#BooksAndBaubles Event with @Orionbooks and @BooksAnd_Tweets

Books and Baubles

I couldn’t quite believe my luck when this invitation dropped into my inbox as I really enjoy Orion’s fiction so I was thrilled that I was actually able to attend. My goodness, what an afternoon it was. It was wonderful to catch up with authors, bloggers and publishing folk I already knew like Erica James and to meet new ones such as Richard Roper, but I was especially delighted finally to meet Fanny Blake whose books I’ve loved for ages.


There was a smashing Christmassy feel to the event with a tree bedecked in bookish baubles in keeping with the theme of All I Want for Christmas is Books!


It was so lovely to be made to feel special with a personalised name tag too:


The tables were absolutely groaning – first with gorgeous food so that, along with several glasses of champagne, I think I ate my own bodyweight in scones:


But more importantly, there were so many fabulous books as well as other edible treats to bring away in our goody bags. I would have liked a copy of everything but that would have been too greedy even for me.



I wonder whose champagne that is…



All the publicists must have put in ages to organise this afternoon so brilliantly and I would like to thank each and every one for making me so welcome, for being so passionate about their authors and books and for giving me so many wonderful books to bring home to read.

This is the selection I received:

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Some of them are so new that they don’t even have pre-order links or final covers yet but they include:

The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly

The Year That Changed Everything

Three women, three birthdays, one year that will change everything…

Ginger isn’t spending her thirtieth the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life – or a total disaster.

Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her fortieth birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother?

Callie is celebrating her fiftieth at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door mid-party changes everything…

Out on 22nd February 2018, The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly is available for purchase through the links here.

Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen

Louis and Louise


Louis and Louise are the same person born in two different lives. They are separated only by the sex announced by the doctor and a final ‘e’.

They have the same best friends, the same red hair, the same dream of being a writer, the same excellent whistle. They both suffer one catastrophic night, with life-changing consequences.

Thirteen years later, they are both coming home.

A tender, insightful and timely novel about the things that bring us together – and those which separate us.

Out on 24th January 2019 Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen is available for pre-order through the links here.

Maid by Stephanie Land


‘My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.’

As a struggling single mum, determined to keep a roof over her daughter’s head, Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, working long hours in order to provide for her small family. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.

As she worked hard to climb her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labour jobs as a cleaner whilst also juggling higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of the overworked and underpaid.

Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of the upper-middle classes and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. ‘I’d become a nameless ghost,’ Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the ‘servant’ worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.

Out from imprint Trapeze on 24th January 2019 Maid by Stephanie Land is available for pre-order through the links here.

Bring Me Sunshine by Laura Kemp

bring me sunshine

Charlotte Bold is nothing like her name – she is shy and timid and just wants a quiet life. When her job doing the traffic news on the radio in London is relocated to Sunshine FM in Mumbles, she jumps at the chance for a new start in Wales.

But when she arrives she discovers that she’s not there to do the travel news – she’s there to front the graveyard evening show. And she’s not sure she can do it.

Thrust into the limelight, she must find her voice and a way to cope. And soon she realises that she’s not the only person who finds life hard – out there her listeners are lonely too. And her show is the one keeping them going.

Can Charlotte seize the day and make the most of her new home? And will she be able to breathe new life into the tiny radio station too…?

Out on 7th February 2019 Bring Me Sunshine by Laura Kemp is available for pre-order through the links here.

Swallowtail Summer by Erica James

SwallowTail Proof cover

It was the summer it all ended . . . It was the summer a new story began.

Linston End has been the summer home to three families for several decades. The memories of their time there are ingrained in their hearts: picnics on the river, gin and tonics in the pavilion at dusk, hours spent seeking out the local swallowtail butterflies. Everyone together. But recently widowed Alastair is about to shock his circle of friends with the decisions he has made – and the changes it will mean for them all… Can these friends learn to live life to its fullest?

Out on 7th March 2019, Swallowtail Summer by Erica James is available for pre-order through the links here.

An Italian Affair by Caroline Montague

An italian affair

Love. War. Family. Betrayal.

Italy, 1937. Alessandra Durante is grieving the loss of her husband when she discovers she has inherited her ancestral family seat, Villa Durante, deep in the Tuscan Hills. Longing for a new start, she moves from her home in London to Italy with her daughter Diana and sets about rebuilding her life.

Under the threat of war, Alessandra’s house becomes first a home and then a shelter to all those who need it. Then Davide, a young man who is hiding the truth about who he is, arrives, and Diana starts to find her heart going where her head knows it must not.

Back home in Britain as war breaks out, Alessandra’s son Robert, signs up to be a pilot, determined to play his part in freeing Italy from the grip of Fascism. His bravery marks him out as an asset to the Allies, and soon he is being sent deep undercover and further into danger than ever before.

As war rages, the Durante family will love and lose, but will they survive the war…?

Out on 21st March An Italian Affair by Caroline Montague is available for pre-order through the links here.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie proof

Queenie Jenkins can’t cut a break. Well, apart from one from her long term boyfriend, Tom. That’s definitely just a break though. Definitely not a break up. Stuck between a boss who doesn’t seem to see her, a family who don’t seem to listen (if it’s not Jesus or water rates, they’re not interested), and trying to fit in two worlds that don’t really understand her, it’s no wonder she’s struggling.

She was named to be queen of everything. So why is she finding it so hard to rule her own life?

A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on modern life, Queenie will have you nodding in recognition, crying in solidarity, and rooting for this unforgettable character every step of the way.

Out on 11th April 2019, Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams is available for pre-order through the links here.

Cape May by Chip Cheek

Cape May

Cape May, New Jersey 1957.

Newlyweds Henry and Effie arrive from Georgia for their honeymoon. It’s the end of the summer season, and as they tentatively discover each other – walking on the deserted beach overlooking the vast, darkening Atlantic, clumsily making love in the dusty rooms of a distant relative’s house – they begin to realize that everyday married life might be disappointingly different from their happy-ever-after fantasy.

Just as they get ready to cut the trip short and leave Cape May, a light goes on in one of the houses on their street. In that one moment their destiny is altered forever.

A glamorous set suddenly disrupt their newly-formed married life and sweep them up into their drama: there’s Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn.

The empty town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, marvel at the power and beauty of their bodies, experiment with love and sex, and drink massive amounts of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with consequences that reverberate through the rest of their lives.

Out on 30th April 2019, Cape May by Chip Cheek is available for pre-order through the links here.

And last but by no means least – the only man in the room and with apologies for the image but I couldn’t find it yet as it’s so new:

Something to Live For by Richard Roper


Sometimes you have to risk everything to find your something…

Andrew works with death for a living. Searching for people’s next of kin and attending the funerals if they don’t have anyone, he’s desperate to avoid the same fate for himself. Which is fine, because he has the perfect wife and 2.4 children waiting at home for him after a long day. At least, that’s what he’s told people.

The truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think and the little white lie he once told is about to catch up with him.

Because in all Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s about time for him to start.

Out at the end of June 2019, Something to Live For by Richard Roper is available for pre-order here.


So you can see what a busy reader I’m going to be. I feel absolutely spoilt and honoured to have so many wonderful books on my TBR and I would like to reiterate my thanks to authors and publicists and everyone in between for creating such brilliant books and allowing me to read them


I also brought home a copy of Orion’s Spring Catalogue (which has had me stroking the pages and sighing since – you can see it already looks well-thumbed) but if you’d like to see what’s coming up you can find out more by viewing the catalogue online here.

I wonder if there’s anything that immediately takes your fancy?

Staying in with Kate Furnivall

Survivors cover

I’m beyond excited to have been asked by Sian at EDPR to be part of the launch celebrations for The Survivors by Kate Furnivall because I love Kate’s writing and have been privileged to meet her on several occasions, the first being a blogger and author event that you can read about here. Kate is such a lovely person as well as being a fabulous writer. You can read my review of Kate’s The Betrayal here.

Today, Kate stays in with me to tell me about her latest book.

Staying in with Kate Furnivall

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Kate. I’m delighted to have you here.

Hello, Linda, long time no see. So it is a real pleasure to be here with you this evening.

The pleasure’s all mine. I think the last time we saw one another we were yelling in each other’s ears trying to make ourselves heard at a Christmas do last year. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Look, I’ve treated us to a bottle of vino and chocs to enjoy while we chat in front of the fire.

Kate photo 2

(Oo. How lovely. As I’d just poured myself a Bailey’s before you arrived, I’ll trade you my share of the wine for your share of the chocolates.)

Now, in case I couldn’t guess, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

Survivors cover

I have brought along The Survivors because it is my new book which is published in paperback this week.

(Happy publication day for yesterday Kate!)

It is always a special moment. I am very excited because in this book I am moving further into the territory of the thriller genre. The suspense and tension levels are racked up quite a few notches and should have readers on the edge of their seats or hiding under the bedclothes. But the glue that holds all the book’s elements together is the love and loyalty between a young mother and her daughter.

(Given that the pace and tension nearly gave me a heart attack in The Betrayal Kate, I’m really looking forward to reading The Survivors over the Christmas break.)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Survivors?

Thrills, danger and a fierce kind of love await. At the core of my story is a mother’s undying love for her child, but one of the things I am also trying to convey is a greater understanding of what it means to be a refugee. My story is set in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany in 1945 when the Allied military powers were struggling to provide food and shelter for the millions of people left homeless when World War 2 came to an end. I am finding that this is a small blind spot of history that few people know much about.

(I think you’re right. It’s not something I’ve given much thought to.)

My main character Klara Janowska arrives in one of these camps with her daughter, 10 year-old Alicja, and believes she is safe. We feel acutely her overwhelming relief. But as soon as she spots Oskar Scholz – a Nazi officer from her past who is now masquerading as a refugee – in the Displaced Persons camp, her senses are on full alert because she knows he is a danger to her daughter. She reacts with the ferocity of a tigress. In that instant she makes the decision to kill him, a life-changing decision. There is no middle ground. His life or her daughter’s. Klara does not hesitate. How many of us are capable of making that decision? Capable of that kind of love. It raises all sorts of moral questions that Klara has to wrestle with in the silent still moments of the night. But the maternal instinct to protect her child drives her on. Would I do the same? Would you?

(Oh. What a question. I’m not a mother, but I do think I might be prepared to kill for those I love.)

It is this kind of situation that I love to explore in order to discover what people are capable of when faced with a cliff edge. To discover what happens when love and kindness are confronted by the darker side of human nature.

(And that’s something many people are living with on a daily basis now as much as those in the past I think.)

One of the aspects of writing historical fiction that I relish is making history more accessible to my readers. I love it when readers contact me to tell me they have learned something new from my books. I hope they will again with The Survivors. Though my narrative is set in 1945, I feel that the situation in which my characters find themselves resonates strongly with us today when we see the tragic pictures of desperate Syrian refugees on the news. It is the past repeating itself and we have to ask ourselves have we learned much in the last 70 years?

(Huh. Sadly not I fear.)

But above all I hope you will find your evening in with The Survivors an exciting one that will have you reaching for that glass of wine.

(Or chocolates!)

What else have you brought along Kate and why?

Kate photo 1

I have brought this beautiful old photograph with me. It is of my grandmother, Valentina. Though I never met her – sadly she passed away long before I was born – she has always been a strong presence in my life because this photograph stood on my mother’s piano for as long as I can remember. It watched over my family’s antics growing up, listened to our laughter and our woes, and I am sure winced with horror at my brief foray into playing the piano myself.

(Valentina was absolutely beautiful wasn’t she?)

My mother was an only child and was extremely close to her mother. She told us many exotic tales of Valentina’s charm and the concerts she gave on her baby-grand piano later in life. It was Valentina’s extraordinary life-story that inspired me to write my first historical novel, The Russian Concubine, which launched my writing career when it became a New York Times Bestseller. You see, Valentina was Russian and my mother was born in St Petersburg just before the Russian Revolution in 1917.

(And now, of course, I have to read The Russian Concubine too as Russia is on my wish list of places to visit.)

In a horrific journey they fled from the Communists all the way across Siberia to China where life was at first extremely hard for them. They were refugees. No money, no home, no future. So not only has Valentina inspired my first book, but now her experiences and emotions as a refugee have inspired me to write my latest book, The Survivors. I just wish I could have known her in person.

(What an incredible life Valentina must have led. Even if you didn’t get to meet her Kate, at least you’ve part of her with you through your writing.)

It’s been wonderful staying in with you Kate and finding out all about The Survivors (and Valentina). Thanks so much for being here and for the wine and chocolates!

Thanks so much for having me over, Linda. Oh gosh, we’ve certainly got through the wine!

(Not entirely convinced about we got through the wine there Kate!)

It was such a pleasure talking about The Survivors with you. Is it too early to wish you Happy Christmas?

Not at all! Happy Christmas Kate!

The Survivors

Survivors cover

‘Directly I saw him, I knew he had to die.’

Germany, 1945.Klara Janowska and her daughter Alicja have walked for weeks to get to Graufeld Displaced Persons camp. In the cramped, dirty, dangerous conditions they, along with 3,200 others, are the lucky ones. They have survived and will do anything to find a way back home.

But when Klara recognises a man in the camp from her past, a deadly game of cat and mouse begins.

He knows exactly what she did during the war to save her daughter.

She knows his real identity.

What will be the price of silence? And will either make it out of the camp alive?

The Survivors by Kate Furnivall was published in paperback yesterday, 29th November 2018 by Simon and Schuster, priced £7.99 and is available for purchase through the links here.

About Kate Furnivall


Kate Furnivall didn’t set out to be a writer. It sort of grabbed her by the throat when she discovered the story of her grandmother – a White Russian refugee who fled from the Bolsheviks down into China. That extraordinary tale inspired her first book, The Russian Concubine. From then on, she was hooked.

Kate is also the author of The White Pearl and The Italian Wife. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.

You can follow Kate on Twitter @KateFurnivall, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The-Survivors-Blog Tour

Fiction For Older Readers: A Guest Post by Anne Stormont, Author of Settlement

Settlement Cover MEDIUM WEB (3)

Having been nicknamed The Dragon Lady by younger students when I was teaching and being told I’m ‘a very demanding pet to look after’ by my husband, nothing gives me greater pleasure than to welcome an author who calls herself a subversive old bat to Linda’s Book Bag today! It’s lovely Anne Stormont who has kindly agreed to write a guest post for the blog all about writing for older readers in celebration of her latest book Settlement.

I had a corker of a time when Anne stayed in with me here on the blog to discuss her novel Displacement which is available for purchase here.

Settlement is available for purchase as a paperback and as an ebook here.


Settlement Cover MEDIUM WEB (3)

Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?  Can love truly heal old wounds?

Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty.

She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?

When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.

But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.

Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.

Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence?

Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?

Will they get the chance to put things right between them?

If you like a complex, contemporary, grown-up romance with lots of raw emotion, dramatic and exotic settings, all mixed in with some international politics and laced with elements of a crime thriller, then this is the book for you.

Fiction For Older Readers

I’m a member of an authors and readers group on Facebook called Books For Older Readers which was started by writer Claire Baldry. It’s a great group for sharing books that feature older main characters or that in some other way may hold a particular appeal for readers who consider themselves to be no longer young.

The fact that a group like this has proved so popular surely says something about the relationship between age and the world of adult fiction. And it’s something I reckoned might make an interesting post. Especially as I’m an older reader and writer myself.

My books – including Settlement, my new one (more about that later) – are all contemporary romantic fiction and the main characters are all in their forties or fifties. My books are second-chance romances where the characters are also dealing with difficult issues such as divorce, bereavement, illness as well as working and/or caring for their families.

I didn’t begin writing until I was in my late forties so it’s perhaps it’s not surprising my first lead characters were in that age group too. I wanted to write the sort of book that I’d also want to read and have characters I could really relate to.

And, it seemed to me as a reader, there were no older female leads in the contemporary romance genre. Indeed when I first sought publication, agents and publishers told me nobody wanted to read about older women falling love and (whisper it) having sexual relationships.

However, nowadays – although there is still room for improvement – things have moved on.

Currently there are several successful authors such as Hilary Boyd, Maggie Christensen, Christine Webber, Linda MacDonald and the aforementioned Claire Baldry who all write first-class romantic fiction with older protagonists.

Crime fiction writers, too, don’t always go for youth over experience. Good examples include Ann Cleeves’s leading fifty-something police officer, the wily and inimitable Vera, and in her Shetland series the lead is taken by been-around-the-block, CID officer Jimmy Perez. Then there’s Ian Rankin’s Rebus who is well beyond retirement age. And best of all, for me, there’s JJ Marsh’s fabulous international crime series featuring the wonderfully quirky detective Beatrice Stubbs.

Literary fiction also seems comfortable with stories centred around older protagonists. Ian McEwen, Bernard MacLaverty and Kate Atkinson are just three examples of authors who have favoured leading characters who could be considered past their prime. Then there were the highly successful novels The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared and a few others in a similar vein with very elderly title characters.

However, I should add that while as a reader I’m delighted that there are books like those mentioned above, I’m still quite happy to read books with younger protagonists too. This year alone I’ve read several superb romantic novels where the lead characters have been in their twenties and thirties. But it’s good to have the choice and not to feel that people of my age – and indeed twenty years younger than me – are invisible or not interesting enough to feature as credible leads in fiction.

And I should also add that my readership includes people in their twenties right through to some who are in their eighties.

Age is just a number after all and is only one factor in our personalities and interests. It shouldn’t be a barrier to inclusion or enjoyment when it comes to our reading.

Life after thirty-five can be as challenging, surprising and rewarding as it was before – if not more so. So the lives of characters in this older age group provide fertile ground for all sorts of fiction.

And so to my new book – complete with its older – but not necessarily wiser characters.

(Amen to that Anne! Fast approaching 60 I’m not on the scrap heap yet and I really do enjoy books that feature so-called older women as well as our 30 something protagonists. Thank you so much for a super guest post.)

 About Anne Stormont

Anne Stormont

Anne Stormont writes contemporary, women’s fiction that is probably best described as literary romance. Her writing is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Her stories are for readers who enjoy a good romantic story, but who also like romance that is laced with realism and real world issues – and where the main characters may be older but not necessarily wiser.

Anne was born and grew up in Scotland where she still lives. She has travelled extensively having visited every continent except Antarctica – where she really must go considering her fondness for penguins. She has friends and family all over the world including in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and the Middle East.

Anne was a primary school teacher for over thirty years before taking early retirement in order to concentrate on her writing.

She describes herself as a subversive old bat – but she also tries to maintain a kind heart. She hopes this comes through in her writing.

Anne loves to hear from and keep in touch with her readers.

You can find out more about Anne on her author website Anne Stormont. She has an excellent Blog. You’ll also find Anne on her Facebook Author pages: Anne Stormont and can follow Anne on Twitter @writeanne.

Funerals Your Way by Sarah Jones

Funerals Your Way

My very grateful thanks to the author Sarah Jones for sending me a copy of Funerals Your Way in return for an honest review. Funerals may seem an uncomfortable subject, but when my fabulous Dad died a couple of years ago his funeral was wonderful because he had planned it with us. We knew what music he wanted and he even left us all a message to be read, all of which he had done a few years in advance of the stroke which robbed him of all decision making (and indeed dignity) prior to his death. Having a brother-in-law who’d been a funeral director certainly helped, but not everyone is as fortunate. Consequently, I think this aspect of our lives is hugely important and am delighted to review Funerals Your Way as a result.

Funerals Your Way is available for purchase here.

Funerals Your Way

Funerals Your Way

This short book gives you the information, suggestions and step-by-step guidance you need to create funerals which truly reflect the person who has died.

It will help you if you want to express your own wishes, want to have a meaningful conversation with someone close to you or if you need to arrange a funeral at need.

It is designed to support people who intend to use the services of a funeral director, but would also give inspiration to those who would rather not.

My Review of Funerals Your Way

Sarah Jones’s straightforward approach to funerals.

What a fabulous practical and sensitive book Funerals Your Way is. The book is divided into 11 practical chapters written with a clear and calm pragmatic style illustrating Sarah Jones’ caring and thoughtful attitude. With questions to ask and examples to guide, there are places for the reader to make notes of their thoughts, of what their loved one may have wanted and to reflect on memories so that thinking about a funeral becomes very firmly focused on the deceased. I thought this was such a beautifully humane approach.

Along with the various stages explained, I found the photographs helped in demystifying the funeral process too, but what really touched me were the statements from people who have gone through the process themselves as I think they help others understand the emotional aspects to funeral planning and to realise that what they may be experiencing is perfectly acceptable. I did find myself shedding a tear or two as I read. I also found elements that have altered what I would like for my own funeral and what I would like after my husband’s should he die before me.

There are practical elements too and the appendices give information on everything from what happens when a person dies at home through green funerals to registering a death.

What I liked most of all about Funerals Your Way was the way in which it empowers the reader. As a funeral director Sarah Jones is well aware that not all firms offer the same level of support and she gives those of us who wouldn’t have access to her services the tools to cope with, and ask questions of, those funeral directors in our own region. I’m sure some people would otherwise simply find themselves experiencing a funeral they didn’t necessarily feel right for them or their loved one.

Not only does Funerals Your Way sensitively guide a bereaved person through the funeral process, it enables all of us to consider the one inevitability in life calmly and thoughtfully. It has helped me clarify what I want for my own funeral and given me the practical tools with which to achieve it successfully. I would urge readers to set aside our avoidance of talking about death and read this book. It will definitely help and I recommend it most highly. I thought it was excellent.

About Sarah Jones


Sarah is part of the award winning team of funeral directors Full Circle. Sarah previously worked as a doctor and then with adults with learning difficulties. She has a husband and two young children and enjoys exploring on foot and bicycle.

Sarah believes ardently that we would all benefit from speaking about death and dying more openly so that we are better able to support ourselves and our loved ones in life and death.

You can find out more by following Full Circle on Twitter @FCFuneral and visiting their website. You’ll also find them on Facebook.

Staying in with Michelle Staubach Grimes

Pidge Takes the Stage - Book Cover

Regular Linda’s Book Bag visitors know how much I love fiction for children, not least because it was partly responsible for me beginning my blog in the first place. Consequently I’m delighted to be staying in with Michelle Staubach Grimes as she tells me about one of her children’s books.

Staying in with Michelle Staubach Grimes

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Michelle. Thanks for dropping by to spend the evening with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

 Pidge Takes the Stage - Book Cover

Tonight, I have brought along my most recent book titled Pidge Takes the Stage. I chose it because the lessons in the book are just as relevant to adults as children.

(I love that about children’s books Michelle. Many of the children’s books I read I think I enjoy at least as much as children do!)

What can we expect from an evening in with Pidge Takes the Stage?

We learn a very important lesson in Pidge Takes the Stage about following your dreams, and the hard work required to get there. I borrowed a quote from my Dad that I used in the book when Pidge’s voice teacher tells her what to expect about learning to sing. Pidge plans to try out for the school musical but doesn’t know how to sing. The teacher shares with Pidge that “unspectacular preparation equals spectacular results.” My dad played professional football and when I asked him to describe training camp – that is what he told me. He had to put in a lot of hard work all year long to win that Super Bowl. This lesson is very relevant to all of us – children and adults. Often much of our day is unspectacular and even boring.  I talk to children at schools about the importance of committing to their math work, reading, and any outside commitments. And if they put in the hard work and time, they too will get spectacular results. And they must not quit or give up.

(Oh, absolutely! I couldn’t agree more.)

What else have you brought along and why? 


I’ve brought along with me a large stuffed Bernese Mountain dog, a Pidge doll, a leash, keyboard, and a baseball. These are all items in the book. I like to make it visual for the kids. And they always love the big stuffed dog. He’s a star at school events.

(I imagine he is – but he does take up quite a bit of room on the sofa doesn’t he?)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about Pidge Takes the Stage, Michelle. I think the messages in it sound perfect. 

Pidge Takes the Stage

Pidge Takes the Stage - Book Cover

In this sequel to Where is Pidge?, our young hero decides to audition for the school musical along with her canine buddy Maverick. Not everyone thinks Pidge can learn to sing or Maverick can be trained, but Pidge believes.

Through their theatrical escapades, Pidge discovers that singing requires hard work, and that Maverick might not be ready for his stage debut after all.

And by the end, Pidge understands that being a star is all a matter of perspective, and unconditional love matters more than fame.

Pidge Takes The Stage is available for purchase here.

About Michelle Staubach Grimes

Michelle Staubach Grimes - Head Shot

Michelle Staubach Grimes began journaling years ago and enrolled in the SMU Creative Writing Continuing Ed Program in 2012 to hone her writing skills. She fell in love with creative writing and studied “story” through that program. Where is Pidge? debuted in March of 2015. Michelle is thrilled to now be releasing her second book; PidgeTakes the Stage. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

For more information, find Michelle on Facebook and Instagram. You can also follow her on Twitter @MichelleSGrimes and visit her website.

Cover Reveal: Sea Babies by Tracey Scott-Townsend

front cover Sea Babies

Now, I’m breaking my own self-imposed rules here. I’m not supposed to be taking on any new blog posts until I’ve read and reviewed some of the huge mountain of books I have on my TBR but when lovely Kelly at LoveBooksGroup got in touch to ask if I’d like to help with the cover reveal for Tracey Scott-Townsend’s new book I had to participate.

You see, I first met Tracey Scott-Townsend at an event called Oceans of Words, at which she was speaking and you can see my write up here. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Tracey properly and she’s so lovely that I had to invite her onto Linda’s Book Bag to tell me about one of her books, Another Rebecca, in a post you can read here. I have also had the pleasure of reviewing some of Tracey’s poetry in her anthology So Fast and you can read that review here.

So let’s see what’s in store for us next from Tracey:

Sea Babies

front cover Sea Babies

Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a social worker with the Islands’ youth. She’s also struggling to come to terms with a catastrophic event.

When somebody sits opposite her at the cafeteria table, she refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea towards her, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories…

Some people believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Does Lauren have a retrospective choice about the outcome of her terrible recent accident, or is it the bearer of that much older scar who has the power to decide what happens to her life now?

Set mainly in the Outer Hebrides and Edinburgh from the 1980s to the present, Sea Babies is a potent, emotional psychological drama that explores the harder aspects of relationships, as well as the idea of choice, responsibility and the refugee in all of us.

Sea Babies Cover Paperback

Sea Babies is available for pre-order here. I think it looks a corker!

About Tracey Scott-Townsend

author photo new

Tracey is the author of The Last Time We Saw Marion, Of His Bones, The Eliza Doll and Another Rebecca. Her fifth novel, Sea Babies will be released on 1st May 2019. Her novels have been described as both poetic and painterly. Her first poetry collection, So Fast was published in January 2018.

Tracey is also a visual artist. All her work is inspired by the emotions of her own experiences and perceptions.

Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children and now spends a lot of time travelling in a small camper van with husband Phil and their rescue dogs, Pixie and Luna, gathering her thoughts and writing them down.

You can find out more about Tracey by visiting her website, finding her on Facebook and following her on Twitter @authortrace.

10 Things About A. D. Flint, Author of The Burning Hill

The Burning Hill Cover

I’m delighted to welcome A.D. Flint to Linda’s Book Bag today as part of the blog tour for The Burning Hill as I am inherently nosy and I have a smashing set of 10 things to discover about the author! I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of these celebrations of The Burning Hill.

Published by Unbound, The Burning Hill is available for purchase here.

The Burning Hill

The Burning Hill Cover

On the run from unjust court-martial back home, a young British soldier gets robbed and shot on Copacabana Beach. The bullet in Jake’s head should have been fatal but, miraculously, it saves him from a previously undetected condition that soon would have killed him.

Jake doesn’t believe in fate, nor does he feel he owes anything to anybody, but he does hate injustice. Vilson, the teenage favela kid who fired the bullet, is a victim of injustice, in a deadly corner with a corrupt cop and a sadistic drug-lord after his blood.

With a turf war erupting in Vilson’s favela, fear stalks every narrow alleyway, and anyone dragged up to the notorious Burning Hill had better hope they’re dead before they get there. But it’s not just fear that shapes life in the favela: belief is also powerful, able to both save and destroy.

The Burning Hill is about the power of belief and one man’s desire for justice at any cost.

10 Things About A.D. Flint

  1. What if you weren’t a writer? I’d love to be a painter (a good one, I mean, as I have done some dreadful Rembrandt knockoffs). Otherwise, it would be amazing to invent something and build a factory to make it because I’ve always loved making things (although I hate DIY). My grandfather was a marine engineer (he made several voyages to the Antarctic on the Discovery in the 1920s) and he always made us grandchildren amazing toys and go-carts and scooters. I loved spending time in his workshop as a child.
  2. First pet? A monkey. A little un-PC, I know, but it was the 70s and we lived in Ghana. My dad used to let it out of its cage ‘for exercise’ and it would belt round the house, crap on all available furniture and (quite understandably) refuse to go back in its cage.
  3. Second Pet? When we left Ghana the monkey was taken on by the man who took over my dad’s job, but we brought a parrot back to the UK – it travelled in a cage on a seat next to my dad on the plane. Those were the days. The parrot was an excellent mimic but quite sweary and very mean tempered – it would whistle for the dog and then bite her nose when she came.
  4. Favourite opera? Faust. It isn’t actually my favourite opera, it’s just the only one I’ve ever seen. It was my 10th birthday treat with my friends. Seriously. I wanted to see Battlestar Galactica at the cinema but I suspect the tickets for the amateur production of Faust at the Cramphorn theatre in Chelmsford were cheaper, which probably tipped the scales for my mother. My friends were as baffled as I was mortified, and one of them, who has remained a friend to this day, still talks about it as the most memorable birthday party he ever went to.
  5. Any former sports glory? Erm, I managed to get a bronze medal in a minor jujitsu competition once – I took it up after seeing it and MMA (mixed martial arts) in Brazil when I lived there for a period. I never quite got to my black belt before rupturing my ACL and I haven’t practiced for a few years. MMA can be brutal but the fighters are skilful and I admire the courage that it takes to climb into the octagon. There’s a bit of jujitsu in the action scenes in The Burning Hill and one of the characters moonlights as a fighter.
  6. What do you do in your spare time now? For exercise, mostly running with my dog. I live near the coast so I love going along the tops of the cliffs. I avoid the beach these days as there’s a naturist section where my dog once became somewhat obsessed with the taste of the sun-cream that a rather large naked man had just rubbed all over himself. It was like some hellish comedy sketch hatched from the darkest corner of Benny Hill’s imagination. I suspect the man probably avoids the beach now too. My dog’s appalling lack of manners is an endless source of embarrassment.
  7. Inside or outside? Outside. Back in Brazil for the first time in some years over the summer, we took a trip to Bonito and the Pantanal. We saw an amazing variety of animals and birds there, fished for piranha and snorkelled in crystal-clear rivers (not containing piranha). We found an anaconda in a stream outside our room one morning and a capuchin monkey crapped on my head from a tree (I’m now wondering if it was the vengeful reincarnation of my first pet). But the simple things are also good: sparrows have staged a bit of a comeback in recent years in our area and it’s a joy to see them splashing about and arguing in our birdbath.
  8. Outlook on life? A fairly regular mix of sunny spells with occasional cloud, but I am fascinated with the darker side of human nature and that is what I generally find myself writing about. I’m also fascinated by the nature of belief, its power, and what we will allow ourselves to believe.
  9. Writing routine? I’m not much of a morning person but if I drag myself out of bed early I find I can hammer out a decent number of words. I’m not an avid Stephen King fan (although I think The Stand is great) but On Writing gives excellent advice on the writing process. Following his routine of hitting a target number of words each day works for me (when the day job doesn’t get in the way too much). Just hammering out that word count can get me through a sticky patch. I might be writing garbage for a few days but I find that if I just keep going the ideas start to flow again.
  10. Favourite books and films? How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn was my favourite childhood book and I was obsessed with the Hornblower books, passed on from my dad’s childhood. As a kid, I thought the key to success as a human being was through emulating the heroes in my books, and even now I think those characters probably have some influence on who I’ve become today. I love David Mitchell, particularly Ghostwritten, and I thought Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith was excellent – I’d like to think that The Burning Hill is similar in style. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry is the best book I’ve read recently – a powerful story with some beautiful writing. Film-wise, I love the movies from the 70s which weren’t afraid of a downbeat ending, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Deer Hunter and Ryan’s Daughter. I love the Cohen Brothers and Fargo is my favourite thriller (with a dollop of black-comedy and crime thrown in). There’s an amazing French film called A Prophet that’s a favourite too –a prison drama, very tough watching in places, but astounding and compelling.If you know these stories, you might recognise influences from some of them in The Burning Hill.

(Thanks so much for such an interesting set of facts! I loved finding out more about you. I always wanted a pet monkey too when I was a child – but I blame Enid Blyton for that obsession!)

About A.D. Flint

A D Flint Author Picture

On a June afternoon in 2000 there was a robbery just a few blocks from where the A.D. Flint  was living in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. It turned into a hostage situation. The teenage robber had survived a notorious massacre of street children outside a Rio church years before, and the tragedy that played out in the aftermath of the robbery on live TV news was an embodiment of the desperation of life at the bottom of the heap. An ugly thing in this beautiful city, shocking, even to a society inured to everyday violence.

As an Englishman new to Rio, the author was beguiled by the city, and found it profoundly disturbing to watch something happening just down the road that was so out of control and so wrong. The author spent a year in Brazil and now lives on the south coast of England with his Brazilian wife and two sons.

You can follow A.D. Flint on Twitter @brazil_thriller. You can visit The Burning Hill website and find A.D. Flint on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Burning Hill BLog Tour Poster (1)

An Extract from The Importance of Being Aisling by Emer Mclysaght and Sarah Breen

the importance of being Aisling

Having so enjoyed Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling, by Emer Mclysaght and Sarah Breen I am delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for the next of Asiling’s adventures in The Importance of Being Aisling by bringing you an extract today.

You can read my review of Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling here.

Published by Penguin imprint Michael Joseph on 15th November 2018, The Importance of Being Aisling is available for purchase through the links here.

The Importance of Being Aisling

the importance of being Aisling

You can take the small-town girl out of the big city – but can you take the big city out of the girl?

Job. Flat. Boyfriend. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Aisling (seems) to be winning at life. But life has other ideas.

Fired. Homeless. Dumped. Tick. Tick. Tick.

When everything comes crashing down around her, moving back in with her mam seems like a disaster.

But might returning to her roots provide the answers Aisling’s looking for?

An Extract from The Importance of Being Aisling

You can read the extract here The Importance of Being Aisling extract (1).

About Emer Mclysaght and Sarah Breen


Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen conceived the character of Aisling in their sitting room in 2008, when they began to observe the many traits, characteristics and quirks of a very particular type of Irish girl; one they identified around them and one they identified with.

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling was an instant sensation in their native Ireland and the Number One bestselling adult fiction title of 2017.

Emer McLysaght is the former editor of The Daily Edge and has worked extensively in journalism and radio.

Sarah Breen is a journalist whose work has appeared in StellarImageU, the Irish Independent and The Gloss.

You can follow Emer on Twitter @EmerTheScreamer and Sarah @sarahjaybee.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:


Memory and Invention: A Guest Post by Barbara L. Baer, Author of The Last Devadasi


Having visited India earlier in the year, I’ve become slightly obsessed by that wonderful country so it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome back Barbara L. Baer to Linda’s Book Bag today with a fabulous guest post all about how memory and invention have created her Indian setting in celebration of her latest book The Last Devadasi. Barbara previously stayed in with me to tell me about another of her books, The Ballet Lover, in a post that you can read here.

Published by Open Books, The Last Devadasi is available for purchase on your local Amazon site and directly from the publisher.

The Last Devadasi


Passionate and forbidden love clashes with tradition and caste in a changing India.

Kamala Kumari is more than a Gemini Studio starlet: she’s a classical dancer trained in the age-old line of Devadasis, a caste set in place a thousand years ago when girls were first dedicated in south Indian temples to serve the gods and men. From the promise of art and devotion, the sacred dancers fell into the hands of priests who both exalted and betrayed them. Beautiful, brilliant and proud, Kamala struggles to escape the old ways, entangling her Indian assistant, Dutch lover, and his young American wife.

With its turbulent passions amid social upheavals, The Last Devadasi takes readers on a sensual feast in the 1970s palm-shaded trading city of Madras.

Memory and Invention

A Guest Post by Barbara L. Baer

The Last Devadasi opens in January 1970 in a convent during a typhoon flooding the coastal town of Pondicherry, a French protectorate in Madras State. The novel then moves to a film set at Gemini Studios in the city of Madras (now Chennai); from there we go to the port area of Georgetown, the colonial-era hotel The Connemara, and an overgrown compound with cobras in the brush. I wrote Devadasi over several decades from memory and journal entries I kept during my three years living in South India. Where I needed to add to the places, people, music, street noises and smells I remembered, I did research but mostly the story of four people whose lives cross in Madras came from memory and invention.

When I lived in Madras, I taught English literature at a woman’s college, but as soon as classes ended, I bicycled to a thatched roof studio where I studied the traditional dance form of Bharatanatayam with the greatest South Indian artist of her time, Balaswaraswati. By the time I became her pupil, the majestic woman had been showered with awards in India and all over the world, but in her youth, she’d struggled against the stigma of her birth: Balasaraswati was born into the Devadasi caste.

At the time, I researched the Devadasi caste, that literally means the servant of the god, a caste that originated in its South Indian form a thousand years ago when devotees were married to a god and dedicated to serving him. Devadasis were often the only literate woman, schooled in sacred learning, singing and dancing, indispensible in ritual worship. The girls from a young age were also sexual servants, and today, an even more corrupted form of dedication happens every year when the poorest are brought to a goddess of fertility until a man claims them.

For the novel, I created a central character, Kamala Kumari, young and beautiful, a cinema starlet at Gemini Studios, where, like Bollywood, low-budget musical films are churned out every year. Even as Kamala has her picture on movie magazine covers, she still feels compelled to hide her Devadasi caste origins. The characters she loves and envies, bewitches and betrays, are drawn into her deception. This is The Last Devadasi, drawn from experience, transformed in my imagination to emerge as fiction.

(I think The Last Devadasi sounds completely wonderful Barbara. Thanks so much for telling us more about how it came into being.)

About Barbara L. Baer


Barbara grew up in California, got her BA and MA at Stanford University before going to South India to teach, study dance, and have experiences unlike anything in her American life. She taught in Madras (now Chennai) and Tashkent, Uzbekistan, then part of the USSR, which gave her the inspiration and voice for her novella, Grisha the Scrivener. After a decade of encounters and adventures, she returned to the US, taught at Dennison University in Granville, Ohio, worked for newspapers, and wrote fiction and travel pieces.

Barbara has lived many years in Sonoma County, California, where she writes, edits and teaches through the county jail program, tends a garden and an orchard of pomegranates and olives, and is active in environmental and political causes. She lives with her husband, Michael Morey, also a writer and bricoleur, jack of all trades, who keeps things going.

You can find Barbara on Twitter @pomegranatebarb and visit her website.

Staying in with Heleen Kist

Recently I’ve been hearing very good things about the writing of Heleen Kist from other bloggers so I had to invite Heleen onto Linda’s Book Bag to stay in and chat with me about it.

Staying in with Heleen Kist

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

I‘m thrilled to be here for much needed change of scene and company. As I’m writing nearly full-time at the moment, I’ve hardly left the house!

(Blogging has the same effect on me. It takes about 4-5 hours a day which is why I’m cutting back in 2019!)

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

That’s a very easy decision, since In Servitude is the only book I’ve written so far. It’s the story of an ordinary woman, Grace, whose life gets thrown into chaos as a result of her sister’s death. That seemingly perfect sister was in fact laundering money for Glasgow gangsters, who are forcing Grace to take over.

(Ooo. That sounds really exciting.)

What can we expect from an evening in with In Servitude

If the reviews are anything to go by, expect a heavy dose of that ‘one more chapter feeling’ that will keep you reading late into the night.

I like to think of it as a gripping family drama wrapped around a twisty mystery that is likely to leave you with more questions than answers. You’d do anything for family… wouldn’t you?

(I frequently have to, whether I like it or not, Heleen! Another reason I’m cutting back the blogging in 2019… I must say, I really like the sound of In Servitude.)

What else have you brought along and why?

A bunch of tulips. Being Dutch, I wouldn’t dream of coming to someone’s house without bringing flowers! It’s a thank you for having me, and a thank you to the blogger community as a whole for embracing me as an Indie author.

(What a lovely surprise Heleen. I love flowers and am a keen gardener. Thank you so much – and for your kind words about bloggers. We do our best to support authors as much as we can.)

But as they are a traditional requirement, they also represent the theme of In Servitude: how we are shaped and burdened by the weight of others’expectations; be they moral, societal or familial. It’s the meaning behind the exploding tulip on the cover.

(Fabulous imagery and meaning Heleen.)

Thank you so much for the flowers and for staying in with me to tell me about In Servitude Heleen. I think it sounds an exciting and thought provoking read. I’ll have to add it to my TBR immediately!

In Servitude

Do you owe your family your life?

Grace thought her sister led a charmed existence.

She was wrong.

Now she has to pay the price.

When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully planned life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory had been manipulated into illegal activities at her trendy vegan café. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings.

Determined to keep her fingers clean and protect those Glory left behind, Grace plots to escape the clutches of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her moral certainty is challenged when more family secrets emerge and her sister’s past intentions remain unclear.

Grace grows convinced Glory was murdered. Why won’t anyone listen?

Seeking justice, she finds betrayal…

In Servitude is available for purchase here. It’s free on Kindle Unlimited.

About Heleen Kist

Heleen Kist is a Dutch businesswoman who lived all over the world while growing up and for her career. Twenty years ago, she fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow.

She was selected as an ‘up and coming new writer’ and awarded a spotlight at Bloody Scotland 2018, the International crime writing festival.

Her second novel is in the works, so watch this space.

You can follow Heleen on Twitter @hkist and Facebook. Or sign up to her newsletter on her website here.