To Provence, with Love by T.A. Williams


I always enjoy a T A Williams book so I’m delighted to be reviewing To Provence, with Love today and would like to thank Faye Rogers for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Previously on Linda’s Book Bag I have reviewed What Happens in Cornwall here, What Happens at Christmas here, Chasing Shadows here and Dreaming of Venice here.

To Provence, with Love was published by HQ Digital, an imprint of Harper Collins, on 13th July 2017 and is available for purchase here.

To Provence, with Love


Anything is possible…

Struggling writer Faye Carter just can’t believe her luck. She’s off to Provence to write the autobiography of a famous film star and she’ll be staying in the stunning chateau!

So when she meets charming (and completely gorgeous) lavender farmer, Gavin, she knows that she’s made the right choice – even if glamourous, elderly Anabelle seems to be hiding something…

But when the sun is shining, the food is delicious and the air smells of honey, anything seems possible. Will the magic of Provence help Faye finally find a happy-ever-after of her own?

My Review of To Provence, with Love

When Faye accepts a writing assignment for a film star in Provence, she’ll get much more than just a new job.

Once again T A Williams has transported me completely effectively to another country. I loved the setting of Provence in To Provence, with Love with the aroma of lavender fields, the taste of champagne and the feeling of sunlight on skin. I was less keen on the glorious imagery of Claudette’s food as it left me feeling ravenous throughout! I honestly felt in danger of putting on weight just reading this story.

There’s a refinement to T A Williams’ writing so that To Provence, with Love conveys sexual and emotional attraction without resorting to explicit detail, thereby making for a lovely summery read. There’s a sensuality that I found very refreshing. I thought it was rather like a grown up fairy story and I could easily imagine myself in Faye’s place, giving me a real empathy with her. Indeed, I enjoyed all the characters, especially Marlon, the black Labrador who was incredibly realistic.

I really enjoyed the plot of To Provence, with Love too. There are some surprises, and although they aren’t difficult to guess, this doesn’t detract from the read at all. They made me feel as if I was part of the story because I had an idea of events well in advance of Faye.

What I think I enjoyed most though in To Provence, with Love was the exploration of different kinds of love. This is, of course, a romance, but T A Williams considers love in many forms; between parents and children, family, married couples, communities, friends and owners and dogs so that I really feel there is something to entertain every reader.

To Provence, with Love made me smile and shed a tear and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

About T A Williams


TA (Trevor) Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. Trevor has taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. TA Williams has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

You can find Trevor on FacebookGoodreads and Amazon. You can also follow him on Twitter and visit his website.

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Celeriac Remoulade – A Recipe from A Taste of Death by H.V Coombs

a taste of death

I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for the first book in the The Old Forge Cafe series, A Taste of Death by H.V. Coombs. Today I have a recipe – celeriac remoulade – to share from H.V Coombs, but I recommend reading the book first before you decide how to serve it!

A Taste of Death was published by Maze, a Harper Collins imprint, on 24th July 2017 and is available for purchase here.

A Taste of Death

a taste of death

Midsomer Murders meets The Great British Bake-Off in this foodie delight with murder at its heart.

The first murder happened while I was making meringues…

When Ben Hunter moves to become head chef at the Old Forge Café in the quiet village of Hampden Green, a tricky recipe for egg-based desserts isn’t the only thing he gets embroiled in. As he struggles with a whisk in his first week , he gets an unexpected visit from DI Slattery – there’s been a murder and he’s a suspect. Ben resolves to get to the bottom of the mystery, and he soon discovers that this sleepy Chilterns village is covering up a whole lot more than an appetite for sweet treats…

Celeriac Remoulade

A Guest Post by H.V. Coombs

You’ll have to read the book to find out the somewhat unusual accompaniment to the Celeriac Remoulade but it’s great with ham and some good bread, or anything that you would use coleslaw for and, face it, it sounds classy! And it’s so easy to make.



1 celeriac

1 lemon

Natural Yogurt

Dijon mustard

Chopped parsley

  1. Coarsely grate the celeriac with a box grater (in the picture I used about 1/3 of the celeriac, I shall use the rest to make Celeriac and Apple soup) and mix up the juice of about ¼  of a lemon with it, (this stops it discolouring and adds a sharp flavour.)


2. Mix in mayo and natural yogurt on a 3:1 ratio. I used 1 dessert spoon as a measure and then add 1 heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard. You just need enough to coat the celeriac. Chopped parsley is a good addition too. Mix well and voila ! Eat as soon as possible but before serving I would transfer it to another bowl as some of the dressing will have formed a bit of a residue on the bottom of its container.



About H.V. Coombs

H V Coombs

H.V. Coombs is an alter-ego of crime thriller author Alex Howard. He was born in Lambeth in South London and grew up in Buckinghamshire. He studied Arabic and Islamic History at Oxford and Edinburgh University and taught for the British Council in the Middle East and worked in adult education in the UK.

H.V. Coombs is married with two children.

You can follow H.V. Coombs on Twitter or Facebook and visit his Alex Howard website or find him on Facebook.

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A Taste of Death

The Woman in the Shadows by Carol McGrath

The Woman in the shadows

I love historical fiction and am delighted to be starting the launch celebrations for The Woman in the Shadows by Carol McGrath, especially as I knew absolutely nothing about Thomas Cromwell’s wife Elizabeth before I read the book.

The Woman in the Shadows will be published by Accent Press on 4th August 2017 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

The Woman in the Shadows

The Woman in the shadows

When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband.

Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect…but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London.

The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realises she must adjust to the life she has chosen…or risk losing everything.

My Review of The Woman in the Shadows

Being a woman in the C16th isn’t always the easiest thing to be.

Ooh, I really enjoyed The Woman in the Shadows because Carol McGrath writes with such vivid descriptions that appeal to all the senses. It’s rare to have such an effective feeling of touch when reading, but the quality of the fabrics, the silks and furs was so sumptuous that I could sense them under my fingers. Carol McGrath conveys the stench of London, the taste of sugared fruits, the sounds and sights of pageantry and poverty so evocatively I was there with Elizabeth Cromwell.

The quality of research that has been woven into such a fascinating narrative is so skilfully presented. I learnt an incredible amount about the times in which the book is set. I loved the depiction of society, religion, social convention and the role of women whilst I read this hugely entertaining story. Whilst I had a vague knowledge of the times, Carol McGrath has presented an oft forgotten aspect of our history – the place of women – so brilliantly that I now have a completely different perspective.

I thought the all characters were realistic, human and striking so that I felt I came to know them intimately. I experienced Elizabeth’s anxieties with her as she dealt with the intrigues surrounding her life. I’m not sure if I like Cromwell any more or less having read The Woman in the Shadows, but I certainly understand him more.

The plot of The Woman in the Shadows is entertaining and engaging, but what I really enjoyed the most was the ordinary daily details that gave me such an insight into the peoples and the times; the sewing and preparation of meals, the clothing and the servants all wove a tapestry of colour I thoroughly enjoyed.

I think The Woman in the Shadows is a must read for anyone remotely interested in history. Or, indeed, for anyone who simply wants a really good book.

About Carol McGrath


Carol McGrath studied for an MA at Queens University Belfast’s Seamus Heaney Centre for Creative Writing. Later she worked on the MPhil in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Carol travels extensively, enjoys photography and loves spending time with her two children, her husband and in her home and garden.

Carol’s debut novel, The Handfasted Wife was published by Accent Press in May 2013. The Handfasted Wife is the first novel in a trilogy about the Norman Conquest from the point of view of the royal women. Its subject is Edith Swan-Neck, King Harold’s common-law / handfasted wife. The Swan Daughter and The Betrothed Sister followed in 2014 and 2015.

You can follow Carol on Twitter @carolmcgrath, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

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Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

do nott become alarmed

I am very pleased to be part of the launch celebrations for Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy.

Published by Penguin on 6th July 2017, Do Not Become Alarmed is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

Do Not Become Alarmed

do nott become alarmed

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship’s safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their shattered lives.

My Review of Do Not Become Alarmed

When three families head off on a cruise there will be much more to remember about the holiday than they could possibly imagine – or want.

I am aware that Do Not Become Alarmed has received some mixed reviews and has rather polarised readers.  For the first twenty pages or so of Do Not Become Alarmed I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the read. It felt slightly flat. However, I now believe this was a deliberate calm before the storm as the rest of the book is fast paced, terrifying in its possibilities and frequently brutal.  The opening pages reflect a kind of superior complacency held by the protagonists and become pride before a fall.

I thought the characterisation was incredibly interesting. I didn’t really like any of the main characters except Sebastian, but I was fascinated by them in the same way I imagine others were fascinated by Benjamin in the world of celebrity. I think they were a perfect study in complacent, opinionated, wealthy individuals who don’t really appreciate the lives many others endure. In a way, I felt what happened to them was an allegorical tale of what such attitudes can lead to and I thought this was brilliantly handled. I preferred the more minor individuals, especially those unwittingly caught up the events happening to the children and felt this showed just how others can trample over less fortunate people without even realising.

Having visited the kind of countries described, I can easily imagine how the events in Do Not Become Alarmed occur. I found the story line totally convincing. I really didn’t want to stop reading because I was desperate to know what happened. When the book ended I was left wanting more and felt it stopped rather abruptly, but that did have the effect that I can’t stop thinking about it and wondering what might become of them all, especially Imogen.

I went from being not especially impressed by Do Not Become Alarmed initially to completely enthralled and intrigued by it. I thought Do Not Become Alarmed was a very clever thriller and one which I recommend most highly.

About Maile Meloy

Maile Meloy is the author of the novels Liars and Saints (which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and chosen for the Richard and Judy book club) and A Family Daughterthe short-story collections Half in Love and Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, and the award-winning Apothecary trilogy for young readers. She has received the PEN/Malamud Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was chosen as one of Granta‘s Best Young American Novelists. She lives in Los Angeles.

You can follow Maile on Twitter @mailemeloy or Facebook and visit her website. There’s more with these other bloggers too:


Giveaway and An Extract From It was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan

it was only ever you

I have had two of Kate Kerrigan’s books, The Dress and Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, looking at me from my TBR for ever so I am delighted that I managed to read It Was Only Ever You in time for today’s post to celebrate the paperback publication.

As well as my review, I have a smashing extract from It Was Only Ever You and a chance for UK and Ireland readers to win one of two paperback copies of this lovely book at the bottom of this blog post.

It Was Only Ever You is published by Head of Zeus and is available for purchase here.

It Was Only Ever You

it was only ever you

Set, like Maeve Binchy’s early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy’s heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

An Extract from It Was Only Ever You

Dermot drove them down a quiet street in what seemed to be a particularly seedy area. As he opened the car door for her, he said, ‘I hope you don’t mind slumming it tonight, my darling. There is no need to worry. I’ve kept the owner out of jail so many times, he owes me. We’ll be looked after.’

He handed the keys of his Corvette to a huge, rough- looking man who nodded deferentially. Ava felt a small thrill as she realized that her sweetheart was able to command the same respect from these gangsters as her own father.

Inside the door they walked up a narrow staircase into the nightclub. It was a small, dark, seedy room, already filled with cigarette smoke and the chatter of Irish drinkers. This was a very different part of Irish New York to the dance halls: people didn’t come here to dance, they came here to drink and to gamble and, very probably, fight. The stage was backed with silver and green tinsel and a paper shamrock banner. There were heavy green drapes on every window, the carpet was green and even the small tables at the front of the stage were covered in green baize. It was like being in a green womb. Dermot and Ava were shown to a table at the front of the stage and a rather shabby-looking waiter brought them a bottle of champagne.

‘Courtesy of the management,’ the waiter said and Dermot nodded his approval. Everything was going to plan. The waiter poured the champagne; he wondered if perhaps now was the moment. No. He would hold off. Wait for the romantic surprise he had planned.

‘This is nice,’ Ava said. In truth it was thrilling to be here. She looked up hopefully at the small dance floor in front of the stage.

‘I thought you’d like to come somewhere a bit different,’ Dermot said. Then he leaned across and whispered, ‘I know how interested you are in my contacts in the criminal fraternity, so I thought you’d like to see what a proper joint looked like. I hope the food is decent.’

Ava smiled and said, ‘I doubt it – but it is certainly unusual.’ She sipped her champagne and looked around, fascinated.

‘How was your week?’ Dermot asked.

As he was looking across the table at her Ava thought that perhaps she could talk to him about her doubts. Confide in him that she was worried that things were moving too fast. His eyes looked so concerned, so enquiring, so kind – she felt she could tell Dermot anything. As she was thinking this through, the lights dimmed and a man who was as round as he was tall, wearing a cheap tuxedo, came out on the stage and announced, ‘Ladies and gentleman – we have a special guest in for you this evening to get the entertainment started. All the way from the county of Mayo, would you please put your hands together for Mr Paa-trick Murphy!’

This is it, thought Dermot. The moment had come. He watched Ava, waiting for her reaction as he slipped his hand into his pocket to reach for the ring.

There was polite applause as the young man came out on stage. Ava immediately recognized him as the boy from the wedding.

She felt her stomach lurch as he began to sing ‘The Rose of Tralee’. Ava knew all the Irish ballads. This particular one meant nothing to her, but the way he sang it… his voice… his face… He drew something out of her she had not known was there. He sang with such passion that it was as if he was reaching inside her and making every part of her sing alongside him. With every word he sang, and every breath he took, Ava felt herself being transported to another place. She did not know this person and yet through his singing she felt as if she knew him absolutely.

Dermot loosened his grip on the small box. He had arranged with Joe for this particular singer to be here tonight. He knew how Ava loved Irish ballads and she had been so impressed with him at the wedding.

‘It’s the singer from the first day we met,’ he said, leaning across. The box was out of his pocket, ready to press into her palm.

‘Shhhh,’ she said. She closed her eyes, ecstatic. Dermot thought she had never looked more beautiful than in that moment. He got a glimpse of how womanly she was. A promise of what the future might bring. He felt so emotional that he had to gather himself. He put the ring back in his pocket. Now wasn’t the time.

As soon as the song ended, Dermot reached for the ring again but just then their host appeared at the table.

My Review of It Was Only Ever You

Patrick Murphy dreams of being a famous singer, but three different women, Rose, Ava and Sheila, will impact on his life in ways he couldn’t imagine.

I am so pleased that It Was Only Ever You has fulfilled all my expectations and allieviated my disappointment at not having had time to read Kate Kerrigan’s other novels yet. Everything positive I have ever heard about the way she writes is true.

It Was Only Ever You is a delight of a read. It is a pitch perfect romantic novel where all the characters are as real to me as I am myself. Usually there is a main character I don’t warm to but Kate Kerrigan manages to make me empathise with all of them in It Was Only Ever You so that I found my loyalties and emotions pulled every which way as the story progressed.  I felt the women in particular were so well defined and realistic, although it was actually Dermot who moved me to tears at one point. Kate Kerrigan certainly knows how to create emotion.

I loved the plot and being taken back to New York so evocatively at a time when the second world war had ended and youth was beginning to find its way musically. I found Kate Kerrigan’s style such an effortless read and felt this was a book that would be a fabulous comfort read on a cold winter’s afternoon or on a beach in the sunshine. I also thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Irishness’ of so much of the story, with its religion, its love of ballads and the matriarchal hierarchy portrayed so beautifully.

Although the plot made me feel anxious at times because I wasn’t certain that it would work out as I wanted and Kate Kerrigan kept me guessing, I thought It Was Only Ever You is a smashing book that is eloquent, moving and nostalgic and I highly recommend it.

About Kate Kerrigan


Kate worked for many years as a magazine journalist and editor before her first book, Recipes for a Perfect Marriage was published in 2006 and shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year, translated into 25 languages and optioned for film. Her next novel The Miracle of Grace, was also turned into a screenplay, but it was her next project, the Ellis Island Trilogy, featuring feisty heroine Ellie Hogan, that made her a New York Times bestseller. The Lost Garden, The Dress and her latest novel, It Was Only Ever You followed, all to critical acclaim and achieving bestseller status.

Kate lives and works in Killala, County Mayo on the Wild Atlantic Way. She lives in a house overlooking the sea with her artist husband, Niall Kerrigan, and their two young sons.. Kate writes every day in a small cottage in her mother’s back garden, in the nearby town of Ballina. She documents her life in a weekly column for the Irish Mail, and on the Irish radio programme, Sunday Miscellany.

Kate also teaches and mentors at National University College Galway (NUIG).

You can find out more by following Kate on Twitter and visiting her website. You’ll also find Kate on Facebook and there’s more with these other bloggers:

It Was Only Ever You banner

Giveaway of It Was Only Ever You

it was only ever you

UK and Ireland only I’m afraid but for your chance to win one of two paperback copies of It Was Only Ever You, please click here. Good luck! Giveaway closes UK midnight on Sunday 6th August 2017.

Is Monogamy Dead? by Rosie Wilby


I don’t feature nearly enough non-fiction on Linda’s Book Bag, so I’m delighted to welcome Rosie Wilby, author of Is Monogamy Dead? today. Rosie has kindly written a guest piece explaining how she came to write Is Monogamy Dead? and there is a UK exclusive video clip for you to watch. I have my review too.

Is Monogamy Dead? will be published by Accent Press on 3rd August 2017 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

Is Monogamy Dead?


In early 2013, comedian Rosie Wilby found herself at a crossroads with everything she’d ever believed about romantic relationships. When people asked, ‘who’s the love of your life?’ there was no simple answer. Did they mean her former flatmate who she’d experienced the most ecstatic, heady, yet ultimately doomed, fling with? Or did they mean the deep, lasting companionate partnerships that gave her a sense of belonging and family? Surely, most human beings need both.

Mixing humour, heartache and science, Is Monogamy Dead? details Rosie’s very personal quest to find out why Western society is clinging to a concept that doesn’t work that well for some of us and is laden with ambiguous assumptions.

A Personal View

A Guest Post by Rosie Wilby

I’ve been taking solo comedy shows to Edinburgh Fringe for a decade and it has always been important to me to make people think and create a bit of discussion as well as to entertain. So, to me, the serious, provocative questions I like to ask about how we live in the modern world go hand in hand with comedy. With comedy, you can get away with digging more deeply because you’re sugar coating it with humour. It makes tricky ideas way more accessible.

I decided to write the book Is Monogamy Dead? as a very personal investigation, journey and quest whilst I was at the LAMBDA writers’ retreat at University of Southern California last July. We had to write a piece to perform at a showcase at the end of the week at a wonderful bohemian arts centre, Beyond Baroque near Venice Beach.

I decided that recounting my own somewhat inept attempt to rediscover my sexuality on a visit to a lesbian sauna would illustrate just how awkward we humans are around sex and connection and how sometimes we actually really might prefer a chat and a cuppa…

For a fabulous video clip of Rosie in action, please click here.

My review of Is Monogamy Dead?

I don’t read much non-fiction so Is Monogamy Dead? was such a different read for me and not one during which I always felt entirely comfortable. At times, reading Rosie Wilby’s very personal exploration of her own sexuality and her desire for intimacy on all levels, not just a sexual one, made me feel as if I had been very blase, unthinking and uncaring about others. I really had no idea about the real difficulties encountered by lesbian or bi-sexual women. Of course I had some inclination, but Rosie Wilby writes with such raw honesty and not infrequent self-effacing humour (I loved that Rosie was only a73% match for her own profile on a dating website, for example) that I feel I understand all members of society far better as a result of reading Is Monogamy Dead? It didn’t cross my mind that my unthinking acceptance of my gay and lesbian friends might actually undermine their sense of identity, for example.

There’s so much about humanity in Is Monogamy Dead? and I’ll never throw out the broken biscuits from the bottom of the tin in future without a slight feeling of unease!

I must admit I found the passages relating to Rosie directly, rather than those with a more overtly sociological element more engaging. That said, Is Monogamy Dead? has all the hallmarks of any good writing, being intelligent, clear and incredibly interesting with mini cliff hangers at the end of each chapter to draw the reader into the next part of the book. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of a new vocabulary to describe relationships with a range of partners and I’d never heard of breadcrumbing before although I’m sure it’s something many people do every day! I found Rosie’s reactions to her partners, her friends and, especially her Mum, very moving at times too.

There’s so much to think about in Is Monogamy Dead? I hadn’t ever considered what counts as infidelity beyond the accepted sexual relationships that we would all recognise and it was this aspect of the book that I found so thought provoking. Rosie Wilby really made me step back and reassess my views of life. I had wondered whether Is Monogamy Dead? would be the self-indulgent musings of a celebrity, but instead it is a well researched, well written and thought provoking treatise on how we interact as humans, regardless of sexuality in a modern world. I feel enriched having read it.

About Rosie Wilby


Rosie Wilby has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends, Summer Nights, Four Thought, Midweek, The Human Zoo and Woman’s Hour and at festivals including Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, Green Man, Larmer Tree and Latitude. She was a finalist at Funny Women 2006 and Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year 2007 and she’s been touring award-winning solo shows and steadily building a word-of-mouth army of fans ever since.

Her writing has been published in The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman and more. Her first book Is Monogamy Dead? will be published by Accent Press in August 2017 and follows her TEDx talk of the same name. She was a runner up in the 2014 Mslexia memoir competition and the only UK writer selected for the 2016 LAMBDA writers’ retreat at the University of Southern California.

She co-hosts Radio Diva on Resonance FM alongside Heather Peace and has presented for BBC Sussex and Surrey. Her award-winning show The Science Of Sex was programmed by New York City’s Fresh Fruit Festival 2013. She has also performed in Los Angeles and at Sydney Mardi Gras.

You can follow Rosie on Twitter, find her on Facebook and visit her website.

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Yesterday by Felicia Yap

yesterday 1

Having been lucky enough to meet Felicia Yap at a book event, I was intrigued to read her debut novel Yesterday after it was dubbed ‘The thriller of the summer’ by the Observer.

Yesterday is published by Wildfire, an imprint of Headline, on 10th August 2017 and is available for pre-order here.


yesterday 1

There are two types of people in the world: those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.

You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.

Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.

Can you trust the police?
Can you trust your husband?
Can you trust yourself?

My Review of Yesterday

When a woman’s body is found in the river, time is ticking to catch the killer, but memories can be lost too quickly.

I can honestly say I have never read anything quite like Yesterday. I’m somewhat stuck for words to express my reaction. Yesterday is one of the most stunning debuts I have ever read. I was completely captivated by every aspect of this utterly outstanding book and simply could not tear myself away from it.

The entire concept of mono people who can only remember one day and duos who can remember two is clever and fascinating of itself, but Felicia Yap writes so convincingly too with Facts as opposed to memory so that I found my thinking completely disturbed as I contemplated what it is that makes us who we are and how we fix memories in our minds. This isn’t just one of the most thrilling books I’ve read, it’s also one of the most intelligent and thought provoking. The themes behind the narrative resonate so thoroughly in today’s society with social and intellectual prejudice, mental health, our reliance on electronic devices to run our lives and our increasing obfuscation of reality and genuine emotion.

I loved the structure so that there are extracts from diaries, handbooks, papers and Mark’s novels that act as clues and enlightenment for the reader. Felicia Yap knows exactly when less is more so that she wields one perfectly attuned word where a lesser author would use several. Although there is little that is overtly explicit in terms of violence, for example, I genuinely read with eyes popping and jaw dropping, my heart thumping at times, because every element seemed so plausible.

The characterisation is sublime. I felt rather like a pinball as I lurched from one change of view about Mark in particular to another. Felicia Yap played with my emotions and views as I read so that by the time I’d finished my head was reeling.

I can honestly say that Yesterday is an astounding read. It is fresh, different and one of the best thrillers I have ever read. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

About Felicia Yap


Felicia Yap grew up in Kuala Lumpur. She read biochemistry at Imperial College London, before achieving a doctorate in history (and a half-blue in competitive ballroom dancing) at Cambridge University. She has written for The Economist and The Business Times. She has also worked as a radioactive-cell biologist, a war historian, a Cambridge lecturer, a technology journalist, a theatre critic, a flea-market trader and a catwalk model. Yesterday is her debut novel.

You can follow Felicia on Twitter @FeliciaMYap and visit her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

Playlists of my Life: A Guest Post by Katie Marsh, Author of This Beautiful Life

this beautiful life

On Tuesday I was thrilled to attend a drinks party to celebrate This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh. It was so exciting to meet the author of a book that has touched me so completely. I posted a review of This Beautiful Life on publication day yesterday and you can read that review here. I have also reviewed Katie’s other books My Everything here and A Life Without You here.

Today, as part of the launch celebrations of This Beautiful Life I have a brilliant guest post from Katie all about the music that had impacted on her life.

This Beautiful Life is published by Hodder and is available for purchase here.

This Beautiful Life

this beautiful life

What happens when you get the second chance you never expected?

Abi is living her happy ending. She’s in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance at life. But during Abi’s illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.

Set to the songs on Abi’s survival playlist, this is the story of what happens next as Abi tries to rebuild her family. Can she bring the people she loves most in the world back together again… before it’s too late?

Playlists of my life

A Guest Post by Katie Marsh

It all started with the tape recorder.

It was silver, and weighed nearly as much as our dog, but it had a bright red ‘record’ button and that was it – I was off. I saved up my pocket money and bought a stack of Maxell C-60 cassette tapes, and from then on I was the mix tape queen of Somerset, in my head, anyway. No one was safe. I dragged that recorder around the house, taping my mum talking on the phone or the dog barking or me reading my diary (cringe) and ‘mixing’ these sounds with songs by ABBA and The Beatles and U2. Some of those tapes still survive now, and I laugh at my careful writing on the inserts – ‘Katie’s break-up tape (I hate him)’ or ‘Mum’s relaxing Sunday tape’ (I remember forcing her to sit there and listen as the ABBA she loathed blasted through the room).

Life was better when it was set to music and that has never changed – revising to Blur, gossiping to The Bangles, or the buzz as I pressed play and set off on a cross-Canada road trip with the Barenaked Ladies and my best friend. Smiles as the radio served up the perfect Beatles song on a summer evening. Group whooping as ‘Love Shack’ by the B-52s came on in a club.

I have always wanted to write about music. I dance to it, I drive to it, I swim to it and I sing badly in the shower to it – but I have always been terrified of trying to put it on the page. Then some close friends got cancer in their thirties, and one of them told me how much music had helped. How it had lifted them on the good days and consoled them on the bad. And so it was time – time to choose twelve songs to be the soundtrack of my novel This Beautiful Life. One year. One song per month. Songs that remind my main character Abi of the people she loves and the life that she doesn’t want to leave when she is diagnosed with cancer at thirty-six.

Abi is like me – she has playlists for every occasion. She charts her life in songs and melodies. Mine are pretty varied. There’s one named Wow, it’s too early, for 5.30am encounters with my chatty four year-old, when I can barely open my eyes and she is merrily bouncing on my head (starts with ‘Children’ by Robert Miles, ends with ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna, with some Abba in between to keep the little one happy); or Gym – you know you want to, full of pumping tunes (thank you Katy Perry, Madonna and Kelly Clarkson), which I listen to all the way to the door and then turn up even louder as I remember I hate it in there and jog slowly home instead. Sunday Morning features Nittin Sawhney, James Bay and Nora Jones at their soulful best, while Road Trip includes a lot of treats from my teenage years, to help me rediscover that teenage sense of adventure, and the feeling that the world is at my feet (Blur, Oasis, The Kooks and – of course – Faith Hill’s ‘This Kiss’).

Nearly ten years ago I met a man who made me laugh and loved me no matter what, and I got to make a playlist imaginatively titled Wedding. Tracy Chapman sang me down the aisle and the BBC Cricket theme tune bounced the two of us back down again and Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a place on earth’ proved the ultimate crowd pleaser as the entire guest list took to the floor to throw some of those shapes their kids will be embarrassed by in future years. And then two years after that I painstakingly made a Birth playlist (subtitle: Keep pushing, Marsh), full of soothing and empowering songs by Sara Bareilles and Joni Mitchell. I’m sure it would have really helped had my daughter not chosen to arrive at the speed of light, meaning she entered the world to the sound of swearing rather than the gorgeous notes of ‘Morning Morgantown.’

And then there are my writing playlists. After my first two novels were roundly rejected I nearly gave up, but first I put together a I’ll Show Them playlist, featuring uplifting songs from my favourite shows, like ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’ or ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite.’ And now I am a published author I start each book with a playlist, woven around the moments and emotions I want to include. If I’m writing a break-up scene I get Dido on and remember the day I split up with my first love at Thame train station with a bag of Quavers in my hand. If I’m writing about a child I put on Harry Belafonte’s ‘Jump in the Line’ and imagine my daughter bouncing on the bed, head thrown back as she laughs.

Writing is a solitary activity, but with music I am never alone. It connects me to a feeling or a moment or a memory – and to the hundreds of thousands of people who love a song as much as I do. Nothing is more powerful – nothing is more evocative and I am so happy that finally I have been able to express my love of music on the page in This Beautiful Life.

(What a wonderfully evocative post Katie. Thanks so much for being on Linda’s Book Bag today.)

About Katie Marsh


Katie lives in south-west London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her novels are inspired by the bravery of the people she met in hospitals and clinics across the country. Her first novel My Everything (available here) was picked by the Evening Standard as one of the hottest summer debuts of 2015.

She loves strong coffee, the feel of a blank page and stealing her husband’s toast. When not writing, she spends her time in local parks trying and failing to keep up with her daughter’s scooter.

You can follow Katie on Twitter, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Katie Marsh TBL Blog Tour

This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh

this beautiful life

Oh I love Katie Marsh’s books and was terrified when I was offered This Beautiful Life for review and to be part of the paperback launch celebrations (come back tomorrow for those when I’ll have a fabulous guest post to share from Katie) because I was terrified it might not live up to expectations. It didn’t. It exceeded them as you’ll see in my review.

I have reviewed Katie’s other books My Everything here and A Life Without You here.

This Beautiful Life is published by Hodder and is available for purchase here.

This Beautiful Life

this beautiful life

What happens when you get the second chance you never expected?

Abi is living her happy ending. She’s in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance at life. But during Abi’s illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.

Set to the songs on Abi’s survival playlist, this is the story of what happens next as Abi tries to rebuild her family. Can she bring the people she loves most in the world back together again… before it’s too late?

My Review of This Beautiful Life

Oh my goodness. What an emotional read. I loved every word of This Beautiful Life. I don’t want to write a review as I don’t feel I have the language to convey how it made me feel.

Katie Marsh has the ability to grab my heart in a tight fist and squeeze and squeeze until I’m not sure if I can bear to read on. Having loved her other books, I think this might well be the best yet.

I want to say so much more about the plot of This Beautiful Life than I can because I don’t want to spoil the story for other readers. Just know that the events that take place could happen to any family at any time and that you will live through them with as much involvement as do Abi, John and Seb. Their relationship is at the heart of the story so that whilst this is a book with cancer as a catalyst, it is also a book about those who love one another not always being able to do the best by those they love. My heart went out to absolutely every person in this story, even the most minor characters because I felt I knew them intimately and I cared so utterly deeply about what happened to them.

The way in which Abi’s first person letter to those she loves intersperses the third person narrative is completely poignant. After I’d read the whole story I went back and read the letter entries again and they affected me just as emotionally. However, that isn’t to say that This Beautiful Life is unremittingly sad. Katie Marsh has that deftness of touch that enables her to make her readers smile as well as cry. Her writing is amongst the most human and humane that I’ve read. She deals with themes that can impact on any of us with grace, conviction and stunning realism so that, having finished reading This Beautiful Life a while ago, it resonates through my days and dreams even now.

The playlist of songs that weaves through the story is crucial in the creation of the various emotions and so effectively written. It has made me want to create my own life’s playlist too as Katie Marsh shows us the power of music to move us and indeed to make us who we are.

I don’t feel my review has done justice to This Beautiful Life so let me just say it is a wonderful, wonderful book. Read it.

About Katie Marsh


Katie lives in south-west London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her novels are inspired by the bravery of the people she met in hospitals and clinics across the country. Her first novel My Everything (available here) was picked by the Evening Standard as one of the hottest summer debuts of 2015.

She loves strong coffee, the feel of a blank page and stealing her husband’s toast. When not writing, she spends her time in local parks trying and failing to keep up with her daughter’s scooter.

You can follow Katie on Twitter, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

The Effects of Crime: A Guest Post by Helen Fields, Author of Perfect Prey

perfect prey

It’s not often I’m star struck but I have to confess that today is one of those days as I welcome Perfect Prey author Helen Fields to Linda’s Book Bag with a guest post all about the effects of crime. I’m also somewhat excited to be starting off the launch celebrations for Perfect Prey.

Perfect Prey is the second in the terrifying DI Callanach crime series, published by Avon, an imprint of Harper Collins and is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

Perfect Prey

perfect prey

In the midst of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker. The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf.

DI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach have no motive and no leads – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim.

It’s only when they realise the words are appearing before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.

The Effects of Crime

A Guest Post by Helen Fields

I’m often asked if I have nightmares. I have frequent dreams about getting stuck in large, dark houses and trying to escape, but I think these are stress related. For me, crime writing is more of an outpouring. However gruesome the content, I feel better once I’ve produced my daily 2,000 words. Usually I can switch off from the subject matter of my books easily. It’s the real life perpetrators that bother me. The mechanics of a crime are one thing – weapons, injuries, forensics – these things should shock us all when a life is taken. But for me the horror is found within the heads of the attackers. If you could hear their inner voices, listen to the vicious, disturbed jumble of thoughts, planning and justification, you might never read crime again. I worked in the criminal justice system for 13 years, prosecuting and defending. I spent time with both victims and perpetrators. What I can say, is that some of the latter seem not to occupy the same world as the rest of us.

The books I write are often described as dark and disturbing. They’re meant to be, but never gratuitously. I write with an understanding of how it feels to be a victim. I write having spent time with parents whose children were the victims of serious crimes. I never forget that there are real people out there who have suffered. But readers like to be scared, shocked and horrified. That’s why crime is the biggest selling genre. So do I have boundaries, things I just won’t write about? As a mother, I find it incredibly hard to write scenes where children are hurt. It’s too close for comfort. That’s not to say I’ll never find a storyline where I won’t find it necessary but to date I haven’t. Sexual assault scenes are rightly sensitive. So many women (and increasingly more men) are the victims of sexual assault that it’s a difficult thing to use the subject matter as something we regard broadly as “entertainment”. For me, those scenes in literature have to have a clearly defined purpose and are usually better explored “off camera”. You don’t have to show a rape scene to have your police officer/profiler/friend character investigating the rape.

When I’m in the flow of writing and describing a particularly awful event or scene, I’ll sit with tears streaming down my face. That has to be the case, I think. If I can’t move myself while I’m imagining torments, then I won’t be able to adequately affect my readers. Also, we shouldn’t grow too tough to be moved by such things. Crime books should push us to our emotional limits, not dull our senses.

I am constantly impressed by our police and our legal system. When I worked inside it, all I saw were the holes and flaws. Now, researching from the outside, it’s easier to be kinder about it. It’s a bloody job. There is very rarely a win. Getting a conviction after a successful case is wonderful, but there are still victims. A prison sentence may fulfil a need for justice but it cannot erase the memories or the scars or give a life back. I do prefer to have a sense of natural justice to my books, but it’s with a nod to reality. In the real world, things never work out quite perfectly. They shouldn’t in books, either.

About Helen Fields

Helen fields

Helen Fields’ first love was drama and music. From a very young age she spent all her free time acting and singing until law captured her attention as a career path. She studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London.

After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. Undertaking cases that ranged from Children Act proceedings and domestic violence injunctions, to large scale drug importation and murder, Helen spent years working with the police, CPS, Social Services, expert witnesses and in Courts Martials.

After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar. Together with her husband David, she went on to run Wailing Banshee Ltd, a film production company, acting as script writer and producer.

Beyond writing, she has a passion for theatre and cinema, often boring friends and family with lengthy reviews and critiques. Taking her cue from her children, she has recently taken up karate and indoor sky diving. Helen and her husband now live in Hampshire with their three children and two dogs.

You can follow Helen on Twitter.

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PP blog tour