Staying in with Paul Rimmasch

Fingerprints.pn

Anyone who knows me also knows I am a complete wimp and don’t read anything that might scare me. As a result I have asked Paul Rimmasch to stay in with me to tell me about one of his books to see if he can change my mind and encourage me to be afraid!

Staying in with Paul Rimmasch

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Paul and 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?

Fingerprints.pn

I brought my new book, Fingerprints and Phantoms: True Tales of Law Enforcement Encounters with the Paranormal and the Strange. I chose this book because it is an ideal summer read. The anthology format makes it perfect for quick literary snacks between dips at the pool. The chilling stories it contains are impeccably suited for sharing on those long summer nights on the patio or around the campfire.

(Ah. The pool I can deal with. Chilling stories might take a bit more persuasion!)

What can we expect from an evening in with Fingerprints and Phantoms: True Tales of Law Enforcement Encounters with the Paranormal and the Strange?

The reader can expect a collection of creepy and/or strange stories that have happened to myself or other law enforcement professionals. The chapters also include a healthy dose of law enforcement insider talk. As one reviewer on Amazon put it, “An excellent collection of paranormal stories that leave you inching a little closer to the light as you turn each page. This book was a perfect mix of terror, intrigue and a touch of humor.”

(Eek! Terror you say? I think Fingerprints and Phantoms sounds brilliant. I might just have to brace myself and dive in…)

What else have you brought along and why? 

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I have brought with me a picture of my trusty magnetic fingerprint powder brush in action. This tool has been with me through many years of looking for “fingerprints” and had probably seen its share of “phantoms” along the way!

That looks amazing! Thanks so much for staying in with me this evening Paul. I’m still not entirely convinced I’m brave enough to read all of Fingerprints and Phantoms: True Tales of Law Enforcement Encounters with the Paranormal and the Strange, but I’ll give it a go!

Fingerprints and Phantoms:

True Tales of Law Enforcement Encounters with the Paranormal and the Strange

Fingerprints.pn

In a profession dominated by logic, law, evidence, and science, are there some things you can’t explain?

Join a veteran crime scene investigator exploring 26 chilling experiences spanning two decades. His true stories will leave you wondering if it is a criminal, or something else, going bump in the night.

Meet a young girl who receives a visit from her mother…the day after her mother is murdered.

Find out whether spirits follow those investigating their deaths home . . . and then stay.

Discover whether it is possible for someone who is not dead to be haunting his own office, and investigate a child’s toy telephone acting as a link to the other side.

Can you believe in something incredible?

This collection of strange and frightening tales is perfect for any campfire experience!

Fingerprints and Phantoms: True Tales of Law Enforcement Encounters with the Paranormal and the Strange is published by Schiffer Books and is available for purchase here.

About Paul Rimmasch

Paul

Paul Rimmasch graduated from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science and a minor in Photography. He has worked as a crime scene investigator for Weber-Metro CSI for the past 19 years and is a three-time recipient of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office Medal of Merit. Paul has certifications through The International Association for Investigations in latent fingerprint examination and forensic photography.

Paul’s first novel, The Lost Stones, was published in 2011, followed by a sequel The Lost Mine in 2015. Paul has also published scientific papers in The Journal of Forensic Identification and Ancient American magazine, and is also a contributing writer to KSL.com. He is an adjunct professor at Weber State University and is active in the training of law enforcement officers and crime scene investigators.

A Single Journey by Frankie McGowan

A Single Journey

My enormous thanks to Hannah Groves at Endeavour Media for sending me a copy of A Single Journey by Frankie McGowan in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to have my review to share with you today. Even better though, I’m so pleased that Frankie McGowan has agreed to stay in with me and tell me a bit more about the book.

A Single Journey is available for purchase here.

A Single Journey

A Single Journey

Harriet has begun to despair of her life.

With a failed relationship behind her, a business on the rocks and a flat that’s falling apart around her ears, she could really use some luck.

Elena Banbury, née Guseva, an elderly but imposing Russian woman who is Harriet’s neighbour and landlady, frequently entertains the punters at Harriet’s jewellery stall with tales of the palaces of St. Petersburg and the treasures of Fabergé. But Harriet sometimes feels, guiltily, that she could do without the endless errands that seem to fall to her as Elena’s friend.

Then, unexpectedly, when Elena dies, she leaves all her worldly goods to a grateful Harriet. In time, however, it becomes clear that others are shocked by Harriet’s good luck, too. Shocked… and very, very unhappy.

Challenged in court by Elena’s family who live in Berlin, Harriet is forced to give up her inheritance and long-dreamed-of plans for a new business, and start her life again. But with her reputation in tatters and the memory of Elena tainted, Harriet knows a great injustice has been done.

Against the advice of her friends, family and lawyers, Harriet sets off on her own, very singular journey to Berlin.

In the weeks that follow she meets rich and poor, the glamorous and the criminal, the honest and the secretive, and begins to see that perhaps she has something to learn from them all. Something to learn about herself, and something to learn about her priorities.

She knows she has to fight for justice. But, when she meets the scholarly, perceptive Neil, who generously tries to help Harriet in her mission, but who is struggling with a complicated marriage, she must also decide if she’ll fight for love, too.

A Single Journey is a compelling and lively story, combining colourful characters with a page-turning plot and romantic highs and lows.

Staying in with Frankie McGowan

I’m delighted to welcome you to Linda’s Book Bag Frankie. I’m delighted you’re here. I think I know the answer but which book have you brought along this evening?

A Single Journey

I’ve brought A Single Journey, my latest novel, which was the only book out of the dozen or so I’ve written that took me well out of my comfort zone while researching it.  I went from mugging up on antique jewellery, to understanding the lives of women in Berlin in the aftermath of the Second World War. I became incapable of knowing where to cast off, even when it strayed completely from the point of my story.  History had taught me about the dreadful atrocities that took place at that time, but it needs to be a book on its own, so who knows? Maybe one day.

(Well if A Single Journey is anything to go by, I can’t wait for that one Frankie.)

Between you and me, Linda, fairly early on during the writing phase, I was so annoyed when I realised I would have to delete a whole irrelevant chapter along with all that research, I was forced to eat practically my bodyweight in Galaxy to get me through.  Well, I say forced, but you know what I mean…

(I do indeed! And actually, I can offer you another square or two now if you like. There’s always ’emergency’ chocolate available in this house!)

I know the answer as I’ve already read it, but what can those who haven’t expect from an evening in with A Single Journey?

First of course, I’m just really hoping that readers will find it interesting enough to read to the last full stop.

(Oh they will! I speak from experience!)

My first reaction to a good review is always one of relief to know that I haven’t been wasting their time. Frankly I genuinely think readers who bother to write and tell me, or post a review online – and I take all their points really seriously – are so nice, actually trying to adopt them has crossed my mind.  Although perhaps not the one who thought his pet dog had a greater grasp on writing than me – only it turned out when he sent me an apologetic email, that he’d meant it for someone else.  But still it gave me a nasty turn I can tell you! However, I’m still basking in the view of that brilliant thriller writer, Lisa Hall, who said that A Single Journey was: ‘the perfect epic holiday read’.  Excuse me a mo, Linda, need to jump up and down again.

(I bet you do! I might join in actually – if we’re going to keep eating all that chocolate we need to burn off some calories!)

But I also hope that in reading A Single Journey, readers will discover the more sobering fact that often the law has very little to do with justice.  Take Harriet, my heroine, making just enough money to get by,  but in no way able to raise the funds needed to pay lawyers to challenge the ambitions of a very rich – actually obscenely rich – man. She has no choice but to rely on her wits, good friends and a burning sense of injustice to have any hope of competing with his money and power to succeed.  Frankly, I think buying Belgium would be cheaper.

Now, I’d vote for anyone who can find a way to make sure that money, now matter how empty or deep their pockets, is not necessarily the winner, when it comes to the price of justice.

(I loved this aspect of the novel actually. I hate injustice and felt quite enraged at times…)

Finally, so far I’ve never written a straightforward romance because, to be honest, I’m not sure I’m all that romantic myself.  Well, especially not after that business last Christmas when I mistakenly thought the host was gripped with indigestion when it turned out he was trying to come on to the woman sitting next to him, and, truly concerned, I asked him if he was feeling alright. Very awkward that.

(Oops!)

The problem is, I’m not good at writing when it comes to the smouldering looks department, so I long ago decided to leave it to others in the Pulitzer class to do it convincingly and believably. These days I feel more comfortable with more realistic heroes who tend to have flaws. Neil, for example, in A Single Journeyis a Maths professor who knows more about right angles than romance and is constantly concerned for his health.

(He’s still a hero though!)

The truth is though, I do thoroughly enjoy reading romance – big classics like Jane Eyre or Persuasion – and I would have added Gone with the Wind only where to find the time? – are re-reads for me, but I find it difficult – and don’t think I haven’t tried – to write a convincing description of anyone who is apparently capable of making the knees of every woman within reach of his chiselled jaw and manly chest turn to rubble and –  sorry, Linda, laughing so much at such an image, I can’t finish that sentence!

(Ha! My hero is Bryan Ferry and I don’t think his chest is especially manly! Have another square of Galaxy whilst you compose yourself and I’ll ask another question.)

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

wine

Well a good Merlot – of course.

Atticus

But I wouldn’t mind having Atticus Finch along to share a glass.  No, he doesn’t exist, but I’ve just watched To Kill a Mockingbird again, and wonder how he might have dealt with Harriet’s dilemma. Not to mention a few other current cases in court. However, having enjoyed the decades old movie – I know, I know, I should have been writing –   I might well have got him muddled up with Gregory Peck, you can’t be too careful with me.  Anyway, I’m sure either way we’d find both gentlemen compelling.

(Oh yes indeed. And he has a touch of Bryan Ferry about him don’t you think…)

fan

Also, this Edwardian fan with hand painted roses and butterflies, sequins and lace.  I saw one just like it while I was wandering around antique markets researching A Single Journey, dead cheap too it was, when you think what fans can go for. But I dithered, and then when I went back a few days later, it was gone.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I saw this one online, and for a moment thought it was the same one I’d seen all those months ago. It wasn’t, but it is as near as dammit.

(A lesson there then. Get it whilst you can…)

Having just finished A Single Journey and still full of Elena Guseva – who would, I know, have had several more ornate and covetable fans – I bought it anyway from a lovely lady called Hannah at QuaintlyQuirky and love it.

(And I know Hannah has posted all about the fan and A Single Journey on her Instagram page too!)

Thank you so much for staying in with me Frankie. I’ve loved hearing more about A Single Journey because I so enjoyed reading it. In fact, here’s my review so you can see what I thought…

My Review of A Single Journey

Harriet’s business is about to be scuppered and just when she thinks life can’t get much worse – it does!

Well. I was not expecting that! From the blurb and the cover I was anticipating reading a perfectly pleasant, chick-lit style, novel that I would enjoy and then forget. How wrong could I be? A Single Journey has a depth, substance and, above all, a corker of a plot I simply wasn’t expecting.

I so enjoyed this novel. Firstly, I found Frankie McGowan’s style really engaging. She uses such a brilliant range of sentences and her syntax is is quite unique so that direct speech feels natural and real. I thoroughly appreciated the way in which her descriptions are woven throughout the narrative so that they provide vivid images without ever feeling forced. I loved being transported to Berlin.

Harriet is such a well defined character. She’s flawed, frequently behaves impetuously and rashly, and makes decisions that the rest of us can see are going to cause her problems but we are still with her all the way. It seems somewhat exaggerated to say I respected her but it’s true. She is so much more than an author’s words on the page. I found her to be the kind of woman I’d like to be friends with.

And actually, that’s true of the whole novel. A Single Journey offers so much more than a mere story, albeit a cracking one at that. There’s mystery and intrigue, romance and menace, loyalty and vengeance – far more than I had imagined when I first began reading. The underpinning theme of violent relationships is magnificently handled. Whilst it forms the glue holding the narrative together, it is never overdone so that Frankie McGowan has produced a totally believable and all the more realistic story as a result.

A Single Journey was not the book I expected to read. I was completely absorbed in the story, the people and the themes. I didn’t want to stop reading and was completely entertained. I think it would make a corker of a film or television series and I’m so glad I have had the opportunity to read it.

About Frankie McGowan

Frankie

My career began on teenage magazines before joining Fleet Street writing features for among others, The Sunday Times, The Times, The Daily Mail, Sunday Mirror (where I was an assistant editor and columnist).

Later as a magazine editor and while bringing up Tom and Amy, my now grown up children I launched and edited New Woman and Top Sante before switching to writing the first of my novels. My short stories have been published in a variety of magazines, including You, (Mail on Sunday) Women’s Own, Home and Life, Image (Ireland), Redbook (US) The Lady and Woman’s Weekly.

You can find out more on Frankie’s website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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Scottish Allure: A Guest Post by Maggie Christensen, Author of Isobel’s Promise

Isobel's Promise Cover MEDIUM WEB

I’m delighted to welcome back Maggie Christensen to Linda’s Book Bag. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Maggie on publication day for The Good Sister in a post you can read here.  Then, when I began my ‘staying in with…’ posts. Maggie kindly agreed to come along and tell me about another of her books, Champagne for Breakfast in a post you’ll find here.

With Maggie’s latest book Isobel’s Promise released earlier this month I wondered what it was that drew Maggie to set part of her story in Scotland and luckily she agreed to tell me in today’s guest post.

Isobel’s Promise is available for purchase here and there is a smashing trailer you can see here.

Isobel’s Promise

Isobel's Promise Cover MEDIUM WEB

A promise for the future. A threat from the past. Can Bel find happiness?

Back in Sydney after her aunt’s death, sixty-five year-old Bel Davison is making plans to sell up her home and business and return to Scotland where she has promised to spend the rest of her life with the enigmatic Scotsman with whom she’s found love.

But the reappearance of her ex-husband combined with other unexpected drawbacks turns her life into chaos, leading her to have doubts about the wisdom of her promise.

In Scotland, Matt Reid has no such doubts, and although facing challenges of his own, he longs for Bel’s return.

But when an unexpected turn of events leads him to question Bel’s sincerity, Matt decides to take a drastic step – the result of which he could never have foreseen.

Can this midlife couple find happiness in the face of the challenges life has thrown at them?

A sequel to The Good Sister, Isobel’s Promise continues the story of Bel and Matt which began in Scotland.

Scottish Allure

A Guest Post by Maggie Christensen

When I left Scotland for Australia in my mid-twenties, I never thought that, fifty years later, I’d still be here. I loved Scotland and thought that a two-year stint on the other side of the world would satisfy my wanderlust and I’d return to live in the land of my birth and perhaps even find the little cottage on Loch Lomond that I pictured myself living in.

But it wasn’t to be. After two years I wasn’t ready to return and, after many trips back ‘home’ to visit family and friends, in 1980 I and my American-born husband took out Australian citizenship. I was here to stay.

But, as they say, you can take the girl out of Scotland, but you can’t take Scotland out of the girl. And I’ll always have a soft spot for what is still my native land.

I have fond memories of youth-hostelling in the highlands, of walking up the side of Loch Lomond, hiking across Rannoch Moor, and evading the midges on summer evenings.

From my student days in Glasgow, I remember drinking in pubs on Byres Road on lazy afternoons, moving my student lodgings every year from tiny rooms to large shared houses, walking in Kelvin Park on long summer evenings, and queuing for the cinema on Saturday nights.

As a younger child, my memories are of playing peever in the backyard, eating Edinburgh rock, drinking IrnBru and collecting bees in jars during the summer holidays that seemed to last forever.

But not all memories are pleasant ones. I don’t miss the cold and snow which always gave me chilblains, the icy pavements I skidded on when I was hurrying to work, or the seemingly constant light rain which made my hair frizz.

It strange to me now that, when I started writing fiction, it didn’t immediately occur to me to set my books in Scotland. But when a reader asked me why I hadn’t, I suddenly realised that I had a wealth of memories to draw on – of places I knew and loved and could visit again, albeit virtually through my writing.

So, a couple of years ago, I decided to give one of the minor characters in my book, Broken Threads, an old aunt in Scotland. This was prompted by the passing of an aunt of mine who would call me every year on my birthday and, in her thick Scottish accent, ask ‘Do you know who this is, Margaret?’

Broken Threads

While Bel’s Aunt Isobel is not modelled on this aunt – she’s modelled on another one – she became the basis for my first Scottish novel, The Good Sister, which was published last year. I loved writing that book so much. As I wrote the places of my childhood and teenage years came alive for me again and it was as if I was back there – in Scotland. Even words and phrases I hadn’t heard for years came back into my mind as I wrote.

The Good Sister

It was inevitable that I would continue Bel and Matt’s journey in Isobel’s Promise. Writing this book took me back to Scotland again, to the beautiful Loch Lomond where Matt lives, to the Glasgow of my student days – Byres Road, the pubs, now much gentrified and into the heart of the city whose renaissance I had first researched while writing The Good Sister.

While I’ll never go back to Scotland to live, I will set more books there. It’s too tempting a prospect to once again steep myself in the countryside I still love and to bring back memories that I’d all but forgotten. While Scotland may be a world away from where I live on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I can open my computer and be there in a flash – enjoy the scenery, hear the dialect, and visit all my favourite places with my characters.

(And not only have you made us want to read your books, Maggie, but you’ve made me want to visit Scotland.)

About Maggie Christensen

maggie

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them.

From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound.

A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.

You can follow Maggie on Twitter @MaggieChriste33, find her on Facebook and visit her website. You’ll also find Maggie on Goodreads.

Staying in with Ian Kennedy

Florida Station - Broken Cosmos - Ian Kennedy

A genre I very rarely feature on Linda’s Book Bag is sci-fi and so I’m determined to put right that omission. With that in mind, I’ve invited Ian Kennedy to stay in with me today to tell me about one of his books!

Staying in with Ian Kennedy

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Ian and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Thanks for allowing me this opportunity!

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

Florida Station - Broken Cosmos - Ian Kennedy

I have brought along my first book which is the start of my sci-fi trilogy. It’s called Florida Station: Broken Cosmos Volume One. It has been self-published on Amazon for a few months now. In fact, the entire trilogy is up on Amazon all at once. I chose this book as it was my debut novel. I am constantly writing new work, but this started it all.

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I’m not particularly au fait with sci-fi so what can we expect from an evening in with Florida Station?

The best way to describe the Broken Cosmos trilogy and Florida Station would be to expect a dystopian cyberpunk space opera. It’s quite a mouthful, but it sums it up nicely. Each book flows into the next and it is more one story in three volumes rather than three separate books.

(This sounds interesting. Tell me more.)

The novel deals with the dangers of belief, addiction, and propaganda. It also deals with what it is to be a good person, mental health and the costs of war. It also looks at the danger of letting technology become all controlling in the process of zetting (a term I made up to describe the process of logging one’s consciousness into a computer and debugging the system with one’s mind.)

(I think I could do with a bit of zetting myself Ian actually!)

I’ll continue with someone else’s words. This is part of a review from someone on Amazon:

This book was a blast to read, the basic storyline follows three major characters as they struggle to survive in a dystopian future that’s both fascinating and bizarre. Their struggles are engaging in a sophisticated way — there are no heroes here, just humans scrabbling for existence. And although there are conflicts with physical enemies (i.e., other humans), the internal conflicts (addiction, suicide, loneliness) were much more moving, and were explored thoughtfully.

The world Kennedy has created is a post-apocalyptic one — humanity has achieved spaceflight, but only to the edges of our own solar system. In many ways though, humanity has become vastly ignorant and deeply superstitious, both tribal and violent. There are some fun flourishes here — religion has changed in ways that are both recognizable and grotesque. It’s a low technology world — no hyperdrives or ansibles or “beam me up Scotty” here, just a grim struggle for survival.

And finally the writing — there’s startling emotional resonance in places, where the book was really moving. And I loved the description of zetting — as a computer programmer by profession, I got a real kick out of that part!” – Ying Xiao

(That must have made your day – what a smashing review.)

What else have you brought along and why?

I have brought along YouTube.

(Eh? The whole of YouTube?)

Bear with me, please. I love writing, and I find inspiration from all over, but I love to write to music. I just find that if I put on some music while I write things just flow. My favourite type of music for writing is most forms of electronic music especially trance music. It just lets me think and write easily.

There are some forms of music I cannot write to, particularly death metal. It is just too jarring. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes death metal is fine, but not for when I’m writing.

(Death metal is not for me – ever!)

Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, Dash Berlin, Deadmau5 and artists of the like are what I’m talking about. But I also like listening to rock-ish style music like Placebo, Muse or Yellowcard.

It’s difficult to describe but if the music is right, the words will flow.

Unfortunately, I need silence to edit as I have to concentrate hard on what I have written. It is a shame, as I like listening to music. But the editing must be done!

(It must indeed! A crucial part of the writing process I think!)

Thanks so much for staying in with me and enlightening me about Sci-fi and Florida Station in particular Ian. All the very best with your writing.

Florida Station

Florida Station - Broken Cosmos - Ian Kennedy

It is the 26th century. Zetting is the process of debugging a computer system by inserting a needle into one’s skull and navigating the computer’s circuits with one’s consciousness. Zetting is addictive and dangerous, but a huge rush.

​Alfred is a zetter. He lives and works on the run-down Florida Station, a space station orbiting Jupiter, controlled by the Solar Solutions Corporation.

​Alfred uncovers evidence of a conspiracy during a zet. It leads him down a path that will endanger everything he holds dear as he figures out what is going wrong on Florida Station.

Draz is a scavenger on a destroyed Earth ruled over by the Collective Zone. She becomes caught up in a civil war that has raged for decades after she finds an ancient hard drive, while scavenging, that contains important plans. To put things right she has to fight for her survival in a hostile Solar System.

​Artisius, the captain of the merchant ship Green Dragon, must negotiate a passage between Solar Solutions and the Collective Zone, which are in a state of cold war. He is trying to make a not so honest living.

​Never underestimate the power, and the danger, of hope.

Florida Station is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.

About Ian Kennedy

Ian Kennedy - interview picture

Ian Kennedy is a new author. He has been published a number of times in the Flinders University Writers’ Journal. Ian has always enjoyed writing and while completing a law degree at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, he never stopped writing small pieces of fiction, particularly science fiction. The work in the law degree helps Ian construct persuasive dialogue and use language effectively.

Ian worked as a lawyer before turning to writing full time.

Ian has a passion for science fiction. With his debut science fiction space opera novels of the Broken Cosmos trilogy: Florida Station, Martian Flight, and Neptune’s War, Ian explores humanity, war, mental illness and what it is to survive in a hostile Solar System.

You can visit Ian’s website, follow him on Twitter @ikennedyauthor and find him on Facebook.

Staying in with Lizella Prescott

unicorn

Here on Linda’s Book Bag I’m really rather partial to a psychological thriller so it gives me very great pleasure to stay in with Lizella Prescott today as she has a new psychological thriller out.

Staying in with Lizella Prescott

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Lizella. Thanks so much for staying in with me. What book have you brought to share and why have you chosen it?

unicorn

Thank you for inviting me to stop by! Because it’s a warm summer night and you might be feeling a little sleepy, I brought Killing the UnicornJust recently released, this psychological thriller will inject some life into this quiet evening at home. It has an unreliable narrator who will keep you guessing and lots of action at the end. It also touches on how power imbalances between men and women can distort relationships.

(Congratulations and a belated Happy Publication Day. I love an unreliable narrator so I’m very glad you’re here this evening with Killing the Unicorn.)

Tell me, what can we expect from an evening with Killing the Unicorn?

You can expect to feel a cool, creeping dread as you enter the story of Helen and Mann, a wealthy, late-thirtysomething couple in Silicon Valley who decide to open their marriage. While they seem like loving partners, you may get the queasy sense that something is wrong. Helen is still suffering PTSD from the traumatic delivery of her twins two years ago, and Mann is frustrated that she’d rather sleep or eat chocolate than be intimate with him.

When they bring Julia into their marriage, you may begin to question their judgment. Only twenty-four years old, Julia has a tragic back story and tries too hard to win the affection of the couple’s two-year-old daughters. She also does a few strange things that make Helen think she’s lying about her past and even engaging in risky behavior. However, because Helen enjoys her wine a bit too much, you will also wonder if her fears are all in her head, driven by her own demons rather than anything real.

If you’re not careful, you’ll stay up late trying to figure out what’s really going on.

(Wooo. I like the sound of Killing the Unicorn very much indeed.)

What else have you brought along and why?

pillow

I brought a soft pillow for when Mann and Helen’s dysfunctional antics make you want to hit something and a cup of soothing herbal tea to help you fall asleep, just as soon you’re ready to put the book down.

herbal tea

Given what you’ve told me about Killing the Unicorn, I can’t see me wanting to put down the book very quickly! Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it Lizella. Enjoy what’s left of your publication day.

Killing the Unicorn

unicorn

She inhabited my dull, threadbare marriage and made it into something glamorous and exciting. Gentle reader, I hated her…

A MODERN MARRIAGE

Since having twins, Helen has lost her waistline, her libido, and her edge. Mann, her wealthy, high-flying husband, has tried to be patient. But he needs more than she can give. A lot more.

When he asks to open their marriage, Helen reluctantly agrees. She would rather bend than risk a high-stakes divorce.

A DANGEROUS OBSESSION

When Mann connects with Julia, Helen is relieved. At first. She likes Julia, a gentle woman with a tragic history. But her husband is moving fast. Too fast. And a series of odd events unnerves Helen and makes her wonder if Julia is lying about her past…or worse.

Helen becomes obsessed with Julia even as she questions herself and her motives. To protect her children and her sanity, she is driven to discover the truth: is Julia a danger to her family, or is she?

Killing the Unicorn is available for purchase on your local Amazon site.

About Lizella Prescott

lizella

Lizella Prescott colours outside the genres. She routinely travels between the realms of suspense, fantasy, and experimental short fiction. She also dabbles in domestic noir, Greek mythology, and Dystopian. You can read her work and weirdness on Medium.

When she’s not dreaming up new ways to torture fairy princesses, Lizella writes corporate copy under a different pseudonym and tries to keep up with one husband, two kids, and four large dogs.

You’ll find Lizella on GoodreadsFacebook and Medium and you can follow her on Twitter @LizellaPrescott. There’s more information on Lizella’s website too.

Writing Science For Kids: A Guest Post by Cindy Cipriano, Author of The Miller Island Mysteries

MIM Book 3 front cover

I always enjoy reading children’s books so I’m very grateful to Sarah Hembrow at Vulpine Press for sending me a copy of Cindy Cipriano’s, The Case of the Toxic River, in return for an honest review which I’ll be sharing later in this blog post.

Today, however, Cindy is celebrating the recent release of the third book in her Miller Island Mysteries, The Case of the Magnetic Rocket Fuel, and I have asked her to tell me all about her writing for children. Luckily she agreed to tell me! Before she does so, let’s find out a bit about the Miller Island Mysteries series so far.

The Case of the Toxic River

The Case of the Toxic River

Grace Brooks is a total and unashamed nerd.

She loves her life, her friends, and her little dog Neutrino. That is until one day she’s uprooted to Miller’s Island, North Carolina, to start over as the new kid in school.

There she meets Jack, and they quickly bond over their love of science and all things nerdy. Together they embark on an epic adventure, travelling through time to solve the mystery of The Toxic River.

The Case of the Toxic River is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.

The Case of the Mysterious Future

Flute mystery

Grace and Jack are still trying to come to grips with their time-travelling experience as they eagerly await their next adventure.

After making a promise that they’ll always travel together, Grace is unexpectedly transported into the future, alone and scared. How did she get there? And more importantly, how can she get back without Jack there to help?

Picking up clues as she goes, Grace must try to navigate this new Miller’s Island and somehow figure out what sent her there in the first place.

The Case of the Mysterious Future is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.

The Case of the Magnetic Rocket Fuel

MIM Book 3 front cover

Their last time-travelling mishap still fresh in their minds, Grace and Jack are on edge about what might happen next. Grace’s memories of her solo trip to the future are never far away. When the future begins to seep out into the present, they must stick to the rules or risk the consequences.

They set themselves the task of finding out more about the mysterious ink, ending up in the past in a mysterious science lab. Could their new discovery also shed some light onto their mysterious friends at 21BUT22?

The Case of the Magnetic Rocket Fuel is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.

Writing Science for Kids

A Guest Post by Cindy Cipriano

I grew up reading stories that were fantasy-based. I knew they were strictly fantasy, but I enjoyed trying to logic out the “magical” parts. When I decided to write the Miller’s Island Mysteries series, I wanted to create stories that seamlessly blend science and fantasy. It’s my hope these stories will be entertaining and at the same time, spark an interest in science in my young readers as they try to reason out the fantasy.

In Miller’s Island Mysteries (MIMS), 8th graders, Grace and Jack accidentally stumble upon the ability to travel through time. Their first trip sends them back to the 80s where they work together to solve the mystery of a fish kill on the Neuse River. I chose this first mystery because I felt readers would relate to an ecological tragedy and would put themselves into the story as Grace and Jack find out what caused the fish kill.

This series is quite different to my other middle-grade and young adult series. With MIMS I feel an obligation to present the science in the stories in such a way that readers will be driven to solve the mystery on their own. I enlist the help of a science consultant to be sure the science in MIMS is accurate then weave the science into the story. I also focus on building characters that are not only savvy, but also intelligent. Grace and Jack consider being called a Nerd, to be the highest compliment.They are funny, compassionate, and above all curious. These character traits appeal to my ‘tween readers who are just making their way in discovering their true selves. Grace and Jack are characters with whom my readers can connect because Grace and Jack are also discovering their own strengths as they solve mysteries like the fish kill, travel to nanoscience labs, and deal with accidentally seeing their future paths.

When writing for kids, it’s important all of these things are considered because young readers do not like being talked down to. It’s common knowledge that kids generally “read-up.” And so, it’s up to the author to write stories that are not only entertaining, but also excite the mind of the reader. It is so rewarding to hear that readers have taken to investigating MIMS mysteries on their own. In educational terms, this is known as self-directed learning, or learning for the pure enjoyment of it. When readers are intrinsically motivated, they feel challenged. This connection to the story combined with the challenge of solving the mystery helps grow the mind of the reader.

Grace and Jack will also grow. As the series progresses, they will leave middle school and enter high school. Readers will have the chance to watch Grace and Jack grow into young adults as they go through high school solving higher-risk mysteries. The science in the stories will become more complex and readers will grow right alongside of Grace and Jack.

I’m thankful and appreciative to be in the position to write stories that entertain and educate my readers. Even when they don’t realize they are learning.

I think you’ve done it brilliantly, Cindy. Here’s my review of the first book in the series:

My Review of The Case of the Toxic River

Newly arrived in Miller’s Island, science fanatic Grace is friendless and bullied, but life is about to get interesting.

I loved The Case of the Toxic River because it is perfectly pitched for youngsters aged 10-13 or so. There’s a little bit of burgeoning romance between Grace and Jack without it being the central consideration, so that children this age will be able to relate to the characters without feeling left out or different. More importantly, The Case of the Toxic River puts a ‘nerdy’ subject like science at the heart of the action, making it exciting and desirable. It’s even more important that Grace is a strong and feisty girl, giving the message that it is not just acceptable, but is actually thrilling, to be interested in science regardless of gender.

The central characters of Grace and Jack are accessible and appealing. They have their own problems, particularly Jack, which again gives an opening to children at the difficult pre-teen age a chance to explore grief, isolation, bullying, relationships and school life in a non-threatening way through their reading. Cindy Cipriano handles all these element brilliantly.

However, all this might make it sound as if The Case of the Toxic River is a ‘worthy’ read. It isn’t. It’s exciting, interesting and engaging. Fast paced action is balanced by the kind of practical questions like accessing food when you’ve just time travelled that children will always want the answers to making it relevant as well as being a thrilling read – and not just for children!

I really can’t fault The Case of the Toxic River. I thought it was an excellent start to the Miller Island Mysteries. I can imaging children gobbling up these books voraciously. Brilliant stuff!

About Cindy Cipriano

cindy cipriano

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.

Not really.

Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems as if they make 27.

Cindy’s first novel, The Circle, Book One of The Sidhe won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award for Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy. Other titles in the series include The Choice, Book Two of The Sidhe (2015) and The Lost, Book Three of The Sidhe (2017). This seven-book series is published by Odyssey Books.

Cindy’s Miller’s Island Mysteries are an eleven-book science mystery series (Vulpine Press).

Fading, the first in her young adult series, was published in April 2018. (Clean Teen Publishing). Fading is the tale of first loves and the consequence of dreaming up Mr. Right.

When Cindy isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.

You can follow Cindy on Twitter @CindyCipriano, or visit her website for more details.

Staying in with Carolyn Hughes

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It’s a little over a year since lovely Carolyn Hughes was last on Linda’s Book Bag. At the time Carolyn had just released the first book in her Meonbridge Chronicles series, Fortune’s Wheel and Carolyn provided a super guest post on the fascination of writing about the past that you can read here.

As someone who loves historical fiction, I’m delighted Carolyn has agreed to stay in with me to tell me about another of her books today. I also have my review of this latest book, but I’ll let Carolyn introduce it first.

Staying in with Carolyn Hughes

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

Thank you so much for inviting me, Linda. I’m delighted to be here.

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 have brought the second book in my series of historical novels set in fourteenth century mediaeval England. The series is called the Meonbridge Chronicles, and the book is A Woman’s Lot. I wanted to bring this book because it has only recently been published – in June!

(A belated Happy Publication day Carolyn. I know you’ve been getting some lovely reviews for this one.)

Like the first Chronicle, Fortune’s Wheel, the storylines – for there are several threads – are about the tensions between the different strata in society, and the ups and downs of rural life in mediaeval Hampshire. But it is also about marital discord, women’s ambitions, and the quest for love.

(That sums it up brilliantly. Tell Linda’s Book Bag readers more!)

Well, a bit of background, perhaps?

Central to the story of A Woman’s Lot is the somewhat “misogynistic” attitude often held by mediaeval men – or by some of them at least.

In mediaeval times, men as a rule wielded considerable control over their wives, daughters and female servants, sometimes just through the “natural” assertion of male authority, but in some cases more overtly.

This is by no means to suggest that all mediaeval men were horrible women-haters, so I mustn’t overstate the case! But mediaeval women were generally considered “second class”. They were, nearly always, refused any sort of public office and, mostly, any access to education. It was the natural order of things…

(I’m not sure I’d have fared well in this environment Carolyn!)

The restriction of women’s rights was, apparently, justified on the basis of their limited intelligence, wiliness and avarice. Women as a class were – at times, or by some – reckoned to suffer from a range of weaknesses, including vanity, intellectual frailty, lustfulness and unreliability. The theory of the “four humours” was first discussed by the ancient Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Hippocrates, and later by the Roman physician Galen, was taught to doctors in the Middle Ages, and was still holding sway in Shakespeare’s day. According to this theory, women’s “cold, wet” humour made them inferior – physically, emotionally, intellectually and morally – to “hot, dry” men. “Scientific” theory thus reinforced the Church’s view of the rightness of women’s subordinate role, arrived at, presumably, after what happened in the Garden of Eden….

I can see, Linda, that your eyebrows are rising a little! It IS shocking, isn’t it? And I’m not certain that this view of women has entirely disappeared…

(You might well be right there…)

It is perhaps not surprising, then, that some men despised, or feared, women, as the dangerous “daughters of Eve”. Others perhaps simply accepted the “learned” theories that women were neither strong nor bright nor trustworthy, and were best kept in their lowly place.

A Woman’s Lot is another everyday story of ordinary folk, but very much of its time. Of course, the misogynistic attitudes I portray are not without parallels in our own time, but I’m not attempting to draw comparisons. My tale is one of the fourteenth century, one that doesn’t try to make Meonbridge’s women “feminists”. Their stories aren’t about women’s rights and liberation, but about making the best of their opportunities within the context of the society they live in…

(I have to say I found A Woman’s Lot utterly absorbing.)

What can we expect from an evening in with A Woman’s Lot?

Well, I hardly like to blow my own trumpet, but I don’t suppose you’ll mind if I do it anyway! Because I’ve already had some great reviews and I’d love to quote a few snippets from those, which I think will give you a pretty good idea of what some readers have already found from their time spent with A Woman’s Lot

For an historical novelist, telling her that her work feels “authentic” is almost one of the best things a reviewer can do! So when the lovely Anne Williams of Being Anne said: “It’s a great tribute to Carolyn’s wonderful writing and her ability to recreate the era and its people that I slipped back in time quite effortlessly, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience” I was really thrilled. Especially so, because Anne once admitted on her blog that historical fiction wasn’t particularly her favourite type of read. And yet she really did enjoy A Woman’s Lot!

(I read Anne’s review and she really enjoyed A Woman’s Lot. Anne has kindly allowed me to share the link here to the full review. As a result of reading Anne’s review I bumped up A Woman’s Lot and I have my review to share later too.)

Anne also said it was: “a treat for all the senses…totally …true to its time and setting”. In the same vein, Debbie (@BrookCottageBks) said: “the language is rich and fluid, reflective of the time and descriptions of village life transported me back to Meonbridge once more”, and Michelle (@thebookmagnet) thought it was “another fantastic piece of completely immersive historical fiction from Carolyn”. These are the sort of comments that really make you feel you’ve somehow “got it right”.

A number of readers have said how much they love the Meonbridge characters. “It’s about families and love and a desire to have your voice heard in a time when it took the bravery of women to push the boundaries for the right to stand alongside men and be recognised in equal measure… Readers will find themselves lost in the characters and invested in the outcomes for them.” And I loved this comment: “The charm of this book lies in the characters. They are so ordinary, and I mean that in the best possible way. They are your neighbours, your friends, facing very different circumstances, of course…”. That is very much how I want readers to feel about my characters: very different from themselves, and yet very much alike… I want readers to sense the difference between then and now, and yet also understand and empathise with those characters.

(You must be over the moon with these wonderful responses Carolyn.)

And what more can a writer ask than when readers declare that they can’t wait to read her next book! “I absolutely adored this book…I need book 3 now!” “I’ll definitely be at the front of the queue for her next book.” Eek – it’s just as well that book 3 is well under way!

(It is indeed!)

Anyway, I think that is probably more than enough trumpet blowing for one evening…

(Nothing wrong with a bit of personal trumpet blowing – especially when the responses are as wonderful as these.)

What else have you brought along and why?

handful of coins

A handful of silver coins!

I have a small collection of mediaeval coins – fourteenth century coins, to be precise, the century in which my Meonbridge Chronicles are set. All the coins were “hammered”, that is, beaten out by hand between two dies. Although I hope to increase my collection in time, right now I have just nine coins:

A penny and a farthing (a quarter of a penny) from the reign of Edward I (1239-1307, just about 14th century!)

 A penny and a halfpenny from Edward II (1307-1327)

 A penny, a halfpenny, a half groat (= two pennies) and a groat (= four pennies) from Edward III (1327-1377)

 A halfpenny from Richard II (1377-1400)

The Meonbridge Chronicles are actually set entirely in Edward III’s time, as they currently cover the years 1349 to 1358.

So why have I got the coins?

Well, (I think, anyway!) they are very attractive just to look at, and I keep them in a display case to protect them. But what I really enjoy doing is to take them out of the case (though not actually out of their protective wallets), and hold them in my hand. Some of them, like the ones in the picture, are in excellent condition, and so maybe weren’t all that much used. But others are quite worn and I like to imagine one of my halfpennies being passed across a market stall in return for a dozen eggs, or a penny handed to the alewife as the price of a gallon of ale, or a groat placed in the sweaty palm of a carpenter in payment for a day’s labour. Imagining them in the hands of real people living 650 years ago, the sort of people who appear in my novels – that is where the pleasure lies in owning these little discs of beaten silver.

(I have to agree with you. I have a collection of Roman coins my husband has bought me at various times. I love that physical connection with the past.)

It’s been utterly fascinating staying in with you this evening Carolyn, and finding out all about your Meonbridge Chronicles and A Woman’s Lot in particular. Let’s not leave it so long for you to come back again. I’ll just tell readers a bit more about A Woman’s Lot and whilst I do that, you can read my review Carolyn.

A Woman’s Lot

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How can mere women resist the misogyny of men?

A resentful peasant rages against a woman’s efforts to build up her flock of sheep… A husband, grown melancholy and ill-tempered, succumbs to idle talk that his wife’s a scold… A priest, fearful of women’s “unnatural” power, determines to keep them in their place.

The devastation wrought two years ago by the Black Death changed the balance of society: more women saw their chance to build a business, to learn a trade, to play a greater part. But many men still hold fast to the teachings of the Church and fear the havoc the “daughters of Eve” might wreak if they’re allowed to usurpmen’s roles and gain control over their own lives.

Not all men resist women’s desire for change – indeed, they want it for themselves. Yet it takes only one or two to unleash the hounds of hostility and hatred…

Published by SilverWood Books on 4th June 2018, A Woman’s Lot is available for purchase directly from the publisher here or from your local Amazon site such as UK or US.

My Review of A Woman’s Lot

Life in fourteenth century mediaeval England isn’t easy – especially if you’re a woman.

Now I haven’t read the first book in Carolyn Hughes’ Meonbridge series, and when I saw the list of characters at the beginning of the book my heart sank. I thought I’d never know who was who. Not a bit of it. Carolyn Hughes is such a skilled writer that she weaves in enough detail to ensure the reader is appraised perfectly without interrupting the flow of this second book. A Woman’s Lot works brilliantly as a stand alone story.

There is a very wide range of characters and usually I find this confusing but because there is a clue in the title and this is very much A Woman’s Lot, I found Emma Eleanor, Susanna et al realistic and distinct. Whilst they have similar attitudes and concerns as is to be expected for the time in which they are living, they have their own personalities too. I really felt I had got to know them and I don’t want to spoil the story but I really want to know what happens next to Emma in particular. I think it is the perfectly pitched style and the realistic dialogue that contribute so much to the corporeality of the people in the story.

The plot itself is so good. There are many layers and threads that provide interest and entertainment for any reader. I cannot imagine the hours of research that must have gone in to this novel as the social, political and familial threads that weave in and out are incredibly absorbing and so convincing. I didn’t so much feel as if I were reading about mediaeval England as actually experiencing it first hand. Carolyn Hughes caters for every one of the senses so that A Woman’s Lot is cinematic and vivid in its presentation. She also shows how the concerns and interests of society and women in particular have resonated down the centuries so that I could imagine any of the characters transported into a modern setting.

If I’m honest, I didn’t especially expect to like A Woman’s Lot quite as much as I did. Not only did I enjoy a hugely interesting and entertaining story about people whom I came to care about, but I learnt a considerable amount about the real lives of people living at the time and, even more, I developed enormous respect for Carolyn Hughes as a writer because her ability to create a realistic and still totally accessible world is outstanding.  A Woman’s Lot surprised me. I thought it was a crackingly good read.

About Carolyn Hughes

Carolyn publicity

Carolyn Hughes was born in London, but has lived most of her life in Hampshire. After a first degree in Classics and English, she started her working life as a computer programmer, in those days a very new profession. It was fun for a few years, but she left to become a school careers officer in Dorset. But it was when she discovered technical authoring that she knew she had found her vocation. She spent the next few decades writing and editing all sorts of material, some fascinating, some dull, for a wide variety of clients, including an international hotel group, medical instrument manufacturers and the Government. She has written creatively for most of her adult life, but it was not until her children grew up and flew the nest, several years ago, that creative writing and, especially, writing historical fiction, took centre stage in her life. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

A Woman’s Lot is the second of the Meonbridge Chronicles, her series of historical novels set in fourteenth century England. The first, Fortune’s Wheel, was published in 2016. The third in the series is well under way.

To find out more you can find Carolyn on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @writingcalliope and visit her website. Carolyn is also on Goodreads. If you’d like to be part of Carolyn’s ‘Team Meonbridge’ click here.