Staying in with Julie Shackman

Room at the Manor FC - 27 April 2018

I am so lucky to get the chance to ‘meet’ authors and their books as a result of being a blogger and today I’m delighted to welcome Julie Shackman to Linda’s Book Bag. Julie has kindly agreed to stay in with me to tell me about one of her books.

Staying in with Julie Shackman

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

Thank you for granting me an appearance on your blog, Linda. It’s a real honour!

Which of your books have you brought along this evening and why have you chosen this one?

Room at the Manor FC - 27 April 2018

I’ve brought along my latest novel, A Room at the Manor. It’s a tale of tea shops; baking; family and romance. I’ve chosen it because it is my latest book and it’s being released tomorrow!

(Oh – how exciting! Happy publication day for tomorrow. What an absolutely gorgeous cover for A Room at the Manor too!)

What can we expect from an evening in with A Room at the Manor?

I hope that A Room at the Manor gives the readers lots of laughter, tears and escapism.

It’s about what a person can achieve when someone shows in faith in them and what determination and passion can result in.

I hope that A Room at the Manor has characters who the readers can relate to; love and empathise with and that they enjoy Lara’s story and how and why she discovers what she wants from life.

(A Room at the Manor sounds EXACTLY my kind of read. I’m going to have to find room on the TBR for it somehow!)

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

chamomile tea

Well, I used to drink coffee up until about four years ago and then a friend of mine, Amanda, got me interested in herbal tea and now I am well and truly hooked!

So, I can offer you some English breakfast tea, as well as peppermint and camomile, Linda.

(English breakfast for me please Julie. Good and strong too.)

Coconut cake

I also brought some cake. I love most things but I am rather partial to a fresh, warm, plain scone with butter or anything that is drizzled in coconut. Hope we can share some!


(I’m not keen on dessicated coconut but I love a scone so I’m glad to see you brought plenty. I’ve got a very nice black cherry jam that will go well with them.)


In keeping with the tea shop and baking themes, I’ve also brought along Chip, the enchanted tea up from Beauty and The Beast.

I love all things Disney but this has been my favourite fairy tale of them all, ever since I was little.

I’m an avid reader as well as a writer and for me, being able to lose yourself in an imaginary world, with characters who you admire, is wonderful.

Since I was little, I’ve adored the spell binding qualities of Beauty and The Beast and it still has a timeless air about it today.

(I just watched this recently Julie and I fell in love with it too!)

Thanks so much for staying in with me Julie, and telling me about A Room at the Manor. I think it sounds my kind of read and again – happy publication day for tomorrow.

A Room at the Manor

Room at the Manor FC - 27 April 2018

When her Maltese love affair turns sour, Lara McDonald returns to her quiet Scottish hometown of Fairview heartbroken, yet determined – instead of looking for another PR position, she decides to follow her dream of baking. She impulsively takes the first job offered and finds herself working for local dragon Kitty Walker in her tea room, True Brew.

Lara’s life is full of surprises, however, not the least being an unlikely friendship forged with one of Kitty’s elderly customers, the former laird Hugo Carmichael. The Carmichael family has lived at the beautiful Glenlovatt Manor for almost three hundred years and, although in need of renovation, Hugo, his son and grandson currently make it their home. There’s something about Lara that Hugo likes, and when Hugo suddenly passes away, Lara is stunned to discover she is mentioned in his will. But not everyone is happy with the old Laird’s faith in Lara.

A story of love, family, hope and trust, A Room at the Manor will delight every reader keen to find their place in the world.

Published by Allen & Unwin, A Room at the Manor is available for purchase here.

In Australia and New Zealand, you can buy it on line and also from all good bookshops.

About Julie Shackman


Julie Shackman lives in Scotland and is married with two teenage sons.

Julie trained as a journalist and studied Communication and Media but has always wanted to be an author.

She also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies.

When not reading or writing, Julie is a keen walker and loves music.

You can visit Julie’s website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @G13Julie.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The Enchanted april

As my TBR pile is always huge and I frequently don’t get to finish the book for my reading group I have actually read The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim two weeks early!

Originally published in 1922, my edition of The Enchanted April was published by Penguin Classic in 2012 and is available for purchase through these links.

The Enchanted April

The Enchanted april

The discreet advertisement in The Times, addressed ‘To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine’, offers a small medieval castle for rent, above a bay on the Italian Riviera. Four very different women – the dishevelled and downtrodden Mrs Wilkins, the sad, sweet-faced Mrs Arbuthnot, the formidable widow Mrs Fisher and the ravishing socialite Lady Caroline Dester – are drawn to the shores of the Mediterranean that April. As each, in turn, blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring and finds their spirits stirring, quite unexpected changes occur.

My Review of The Enchanted April

An advertisement in The Times will change the lives of those who respond for ever.

I really enjoyed The Enchanted April. I must admit that it took a chapter or so to attune my modern reader’s eye to the style of a book written almost 100 years ago, but once I did I found it a hugely entertaining read. The underlying sarcasm and humour had me snorting aloud at times. I especially enjoyed the contrast between what each of the four ladies said and what they privately thought. The book is actually very funny and I even found myself reading bits aloud to my husband so that he could enjoy it too.

The Enchanted April is a fascinating insight into the society of between the wars English gentry at all levels. I found the depiction of social mores and snobbery well depicted so that I understood the reasons why each character behaved as they did completely.

Underlying the satirical approach, however, are some themes that are still only too familiar in today’s society. Lady Caroline’s self-worth being measured by men’s attention to her physical beauty, the way in which she abhors their attempts to grasp and pat her, Rose and Lotty’s sad marriages and the emotional isolation that all four women feel in spite of their desire for solitude and time for reflection are concepts many modern readers will appreciate and many will identify with.

But The Enchanted April does not have such a title without reason. The sojourn in Italy will  break down many barriers so that this becomes a very uplifting read as well as an entertaining one. There is enchantment in the setting that is so skilfully conveyed partly through Mrs Wilkins’ ‘seeing’ and partly through the luxurious descriptions that appeal to all the senses from the taste of the food to the scent of the flowers and the sight of the sea. There is magic in the air and it has an almost Shakespearean effect making me think of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Enchanted April will not suit all readers – and especially those looking for pacy plotting and rapid, heart racing excitement. But for those wanting an insight into another era, or wanting to follow four women’s self-discovery and burgeoning independence and love it will appeal completely. I really enjoyed it.

About Elizabeth von Arnim

Cousin of Katherine Mansfield and lover of H.G. Wells, Elizabeth von Arnim was at the hub of the literary and political society of her time.

She was born in Australia in 1866 but grew up in England, and began her career in 1898 with the semi-autobiographical Elizabeth and Her German Garden. She was married twice and died in 1941.

Staying in with Kathleen Jones

Love is the punchline

Once again I’m finding whole new books and authors here on Linda’s Book Bag. This time it’s Kathleen Jones who joins me to stay in and tell me about one of her books.

Staying in with Kathleen Jones

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Kathleen. Thank you for staying in with me.

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

Love is the punchline

I’ve brought along my new novel, Love Is the Punch Line, which was published by Moonshine Cove in April. It’s a quirky, lighthearted romance set in the world of stand-up comedy. I brought it along to show “women of a certain age” that romance should not stop after age 40.

(Too right! As someone fast approaching 60 I can quite agree with that premise for a book!)

What can we expect from an evening in with  Love Is the Punch Line?

You can expect an evening of hilarious comedy from a real legend, Josh Steinberg, the “Jewish Comedy King.” Even though he’s over 50, plump, balding, and washed up, Josh is still revered by die-hard comedy fans, who appreciate his edgy sense of humour.

You’ll also meet Josh’s woman, Holly Brannigan, a slim, attractive, and bright 50-year-old businesswoman. Unlike the other women in Josh’s past who haven’t treated him well, the smart and sensitive Holly is crazy about Josh and even finds his unconventional looks wildly sexy. No wonder Josh calls her “Holly the Brain.”

(I’m smiling already. I love the sound of Josh and Holly.)

By meeting Josh, I hope that people will learn that no matter what a person looks like on the outside, he or she deserves a chance to spend their life with someone who truly loves and cares about them. And I hope that men who meet Holly will learn to value a woman’s brains, as well as her looks. After all, the brain is the biggest sex organ!

(Very true! My husband has a Ph.D!)

Finally, I hope that older people who haven’t found that special person will give romance another chance. You just never know!

(What a wonderful sentiment, Kathleen.)

What else have you brought along and why?


I brought along the script that Josh wrote for his comeback movie, It Only Hurts When I Laugh. Holly talked him into writing it, telling him that he had the talent to write a script about real life and real people; in the past, Josh had written mediocre movie scripts that were only collections of silly gags. Buoyed by her belief in him, Josh ended up writing a romantic script about two characters who resembled himself and Holly!

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about Love is the Punchline Kathleen. I’ve enjoyed hearing about Josh and Holly.

Love is the Punch Line

Love is the punchline

He courted her with punchlines.

Middle-aged stand-up comedian Josh Steinberg, formerly the star of his own popular TV series, finds himself struggling to keep his career alive, playing seedier and seedier clubs. Plump, balding, and plain-looking, he has never had much luck with women. That is, until Josh meets Holly Brannigan while performing his stand-up act in a comedy club. Holly, an attractive, intelligent, and divorced 50-year-old businesswoman, becomes instantly smitten with Josh and even finds his unconventional looks wildly sexy.

Love is the Punchline is available for purchase from Amazon and Indigo Books.

About Kathleen Jones


Kathleen Jones is a former book editor and technical writer. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in English literature and completed Ryerson University’s Certificate in Publishing program. Kathleen writes for a number of popular book blogs, including Romance Junkies and the blogs of Jane Friedman and British novelist Tony Riches. She also contributes monthly book reviews to Goodreads. Kathleen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

You can find out more about Kathleen on her website and by finding her on Facebook or following her on Twitter @joneslepidas.

Discussing The Single Mums’ Mansion with Janet Hoggarth

Single Mums Cover

My grateful thanks to Melanie Price for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations of The Single Mums’ Mansion by Janet Hoggarth. I’m delighted that Janet has dropped by Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me and tell me all about the book.

Staying in with Janet Hoggarth

Welcome along to Linda’s Book Bag Janet. 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?

Single Mums Cover

Hello! I have brought The Single Mums’ Mansion along tonight because it is my latest book and the first time I have ever written for adults, so it feels like a radical change of direction from children’s books.

(How exciting to change genre.)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Single Mums’ Mansion?

The story is based on my true life experience of living communally in a house with another single mum and our children. I have changed names, introduced completely fictitious characters and added a whole lot of fabricated plotlines, but they’re seamlessly blended with the facts so knowing which is which is tricky. Only I hold the secret.

(Now, of course, we all want to read The Single Mums’ Mansion to try to work out which is which for ourselves!)

Basically it is a ‘faction’ novel singing the praises of solid female friendship that utilises gallows humour to dissipate the potential bleak situation of being a heartbroken single mum. As the women move forward, they find being together is the best medicine for bravely facing the rocky road of divorce. There are laughs, tears, tantrums, crazy parties, totally unsuitable men, and an honest un-sugar coated portrayal of what life is like after a marriage breaks down. The girls can either choose to be victims or fight back and gradually reclaim their lives, bolstered up by each other knowing that at the end of the day there’s someone to share a bottle of wine and help with the hideous bedtime routine.

(I think The Single Mums’ Mansion sounds inspiring as well as entertaining Janet.)

What else have you brought along and why? 


I have decided to bring the party to your house! We’ll be eating Marmite Whirls and Rocky Road – staple party food at the Single Mums’ Mansion.

(I like the party idea Janet, but I worry the Marmite Whirls might divide opinion and we’ll have a fracas! Personally I love them!)


I would also have to haul along my record decks, vinyl and sound system so we could dance to all the guilty pleasures everyone secretly loves: eighties cheese, nineties pop, old skool hip hop, disco and some handbag house, just like in the bar where Amanda works in the book. However, the biggest tune of the evening is obviously I Will Survive! You won’t sit down all night!

(Oh! I love a bit of Gloria Gaynor!)


To complement the party food, we have to drink champagne and cocktails (only the best for us!) and rehydration sachets so we don’t have a headache in the morning. The party will be girls only (sorry!) and when everyone goes home, we will slap on a face mask and pass out on the bed in our tracksuit bottoms, waking in the morning magically rejuvenated with some flattering and on-point clothes neatly laid out for us as we face another day bossing the hell out of life! And I grew strong, And I learned how to get along…

(That’s one heck of a party you’ve got organised Janet. Pass me a glass of champagne and let’s get going. I think I can hear guests arriving now…)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about The Single Mums’ Mansion Janet. I think I need to pop along there very soon…

Thank you for letting me crash your pad and talk about my book.

The Single Mums’ Mansion

Single Mums Cover

Amanda Wilkie unexpectedly finds herself alone with her three children in a rambling Victorian house in London. Her husband leaves them, claiming he’s just ‘lost the love’, like one might carelessly lose a glove.

A few months later, Amanda’s heavily pregnant friend, Ali, crashes into her kitchen announcing her husband is also leaving. So, after Ali’s baby Grace is born, they both move into Amanda’s attic. And when Jacqui, a long-lost friend and fellow single mum, starts dropping by daily, the household is complete.

Getting divorced is no walk in the park, but the three friends refuse to be defined by it. And, as they slowly emerge out of the wreckage like a trio of sequin-clad Gloria Gaynors singing ‘I Will Survive‘, they realise that anything is possible. Even loving again…

Published by Aria on 1st June 2018, The Single Mums’ Mansion is available for purchase here.

About Janet Hoggarth


Janet Hoggarth has worked as a book-seller, a children’s book editor, and a DJ with her best friend (under the name ‘Britney and Whitney’). She spent her childhood making comics and filling notebooks with stories. In fact, her old boss at Bloomsbury thought she had such a talent for writing, he asked her to write a joke book, which she did with her brother.

Janet lives in London and draws constant inspiration from her three brilliant children.

You can follow Janet on Twitter @Janethauthor. Janet is also on Facebook and there’s more with these other bloggers:

The Single Mums Mansion blog tour

Discussing The Foyles Bookshop Girls with Elaine Roberts


I am somewhat obsessed with WW1 so it gives me enormous pleasure to be part of the launch celebrations for The Foyles Bookshop Girls by Elaine Roberts today. My thanks to Melanie Price at Aria for inviting me to take part. I was so sorry I couldn’t squeeze in a review at this time but I am thrilled Elaine has agreed to stay in with me to tell me about The Foyles Bookshop Girls.

Staying in with Elaine Roberts

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

Thank you for inviting me. I love sitting out in the garden in the evening, at this time of year, when the days are longer.

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


I have brought my debut novel The Foyles Bookshop Girls. It’s a World War One family saga, with friendship and love at its core.

(This sounds absolutely wonderful. I wasn’t able to review at the moment but I am desperate to read The Foyles Bookshop Girls because it sounds just my kind of book.)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Foyles Bookshop Girls?

This is the first book of a series and its takes you into the lives of Alice, Victoria and Molly, who have been friends since childhood, despite having very different backgrounds. Readers have said they couldn’t go to bed until they had finished it. One such reader, Kelly, said:

This story drew you in so that you felt part of the family and gave you the need to know what happened next with so much at stake for all of the families involved as their boys go off to war.

So this could be a late night.

(It could indeed. You must be delighted with that response to your writing Elaine.)

What else have you brought along and why?


I’ve brought a pile of second hand books, to remind us how Foyles Bookshop started out. I have included Alice’s favourites,Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.

(That’s a brilliant selection.)

tea and cake

I’ve also brought some tea leaves, because I do like a decent cup of tea and chocolate cake. The girls loved it, although you’ll have to sit up all night reading, to find out why the cake became so important.

(With tea and chocolate cake on the menu I’ll stay up as long as you like Elaine!)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat all about The Foyles Bookshop Girls. I have really enjoyed our evening in  – and the cake!

 The Foyles Bookshop Girls


London, 1914: one ordinary day, three girls arrive for work at London’s renowned Foyles bookshop. But when war with Germany is declared their lives will never be the same again…

Alice has always been the ‘sensible’ one in her family – especially in comparison with her suffrage-supporting sister! But decidedly against her father’s wishes, she accepts a job at Foyles Bookshop; and for bookworm Alice it’s a dream come true. But with the country at war, Alice’s happy world is shattered in an instant.

Determined to do what she can, Alice works in the bookshop by day, and risks her own life driving an ambulance around bomb-ravaged London by night. But however busy she keeps herself, she can’t help but think of the constant danger those she loves are facing on the frontline…

Alice, Victoria and Molly couldn’t be more different and yet they share a friendship that stems back to their childhood – a friendship that provides everyday solace from the tribulations and heartbreak of war.

Published by Aria on 1st June 2018, The Foyles Bookshop Girls is available for purchase from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play.

About Elaine Roberts

Roberts_Elaine original

Elaine Roberts had a dream to write for a living. She completed her first novel in her twenties and received her first very nice rejection. Life then got in the way until she picked up her dream again in 2010. She joined a creative writing class, The Write Place, in 2012 and shortly afterwards had her first short story published.

Elaine and her patient husband, Dave, have five children who have flown the nest. Home is in Dartford, Kent and is always busy with their children, grandchildren, grand dogs and cats visiting.

You can follow Elaine on Twitter @RobertsElaine11, and find her on Facebook. Elaine has an excellent website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Foyles Bookshop Girls blog tour banner


Discussing A Cornish Secret with Emma Burstall


I honestly think the cover of A Cornish Secret by Emma Burstall is one of the loveliest I’ve seen this summer and I’m delighted to be chatting with Emma all about the book today.

My thanks to Melanie Price at Aria for inviting me to be part of these launch celebrations for A Cornish Secret.

Staying in with Emma Burstall

Hi Emma. Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag.

Hello and thank you so much for inviting me!

Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. I rather think I know the answer to this question, but which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 


This evening I’ve brought along my brand new book, A Cornish Secret, which is the latest in my Cornish series, set in the fictional seaside village of Tremarnock. It’s published by Head of Zeus and is out as an ebook on June 1st. The hardback and paperback will follow shortly.

(And I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy as it looks gorgeous.)

What can we expect from an evening in with A Cornish Secret?

Laughter, tears, interesting characters, stunning scenery and a few shocks and surprises along the way. I’m pleased to say that readers have variously described the Tremarnock series as ‘difficult to put down’, ‘heart warming’ and ‘wonderfully descriptive’ with characters that ‘hook you in instantly.’

(This sounds exactly my kind of read Emma. You must be very pleased with those responses.)

I like a good plot, so I try to include plenty of twists and turns with big emotional climaxes juxtaposed with scenes of the everyday, just like real life. Expect a bit of a rollercoaster and hang on tight, but rest assured that you’ll reach your destination safely in the end!

(I am DEFINITELY adding A Cornish Secret to my TBR immediately.)

What else have you brought along and why? 


This photo of me and my friends in our walking boots around a scallop shell means a lot to me because it helped to inspire the book. The seeds of A Cornish Secret were planted when we went on a memorable walking holiday together in Northern Spain. We trudged for miles in the footsteps of the ancient pilgrims along the famous Camino de Santiago towards the shrine of the apostle St James, ending our trek in the grand Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The symbol of the scallop shell can be seen all along the road and has come to represent many things, including the numerous paths leading from all over the world to just one point.

(This is a walk I’m really interesting in doing myself Emma. And my husband has recently learnt Spanish so he can do all the organising!)

The trek was hard work but also great fun. Of course we talked as we walked, and learned things about each other that we hadn’t known before. When I got home and found that a section of the Camino crosses Cornwall, I was incredibly excited. I did the walk myself and was delighted to spot more scallop shell signs along the way. After that, I decided that I wanted two of my Cornish characters to set out on a journey of discovery that would change their lives, and A Cornish Secret was born.

(Ooo. I didn’t know that. We can do a bit of the walk before heading to Spain. I’ll be scouring the Internet when you’ve gone home to find out more.)



If I may, I’d like to bring some snacks, too – some Cornish pasties as well as strawberry jam, scones and clotted cream to get us in the mood. Oh, and some Scrumpy. It’s quite strong so a little goes a long way!


You’re telling me. I’m not good with alcohol so maybe I’ll just stick to the food!

Thanks so much for staying in with me and telling me all about A Cornish Secret Emma. I’ve had a lovely time.

A Cornish Secret


Be careful what you kiss for…

Esme Posorsky is an enigma. For as long as people can remember, she has been part of community life in the quaint Cornish fishing village of Tremarnock, but does anyone really know her? She is usually to be found working in her pottery studio or at home with her beloved cat, Rasputin. But when an old school friend turns up with a secret from the past, nothing will ever be the same again.

Meanwhile teenager, Rosie, is excited to find a bottle washed up on Tremarnock beach with a message from a former German prisoner of war. While the rest of the village is up in arms about a new housing development, she sets out to find him. Little does she know, however, that her discovery will unleash a shocking chain of events that threatens to blow her family apart. Tremarnock may look like a cosy backwater, but some of its residents are about to come face-to-face with tough decisions and cold reality…

Published by Aria, A Cornish Secret is available for purchase on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play.

About Emma Burstall

Burstall_Emma Burstall©Anna McCarthy_400pxh

Emma Burstall was a newspaper journalist in Devon and Cornwall before becoming a full time author. Tremarnock, the first novel in her series set in a delightful Cornish village, was published in 2015 and became a top-10 bestseller.

You can find Emma on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @EmmaBurstall.  Emma has a smashing author website and there’s more with these other bloggers too:

A Cornish Secret blog tour banner

Staying in with Mark Brownless

Finished THOAA Cover 2

Thanks to the lovely Sam Missingham of Lounge Marketing I ‘met’ Mark Brownless online and am delighted to welcome him here to Linda’s Book Bag today to stay in with me and tell me about one of his books.

Staying in with Mark Brownless

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

Hi Linda, thanks very much for inviting me to stay in with you. I hope you don’t mind, but I thought I’d cook – love your kitchen by the way – so I will need to keep an eye on the risotto bubbling away on the stove. Do you fancy a glass of red?

(Sadly I’ll have to decline the red – me and ordinary wine don’t get on these days but I’ll have a glass of prosecco whilst I watch you cooking. I love a risotto so the kitchen is all yours.)

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

New wrap-around cover - final - final - adjusted margins for Createspace - final

I only have one novel to bring with me, although this weekend sees the second of my Robin Hood short story series available on Amazon. My debut novel, The Hand of an Angel, is a psychological medical thriller. It started life as a conversation about déjà vu between two strong-willed clinicians in a hospital and evolved from there.

(Ooo. I love a psychological thriller. Sounds a fascinating premise for a narrative Mark.)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Hand of an Angel

I really want people to get immersed in the lives of my main characters, Cardiologist Tom Boy and and his wife Sarah, to feel part of their family, and to enjoy spending time with them. Reading James Herbert’s The Magic Cottage when I was a kid – must be about thirty years ago now, wow – I just loved reading about the daily lives of the main characters, and would have been quite happy to continue to read about that and not have the story evolve to pull the rug out from under them. This is what I want from The Hand of an Angel – you like the characters but know that it’s all about to go wrong. Hang on I need to stir the risotto…

(Eek – get a move on with that stirring – I want to know more!)

In the book, Tom has heard a lot of similar stories about patients having near-death experiences before he’s managed to bring them back to life, and he becomes obsessed with what happens to the body and mind on the brink of death. He designs a scientific experiment where his own heart will be stopped and his body monitored as he ‘dies’ and experiences the afterlife for himself before his team resuscitate him. The plan is unpopular with his hospital and the press, and the pressure mounts for him to abort the plan. Tom goes ahead with the experiment regardless and on experiment day sees things that nobody ever should and still come back to tell the tale. Tom’s heart is stopped for far too long, however, and he almost goes beyond the point of no return before his colleagues manage to bring him back.

(Wow. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try that.)

Afterwards, Tom isn’t the same person. Maybe his experience has been so profound that it has changed him forever, but maybe the lack of oxygen to his brain has changed his personality. As for Tom, he starts seeing things – a shadow in the corner of his vision, a strange hooded figure that starts to appear to him, and he feels like he’s not alone.

Beyond that is spoiler territory, but all I’ll say is that the book is about perception and how we view reality – so everything may not be quite as it seems.

(What an introduction. I HAVE to add The Hand of an Angel to my TBR now. It sounds a cracker of a book.)

What else have you brought along and why?

Well, that’s very good timing, because the risotto’s ready! Hope you like it, and I hope you note I did leave some pans unused in the making of dinner!


(Thanks Mark. This is really tasty – though you are a bit of a messy cook aren’t you?)

Risotto is a staple of our house, and food is a significant part of The Hand of an Angel. I think it came from reading Patricia Cornwall’s Scarpetta books, where she cooks a lot, but usually when she’s upset or angry – it’s like therapy for her. I almost wanted to have this idealistic homely environment, where the family come together and cook. It’s where the grown-ups can actually get together and talk about their day, where they can have the chance to get together with the kids and do things as a family. Food is the glue that helps bring this family together for the reader.

(Don’t let my husband hear you say that. He does all the cooking these days and he might want me to help!)

Witch or young woman

I’ve said that the book does tend to question reality, and how you perceive things. So what I’ve also brought along, for a bit of fun, are some optical illusions. Have a look and tell me what you see. The first is an image of either a very old woman or a young lady.

(I always find this one a tricky image. My brain switches between the two pictures all the time.)


The second is surrealist, Igor Lysenko’s picture – what do you see here?

(Well initially I thought it was Oscar Wilde! I’ve never seen this one before.)


And finally, for a bit of fun, and just to see how people’s minds work, what do you see?

(It’s a notebook of course. What else could it be…)

Thanks so much for staying in with me Mark, doing all the cooking and telling me about The Hand of an Angel. I truly think it sounds fabulous.

Thank you so much for having me, and for not making me stay to do the washing up!

I’m only letting you off this once!

The Hand of An Angel

Finished THOAA Cover 2

Devoted family man and respected cardiologist Tom Boyand is obsessed with the near-death experiences of his patients. An obsession that leaves him dead on a table with his colleagues battling desperately to resuscitate him.

But Tom has pushed the limits of the experiment too far and he’s gone for too long, seeing more of the other side than anyone before.

They get him back but he isn’t the same person. And he’s not alone.

The Hand of an Angel is a shattering medical thriller with a heart-stopping climax.

The Hand of an Angel is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

About Mark Brownless

mark B

Mark Brownless lives and works in Carmarthen, West Wales. He has been putting ideas on paper for some years now but only when the idea for The Hand of an Angel came to him in the autumn of 2015 did he know he might be able to write a book. Mark likes to write about ordinary people being placed in extraordinary circumstances, is fascinated by unexplained phenomena, and enjoys merging thriller, science fiction and horror.

Mark is also fascinated by myths and legends such as those of Robin Hood and King Arthur. This has culminated in the release of his short story series, Locksley, a Robin Hood story, which will have new volumes added each month.

You can find out more by following Mark on Twitter @MarkBrownless, visiting his website or finding him on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

mark Brownless tour poster

Staying in with Evie Gaughan


I recently reviewed (here) the lovely book The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan so I am thrilled that Evie is joining me as part of the book’s launch celebrations to tell me more about it.

Staying in with Evie Gaughan

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

Thanks for having me Linda! I love a good night in, especially with a book.

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


So this evening I have chosen my new book, The Story Collector. Steeped in magical realism, this is a story that is very close to my heart, as it is full of Irish folklore and myth – a bit of a love letter to the past. Hope you enjoy!

(I did indeed and my review is right here!)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Story Collector?

The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly’. All of my stories are woven with threads of the supernatural, pulling the reader into a world of pure escapism. This story is set in the village of Thornwood in the early 1900s; a quiet, rural community where nothing much happens until a young American scholar arrives to study the Celtic belief in fairies. There, he meets Anna, a young woman who has her own reasons for wanting to find The Good People and so she agrees to help him translate the stories they gather from the locals. One hundred years later, Sarah Harper discovers Anna’s diary and the secrets that lie therein. Naturally, trouble ensues, but I won’t give anymore away!

What else have you brought along and why? 

Music, there has to be music! I know some writers don’t like any sound at all while they write, but I’ve always used music to help me connect with my characters, time and place. I created a playlist of traditional Irish folk music by contemporary artists. There’s a beautiful Irish lullaby that I use in the book, all about keeping a child safe from the fairies. Sung by Róisín Elsafty, it’s utterly spellbinding and blog readers can listen to it here.

Butler’s Cottage is almost like another character in the book. I actually based it on my grandparents’ home, where I used to spend summer holidays with my family. They had a farm and I always remember having such a sense of freedom when we went there – jumping on hay bales and playing with the animals. When I’m not writing, I love to paint and while this might not be the exact cottage, this painting certainly represents the whimsical nature of the place.

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(That’s just beautiful Evie and I think it captures the spirit of Butler’s Cottage so well. I take it that’s Cnoc na Sí in the background!)

When it comes to drinks, I’m a hot chocolate fanatic! I think there’s nothing nicer than to curl up with a book and a rich, intense, chocolatey drink. Cream, marshmallows, the works! Although I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a cup of tea and a Tunnocks Tea Cake (just sayin’).


(I’ll put the kettle on – it’s always tea time in this house. Help yourself to a Tunnocks whilst you wait for it to brew.)

Thanks so much for being here Evie. I so enjoyed reading The Story Collector and I’ve loved finding out more about it.

I’ve loved chatting with you Linda, it’s been such a treat to share some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ inspirations for my writing. Keep serving up the teacakes and I’ll be back!

You’re welcome any time!

The Story Collector


A beautiful and mysterious tale from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris.

Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English.
But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life…

Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.

The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell.

The Story Collector is available for purchase here.

About Evie Gaughan


Evie Gaughan is the bestselling author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris.

Living on the West Coast of Ireland, which is not renowned for its sunny climate, Evie escapes from the inclement weather into a converted attic to write stories and dream about underfloor heating. Growing up in a walled medieval city, she developed her love of storytelling and all things historical. Her books tread the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly – but always with an Irish woman’s wit. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, her stories are full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell.

When not writing, she also works as an artist, creating stories on canvas.

You can follow Evie on Twitter @evgaughan, find her on Facebook and visit her website. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Tour poster

Timmy on the Toilet by Peta Lemon

Timmy on the Toilet

Earlier this year I reviewed the children’s book The Fed-Up Cow by Peta Lemon and absolutely loved it. You can see my review here. When Peta got in touch to ask if I would like another of her books, Timmy on the Toilet, in return for an honest review, I simply couldn’t resist.

Timmy on the Toilet is available for purchase here.

Timmy on the Toilet

Timmy on the Toilet

Timmy is walking to school one day and saves a fairy in distress. He is granted a wish but accidentally wishes that he could fly whilst sitting on the toilet at school.

Join Timmy on his adventures flying on the toilet and find out what happens when the fairy grants him another wish for looking so daft!

My Review of Timmy on the Toilet

If you’re granted a wish by a fairy, you’d better be careful where and when you use it!

Timmy on the Toilet is such a brilliant children’s book. There’s fabulous humour as Timmy flies around the town (complete with bare bottom) and children will find both the story and illustrations very funny and very entertaining. Timmy on the Toilet could be read independently by children or as a smashing story to share. I can envisage families bonding brilliantly as they giggle over Timmy’s adventures.

Just like Peta Lemon’s The Fed-Up Cow, Timmy on the Toilet has the perfect balance of text to fabulous illustration so that there’s real value in exploring all the wonderful details in the pictures. I particularly loved the facial expressions on the faces of the people Timmy flies past.

I loved the adventures Timmy has whilst welded to the loo and there’s a great plot which is exciting and extremely well resolved too. The underlying theme that the way we behave has consequences is woven into the narrative so cleverly. Timmy helps the fairy and so is rewarded with his wish, whereas the teacher Mrs Grobble is so nasty she gets what she deserves.

However, for me, the best aspect of Timmy on the Toilet is the brilliant way Peta Lemon uses language. Pitch perfect for children to be able to access, there’s a natural rhyme scheme that extends spelling and vocabulary effortlessly as children encounter homophones and smashing onomatopoeia.

I think Timmy on the Toilet is an absolutely brilliant children’s book. if you haven’t yet encountered Peta Lemon as a children’s author I recommend you do so immediately.

About Peta Lemon


Peta Lemon is the author of beautifully illustrated children’s picture books, published under the imprint Quirky Picture Press.

Her books are always funny, written in rhyme and illustrated by Maria Dasic Todoric.

An Interview with Rufus Purdy, Founder of Write Here…

Write Here

It’s a little bit different here on Linda’s Book Bag today as I’m welcoming Rufus Purdy along to be interviewed all about his brand new venture of services for authors, Write Here…. Given that I may just finish my own novel one day, I thought it would be fun to see what Rufus has to say!

An Interview with Rufus Purdy

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Rufus.

Thank you! It’s a pleasure to be here.

I understand you’ve recently established Write Here… Could you tell us a bit about that please?

Well, I set up Write Here… because I wanted to offer high-quality, affordable creative writing courses to aspiring authors across the UK.

(Now that sounds like something I might need!)

Each of our courses is taught by a published novelist and, over 12, two-hour sessions, they’ll take students through the most important aspects of novel-writing – giving them everything they need to properly focus on and complete their manuscript – as well as leading workshops in which students’ own novels-in-progress will be looked at in detail. The tutor will also give each student a dedicated, one-to-one tutorial.

I see the Write Here… courses as the antithesis of expensive MA creative writing programmes. I don’t think people need to spend thousands of pounds to be subjected to an academic approach to writing – and no one needs a qualification to be able to write a novel others want to read.

(Oh. I think that might be quite a controversial approach given how many writers do take MA courses!)

Why have you chosen to offer creative writing courses across the UK?

One reason is that, in most UK cities, writers in need of support only have the option of an expensive MA course or a writing group down the local library – taught by someone who’s never written anything publishable in their lives, and open to absolutely anybody. I want to offer serious writers a space in which they can work with other authors of a similar ability, and be guided by a writing professional.

The other reason is that I worked for years running high-quality courses in London – and, though what we were giving writers was a wonderful package, it often felt to me as though we were only attracting applications from well-off people in London and the Home Counties. As a Northerner, this always irked me. So I decided I wanted to find exciting new voices in fiction who, until now, been excluded from courses such as these for geographical and financial reasons. That’s why our courses only cost a third of their equivalents in London.

(As someone living in darkest Lincolnshire with around £60 a go to travel to London, with petrol, parking – £13.50 before I even get on a train –  and rail and Tube fares, I can appreciate that!)

What can prospective or aspiring writers like me expect from one of your courses?

You can expect to be part of a small group of dedicated, like-minded writers – all supporting you in your quest to write a novel that will appeal to literary agents and publishers. Our courses are selective, so only the 15 strongest applicants will be awarded places. This sounds harsh – but I firmly believe writers are far more likely to improve and hone their skills when working at a high level in a group of equally talented authors. You can also expect to have a two-hour session with a literary agent or publisher, and be able to ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted about the publishing industry, from how big is an author’s advance (how long is a piece of string?) to what are agents and publishers looking for (original voices, great stories).

(This sounds great.)

What about established authors – do you have anything for them too?

Established authors are welcome to apply for the Write Here… courses – though, by the very nature of their jobs, they usually already have access to readers they can trust to make comments on their work and improve it. Away from the writing courses, we also offer a range of editorial services for novelists – from full editorial reports to help with preparing a synopsis, covering letter and first few chapters to submit to literary agents.

(I often think the hard work can begin after the initial first draft is written actually Rufus.)

Regular Linda’s Book Bag readers know that I keep saying I WILL finish my novel and almost everyone who doesn’t write tells me anyone can do it so I must be able to. We all have a book in us. What would your response be to that idea?

I agree that everyone’s got a book in them – in that we all have at least one great story to tell. What everyone hasn’t got in them, though, is the self-discipline and work ethic required to write something as huge as a novel.

(Ah! I think you might just have uncovered my own problem!)

And, even after years of working in the publishing industry, I’m still in awe of anyone who’s able to take that challenge on and complete it. Most aspiring authors are writing on their own, with perhaps only their partner or best friend to share their work with and bounce ideas off. And that’s why finding a group of like-minded writers to encourage you and get you through those times when you think everything you’ve written is terrible and you’re just going to give up is absolutely essential.

(Good point!)

What top three tips would you give to new or aspiring writers?

My first tip would be to keep on reading. Don’t stop devouring the work of other writers just because you’re trying to concentrate on your own book, for nothing will inspire you more than appreciating others’ craft.

My second would be to write every day – and find a time and space in which you can do that.

My third tip? Don’t get disheartened. You’re in it for the long-haul, so there are going to be times when you lose belief in yourself and the story you’re telling. Just step away from it for a while, let yourself get a bit of perspective and work out new ways to approach the problem you’ve encountered.

(That sounds excellent, and achievable, advice Rufus.)

Is there anything else we should know about Write Here…?

Our first round of courses are beginning this September – and they’ll be taking place in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and my hometown Sheffield. So if you live anywhere near those wonderful cities, please do check us out. I should say, too, that the authors who are teaching the courses are absolutely brilliant. I wish I could be at all of the sessions, just to soak up their writing wisdom.

(Nottingham is closest to me…)

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Rufus. I think Write Here… sounds a really interesting approach.

No problem. It’s been fun. Thanks for having me.

About Rufus Purdy


Rufus began his career dressed as a giant banana (complete with yellow tights), handing flyers to tourists outside Covent Garden tube station. Desperate for a job that would give him some dignity, he went into publishing and – after a spell working on financial directories – he landed the position of Junior Sub-editor at Harper’s Bazaar. A spell at Condé Nast Traveller reawakened a love of seeing the world and, after an enjoyable spell as a sub-editor-for-hire, he became Associate Editor at Psychologies, where he combined the Chief Sub’s role with that of Travel Editor. As editor of Family Traveller magazine, he was shortlisted for Launch of the Year at the 2014 BSME Awards.

You can follow Rufus on Twitter @RufusPurdy.

About Write Here…

Write Here

Write Here… offers high-quality, affordable creative writing courses in cities throughout the UK and also offers a range of editorial services for novelists – both published and yet-to-be-published.

You’ll find Write Here… on Facebook and Twitter @WriteHereUK. Visit the Write Here… website for more details.