paperback by Penguin imprint Viking on 13th April 2023, The Vienna Writers Circle is available for purchase through the links here.

The Vienna Writers Circle


Austria, 1938: The Vienna Writers Circle meets at Café Mozart to share hopeful stories during a hopeless time.

But when the Nazis take over, everything changes. With their Jewish families’ now under threat, the writers hide using false identities, their stories becoming their only salvation.

Then a local policeman begins a dangerous mission to help them. But he faces conflicts of his own: having declared his love for a beautiful Romani-gypsy girl, Deya Reynes, he fears that she too will be sent to her death.

When all they have left is courage, will they survive?

My Review of The The Vienna Writers Circle

The Nazis are in Vienna.

The Vienna Writer’s Circle is a difficult read. This is because it is written with intensity, veracity and menace and the details of the  prologue linger in the reader’s mind making them tense and uneasy throughout. At times, J.C. Maetis writes with such detail and vivid precision, the story’s brutality is almost unbearable. However, The Vienna Writer Circle is also filled with hope, with people like Josef, and those whose bravery and support for others floods the reader with positivity. 

The plot obviously calls on the history of the Second World War and many elements are familiar. However, J.C. Maetis’s meticulous research and fresh approach brings alive the writing culture of Vienna with reference to many real life characters such as Sigmund Freud so that the blend of fact and fiction adds to the pleasure in immersing yourself in the story. Initially, the narrative builds fairly slowly with a more philosophical uncovering of events, but rapidly builds to a fast pace, ending with pulse elevating excitement and indeed, terror. This structure seems to echo the way the rise of Nazism was initially fairly ideological until it translated into brutality with chilling effect. 

The characters are strongly depicted and convincing, but what I found most poignant about the people in The Vienna Writers Circle was the fickleness of humanity, it’s brutality and the way so many are forced to renounce their sense of identity and self. This is a profound theme in the novel as the definition of Jewishness in order to persecute, the need to change identities and to behave out of one’s own moral boundary for self-preservation, and the exploration of mob rule where individual humanity is suppressed is starkly and affectingly conveyed. Add in the constant, underlying anxiety that no-one knows whom they can truly trust and J.C. Maetis engenders similar discomfort in the reader. This makes The Vienna Writers Circle disturbing and effective.

At the risk of stating the obvious, The Vienna Writer’s Circle is about story. The stories we tell ourselves to make life and history palatable, the narratives we construct to enable us to endure life, about real narratives written by created and actual writers, and about the power of storytelling in humanity – indeed in life and death.

I can’t say I necessarily ‘enjoyed’ The Vienna Writers Circle because it was so convincing and far too redolent of what is happening in modern Europe today, but I found it totally compelling and very moving. This is a novel that feels raw, intelligent and far too realistic. I thought it was excellent and a must read for those who are fascinated by the era. Its effect resonates long after it’s read.

About J.C. Maetis

J.C. Maetis is better known as British thriller writer John Matthews whose books have sold over 1.6 million copies and been translated in 14 languages. Maetis is the name of his father’s Jewish family, who left Lithuania for London in 1919 in the wake of Jewish pogroms. However, many of his extended family sadly died when Hitler invaded Lithuania in 1941, and so this book is a tribute to them. Maetis now lives in Surrey, England, and is working on his second book, The Fortune Teller of Berlin.

For further information you can follow J.C. Maetis on Twitter @JohnMat85980724.

The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators by Maureen Little

As someone who simply can’t bear being inside and who has an allotment and loves gardening, it is my pleasure to participate on the blog tour for The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators by Maureen Little. My thanks to Grace Pilkington for inviting me to take part.

Published on 16th May 2023, The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators is available for purchase here.

The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators

Insects – bees, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, and beetles – play a vital and irreplaceable role in pollination.

Yet many pollinators are in decline, and people are asking what can be done on an individual basis to help them. One answer is to grow pollinator-friendly plants in your garden.

This richly colour-illustrated book showcases a selection of plants which are not only attractive to pollinators, but are also garden-worthy, and suitable for an ‘average’ size of garden.

It includes:

  • Information about the kinds of pollinators that can be found in a garden
  • Practical advice on what those pollinating insects need in terms of food and habitat, and what gardeners can do to aid their survival
  • An overview of the types of garden plants that can fulfil the insects’ needs
  • A series of plant lists covering more than 100 annuals and biennials, herbaceous perennials, shrubs, sub-shrubs and climbers, and trees

My Review of The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators

A book of 100 (ish!) plants to encourage pollinators.

What an absolute delight The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators is. Right from the very introduction where Maureen outlines her criteria for selecting plants in this book, her no-nonsense approach is gloriously refreshing. What The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators does is to think about the average garden and the kinds of plants the ordinary person can include so that compendium is practical and encouraging for those of us who don’t own vast swathes of land. Add in Maureen’s conversational style that speaks right to the reader and delving into The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators feels like having a one-to-one chat with an expert who is giving you their undivided attention. I just loved this about the book.

Before Maureen’s choice of plants proper is a highly informative and entertaining section looking, for example, at flower types, the creatures that actually are pollinators and the practical ways we can encourage them in our gardens.

But it’s the plant list itself which makes this book so wonderful. Fantastic photographs accompany the text which follows an educational and entertaining format. The different sections in The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators begin with lovely illustrations in the style of the cover too. Each plant is described conventionally with such details as how and when to propagate it, but there is also Maureen’s choice as well as a quirky ‘Beware’ section for those plants that might be poisonous or irritant.

Whilst The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators is educative, helpful and informative, it’s highly entertaining and reading the text makes the reader feel they are getting to know the author too. Maureen Little comes across as a passionate plantswoman certainly, but she also seems warm, witty and caring so that there’s real pleasure in meeting her on the page. She also made me feel as if I could trust her horticultural knowledge completely.

I thought The Little Book of Plants for Pollinators was super. With it’s brilliantly researched contents, its high quality illustrations and glossy finish, it would make a wonderful gift for any gardener or anyone interested in supporting those pollinators that we all need to survive. But be (or should that be bee) warned – you’ll want your own copy too! I thought it was magnificent.

About Maureen Little


Maureen Little is an author, gardener and bee-keeper who has worked in horticulture for over 40 years. She has given lectures at RHS Wisley, the Garden Museum in London, the Herb Society and gardening groups and societies nationwide. Maureen has a monthly gardening feature on local community radio Ribble FM. Maureen is a full member of the Garden Media Guild, and the author of The Bee Garden  and The Little Book of Popular PerennialsThe Little Book of Plants for Pollinators is her latest book.

For further information, visit Maureen’s website.


Staying in with Emma Cowell on The House in the Olive Grove Publication Day

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Emma Cowell to Linda’s Book Bag today to stay in with me to chat all about her latest novel. My huge thanks to Maddie at Avon Books for putting us in touch with one another. Let’s find out more:

Staying in with Emma Cowell

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Emma.  Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Tell me, (as if I didn’t know!) which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve chosen my second novel The House in The Olive Grove to get us in the mood for summer and to enjoy all the delicious food I’ve brought with me! It’s set in a Greek cooking school, so we will be making supper together as they do in the book, so I hope you’ve got an apron handy!

I have indeed. I love Greek food so we could be in for a treat tonight! And what better way to celebrate today’s publication of The House in the Olive Grove? Congratulations!

What can we expect from an evening in with The House in the Olive Grove?

The book is a celebration of friendship and the magical bond that can happen when people cook together and break bread across a table. It’s a speedy way to get to know somebody and food is my love language.

It has been so heartening to hear how readers have connected with the three women in the novel and their very different stories and journeys. But they come together via the power of Greek food to face their hidden demons and form lasting friendships. One reader said it was ‘a deeply satisfying story of love, loss and friendship…so evocative it made me want to pack a bag!’ Someone else called it ‘food for the soul’- I will take that!

I imagine you will. I’m thrilled to have The House in the Olive Grove on my TBR. It sounds fabulous.

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

Since all my novels so far- including my current work in progress- are set in Greece, I’ve bought traditional Greek food for us to enjoy. I’ve made spinach and feta filo pie or spanakopita, and I’ll teach you how to make authentic Greek tzatziki that we can dip some courgette fritters into.

That sounds gorgeous. Feta is one of my favourite foods.

And if you have a sweet tooth, I have home-made Baklava for pudding. To drink, I’ve bought some bubbles to celebrate as this is my first blog adventure.

How exciting! And yes, I have a very sweet tooth.

To finish off our traditional Greek evening, I have a little Ouzo to accompany us in a game of Backgammon. I leant to play on a beach in Greece and I am absolutely hooked. As we play, I’d love to listen to some Leonard Cohen – I know he is an acquired taste- but he lived on a Greek island called Hydra which is where my third book will be set. So, I am going to inflict his gravelly voice and saucy lyrics upon you!

Hmm. Not so sure about Leonard Cohen Emma, but after a few glasses of fizz and an Ouzo or three I’m sure I’ll enjoy him singing! Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat all about The House in the Olive Grove. I think you’d better pour the drinks and I’ll give readers a few more details:

The House in the Olive Grove

Will one week in Greece change their lives for ever?

Chef Maria is running a successful cookery school in her home village of Petalidi, Greece – but she is also running from the secrets of her past.

Food journalist Kayla thought this was going to be just another work trip. But right before she leaves for Greece, she discovers that her whole life is built on a lie.

Jewellery-maker Alessandra has always lived according to her own rules – despite what it has cost her to do so. But she has just had some devastating news.

As these three very different women come together at the house in the olive grove, unlikely friendships blossom and a season of self-discovery begins. Will the sumptuous flavours, sapphire waters and golden sands of Greece give each of them the answers they so desperately seek?

The breathtaking, escapist second novel from Emma Cowell, perfect for fans of Victoria HislopCarol Kirkwood and Karen Swan.

The House in the Olive Grove is published today, 25th May 2023 by Harper Collins’ imprint Avon and is available for purchase through the links here.

About Emma Cowell

Emma lives in Cornwall with her husband, Tony, and their fur baby, a Russian Blue called Papoushka Gerald Cowell. A former actress and BBC presenter Emma is currently Head of Philanthropy for national charity Together for Short Lives. Outside of work, Emma is a keen angler and held a Cornish record for over 10 years until her crown was toppled. She is yet to get over it but tries to keep calm by practising yoga. Also, a keen linguist, Emma is attempting to learn Greek to maintain her love affair with the country where she has set her debut novel. She is yet to achieve a level of proficiency outside of tavernas and bakeries.

For further information, follow visit Emma’s website or follow Emma on Twitter: @EmmaLLoydCowell, and find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover Reveal: Arrietty by Abby Richards

I love being part of a book’s launch and I love a psychological thriller so what could be better than to participate in this Random Things Tours cover reveal for Arrietty by Abby Davies? This one sounds an absolute cracker.

Arrietty will be released on 18th July and is available for pre-order here. Let’s find out more:


Our loved ones protect us.

So what if you woke up one day to find yours gone?

Your mum, your friends, your freedom – all gone.

And the one person you trust may be hiding a terrible secret.

Welcome to Arrietty’s life.


Doesn’t that sound enticing? I can’t wait to read Arrietty!

About Abby Richards

Abby Davies was born in Macclesfield in 1984. She grew up in Bedfordshire in a seventeenth century cottage near Flitton Moor and started writing ‘thrillers’ when she was seven years old.

After reading English Literature at Sheffield University and training to be an English teacher, she wrote novels in her free time.

She was shortlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition in 2018 and longlisted for the Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award in 2019. Her debut Mother Loves Me was published by HarperCollins in 2020.The Cult came out in 2021. Arrietty is her third novel.

She lives in Wiltshire with her husband, daughter and two crazy cocker spaniels.

For further information, follow Abby on Twitter @Abby13Richards, or find her on Instagram.

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Giveaway: A Paperback Copy of Deception by Lesley Pearse

Tomorrow sees the paperback release of Deception by Lesley Pearse and I’m delighted to have a copy of the book to give away to a lucky UK reader thanks to Courtney Jefferies at ed Public Relations.

I am a huge Lesley Pearse fan and reviewed Deception here on Linda’s Book Bag.

Published in Paperback on 25th May 2023 by Penguin, Deception is available for purchase through the links here.


No one wants to believe their mother is a liar . . .

After her mother’s funeral, Alice Kent is approached by a man who insists he’s her real father. Initially upset and disbelieving, Alice soon discovers that tugging at this loose thread unravels the expertly woven tapestry of lies which was her mother Sally’s life.

Faced with this staggering deception, Alice decides she must learn the whole, terrible truth about her mother.

But is she prepared for the dark journey back to Sally’s traumatic childhood and the evil forces which came to shape the woman who claimed to love her?


A Paperback Copy of Deception

For your chance to win a paperback copy of Deception by Lesley Pearse, click here.

UK only. The winner will need to provide a UK postal address for me to share with edPR in order to receive their prize, but which will not be retained further.

Giveaway closes at UK midnight on Sunday 28th May 2023.

About Lesley Pearse


Lesley Pearse was told as a child that she had too much imagination for her own good. When she grew up she worked her way through many jobs – from corsetry sales in Cooks of St. Pauls (featured in Dead to Me), to bunny girl to nanny; from gift shop owner to dressmaker – finally finding her true vocation when she became a published author age 49. Since then Lesley has become an internationally bestselling author, with over 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.

A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines, there is no set formula for a Lesley Pearse novel although strong heroines and difficult circumstances are pervasive. Whether historical adventures such as Gypsy or Never Look Back or the passionately emotive Trust Me, Lesley is inspired by stories of courage and adversity and often gives voice to women lost in history. She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide; from Alaska to the Crimea. Lesley now lives just outside Torquay in Devon where she loves to spend time walking on the beach with her grandchildren and dogs.

A fantastic speaker and committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley is a much sought after guest at literary lunches, library events and festivals up and down the country. Lesley was also selected as the first Ambassador for National Libraries Day in 2014.

You can follow Lesley on Twitter @LesleyPearse, and find her on Facebook.

Cover Reveal: The Lost Heir by Jane Cable

I can’t believe it’s two and a half years since I reviewed Jane Cable’s Endless Skies in a post you’ll find here. It gives me enormous pleasure to be part of the launch for Jane’s latest book The Lost Heir and help reveal the cover today. My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate.

Let’s find out all about The Lost Heir which will be published by Sapere and is available for pre-order here:

The Lost Heir

Cornwall, 2020

At the beginning of lockdown, teacher Carla Burgess needs to make some changes to her life. She no longer loves her job, and it’s certainly time to kick her on-off boyfriend into touch. But then, while walking on the cliffs she meets Mani Dolcoath, a gorgeous American with a dark aura.

Mani is researching his family history, and slowly their lives and their heritage begin to entwine. The discovery of a locked Georgian tea caddy in the barn on her parents’ farm intrigues Carla, but then she starts to see orbs, something that hasn’t happened since her grandmother died. They terrify her and she’ll do anything to outrun them, but will she lose Mani’s friendship in the process?

Cornwall, 1810

Harriet Lemon’s position as companion to Lady Frances Basset (Franny) perfectly conceals the fact they are lovers. But when Franny is raped and falls pregnant their lives are destined to change forever.

The one person who may be able to help them is Franny’s childhood friend, William Burgess, a notorious smuggler. But he has secrets of his own he needs to protect. Will his loyalties be divided, or will he come through?


Doesn’t that sound brilliant?

About Jane Cable

Jane Cable writes romance with a twist and its roots firmly in the past, more often than not inspired by a tiny slice of history and a beautiful British setting.

After independently publishing her award-winning debut, The Cheesemaker’s House, Jane was signed by Sapere Books. Her first two novels for them are contemporary romances looking back to World War 2; Another You inspired by a tragic D-Day exercise at Studland Bay in Dorset and Endless Skies by the brave Polish bomber crews who flew from a Lincolnshire airbase.

Jane lives in Cornwall and her current series, Cornish Echoes, are dual timeline adventure romances set in the great houses of the Poldark era and today. She also writes as Eva Glyn.

You can follow Jane on Twitter @JaneCable, visit her website and find her on Facebook. Eva Glyn is on Instagram too.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard by Lucy Coleman

Despite hearing such good things about them, and having several on my TBR waiting for me, I’ve never read one of Lucy Coleman’s books so I’m delighted to rectify that by sharing my review of her latest Summer at Green Valley Vineyard today. My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard was published by Embla on 25th May 2023 and is available for purchase here.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard

A beautiful vineyard. A new beginning. A summer that will change their lives forever…

Linzi arrived at Green Valley Vineyard nine years ago, in need of a fresh start. In the lush emerald countryside and ripening grapes, she finally has a place to call home.

But Linzi’s world is rocked when the owner announces he is retiring, and his grandson is taking over.

When Elliot Montgomery first sets foot at Green Valley, Linzi’s worst fears are realised. He’s stepped straight out of the boardroom in shiny shoes and a tailored suit. How will a numbers man like him ever understand the magic of what they do here?

Elliot has his own demons, carrying the grief of his father’s death. Despite their differences, he has come to the vineyard for a new beginning, much like Linzi once did.

As the summer unfolds, Elliot and Linzi find themselves in an uneasy alliance while old secrets threaten to be revealed.

Could more be about to bloom here among the twisting vines than they ever thought possible?

My Review of Summer at Green Valley Vineyard

Linzi’s life is about to change.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard is a smashing book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

There’s a lovely conversational tone so that, whilst Linzi is wary of sharing confidences with others, it feels as if she is speaking directly to the reader. This has the effect of drawing in the reader so that they care about Linzi and the vineyard and they feel part of the narrative.

As a result of Lucy Coleman’s style, Summer at Green Valley Vineyard is an effortless read, but it contains several themes that engage the reader and immerse them in life at the vineyard. As well as a satisfying insight into how a small vineyard functions, there’s a smashing overarching theme of trust as well as a hint of mystery as Linzi’s reasons for leaving Italy and hunkering down in the Welsh valleys are gradually uncovered. Add in a smattering of romance, a touch of grief and some highly tricky family relationships and there really is an aspect for any reader to enjoy. 

I thought the characters were very well drawn. What Lucy Coleman does so well is to illustrate that people’s lives and innermost feelings might not be exactly as they present them to others. Summer at Green Valley Vineyard is a compassionate as well as an entertaining book because it makes us understand why people behave as they do. 

The exploration of viticulture and the role of nature within it has been so meticulously researched that it adds authentic depth to the story. I loved the presentation of the outside, natural world as a balm for troubled minds because it felt like a gentle reminder to make the most of each day and, like Linzi, to learn to be true to yourself. Summer at Green Valley Vineyard sets the scene of a Welsh Valley vineyard to perfection.

Summer at Green Valley Vineyard is charming, entertaining and interesting. I thought it would be a perfect summer read and thoroughly recommend it.

About Lucy Coleman

Image courtesy of Huw Fairclough

Lucy Coleman always knew that one day she would write, but first life took her on a wonderful journey of self-discovery for which she is very grateful. Family life and two very diverse careers later she now spends most days glued to a keyboard, which she refers to as her personal quality time.
‘It’s only when you know who you are that you truly understand what makes you happy – and writing about love, life and relationships makes me leap out of bed every morning!’
If she isn’t online she’s either playing with the kids, whose imaginations seem to know no bounds, or painting something. As a serial house mover together with her lovely husband, there is always a new challenge to keep her occupied!

For further information, follow Lucy on Twitter @LucyColemanauth, visit her website or find Lucy on Facebook and Instagram.

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