According to the Daily Mail by Laurence Simpson

According to the daily mail

My grateful thanks to Laurence Simpson for a review copy of According to the Daily Mail: The audacious sabotage of tacky tabloid newspapers and trashy TV  which is available in both e-book and paperback published by Matador on 25th August 2015. According to the Daily Mail is available for purchase here in the UK and here in the US.

Jonathon hates the red top tabloids and he hates the Daily Mail in particular. So when he receives a substantial windfall from his friend David he decides to employ it sabotaging the Daily Mail establishment – as long as no-one gets hurt. But plans have a habit of going awry and not everything will work as intended.

I have to be honest and say that had I not been sent a copy of this book I would probably not have read it as neither the title According to The Daily Mail: The audacious sabotage of tacky tabloid newspapers and trashy TV, nor the cover attracted me much. However, that would have been a real shame as this is a very entertaining read.

Despite the fact that Jonathon is a complete rogue and not without a considerable degree of sexism in his approach, regardless of his attempts to undermine prurient media, he is a thoroughly likeable rogue and I enjoyed reading what happened to him. He appears to be a cross between Johnny English and James Bond, enjoying fine wine and women (as long as they are not his ex-wife), and I think he will appeal to the fantasies of many a heterosexual male.

Although I think this might be a book that appeals more to male than female readers, I found myself grinning most of the time as I read and laughing aloud frequently. Much of the humour for me came through the snappy dialogue which is quick-witted and natural so that you can almost picture the expressions on the faces of those interlocutors.

There’s real skill in the writing and I actually think Laurence Simpson has been very audacious. The plot is fast paced and the variety of sentence lengths moves the story along at a cracking rate. I think a couple of passages could have been edited slightly more and didn’t always add to the narrative, but because the pace was so fast they did not interfere with my enjoyment of the novel. I really enjoyed the way in which Jonathon’s views reflect those of so many of us and his actions are those we’d like to be able to carry out for ourselves.

Given that this is a very successful comic novel I think credit has to be given to Laurence Simpson too for exploring many of the ills of today’s society – corruption, greed, overt and unnecessary sexual reference in the media and so on – in such an accessible way. I think many readers, as I did, will agree wholeheartedly with his underlying views and be rooting for Jonathon from start to finish.

According to the Daily Mail is a romp of a read and great fun.

You can follow Laurence Simpson on Twitter and read more about him on his web site.

A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza by Pete Adams

Barrow Boy

Normally I’m delighted to host guest pieces by authors on Linda’s Book Bag. I say normally, but my dealings with Pete Adams show that he is not normal at all – in fact he’s quite crackers! Therefore it was with trepidation that I invited him to write a guest piece for the blog about writing a trilogy – you can see if my worries were justified below!

A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza was published by Urbane Publications on 1st June 2015 and is available to buy in both paperback and e-book here in the UK, here in the US and direct from Urbane who donate £1 from direct purchases to Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association, also known as Footprints.

About A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza

DCI Jack Austin – Jane to his friends and the not so friendly – knew he shouldn’t have come in to work. Following a terrorist bomb, an incident with a tutu and a hangover that would fell an elephant, investigating dead dogs, dodging bullets and being pulled sopping wet from a naval harbour is not conducive to a sunny disposition. But when the Head of Armed Forces and a City Banker are brutally murdered what’s a dashing DCI to do?

FORCE, a powerful Star Chamber, is under threat and Jack will need to go deep undercover to get to the bottom of the sinister plot. As revelations and rocket attacks threaten to turn his world upside down (and ruin his best pair of trousers), Jack will need courage, skill and a huge dose of lady luck if he is to bring the perpetrators of a nefarious plot that goes all the way to the Prime Minister’s office to justice.
As the trail leads to a showdown at the Albert Hall, Jack Austin, quintessential jumped up barrow boy and Portsmouth’s very own self-styled national icon, must fight to save his reputation, the country, and the lives of those who matter most. And work out just what a dead dog has to do with it all……

How to Write a Trilogy with Cherries and Porridge

a guest post from Pete Adams

author of A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza

How do you set about writing a trilogy? Although, in the case of Kind Hearts and Martinets by Pete Adams, the more appropriate question might be, ‘How do you set about writing a trilogy in five parts and then an epilogue, really?’ And the answer would be an emphatic, yes, it is a series of six books (all written) and Urbane Publications has just published book 3, A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, which is climbing steadily in the ratings, and the manuscript for book four, Ghost and Ragman Roll, is with Urbane now.

So Pete, an explanation, and please, cherries and porridge?

Lemon entry my dear Linda, what if life really was just a bowl of cherries, then a trilogy need not be numerically so confined, especially if readers demand more stories of a fat ugly cockney spiv, who loves Pride and Prejudice and Mary Poppins, and a beautiful woman who inexplicably loves him? They are both youthfully challenged, and there are doubts as to Jack’s sanitary; De Mensa?  Do they retire into the sunset; not likely; a novel in a retirement home, perhaps? Oh what larks Pip.

Pete, please be serious for a moment, how did you set about writing a trilogy?

I never did, of course it helps if the early part of your writing career is a failure. For me, when book one, Cause and Effect became 180k words, it was time to take stock, but I couldn’t stop. I liked the characters and the narrative, so I started a second book, Irony in the Soul and the story continued, the characters developed and the same thing happened; I stopped and rolled into book three, A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, and drew a conclusion to an extended narrative.

So now I had three connected books that had a natural ending, et-voila, a trilogy. The luxury was that I could return to all three books and manipulate the narrative introducing hooks and teasers to be resolved late in book 3. I announced to the world that I, a debut author, had written a trilogy, huh? A damp squib reply.

The first Agent response was encouraging, too long but she liked the synopsis. I edited and cut, ruthlessly, and a second Agent (in amongst a flurry of rejections, circa a dozen), said it had real merit and suggested I send to a friend, John Anthony, a retired Publisher. The result was I tightened everything – his comments, especially after book two, were highly influential:

Cause and Effect is highly impressive…as good an example of its type as I have read for some considerable time, and by focusing on male and female characters fairly equally, you have succeeded in creating a work that appeals to women just as much as men, and because of the edge-of-seat suspense, the vivid characterisation and the sheer innovation and originality of the narrative, I feel this work is one which would lend itself beautifully to a visual medium, film or TV.”

Cause and effect

And Urbane is following this up…

Irony in the Soul“I always read the second book in a trilogy or series with a degree of trepidation, particularly when I enjoyed the first book so much, but you allayed my fears on the very first page.  Objectively, the book can be read as a standalone novel, and you have taken pains to ensure that there is nothing a new reader cannot pick up on, and the plot is one that, though linked to the previous book in the trilogy, is strong and coherent enough to speak for itself, much as the first book does.


And then his comment that led to the extended trilogy…

With the strong characters established, your only problem, as far as I can see, will be in feeding…readerswith more narrative material; once you ignite an appetite, it is not so easy to satiate!

            The catalyst, the challenge, “…more narrative material” and Kind Hearts and Martinets is now established as a trilogy; dilemma.

I was energised to write more, but, I described the books as comedy and this is, apparently, a hard genre to get published, (Urbane said the books were crime thrillers that make you laugh; Eureka). I ineptly self published books one and two, with no clue on marketing, promotion, the importance of getting reviews, but I was out there and people liked my books. I had written book four, Ghost and Ragman Roll, and was well into book 5, Merde and Mandarins, when I signed with Urbane to Publish A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza, book three, and Urbane announced Kind Hearts and Martinets, the trilogy. Get out of that without moving, it was in print, so Kind Hearts eventually became a trilogy in 5 parts, I told the world, and as it takes a gazillion years to get a book published, upon publication, I had written book six, The Duchess of Friesian Tun, so, that became an Epilogue.

The important thing for me, was, I had time to manipulate the narrative so that events in subsequent novels could resolve conundrums inserted into earlier books; a ‘series’ of coherent books is therefore written, but, called forever “a trilogy”.

So, what is your recommendation Pete?

A trilogy or series will occur naturally, and if you are several books ahead of the Publisher, you can manipulate the narrative, and subliminal plot complexities can be enjoyed, revelled in, and resolved later.

Thanks Pete, is that it?

No, I’m just finishing book 8, and here is the relevant part, I realised that not only did this story need a new beginning, it also needed a whole new book before it, and I could do that because I was under no pressure…and then, dramatically, I realise whilst writing this, I have burned the porridge, producing an inedible cereal (not a trilogy); and there you have it, a trilogy in six parts, with cherries and porridge, and two to follow; are they connected? You will have to wait and see.

It’s tough at the coalface of writing then?

Who you calling coal face…?

Thanks Pete (sigh…).

If you dare, you can find out more about Pete by following him on Twitter, visiting his Facebook page or his blog. In the mean time, I’m off for a lie down!



The Edge of Sanity by Sheryl Browne

The Edge of Sanity Tour Banner

Having recently met the lovely author, I’m very pleased to be supporting Brook Cottage Books in highlighting the brilliant thriller by Sheryl Browne – ‘The Edge of Sanity‘. You can buy ‘The Edge of Sanity‘ here in the UK and here in the US. You also have an opportunity to win an e-copy of ‘Edge of Sanity’ or another of Sheryl’s books, ‘Death Sentence‘ at the bottom of this blog post.

All you need to know about

The Edge of Sanity

EOS Cover



Title of Book: The Edge of Sanity

Genre: Thriller/Psychological thriller/Crime thriller

Release Date: 29th April 2014

Publisher:  Safkhet Publishing

The Edge of Sanity – How far would YOU go to protect your family?

A decent, ordinary man, a man who has already suffered the loss of one child, Daniel Conner is forced by extraordinary circumstances into being a hero. Tortured, forcibly drugged—heroin still pulsating nauseatingly through his veins—his wife and daughter degraded, Daniel knows their kidnapper is beyond reasoning with. But does being pushed one step beyond endurance justify doing the unthinkable?

High on drugs, indebted to his supplier, and desperate, Charlie Roberts takes Daniel’s wife and daughter hostage. Daniel does everything within his power to rescue the situation bloodlessly. Eventually though, Daniel realises that with or without violent mood swings induced by amphetamines and cocaine, Charlie Roberts is a psychopath. He wants more than Daniel’s money.

He wants him.

The Edge of Sanity: a harrowing story of hope amid loss and betrayal.

Watch the video promotional here and find out more about this chilling read.

Shortlisted for the Crime, Thrillers & Mystery SpaSpa Book Award for books published in 2014.



Sheryl Browne03 small file

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for the Best Romantic e-book Love Stories Award 2015, Sheryl has seven books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies

Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer. THE REST OF MY LIFE comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.

the rest of my life

You can find out more about Sheryl Browne on her Website, by following her on Twitter  and on Facebook. You’ll find all her books here in the UK and here in the US. Sheryl is also on Pinterest.

You might also like to see: Loveahappyending LifestyleSafkhet PublishingChoc Lit and Romantic Novelists’ Association




Enter to win an e-copy of either ‘Death Sentence’ or ‘Edge of Sanity’ by clicking here.

Last Prophecy of Rome by Iain King


I’d like to wish a very happy publication day for the action-packed, gripping conspiracy thriller Last Prophecy of Rome by Iain King. Iain’s first novel Secrets of the Last Nazi came out last year and caused a storm and got some fabulous reviews. Published by Bookouture today, 28th January 2016, Last Prophecy of Rome is available in e-book on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

I’m delighted to be hosting a guest post from Iain below where he asks if modern society could go the way of ancient Rome.

About Last Prophecy of Rome

An ancient empire. A terrifying threat to the World’s Superpower. Only one man can stop it. 

ROME: Maverick military historian Myles Munro is on holiday with girlfriend and journalist Helen Bridle. He’s convinced a bomb is about to be detonated at the American Embassy.

NEW YORK: A delivery van hurtling through Wall Street, blows up, showering the sky with a chilling message: America is about to be brought down like the Roman Empire.

Juma, an African warlord, set free by the Arab Spring, plans to make it happen.

When a US Senator is taken hostage, a chilling chain of events begins, and Myles finds himself caught in a race against time to stop Juma. But, he’s not prepared for the shocking truth that the woman he once loved, Juma’s wife, Placidia, has now become a terrorist.

An electrifying edge-of-your-seat thriller that will have you coming back for more.

A Guest Post from Iain King

Could modern society go the way of the Roman Empire?  It’s a greater danger than you might think… And what if a bunch of terrorists were trying to make it happen?  That’s the storyline of my latest book, ‘Last Prophecy of Rome’.

There are huge similarities between modern civilisation in the West and the ancient civilisation of the Western Roman Empire.  From traffic congestion, to budget deficits, to military quagmires in the Middle East: so many of the difficulties we face today were once big issues for Rome, too.

There’s a lot we can learn from Rome, and its many mistakes.  And it’s especially important, because Rome fell.

Why did Rome fall?  Well, there are more than two hundred theories on that.  (In my book, the hero finds clues in Edward Gibbon’s masterpiece, ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ – it’s still one of the best tomes on the topic.)

The ‘explanation’ which has come to the fore most recently is migration.  Many of the barbarians who raided Rome in 410 AD, and ransacked the city much more brutally in 455 AD, were people who today we might call migrants or refugees.  The fate of ancient Rome was even cited by the Dutch Prime Minister, when he was arguing for a block on refugees entering his country.

In fact, for the many centuries it was ascendant, Rome welcomed immigrants, and encouraged them to become citizens.  Several of Rome’s most effective emperors – men like Hadrian and Diocletion – were from families which had just joined the empire; the equivalent of today’s ethnic minorities.

But by the 370s, factors beyond the Empire – including mass starvation on the Steppe and brutality in East Asia – were driving whole tribes to Europe.  The plight of these people is tragically similar to the many thousands leaving Syria and Iraq today, desperately trying to reach safety in Europe.

Rome’s handling of this challenge was catastrophic.  They corralled the new arrivals into internment camps, where many froze or starved.  In one famous anecdote, Roman soldiers bought the daughters of immigrants for meat – many refugee girls were traded for just a single dog.  The tribes fought back, and defeated the Romans in battle – most famously at Adrianople in 376AD.  Exactly one century later, the Roman Empire was no more.

So could terrorists destroy modern society, just as barbarians destroyed the Roman Empire?  The lesson from history is that it will depend on how we respond.

I dedicated ‘Last Prophecy of Rome’ to the 5,230 refugees who died on their journeys last year, and the book tries to show how we need to be compassionate to the desperate people fleeing their countries.

Many aspects of Roman life were terribly cruel.  They showed cruelty to the many thousands of refugees who sought sanctuary within their borders, and eventually had that cruelty returned in kind.

Modern Western society differs because we have a much greater capacity to be humane.

The lesson from Rome is that, to survive, we may need to prove that we care.


About Iain King


Iain King has worked in warzones, politics, teaching and journalism. In Afghanistan he served alongside both of Britain’s most senior casualties, and in more frontline bases than any other civilian. He is one of the youngest people ever to be made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Once a student at Oxford University and later a Fellow
at Cambridge, he has given talks at the UK’s Defence Academy and lectures to the Royal United Services Institute. He now leads the UK Government’s research unit on conflict, and writes a column about military history for a popular monthly magazine. Iain King has also been a professional speechwriter for high-profile figures, a journalist, and a report writer to the UN Security Council.

He is already the author of two very successful non-fiction books, Peace at Any Price: How the World Failed Kosovo, and How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time. The Myles Munro books are his first works of fiction.

Iain wrote his first novel Secrets of the Last Nazi almost entirely in secret – a double- life he kept from both his wife and children, and his employers and coworkers – until just days before publication, when a friend accidently broke his cover with an innocuous post on Facebook, which caused mayhem.

You can follow Iain on Facebook, on his blog and on Twitter


While I Was Waiting by Georgia Hill

While I Was Waiting Tour Banner

I’m delighted to be part of the Brook Cottage Books’ celebrations of ‘While I was Waiting‘ by Georgia Hill. Published by Harper Impulse in e-book and paperback, you can buy ‘While I was Waiting’ on both Amazon UK and Amazon US. I have a review of this lovely historical/time-slip romance below and you also have the opportunity to win a print copy of the book in a competition open internationally at the bottom of this blog post.

About ‘While I Was Waiting


WIWW final cover


Tired of her life in London, freelance illustrator Rachel buys the beautiful but dilapidated Clematis Cottage and sets about creating the home of her dreams. But tucked away behind the water tank in the attic and left to gather dust for decades, is an old biscuit tin containing letters, postcards and a diary. So much more than old scraps of paper, these are precious memories that tell the story of Henrietta Trenchard-Lewis, a love lost in the Great War and the girl who was left behind.

 My review of ‘While I was Waiting’ by Georgia Hill

I really enjoyed reading ‘While I was Waiting‘ and found that both the sections about Hetty, from her first person point of view and those about Rachel written in the third person held equal weight and attraction. Indeed, there were resonances that echoed from Hetty through Rachel’s narrative that tied the two together perfectly. Although initially I preferred the story when it was set in Rachel’s timeline, I was soon seduced by the writing into enjoying both equally.

Georgia Hill managed to convey the First World War era perfectly, especially through Hetty’s letters and diary and as my Grandfather served in WWI and my Grandmother told me about attending her first ball in 1906 I found these passages particularly touching. Hetty’s diary and letter writing was pitched just right to convey her era as well as pleasing the modern reader.

The romantic elements were beautifully handled without gratuitous detail but with convincing and engaging realism. I fell in love with Gabe a little bit myself! I found all the characterisation very effective, partly because Georgia Hill writes dialogue so naturally so that it’s like listening to real conversation. There is just a hint of the supernatural throughout too which adds another layer of interest for the reader.

I thought there was an excellent sense of place in Georgia Hill’s writing. The descriptions of Herefordshire were highly evocative so that I could picture the views from Rachel’s cottage very clearly.

The plot works so well, drawing together the resolution of both Hetty and Rachel’s stories in symmetry. Both prologue and epilogue serve to provide a symmetry and balance to the narrative.

‘While I was Waiting’ is a lovely romantic and historical read. I thoroughly enjoyed every word.


2014-10-14 12.22.20

I used to live in London, where I worked in the theatre. Then I got the bizarre job of teaching road safety to the U.S. navy – in Marble Arch!

A few years ago, I did an ‘Escape to the Country’. I now live in a tiny Herefordshire village, where I scandalise the neighbours by not keeping ‘country hours’ and being unable to make a decent pot of plum jam. Home is a converted Oast house (Old agricultural building used for drying hops), which I share with my two beloved spaniels, husband (also beloved) and a ghost called Zoe.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel widely, though prefer to set my novels closer to home. Perhaps more research is needed? I’ve always wanted to base a book in the Caribbean!

I am addicted to Belgian chocolate, Jane Austen and, most of all, Strictly Come Dancing.


Follow Georgia Hill on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest and her website.


To have the chance of winning a print copy of the ‘While I was Waiting’ (Open Internationally), click here. Good luck!




Spotlight on Another Love by Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse has been a favourite author since I read her first novel ‘Poppy Day‘ (which is available on Amazon UK, Amazon US and direct from the publishers). ‘Poppy Day’ was the first in Amanda’s ‘No Greater Love’ series.

Poppy day xxx

Now it is my pleasure today to be featuring the latest in Amanda’s  ‘No Greater Courage‘ series; the poignant and beautiful ‘Another Love‘.  Not only that, Amanda previously gave me a signed copy of another of her books, ‘Perfect Daughter‘ that I gave away in a competition. ‘Perfect Daughter‘ has been selected by The Reading Agency as one of the books to be handed out on World Book Night on 23rd April 2016.

Another Love

I really wanted to be involved in the celebrations of Amanda’s book ‘Another Love‘ because she is one of the loveliest people you could wish to meet as well as being a fantastic author. Proceeds from her books have supported charities such as The Royal British Legion and the UK Sepsis Trust and Amanda is so supportive of her readers.

About Another Love

another Love XXXX

The story:

In the early years, she was happy.

Romilly had worked hard for her stunning, modern house in one of Bristol’s most fashionable suburbs. She adored her gorgeous, gap-toothed daughter and her kind and handsome husband. Sure, life was sometimes exhausting – but nothing that a large glass of wine at the end of the day couldn’t fix.

But then, as deep-buried insecurities surfaced, everything started to unravel. A glass of wine became a bottle; one bottle became two. Once, Romilly’s family were everything to her. Now, after years of hiding the drinking, she must finally admit that she has found another love…

In common with all of Amanda’s writing, this is a book that doesn’t shy away from the hardships of life and how our actions can impact on those we love and who love us.

I have a review here of ‘Another Love‘ where you’ll be able to see just how much I loved it.

You can follow Amanda Prowse on Twitter and visit her web site here. You will also find her on Facebook.

All of Amanda Prowse’s wonderful writing is available here .

perfect daxxx

Echoes from Afar by Tamara McKinley

Echoes better

It is my very great pleasure to be part of the launch celebrations of ‘Echoes from Afar’ by Tamara Kinley which is published by Quercus books on 28th January 2016. ‘Echoes from Afar’ is available here in the UK, here in the US, from all good bookshops and directly from Quercus.

Not only do I have an extract from Tamara Kinley’s lovely book, but UK readers can win a copy at the bottom of this blog post.

Read an extract from the very beginning of ‘Echoes from Afar’:


Paris, 1956

Despite the passing of the years, he’d hoped that by some miracle he would see her there once more, so when she finally appeared, he wondered if it was the sheer force of his longing that had somehow conjured her up.

His breath caught and his pulse quickened as he sat forward in his wheelchair by the third-floor balcony windows, the glass of wine and cigarette forgotten as he tried to believe it was really her. Two decades had passed, and his eyes were not as reliable as they had once been. Could they be playing a cruel trick on him? Was his imagination running riot? Yet as she stood on the Pont Neuf and gazed down the swift-flowing Seine towards the distant Eiffel Tower and the rooftops of Paris, it was as if those years had been swept away and she had returned to him.

He eased further forward, confident she couldn’t see him in the rapidly darkening room, but still not trusting what his eyes were telling him. Her hair was longer than he remembered, flowing over her narrow shoulders in a tumble of silken curls, but her slender figure still retained the delicate grace that belied the fierce energy and determination she’d always possessed. And even in her relaxed state, there was an almost defiant tilt to her chin that he remembered so very well. Dressed in narrow slacks and a sweater, there were suitcases at her feet and she carried an artist’s portfolio, and a coat over her arm.

‘Belle?’ he breathed in wonder. ‘Can it really be you?’

As if she’d heard him, she turned from the river, her gaze sweeping beyond the bridge to the cobbled Quai de la Mégisserie, and the tall grey houses whose balconies and windows overlooked the Seine.

His breath caught again as her face was illuminated by a nearby street lamp, and her eyes seemed to find his momentarily before she looked away. The disappointment was sharp. It wasn’t Belle, couldn’t possibly be Belle. Too many years had passed, and this girl was younger than Belle had been on that fateful day when they’d met on the bridge. And yet there was something about her that held echoes of the past . . .

‘Are you all right, Patron?’

The light was switched on, startling him, and he blinked in its sudden glare. ‘Turn that off and come here,’ he ordered the young man as he turned once more towards the window. ‘See that girl? Go and find out who she is and where she’s come from. Now, quickly, before she leaves the bridge.’

The look was quizzical, the smile wry. ‘She’s a bit young, even for you, isn’t she, Patron?’ he drawled. His impatience made him sharp. ‘Just do as I ask, Max,’ he rasped. ‘I’ll explain later.’

As Max left the room, he turned once more towards the window. She was looking up now, her gaze drifting over the wrought-iron balconies, perhaps drawn by the sudden glare of light which had just as swiftly been extinguished. Her eyes seemed to hold him there for a second, and he could sense her unease as she broke the spell and hurriedly looked away.

He touched the glass in the window as if by doing so he could keep her there, but before Max had even reached the street, she’d picked up her cases, turned her back and was immediately lost amongst the stream of homeward-bound office workers and strolling tourists.

He slumped back into the chair, the moment lost, his pain raw. He closed his eyes to try to dispel some of his anguish, but all he could see was the young, vibrant Belle who had stood on the Pont Neuf so many years before, and the memories and deep regrets over what had happened to tear them apart now threatened to overwhelm him.

Echoes from afar - packshot

Just reading that extract and seeing the gorgeous images makes me want to dive right in!

About Tamara Kinley

Tamara McKinley credit Joanna Crittenden

Photo courtesy of Joanna Crittenden

Tamara McKinley is the author of more than eleven novels. She was born in Tasmania, but now lives in Sussex and Cornwall and writes full time. Her novels are both contemporary and historical. Tamara also writes under the name Ellie Dean.

You can follow Tamara McKinley on Twitter and on her web site.

Win a copy of ‘Echoes from Afar’ (UK entrants onlyhere

There is much more information about Echoes from Afar on these blogs:

Blog tour graphic

A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love by Linn B Halton

ALSALL Tour Banner

Having recently met the author, I’m delighted to be supporting Brook Cottage Books in the launch celebrations of Linn B Halton’s book ‘A Little Bit of Sugar, A Lot of Love’ which was published by Choc Lit on 15th January 2016.


You can read an extract below and you’ll find an international competition too at the bottom of this blog post to win an Amazon voucher and a cupcake themed swag bag. You can buy your copy of the ‘A Little Bit of Sugar, A Lot of Love’ on AMAZON UK and AMAZON US.



A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love

Life isn’t all love and cupcakes …

Katie has had her fair share of bad luck, but when she finally realises her dream of opening a bakery it seems things can only get better.

But the reality of running a business hits Katie hard and whilst her partner, Steve, tries to help she begins to sense that the situation is driving them further apart. Could Katie be set to lose her relationship and her dream job?

Then, one winter’s day, a man walks into her shop – and, in the space of that moment, the course of Katie’s life is changed.

But nobody finds happiness in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it takes two Christmases, three birthdays and a whole lot of cake to get there …

Previously released as Sweet Occasions by the author. Revised and edited by Choc Lit December 2015.

Read an extract from this lovely book:

Grandma Grace peers at me with interest over the top of her glasses, taking the box from my hands and placing it on the side. She wraps her arms around as much of me as she can reach, being at least a foot shorter, and gives me a fierce hug.

‘Thank you, my dear, but the only present I wanted was to see you standing here in one piece. It’s such a long journey and the weather! That rain is relentless, so many places are flooded. To think of you at the side of the road worried me to death and I will admit to saying a few little prayers as one hour turned into two, then three …’

She raises her eyebrow sternly, but it’s a brief moment before those twinkly blue eyes are full of love and laughter again.

‘My boy is here and that’s all that counts.’

‘Grandma, I haven’t been a boy for many years,’ I retort, softly, as she releases me with a tender pat on my back. She might be in her twilight years but her spirit is strong and her mind as sharp as ever. We all thought she’d fade away when Pop died, but the truth is he’s the one who would have faded if she had gone first.

‘You will always be a boy to me. Now, tell me more about this guardian angel of yours.’

While the tea is brewing and the cake is sliced, I hang around the kitchen as I did when I was growing up. Grandma Grace was always easy to talk to; she seemed to understand even when the words wouldn’t come. Her instincts filled in the gaps at times when even I couldn’t make sense of what was going on inside my head. After this failed relationship I began to despair of ever finding someone special.

‘You can’t hurry love,’ she’d told me. ‘It takes time to find your soulmate and in the process you change and grow. That’s why young love often withers, as Pop would have said. Two people either change and grow together, or they grow apart. Love is about sustaining what comes after that first hormonal rush.’

‘But that wasn’t the case for the two of you,’ I remember pointing out.

‘There has to be an exception to every rule,’ she’d replied, with a wicked smile. ‘We were lucky. Fate was kind to us. But with hindsight, we were too young and naive to understand that until much later in life. Don’t fret, Adam, there’s a wonderful young woman out there for you when the time is right.’

Sadly, when I reached that point it too turned out to be yet another huge failure. This time the consequences had been more painful than I could ever have imagined. Kelly was everything I thought I wanted in a woman and, after adjusting to the shock of an unplanned pregnancy, she was a fantastic mother. With hindsight I can see now that parenthood came too early in our relationship, we hardly knew each other. Suddenly I was a family man and yet, surprisingly, the role seemed to come naturally to me. I loved Sunday mornings the best. When a little head would appear on the pillow next to me at some unearthly hour and a warm little hand would wind its way around my neck.

Lily Grace is my sanity, my raison d’être.


LBH author photo


“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache…”

An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. Linn writes chick lit, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic romance for Choc Lit, Harper Impulse and Endeavour Press.

See more about Linn on her website/blog, on Amazon or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Contest Open Internationally – No Purchase Necessary

1st Prize – £25 Amazon Voucher

2nd Prize – Cupcake themed Swag Bag

To enter this wonderful competition, click here

For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

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I’m thrilled to be supporting the launch celebrations of For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser which is published by Doubleday in hardback on 28th January 2016. For the Most Beautiful is available to buy here in the UK and here in e-book in the US.

I’m even more delighted to welcome Emily Hauser to Linda’s Book Bag with a guest piece on  ‘The Relevance of Ancient Narratives Today’ written specially for the book launch. You can read Emily’s piece below where you’ll get a taste for the unique quality of her writing.

About For the Most Beautiful

Beautifully imagined and exquisitely written, For the Most Beautiful chronicles the defeat of Troy as you’ve never seen it before, through characters almost entirely disregarded in Homer’s Iliad. Among legends such as Achilles, Hector and Odysseus, walked the unsung heroines, famed for their beauty, yet wholly underestimated for their influence.

This is the story of the women of Troy.

All’s fair in love and war, when Briseis, princess of Pedasus, witnesses her husband slain in cold blood, and is enslaved by his killer in the Greek camp.

Krisayis, daughter of the High Priest of Troy, dreams for more than the life set out for her by her father. Captured by her enemies, she is given this opportunity, but must sacrifice everything to protect the city that she loves.

Subject to the whims of the Gods and the wrath of men, these two extraordinary women will bring a hero to his knees.

Praise for Emily Hauser 

‘Once in a while something comes along that’s so utterly right, so necessary for now,that you wonder why nobody thought of it before. Emily Hauser’s stunning debut novel For the Most Beautiful fits this space: a novel that re-imagines the oldest of territories in the freshest of ways.’

MANDA SCOTT, bestselling author of Boudica

‘It’s a feast for the senses, richly described and effortlessly easy to read. It brings to life an ancient world long gone, and in so doing reminds us of the traumas and costsof war, which are sadly still so much a part of our world today.’

– MICHAEL SCOTT, presenter of Rome’s Invisible City

In this her sparkling debut novel, classicist Emily Hauser offers a fresh take on the old but living legend spun so artfully in Homer’s Iliad. By exploring and exposing their feelings, motivations and thoughts she puts us into the shoes of two key female characters that the original epic poem left tantalisingly undeveloped … Ms Hauser not only tells a ripping good story but also causes us to reflect anew on the meanings of war, especially as that affects and afflicts women.’

 – PAUL CARTLEDGE, Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge

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 ‘The Relevance of Ancient Narratives Today’

A Guest Piece from Emily Hauser

Why retell ancient narratives? It’s a question I think about all the time, and one which drives my research as well as my writing. For me, when I was writing For the Most Beautiful, re-telling one of the most well-known epics of ancient Greece from a different perspective allowed me to give a new slant on age-old themes and questions that still very much resonate with us today. Central to the Iliad are – among others – the question of the purpose of war and the desire for immortality; the search for the gods, and what it’s worth dying for; sex, desire, and the conflict between love and duty; the compensation of glory and the tension between power and prowess; the values expressed within the family, the close bonds of friendship, and the longing for home. All of these are, of course, very relevant today, and form an important part of my re-interpretation of the epic.

But there is also a hidden concern within the Iliad, one which is evocatively hinted at but never fully expressed – the harrowing fates of women in war, and the costs which they, as well as the warriors, have to pay. Hector’s wife, Andromache, at one point in the Iliad addresses her husband with these highly expressive words: “But come, have pity, and stay here on the wall [of Troy]; do not make your son an orphan and your wife a widow.” This opening onto the experiences of the women of Troy, for me, leaves a gap, a fertile space for re-telling and re-visioning the past in a new light. Ancient narratives are so uniquely rich (and relevant), then, not only because of the way they speak to the timeless themes of human experience – but also because they are flexible enough to allow us to remould and reflect on these values, by re-shaping them into our own form, through our own concerns.

Thinking about the purposes and costs of war is, of course, a timeless theme in literature – from Homer’s Iliad to Virgil’s Aeneid, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms to Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong. And it is, it goes without saying, a central concern for our time as much as for any other. With the current conflict raging in Syria and the victims of war travelling thousands of miles to seek asylum in Europe, for example, it is hard, I think, not to draw parallels with another group of ancient legends that tells of the displacement of a nation after the ravages of war and their voyage by land and sea to a new home in Europe. The stories and legends surrounding the Trojan War tell not only of the siege and sack of the city of Troy, as we tend to think, but also of the suffering of Troy’s inhabitants after the city’s destruction: the enslavement of the women and the desperate escape of the few men – like Aeneas – who survived to escape as refugees across the sea. These tales are, then, extremely relevant to current events – and yet by being distanced from us, by being set in a different place and a different time, they provide us with a unique lens which allows us to think through the problems of war, suffering, and displacement.

It is that combination, then, of timeless themes, a unique flexibility of interpretation, and the peculiar combination of closeness and distance – which allows us to think through current issues in a more dispassionate, alternative setting – which I think ultimately makes ancient narratives so continually relevant today. And perhaps the Iliad, with its reflections on the costs of war, its transcendent vision of the human struggle, its portrayals of the lives, the passionate love-affairs and the devastating losses endured by men and women alike, and its depictions of the suffering of war victims and refugees, is the one which is able to speak to us now, most of all.

About Emily Hauser


Born in Brighton and brought up in Suffolk, EMILY HAUSER studied Classics at Cambridge where she was taught by Mary Beard. She then went to Harvard as a Fulbright Scholar and now studies and teaches at Yale, where she is completing her PhD.

For the Most Beautiful – the first book in the Golden Apple trilogy – is her debut novel.

Follow the For The Most Beautiful celebrations with these other bloggers too:

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In a Land of Paper Gods by Rebecca MacKenzie


My enormous thanks to Ella Bowman at Headline for a copy of In a Land of Paper Gods by Rebecca MacKenzie in return for an honest review. In a Land of Paper Gods is published in hardback and e-book by Tinder Press on 28th January 2016 and is available to purchase here in the UK and here in the US.

In A Land of Paper Gods


Jiangxi Province, China, 1941

Atop the fabled mountain of Lushan, celebrated for its temples, capricious mists and plunging ravines, perches a boarding school for the children of British missionaries. As her parents pursue their calling to bring the gospel to China’s most remote provinces, ten-year-old Henrietta S. Robertson discovers that she has been singled out for a divine calling of her own.

Etta is quick to share the news with her dorm mates, and soon even Big Bum Eileen is enlisted in the Prophetess Club, which busies itself looking for signs of the Lord’s intent. (Hark.) As rumours of war grow more insistent, so the girls’ quest takes on a new urgency – and in such a mystical landscape, the prophetesses find that lines between make believe and reality, good and bad, become dangerously blurred. So Etta’s pilgrimage begins.

A story of a child far from home and caught between two cultures, In A Land of Paper Gods marries exuberant imagination with sharp pathos, and introduces Rebecca Mackenzie as a striking and original new voice.

My Review of In A Land of Paper Gods

Henrietta (Etta) S. Robertson is sent to Lushan, a private school for the children of missionaries in China. Here Etta will learn what it is that makes us who we are.

I’m astounded by In a Land of Paper Gods. I found that I didn’t really read the book as much as absorb it and experience it. Beautifully written, the descriptions are so evocative that I could picture each so clearly. Rebecca MacKenzie has a perfect eye for detail from a hair like a crack in a washbasin to the stench of rotting flesh. I was there in the settings, not merely reading about them.

Alongside the vivid nature of the descriptions and settings is a multi-layered text so that it is part allegory, part dream state, part diary, part history and part travelogue. In a Land of Paper Gods is also an emotional coming of age story that we live with Etta as she recounts her experiences. The pain of growing up is laid bare and there is an intensity of sadness that will remain with me for a long time. There are also deft touches of humour.

I don’t wish to spoil the plot, but, set against a true historical background, In a Land of Paper Gods brings the personal and individual side of world events into sharp and sometimes shocking focus.

Although this is a debut novel, for me there wasn’t a word out of place. I found the writing evocative and haunting so that it was almost hypnotic. I was surprised to find tears running down my face as I was so absorbed by the experience of reading. I loved it.

In a Land of Paper Gods is the kind of book that sings to your soul as Etta expands and grows as a character. I will be thinking about it for a very long time.

You can find out more about Rebecca MacKenzie and In a Land of Paper Gods on Rebecca’s web site.