Staying in with LaTasha ‘Tasha B’ Braxton

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I’ve always thought of books as a way to escape, to experience new elements or to help us with our experiences and as a result I am very pleased to welcome LaTasha ‘Tasha B’ Braxton to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in and tell me about one of her books as I think she probably manages to encompass all those features in one go!

Staying in with LaTasha ‘Tasha B’ Braxton

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

You’re welcome Linda, thank you for the opportunity!

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

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I brought Dark Chains an inspirational and spiritual read that speaks on abuse, neglect, mental health and family dysfunction. It’s a book based on my life. I’ve experienced a considerable amount of trauma from being raised by an abusive and neglectful mother. This sort of dysfunction created a dark path for me to travel upon throughout my life. I chose this book to share with you and others in hopes of reaching victims of abuse who are silenced by fear. To help heal the hearts of young people who feel hopeless because of the environment they’ve been subjected to. I want to help hurting families and change their perspectives for the better. I’ve touched so many people already from this book, all from different walks of life and I would like to continue. Because I know what it’s like to struggle on your own with no guidance at all, learning only from your trial and errors. I know what it’s like to live in a world where the word “love” is constantly questioned and in your mind…considered nothing more than a taunting fictitious tale. I can relate to the brokenhearted and defeated, I can relate to the one who’s had their self esteem destroyed to what they thought was beyond repair. I just want them to know…they are not alone, and they don’t have to continue to be defined by the pain they’ve been through. They are resilient and deservant of being loved, truly loved. And sometimes it takes a relatable person to help introduce you to the greatness that has always resided deep within you…beneath the pain and hurt, beneath the anger, and beneath the self doubt.

(My goodness. I’m so sorry to hear your story, but am delighted that out of your own experiences has come something so positive LaTasha.)

What can we expect from an evening in with Dark Chains?

You can expect to cry, to learn, you can expect your mind and heart to open up like a blossoming flower. You can expect for your perspectives to be challenged, you may even experience an increase in your ability to sympathize. But most of all…you will get the courage and urge to heal your wounds, so you too can grow.

(And what could be a better outcome from reading a book?)

What else have you brought along? 

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Some Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and a cup of chamomile tea.

Now that combination sounds like a fabulous way to relax and enjoy the evening. Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about Dark Chains. I wish you every success with it.

Thank you Linda.

Dark Chains

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Dark Chains is an inspirational and spiritual autobiography about a misguided young girl who struggles to survive mental, emotional, and physical abuse. Plagued by decades of pain, mental illness and generational curses. She enters a life without God at a young age, and finds herself infatuated with the idea of escaping and never returning to the abusive life she once was subjected, manipulated and conditioned to living in.

This book was created to help young girls and boys who are going down a dark path, it is meant to open minds and change their perspectives for the greater. It was created to help overcome the pain and anger endured from a dysfunctional family and lifestyle in order to become who God initially wanted them to be.

This book will heal the wounds of mentally and emotionally hurt families who aren’t aware that they’ve been conditioned to live immorally due to the pains that plagued them and the many generations that came before them. It is a read from an author who can easily relate to those who inhabit a lost soul and a broken heart. It is inspiring and will create understanding and hope to many and create a positive pattern for many more to come.

Dark Chains is available for purchase here.

About LaTasha ‘Tasha B’ Braxton

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Author and songwriter LaTasha “Tacha B.” Braxton is quite a complex and beautiful mystery. An intricately woven entity made up of everything right about creation. Her mind is a cavern of creativity. Her heart is big, but the love encapsulated within it is a buried treasure. The kind one wouldn’t readily discover the significance of unless they were extremely determined and intentional about finding. Then there’s her soul. Vibrant as a moonlight glow, but it’s constantly at war. She’s suffered a lot. Has been disappointed by most and naturally carries her skepticism openly of everyone who tries to get close. Her force field is not easily penetrable, but it’s not impossible to. Her greatest joy is the life of her baby boy. A young inquisitive genius that has taught her much about life and challenges her to grow each day. If she was literally a flower. He would most undoubtedly be her water. This is her reason to live above all, and it’s this unconditional love that causes her to flourish. LaTasha “Tacha B.” Braxton’s gift is her writing. This is how she communicates to the world. Whether it comes out in the form of music, poetry or in a novel. If you want to know exactly who she is, these are the chambers you can go to.

You can find LaTasha on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @Itsmzchampagne and Goodreads.

Staying in with Pamela Fagan Hutchins

BOMBSHELL EBOOK

One of the aspects of this year’s Staying in with… feature that I am really enjoying is the chance to encounter books that wouldn’t usually come across my radar. Today is one such book from Pamela Fagan Hutchins and I’m very pleased to welcome Pamela along to tell me more about her writing.

Staying in with Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Pamela. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

BOMBSHELL EBOOK

I’ve brought Bombshell, Linda. I picked it because I think shocking suspense, and journeys of self-empowerment are great with a glass of wine and candles in a bubble tub!

(That’s one of my favourite ways to read actually, but I need a sparkling wine, preferably champagne!)

What can we expect from an evening in with Bombshell?

Hmm, expect? I like to surprise you :-). Well, maybe a few hints. First, Bombshell is a romantic mystery with a few sexy bits.

(So, a fairly ordinary story then!)

Your second hint about what to expect: Ava is easy to love and hard to write. A few years ago, I wrote three novels about a late-blooming woman named Katie Connell with a sexy, sassy best friend, Ava. Katie isn’t a prude, but next to Ava she might as well be. Three Katie novels later, readers had been asking for more AVA. And I was terrified to write her.

Oversexed Ava. Non-monogamous Ava. To write a trilogy of mysteries starring her without dealing with these truths of her personality and life would be inauthentic, yet these are the two of the qualities I am least comfortable exploring. I’m just not a Fifty Shades of Grey type of author or reader, even though I don’t think I’m a Pollyanna. I just have personal preferences as to what I enjoy exploring in fiction.

(I’m quite glad to hear that Pamela!)

So I’ve wrestled with how to write Ava’s point of view for the last few years. She should have been easier, since she’s based on my best friend Natalie, from my nearly ten years on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The translation from person to page, though, is not a straight line. I launched into her first story only to find myself struggling with my own health issues and putting the manuscript down for a few months.

I was relieved to stop. *Sigh*

I picked it up against a few months later, and wrote this piece about my writing experience:

I’m eighty pages into Bombshell. In the first seventy pages, I channeled Ava without having to confront her sexuality with direct behavior. Heck, the only times I’ve written sex scenes, they were love scenes, and I could turn to experiences I am familiar with. Not with Ava, not in her life at the time I am writing about. Love has nothing to do with the scenes I need to write.

It’s not that I don’t know how to write sex or think it doesn’t belong in books. When it’s important to the development of the character or the plot/storyline, sex belongs in a book, at a level of disclosure appropriate to the POV character. Which means, for Ava, a lot more disclosure for me than before. And if I am going to write sex, I not only have to have a compelling reason for it, I have to write it well. I have to write good sex, from Ava’s perspective. Good sex is, well, good, and I am lucky in that regard personally, but that just isn’t the same as what it is for Ava. So I have to come up with unique good sex outside my experience and my comfort zone.

Finally, that moment came when to continue to keep Ava out sexual situations was no longer possible, if I was going to be true to her point of view.

So I trudged up to my writing tent in my knee high snake boots and some really attractive gray yoga pants that ended at the top of my boots. I’d jammed a straw cowboy hat on over my wet hair and thrown on a t-shirt promoting tiny Burton, Texas. Our two draft cross horses were munching sweet alfalfa from a round bale, eying me and lazily swishing their tails. Three dogs dug their sleeping spots and settled at my feet in a cloud of dust.

I didn’t look like a woman about to get her sexy on, that was for sure, and I didn’t feel like one either.

I closed my eyes and pictured Ava. Within seconds, I am on the island of St. Marcos, at a party on the patio of a gorgeous home, the silky night air caressing my skin, the stars winking at me from above. In this scene Ava’s the date of a wealthy, mysterious man (just her type!) who’s a partner in the business she’s just gone to work with.

There’s been a murder, maybe two. Someone is stalking her, or maybe not. Not everything seems kosher with her new employer, or maybe it is. She’s struggling as a single mom and only child of aging parents. And, she’s trying to convince herself that she’s not in love with another man who she’s just dumped. So she’s throwing herself into a new relationship, or, relationships—this is Ava, after all.

The evening unfolds, ripe with sinister elements, suspense, and night blooming jasmine, and suddenly I can see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, and touch it, as if I’m Ava instead of Pamela. She makes choices, says things, does things, that I have no experience with, yet they flow from my fingertips as if it’s all happening around me and to me, because of me.

And I don’t even have the grace to blush.

When I’d finished the scene, I looked up. The horses had come to the fence nearest me. They were watching me, curious. I wondered if they’d sensed my departure from my body, the temporary takeover staged by Ava. They’re empathic like that, and after a few moments, they resumed eating, and I realized, yes, they probably knew better than I what just happened.

Time and many, many more words will tell whether or not this scene will stay in the book as is or whether it will get a substantial toning down or be cut altogether. Maybe we’ll close the door and not be a voyeur to Ava’s private life. Sometimes as a writer, though, it’s not about what makes the final cut, but about writing it true, understanding your character, and letting the chips fall where they may later.

Yesterday, I wrote Ava true. And I think I need a cold shower

(I love this Pamela. I’m sure I’d be hopeless at writing a steamy scene! What happened?)

The scene stayed in the book. My content editor loved it. My betas said it got them hot under the collar. And it is true to Ava, whose personal experiences make her uniquely her, which is what mattered most to me.

(I think it’s fascinating when characters simply take over and almost force writers to create their scenes.)

What else have you brought along and why? 

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This should be a treat. Put down that wine glass and break out the blender. Ava’s drink of choice is a rum Painkiller. So crank up the Rihanna—I recommend “Umbrella” or “Please Don’t Stop the Music”—and make sure your candle is coconut scented, because Ava’s taking us to the Caribbean with her tonight.

(Oh! I love a good cocktail…)

Ava’s Painkillers

Mix 2 parts orange juice, 2 parts pineapple juice, 1 part Coco Lopez, and 1 part rum in a blender. Serve over ice sprinkled with nutmeg. Drink at your own risk. You’re welcome.

I love Ava’s cocktail Pamela. Thanks so much for bringing the ingredients to make it. Thank you for staying in with me to introduce Bombshell.  I understand that by clicking this Bombshell, Linda’s Book Bag readers can get a free copy too, before going on to read the rest of the books in the series.

Bombshell

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Ava dreams of building a better life for her daughter through her island pop songs. Her new temp job leads to a once-in-a-lifetime shot at a record deal, but before she can pack her bags for New York, she discovers a dead body outside her office building. Horrified, Ava recognizes the murdered sex worker as her childhood friend.

The single mother finds herself torn between pursuing her life’s passion or justice for her murdered friend. When another friend is killed, she worries the deaths are connected to a shared trauma that she’s been running from her whole life. After dumping her cop boyfriend, she realizes the pain she keeps locked inside could be sabotaging her shot at lasting love.

Before Ava can move on to a bright future in music, she must confront the truth behind her dark past to catch the murderer or she’ll be next on his kill list.

Bombshell is available for purchase here if you’re not quick enough to get your free copy through this link.

About Pamela Fagan Hutchins

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Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, award-winning and best-selling romantic mysteries, and hilarious nonfiction from deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.

You can find out more on Pamela’s website, where you will find purchase links for all Pamela’s books. You can follow her on Twitter @PamelotH and find her on Facebook too.

3 Hour Dad by Adam T Hourlution

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I am the least maternal person I know. I don’t have children, have never wanted any and didn’t even play with dolls as a child. I preferred my Girl From U.N.C.L.E spy kit. With all of that in mind, I was intrigued when Adam T Hourlution got in touch and asked me if I would review his novella 3 Hour Dad. Now, I think it’s good to go beyond your comfort zone so, even though I’m not often accepting new books for review at the moment, I agreed.

3 Hour Dad is available for purchase here.

3 Hour Dad

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What would you do if you were suddenly told you were going to be a mum or dad without any notice? How would you react? What thoughts would go through your head? You haven’t prepared to be a parent, you’ve not made any arrangements and nobody in your family is aware.

Now imagine that not even the mum-to-be knew that she had been hiding a little person inside her tummy the entire time.

One day Adam, just your average, typical guy receives a call from his mother-in-law (to be!) summoning him to the hospital following his girlfriend being rushed in with suspected appendicitis only to discover that she is in fact having contractions and has been admitted to the labour ward.

This heart-warming and true story invites readers to step into Adam’s shoes and experience what it is like to be a 3 Hour Dad.

A proportion of sales is donated to a random act of kindness fund. To read more about this please refer to the about me section at the end of the book and help join in the 3hourlution.

My Review of 3 Hour Dad

A late night phone call has Adam racing to be at his girlfriend’s side in hospital.

I really didn’t expect to enjoy 3 Hour Dad because I have absolutely no interest in babies or children. However, neither did Adam T Hourlution and he writes with such honesty and liveliness that I was thoroughly entertained by his first person story. I felt his direct appeal to the reader worked very well in making them feel part of the action and his ability to write excellent description gives an immediacy to his account. There’s a cracking pace to this novells so that the reader gets caught up in the story and is keen to know what the outcome will be.

Although there is shock and disbelief in Adam’s story with a couple of fairly graphic details too which reinforced my view that I’d made the right decision never to have children, what really makes 3 Hour Dad a success is the realism and Adam’s self-deprecating humour. I loved his eBay auction concentration and we actually learn a considerable amount about him in a narrative that only takes about 50 minutes to read. Here is a man about to be a parent who at times seems unable to string a sentence together or find his own socks and his panic is evident through the writing. I think it says much about me as a reader too as I enjoyed reading about Adam’s evident bewilderment, panic and emotions!

3 Hour Dad is an uplifting and realistic account of a new life coming into the world. If, like me, you’re not particularly interested in babies and children, 3 Hour Dad might just persuade you otherwise as I really enjoyed reading it!

About Adam T Hourlution

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Adam T Hourlution is the founder of 3HourDad.com and author of 3 Hour Dad book. 3HD was born from his love of helping and giving back to others. Adam loves meeting new people and his goal is to remind them of just how brilliant they are by spreading some cheer in a world which doesn’t always seem so colourful.

He aims to add value by making people smile by sharing the sales proceeds of his novella. Sales of his short eBook (about his miraculous experience of becoming an unexpected Father in just three hours) is the lifeblood of 3HD which he uses the proceeds to launch the 3hourlution! aka randomly selecting people to receive free gifts and sharing their reaction and testimonials. These people he calls “the chosen ones” receive a happy note and a random act of kindness present which he records and shares across YouTube and social media. Adam is certain that this will not only positively impact someones’ day but will leave an imprint on the world.

You can find Adam on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @ as well as visit his website and YouTube channel.

A Bookollective Interview with Valeria Vescina, Author of That Summer in Puglia

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I’m a hopeless romantic and I love to travel so I’m thrilled to have That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina on my TBR as I have a feeling it’s going to appeal to both aspects very effectively! Today I’m delighted to be celebrating That Summer in Puglia. by bringing you an interview with Valeria conducted by those lovely folk at Bookollective.

That Summer in Puglia is available for purchase directly from the publisher, Eyewear Books here and on Amazon.

That Summer in Puglia

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Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts?

That Summer In Puglia is a tale of love, loss, the perils of self-deception and the power of compassion. Puglia offers an ideal setting: its layers of history are integral to the story, itself an excavation of a man’s past; Tommaso’s increasingly vivid memories of its sensuous colours, aromas and tastes, and of how it felt to love and be loved, eventually transform the discomforting tone with which he at first tries to keep Will and painful truths at a distance. This remarkable debut combines a gripping plot and perceptive insights into human nature with delicate lyricism.

A Bookollective Interview with Valeria Vescina

Who is your perfect reader?

I think my ideal readers probably fall into two overlapping camps because of That Summer in Puglia’s different layers.  I hope that if you enjoy the psychological tension in the fiction of Salley Vickers or Sandor Marai, and the lyricism of Marilynne Robinson or Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, That Summer in Puglia will be a book for you. Like these authors, I aimed for lightness of touch whilst dealing with universal themes: grief, love and the need for compassion. The book might appeal to you also if you like novels occupying the ‘space’ where psychology, philosophy, history and the arts meet: it requires no knowledge of these subjects, but those drawn to them will spot unobtrusive allusions. I imagine that many readers’ preferences span, in any event, both kinds of fiction. In addition, the book might intrigue those who, having enjoyed Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, are eager to discover the cultural diversity and richness of Southern Italy.

What books are on your bedside table?

My bedside table includes fiction and non-fiction. I’m enjoying La vita com’è, Grazia Verasani’s novel about the writing life, relationships, intergenerational dialogue, and much more. There is also Kai Aareleid’s Burning Cities, a compelling historical novel I’ve just reviewed for the Baltics edition of The Riveter Magazine. I’m dipping in and out of Literary Wonderlands, a mesmerising compendium of essays on fictional worlds, from those in The Epic of Gilgamesh to the ones in Salman Rushdie’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights. And I’m re-reading chapters of Gabriel Josipovici’s The Teller and the Tale, a treasure of insights into literature, music, history…

Do you have a writing routine?

My various roles – personal and professional – don’t easily allow for a writing routine. However, I organise myself so as to be able to fit in my writing and all other commitments. The time management skills acquired during my previous career are definitely helpful.

Where do you write best?

I write best in the mountains. Whenever I’ve needed to tackle a crucial writing challenge – a fresh revision of a draft of That Summer in Puglia, or the development of the plot of my next novel – I’ve shut myself for a week or two in the Alps. Creativity and new perspectives come so easily to me there; and the quantity and quality of the writing benefits from allowing myself time for uninterrupted immersion in the world of the novel.

Where did you inspiration for That Summer in Puglia come from?

That Summer in Puglia is the fruit of a lifetime of reflections flowing into the imagination. My protagonist, Tommaso, has been missing from Italy for over thirty years. The death of a parent during Tommaso’s childhood sets off a tragic sequence of events. The novel is about the countervailing power of love – of friendship, of romantic relationships, of strangers’ kindness… – which requires compassion for oneself and others. I did not set out to write about these themes – they emerged in the process of writing – but I had reflected on them over the years. In London, seeing notices of missing persons at railway stations fills me with sadness; I’ve wondered about the suffering behind each of those posters. Like most parents, when my children were little I occasionally asked myself how they’d cope if I were to die. In my previous work in executive search I was, at first, surprised by the resentments which ostensibly successful people had held onto for a very long time. Last but not least, my native Puglia provided inspiration: how can its layers of history and different cultures fail to spark musings on the layers of any society and person – and on the interaction between the two?

What are you working on next?

My second novel will also be set in Puglia, but in the 1500s. It will be inspired by historical events, and the main protagonists will be women. I’ve been carrying out the necessary research for years – in Italian libraries and archives, the British Library, the Bodleian… – and can’t wait to start writing the story. Microhistory – the study of one or more persons from another era – can reveal a surprising amount about the present day. I’m hopeful that the novel will illustrate how deep the roots of Western society’s attitudes towards women’s behaviour and aspirations are

About Valeria Vescina

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Valeria Vescina is from Puglia, was educated in Switzerland and the UK, and has lived for years in London with her family. After a successful career in management, she gained an MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths (University of London). That Summer In Puglia (Eyewear Publishing, 2018) is her debut novel. Her activity as a critic includes reviews for Seen And Heard International, Talking Humanities and the European Literature Network. She has taught creative writing workshops on the narrative potential of various art forms. Valeria also holds a degree in International Studies (University of Birmingham) and a Sloan Msc. in Management (London Business School).

You can follow Valeria on Twitter @ValeriaVescina and visit her website for further details. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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Staying in with Debra Purdy Kong

Knock Knock, front cover

What with one thing and two others it’s been a bit manic here on the blog of late so it gives me great pleasure to put my feet up and stay in with Debra Purdy Kong today whilst she tells me all about one of her books.

Staying in with Debra Purdy Kong

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

It’s a pleasure, and thank you for the invitation.

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

Knock Knock, front cover

I’ve brought my latest mystery novel, Knock Knock which was published in November 2017 and is #5 in the Casey Holland series. It’s been a long and interesting journey to write about the same protagonist all these years and I’m pleased, not to mention a little relieved, to have finally finished this book!

(I’m always fascinated by authors who have a series Debra. It strikes me that they must get to know their characters intimately!)

I’ve also chosen this book because it represents a return to self-publishing. The first four books were published a year apart from 2011-2014 by a traditional publisher here in Canada. It was extremely difficult to submit a book a year, what with a day job and an aging mother who requires more care. By the time I and my publisher parted company and I got all rights back to my work, I was well into the third draft of Knock Knock. Self-publishing allows me to work at my pace, which is really important right now, given my hectic schedule.

(This is so interesting. I know of several authors who have decided to take complete control over their work after having been traditionally published. I know what you mean too about having older parents. My elderly mother takes up quite a bit of time …)

What can we expect from an evening with your mystery Knock Knock?

Hopefully, you can expect an entertaining whodunit with a little bit of grit. My protagonist Casey Holland is a 33-year-old transit security officer employed by a private bus company in Vancouver British Columbia. Undercover transit officers have been riding Vancouver’s real-life TransLink buses for years, by the way, but most people are unaware of their presence.

Through her work, Casey encounters plenty of unsavory characters. But in Knock Knock, things are different. She and the team are working with the police to help protect senior bus riders who are being stalked and then targeted by a group home invasion thieves. Meanwhile, Casey’s trying to prepare for her upcoming wedding, be a parent to her fourteen-year-old ward, and deal with a growing number of violent encounters, not the least of which happens to her.

(This sounds very exciting Debra. I know many Linda’s Book Bag readers will enjoy it.)

Many of my ideas come from true events and this one is no exception. Vancouver and many North American cities have endured home invasions. Given that my 83-year-old Mom lives on her own and that a senior was recently attacked in her area, it’s something that I think about a lot.

(And what a sad world it is when we have this kind of issues to think about.)

What else have you brought along and why?

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I’ve brought a photo of my cat Mimo in his younger years.

(As a mad cat woman I’m delighted to meet Mimo!)

He’s almost 19 years old now and doesn’t keep himself nearly as well-groomed as he was in this photo. He’s also pretty much deaf. He’s a daily reminder that at this point in my life, I need to care for older things…pets, people, and even our aging home. Knock Knock reminds me that I also need to watch out for my neighbours and other seniors. As my Mother says, and I’m sure Mimo would if he could, aging isn’t easy. As my protagonist, Casey, knows all too well, the elderly need all the help they can get.

(Oh yes indeed! It has been an intense couple of years for me too looking after parents Debra. My father had a massive stroke almost exactly two years ago and it took 17 weeks to kill him so we have had a tricky time looking after my Mum too.)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about Knock Knock Debra. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Knock Knock

Knock Knock, front cover

The latest attack in a string of violent Vancouver home invasions kills senior Elsie Englehart. Security officer Casey Holland is devastated. She is supposed to be watching over elderly bus riders in an affluent, high-risk area, but she’s let Elsie down.

Determined to keep others safe, Casey escorts an elderly man home, but an armed intruder attacks them both. Hospitalized and angry, Casey struggles to regain control of her life, despite interference from family and colleagues—and the postponement of her long-awaited wedding.

Yet another home invasion compels Casey to take action, but at what cost to her health and her relationships? In Knock Knock, Debra Purdy Kong’s fifth installment of the Casey Holland series, the risks have never been higher and the consequences more deadly.

Knock Knock is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

About Debra Purdy Kong

Debra Purdy Kong, 2016

Criminology studies, along with volunteer work in prisons and employment in the security field, inspired Debra to write the Casey Holland transit security novels The Opposite of Dark, Deadly Accusations, Beneath the Bleak New Moon, The Deep End, and Knock Knock. She has also two Evan Dunstan mystery novellas, Dead Man Floating and A Toxic Craft, published more than fifty short stories in a variety of genres as well as personal essays, and articles for publications such as Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, B.C. Parent Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun.

You can find out more about Debra by visiting her website and blog, finding her on Facebook and following her on Twitter @DebraPurdyKong.

Staying in with Alison Baillie

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Just after I first started blogging in 2015 I had a smashing guest post from Alison Baillie on Linda’s Book Bag and I reviewed her wonderful novel Sewing the Shadows Together in a post you can read here. Since then, the blog has changed quite a bit and I have been delighted to meet Alison in real life so it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome her back to Linda’s Book Bag today to stay in with me.

Staying in with Alison Baillie

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Alison. It was so lovely to meet you recently. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me here on the blog.

Thank you for inviting me!

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

fractured winter

I’ve brought along a copy of my second novel, A Fractured Winter, which just came out at the beginning of this month.

Congratulations Alison and a belated happy book birthday. I’ve heard marvellous things about this book from other bloggers so what can we expect from an evening in with A Fractured Winter?

I hope you will be caught up in an intriguing mystery set in Switzerland, Scotland and Yorkshire. Reviewers have said it’s difficult to put down – and one said it caused her to burn her dinner, so it’s probably best to avoid reading and cooking at the same time.

(No worries there. My husband does all the cooking these days. He had to learn or starve when I worked away from home!)

The book describes one winter when the seemingly idyllic life of Olivia, a young Scottish mother living in a small Swiss village, begins to crumble. Her daughter’s best friend goes missing and figures from the past come back into her life. She is terrified that someone knows her secret, the reason she had to leave Scotland and, while she is haunted by memories from her childhood, she becomes obsessed with the search for the missing girl. It is a story of the search for the little girl, and for love and identity. It also deals with rejection, loss and trust.  One reviewer described it as ‘A family drama with a deeply sinister edge’.

(I know I’d love this Alison. I so enjoyed Sewing the Shadows Together and I love your writing.)

What else have you brought along and why?

raclette

I’ve brought along some raclette for us to eat. This is a Swiss mountain delicacy and is basically just cheese melted on a grill or by the fire, eaten with boiled potatoes and pickled onions and gherkins. You can also add bacon and salad, but the great attraction for me is that everyone cooks it themselves – and it is delicious. I chose this dish because Olivia’s family eat it in the last scene in the book.

(You’re my kind of guest Alison. I love anything with cheese – though I’m less keen on pickled onions so you can have most of those.)

herbal tea

It’s usually accompanied by Swiss white wine, but as I don’t think you drink wine I’ve brought some herbal tea for you, which is also often eaten with it.

(Thanks! Though I notice you sneaked in some wine for yourself. You’re right. I rarely drink ordinary wine these days – seems to make me ill!)

choc

And, of course, I’ve also brought some Swiss chocolate for us to eat afterwards!

(Oh… It was meant for afterwards. Oops…)

Thanks so much for staying in with me and telling me about A Fractured Winter Alison. It sounds such a good read and I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you very much for having me, Linda!

A Fractured Winter

fractured winter

A missing girl.
Threatening notes.
Sinister strangers.
Olivia’s idyllic family life in a Swiss mountain village is falling apart. She thought she’d managed to escape the past, but it’s coming back to haunt her.

Has somebody discovered her secret – why she had to leave Scotland more than ten years ago?

What is her connection to Marie, a lonely schoolgirl in a Yorkshire seaside town, and Lucy, a student at a Scottish university?

A story of the shadows of the past, the uncertainties of the present and how you can never really know anybody.

Published by Williams and Whiting, A Fractured Winter is available for purchase here.

About Alison Baillie

Alison Baillie was brought up in the Yorkshire Dales, but has always felt Scottish. Her parents were both from Scotland and, as soon as she could, she went back there to study English at the University of St Andrews. After a year in Finland she taught English in several Edinburgh High Schools. She then moved to Switzerland, where she still lives, but her heart will always be in Scotland, where she goes as often as possible. She loves travelling, reading crime fiction, going to crime writing festivals and being with her family and friends.

You can find out more about Alison on her website and follow Alison on Facebook and on Twitter @alisonbailliex.

Celebrating No One But You with Tessa Levy

NOBY front cover

I’m so grateful to the lovely folk at Literally PR for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for No One But You by Tessa Levy as it looks exactly my kind of read and I’m delighted to have a copy on my TBR. I’m so disappointed I can’t make the actual launch party but am thrilled to host this stop on the tour on publication day for No One But You.

To celebrate No One But You I have a wonderful extract to share and I’m delighted to be staying in with Tessa to chat all about No One But You.

Published today 24th May 2018, by Filament Publishing, No One But You is available for purchase in all the usual places including directly from the publisher here.

No One But You

NOBY front cover

No One but You is a fictional account of a young girl’s extraordinary life, from the post-war East End of London to the high life of America and back again. It portrays Tessa Levy’s yearning for adventure and opportunity and ultimately love on both sides of the Atlantic. She is the youngest child of a large family who takes on the responsibility of caring for her beloved dying mother. When her father secretly marries another woman, Tessa’s world is shattered. At the tender age of 17, Tessa seeks solace with her distant cousins in America and sets off on the adventure of a lifetime.

A year and a half later, she returns to England as a glamorous young woman having fallen in love for the first time. However, she crosses the cultural divide and struggles to resettle, despite her family’s best efforts to reintegrate her into their Jewish community in London. Eventually meeting the man she will marry, Tessa suffers another painful premature family death that rocks her world. She embarks on motherhood and a successful career but life continues to challenge her happiness. She finds herself torn between the two loves of her life; the handsome, poetic and artistic Gus in America; and the charismatic, successful, but disloyal Michael in England. Her romantic adventure crosses back and forth between the two countries ultimately in the quest to find the answer to the underlying theme of the book, and Tessa’s life; is it possible to love two men in one lifetime?

Staying in with Tessa Levy

Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat about No One But You Tessa. Can you tell me a bit about it? 

No One But You is due for release today May 24th 2018!  We’re going to have a big launch party in London.

(Happy publication day Tessa. I’m devastated I can’t make tonight’s party. Sadly I live in darkest Lincolnshire and with another appointment I couldn’t get there in time. I hope you have a wonderful party.)

I personally enjoy a good psychological thriller.  I loved ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins.  I also love books by Martina Cole, Jeffery Archer and Frederick Forsyth.

(I’m with you on those choices. If you enjoy them then I think I’m really going to enjoy reading No One But You too!)

What can we expect from an evening in with No-One but You? 

No One But You is based on my life story – a story that I’ve told plenty of people and all of whom said it sounded like a novel. I didn’t want it to be a straightforward autobiography though so I worked hard with my daughter Shelley to inject plenty of fictional elements to add even more spice and adventure, heart-break and tragedy. It’s fun to speak to people who have read the book and who are guessing which bits are real and which are fiction!

(I bet!) 

What else have you brought along and why? 

spare ribsFood – I have a passion for spare ribs, Chinese and Indian food from my time in America. Multicultural dining experience with a very chilled glass of rose.

(You can come again if you’re going to bring such tasty food Tessa!)

Music – Beautiful background music especially jazz, as my late husband loved it.  The Music from the Royal Wedding would be perfect to portray the love story within my book.

Guests – I would love to invite;

Maureen Lipman as she is such an intellectual and brilliant actress and I would thoroughly enjoy her company.

Barbara Windsor as I feel that she would make any evening complete.

download

Also the late Terry Wogan, who I met through my daughter at one of my birthday lunches and we remained in touch until he sadly passed away.

I really admired Bruce Forsyth, I met him at some charity events and believe is was the most charismatic man I have ever met.

Although I can’t attend tonight’s actual party, I think we can have a pretty good virtual one with these guests! Thank you so much for staying in with me to tell me a bit about No One But You Tessa. I’m sure blog readers will love to read the following extract to get a flavour of the book:

An Extract from No One But You by Tessa Levy

Chapter 3: Losing Her

Tess hopped unsteadily on the chalk marks on the pavement and over her shoulder, she called out, “My brother Danny will be here in a minute. He’s on leave. Wait until you meet him, he’ll make you laugh so much, you’ll be crying.”

She gave up on the game and raced to the corner to see if she could spot him. She had no sense of Millie’s increasing outrage as she returned with another round of excitable chatter about her brother.

“Why don’t you look where you’re going?” a woman grumbled at Tess when she almost knocked her over when jumping into Danny’s open arms.

Tess ignored the warning.

“Alright, kid, steady on, I’m right here. Step back so I can look at you. My God, you’ve grown up.” Danny shook his head and gently ran his hand through her hair. “You’ve grown, Shortie!” He laughed and tickled her ribs.

Giggling, she scrunched up her face. “Danny, stop! Come and meet my best friends in the world.”

“The whole world, sis?” He flashed his huge smile, the one that lit up his hazel eyes. Standing in the street, in his uniform, Tess felt an enormous surge of pride as she watched her friends’ faces turn red and she wanted to shout, “That’s my brother, isn’t he something?”

He pulled on her hand. “Come on kid, let’s go inside and say hello.”

Later that evening, as the family sat around the table, Pop leaned back and beamed. “Look at this, the only one missing is Howard.” He popped a cube of sugar in between his teeth and sipped on his tea. His braces hung at his sides and his hands clasped at the front of his round belly. Pop nodded proudly at his sons.

Lorna leaned forward artfully. “We should have some wine to celebrate.”

“Wine? I don’t know where you’re getting these crazy ideas. It’s enough that you smoke. Can’t you be more like your sister?” Pop said. In the kitchen, Sadie, helping her mother wash the dishes, heard his complaint. She shouted, “He’s right, you know, Lorna. You should try and be more like me.”

Sadie and the others laughed. Lorna took out her irritation out on Tess, who shrieked in pain as her sister’s hand found her thigh under the table and gave her an enthusiastic pinch.

“Some things just don’t change. Do they, Max?” Danny shook a cigarette from his pack and smiled at his brother.

Max fiddled with his unlit cigar. “Thank goodness for that. This bloody war has changed too many things.”

“You’re the last bloke to complain. You’ve got that cushy job, far away from all the action.” Danny pushed his chair back and stood next to his brother. “Come on outside and tell me about all that cash you’re making.”

“You underestimate how crucial my contribution to this war really is, just because you wear a uniform. I wore a uniform and paid a huge price because of that bloody anti-Semitic corporal. I got a court-martial for sticking up for us all. Just remember that!”

“I knew it! You’re a spy, working undercover. I get it, sunshine, you’re doing covert exercises into Germany. I apologise.”

“Now you’re a comedian? You’re jealous because I’ve managed to arrange things the way I have. Face it, Danny, I was always cleverer than you!”

They were inches from starting a fight.

“Go outside, the pair of you. Don’t upset your mother. Don’t you ever grow up?” Pop’s face turned beetroot red whenever he became angry or upset and he was not past ripping off his belt to teach them both a lesson. “As for you, Lorna, go and help your mother.”

“What about Tess, why doesn’t she have to help?” Lorna pouted, making a loud scraping noise as she pushed her chair back

“I’m too young, sorry, Lorna,” Tess said with a smirk and she folded her arms in victory. She followed her dad into the other room and curled up onto his lap.

Later that night, Tess lay awake, trying to ignore the rumbling of Pop’s snoring through the thin walls. Relishing the warmth of her sisters’ sleeping bodies, she heard the faint, familiar sounds of male laughter, drifting up from the street. Carefully, she climbed under the covers and wriggled to the edge of the bed so as not to wake the girls. Wrapping herself in her coat, she tiptoed down the stairs, the floor icy to her bare feet. She came face to face with Danny, catching him slipping off his shoes. He looked at her for a moment and pulled her outside. He struck a match against the brick wall and leaned in to light his cigarette. The light flickered briefly against one side of his face, revealing a fresh black eye.

“Oh my God, Danny, what happened?” Tess said with a gasp.

The smell of alcohol wafted on his panicked reaction. “Ssshhh, you’ll wake up the whole street. Worse still, you’ll wake up Pop.”

“But your eye looks purple, what did you do?”

“Sis, quiet, please,” he hissed. “I went over to the Paramount in the West End and there was this group of American soldiers there. They’d had a few too many and were getting really rowdy.”

Tess sat on her hands, trying to prevent contact with the freezing step. Her mouth opened wide as she listened to her injured brother.

“Anyway, there was this one soldier, a black guy, the only sober one of the bunch and he goes up to a girl and asks her to dance. No big deal. The next thing you know, these punks are laying into him like he’s a bloody German spy.” Danny gave a few mock punches to show his li􏰀le sister what happened.

“I don’t understand, what did he do wrong?” Tess asked.

Danny exhaled smoke, wincing in pain. “That’s the reason I got involved. The poor bleeder didn’t do a thing. All he did was what any normal soldier, far away from home, would do. He asked a pre􏰀y girl to dance.”

Tess loved her brother more than anyone. “Then why?”

“Because of the colour of his skin. It’s not that different to being a Jew. Sadly, that’s the world we live in, sis!”

Tess worked her mind around the new information. “But that isn’t even fair!” she said, indignant.

Danny pulled her closer to him, and they shivered together. “Fair? Life isn’t about fairness, kid, look at what’s happened to Mum.”

Tess leaned back to look at him. “What are you talking about?”

He averted his eyes, busying himself with studying his cigarette. “I’m such an idiot. They haven’t told you, have they?”

Tess attempted to put the jigsaw together in her mind. So there was a secret! “Nobody ever tells me anything. She’s my mummy too!”

His eyes welled up with tears. His long lashes wet, as he stared into the night sky.

Lorna always teased that his eyelashes were God’s mistake, they’d really been meant for her.

Exhaling smoke, he flicked the cigarette butt into the street. “Kid, you’re nine years old, some things don’t belong inside the head of a little girl.”

Tess’s face tightened in a rage. “I am not a baby. Tell me, or I’m going to move in with my friends. I mean it, Danny, I’m sick of all of you!”

“Look at you two out here, you’ll catch your death,” a tired, gentle voice spoke in the darkness.

They jumped and turned around to see their mother standing in the doorway.

About Tessa Levy

Tessa Levy Author Pic

 

Tessa Levy was born in the in the East End of London, as the youngest of six children in a Jewish family; Russian immigrants to England before the Second World War. The author, like her brothers in the fashion business and her husband in the nightclub trade of Soho, made a success of her antique business – a truly entrepreneurial woman in an era when business was dominated by men – specialising in Imari porcelain and creating an established presence in the Kensington Pavilion.

Now in her 80s, Tessa resides in West London, opposite Hyde Park, and maintains one foot on either side of the pond. No One But You is Tessa Levy’s first book, based on real events, which brings to light a topical immigrant family story of displacement, hardship, disease and death, but also of inclusion, friendship, love and success. It crosses the divide not only between two cultural differences, but also two faiths and families.

You can find out more by following Tessa on Twitter @tessalevyauthor.