Introducing Madge: A Guest Post by A.E. Walnofer, Author of With Face Aflame

With Face aflame

I’m so pleased to welcome A. E. Walnofer to Linda’s Book Bag today. I love historical fiction and when I saw the fabulous cover of With Face Aflame, I simply had to ask A.E. Walnofer to explain a little more about her protagonist.

With Face Aflame is available for purchase here.

With Face Aflame

With Face aflame

Born with a red mark emblazoned across her face, seventeen-year-old Madge is lonely as she spends her days serving guests and cleaning rooms in the inn her father keeps.

One day, she meets an unusual minstrel in the marketplace. Moved by the beauty of his song and the odd shape of his body, she realizes she has made her first friend. But he must go on to the next town, leaving her behind. Soon after, while she herself is singing in the woods, she is startled by a chance meeting with a stranger there. Though the encounter leaves her horribly embarrassed, it proves she need not remain unnoticed and alone forever.

However, this new hope is shattered when she overhears a few quiet words that weren’t intended for her ears. Heartbroken and confused, she flees her home to join the minstrel and his companion, a crass juggler. As they travel earning their daily bread, Madge secretly seeks to rid herself of the mark upon her cheek, convinced that nothing else can heal her heart.

Set in England in 1681, With Face Aflame is the tale of a girl who risks everything in hopes of becoming the person she desperately wants to be.

Introducing Madge

A Guest Post by A. E. Walnofer

With Face aflame

Because Madge’s birthmark is central to her story, I felt it was important to portray it on the book’s cover. After deciding on the above image, I showed it to a number of friends, seeking their opinion. It surprised me how many people expressed that they were made uncomfortable by it. Perhaps discomforting is not what authors ought to strive for when deciding on their book’s cover, but I was actually quite glad about the reaction it was getting. We are constantly bombarded by images that are superficially perfected, to the point that very normal sights strike us as abnormal, and atypical yet healthy sights disconcert us. This negatively affects the way we see others and ourselves, causing dissatisfaction and alienation.

The body positive movement which has truly blossomed in the past decade or so is vital to the health of our society. With the development of technology, whether medical or digital, that can erase or at least alter every physical ‘imperfection’, it is easy for us to embrace and extol unrealistic standards and norms.

Pondering this, got me thinking about people in the past who had no chance to effectively modify their appearance. Thus, Madge was born. Her entire identity and self-perception are tied up in her facial complexion, but there is so much more to Madge than her birthmark! She knows this and desperately wants others to know it as well. Unfortunately, she thinks they never will until she rids herself of the mark. On her quest to accomplish this, she meets a number of people, all with their own valuable stories that affect her deeply.

Often unusual-looking main characters in books are accused of witchcraft or clandestine sin. At no point in With Face Aflame is Madge dunked in a proving pond or tried by jury for stirring eyes of newt into a bubbling stew of dragon’s blood. Madge’s story resonates with the people of her day, as she discovers when she begins to allow herself to interact with them. Also, people today can relate to her in spite of the makeup, laser therapy and photoshop available to us.

It is my hope that anyone who reads the tale of Madge’s healing will be assured of their own worth and abilities. No matter what time period we were born in and regardless of how we look, we are all individuals, uniquely beautiful, intriguing and important.

(What wise words. I think Madge sounds a wonderful creation. Thank you for telling us more about her.)

About A.E. Walnofer

Aimee

A.E. Walnofer is the author of With Face Aflame, as well as another historical novel, A Girl Called Foote. She spends weekdays mobilizing the soft tissue and synovial joints of patients, and weekends typing out stories that are incessantly brewing inside her head. There are lots of these tales and she hopes to share many more of them with you in the future.

You can find out more by visiting A.E. Walnofer’s website. A.E. Walnofer has just joined Twitter @aewalnofer and you’ll also find her on Facebook.

Off Island by Marlene Hauser

Off-Island

My enormous thanks to Sophie Morgan at Troubador Publishing for a copy of Off-Island by Marlene Hauser in return for an honest review.

Off-Island is available for purchase here.

Off-Island

Off-Island

Krista Bourne has always been surrounded by the strength, love and wealth of her family and their homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. She has never had to think for herself. Living with boyfriend Michael and her elderly grandfather, she can also summon up the comforting ghosts of her beloved father and grandmother. In vivid dreams she flies with her pilot father, and when awake remembers idyllic childhood holidays spent with her bohemian grandmother.

When Krista impulsively walks out on her career as a professional dancer, it is the beginning of a new chapter in her life. She feels unsettled and excited by the sense of imminent change around her.

This feeling turns to panic, then fear when she realises that she is pregnant and is uncertain whether or not she wants to keep the baby, bringing her and Michael to a crossroads in their relationship. Adamant that she alone must deal with the situation, Krista rejects all offers of support from him, isolating her at a time when she most needs help.

Krista’s journey and emotional upheaval take her back to her summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, where she is surprised to find out that she does not know her family history quite as well as she imagined.

My Review of Off-Island

When Krista walks out of her dance class, this will be the beginning of a huge turning point in her life.

My goodness. Off-Island may be more novella than novel in length but it packs the most enormous punch. The quality of Marlene Hauser’s writing is so sophisticated and visual that the whole time I was reading I felt resonances with Andre Gide’s Isabelle. There’s an intensity of colour and an exploration of truth and identity that I thought was similar to this Gide’s classic. The poetic nature of some passages, especially those relating to Krista’s thoughts and dreams, was very affecting. I thought the descriptions of setting were utterly beautiful.

I confess I couldn’t stand Krista, but equally I couldn’t stop reading her story. I had to know how far her past had shaped her present and how she might deal with her future. Marlene Hauser has depicted such an intimate and compelling portrait of guilt, grief and self-knowledge that I read Off-Island in one sitting. I went from despising Krista to feeling compassion and empathy as a result of the skilful writing. The claustrophobic intensity of so few characters affords such depth of insight into Krista’s mind and character that it is impossible not to become involved as a reader.

Never having been pregnant, the events of Off-Island are totally unfamiliar to me and yet I felt the way in which they are presented depicted such universal themes that I could understand and appreciate them all. Marlene Hauser’s exploration of how we make choices and how we can be self-deceptive makes Off-Island almost compulsory reading for anyone in Krista’s, and indeed Michael’s, situation. I felt I learnt so much about myself, let alone the characters, from this small volume.

Off-Island is not an easy read. It may well take some readers on a journey they would rather not take, and I’m not sure it’s a book I can say I enjoyed because of the subject matter. At times I found it an uncomfortable read, but I also found it fascinating, thought-provoking, compelling and beautifully written. I think Off-Island by Marlene Hauser is a very important book.

About Marlene Hauser

marlene hauser

Marlene Hauser is a professional writer based in Oxford, UK, where she lives with her husband and teenage son. She served as editor of the Writer’s New York City Source Book and originated the television film Under the Influence, going on to serve as Associate Producer and Technical Consultant. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and has received numerous awards, including a residency at the Millay Arts Colony in Upstate New York.

For more information you can visit Marlene’s website or follow her on Twitter @mhauser_author.

Staying in with Vicki Olsen

Sparrow Falls Final Kindle-edit

I’m delighted to welcome Vicki Olsen to Linda’s Book Bag today to stay in with me and tell me all about her debut novel – not least because her authorship story makes me think there’s hope for me yet as a potential writer.

Staying in with Vicki Olsen

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

I’m happy to be here!  Thank you for inviting me to sit on your couch, where so many talented writers have sat since you started this feature.

(I’m thrilled with how successful it’s been actually Vicki!)

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

Sparrow Falls Final Kindle-edit

I brought my debut novel, A Sparrow Falls.  I first started writing this in 2009, so it’s good to finally have it published.  The publication date for the paperback is December 4, 2018, which happens to be my 70th birthday.

(Oo. Happy slightly belated actual and book birthday for 4th December Vicki. I find the length of time it’s taken you to get to publication very inspiring.)

It’s the first book in a series which will be set in the fictional town of Tolerance, Arkansas. Yes, I am copying another writer from Arkansas. John Grisham set many of his books in the fictional Clanton, Mississippi in the equally fictional Ford County. But I’m not concerned about Mr. Grisham crying “foul” since William Faulkner had Yoknapatawpha County , Mississippi before either Mr. Grisham or I was born.  Both Mr. Grisham and Mr. Faulkner are fine southern gentlemen whose company I always enjoy.

(Sounds like perfect company to find yourself in!)

What can we expect from an evening in with A Sparrow Falls?

It isn’t an easy story to tell and some readers may shy away because of the subject matter. But it deals with an important subject, and I think I have managed to present it in a way that doesn’t make the reader uncomfortable, but at the same time does not mineralize a serious problem. It is the subject of child sexual abuse. There is a lot of heartbreak in this book. But there’s a lot of good too.

(I think that’s the beauty of books, Vicki, they enable us to confront difficult subjects in a non-threatening way.)

I hope readers will like the protagonist, Sarah, as much as I do. I actually fell in love with her before I even started to write this book. I have lived with her for nine years now.

(I love how characters refuse to go away…)

I first met Sarah as an adult minor character in different book. She had a different name then, but she spoke to me from the pages of a book I was helping a friend write. My friend was a 79 year old retired actor who was writing his first novel. When he finished writing the book, I suggested that Sarah was the most interesting character in his book and he should tell her story.  He suggested collaboration and I agreed.  As we began, he was writing her adult story and I was writing her childhood. I didn’t like who she was turning in to under his pen and he soon lost interest in the project.  Over time, I changed the title, changed her name and ditched the storyline. But Sarah was still there begging to tell her story her way. I stopped fighting her and let her do it.

 (Always best to do what your characters ask you I think!)

Sometimes a character just takes over the writers mind…I was writing a scene where she finds a puppy. I decided to name the dog Spot, like in the Dick and Jane books. So, I went back and changed the description of the dog, so that Spot would be a logical name. After all the changes, I started to write the line “I’m gonna name you Spot.” But when I started to type, I typed “I’m gonna name you Joy.” WOW!  Where did that come from? I never even considered that name. Sarah wanted her dog to be named Joy.

(That’s ever so slightly scary actually.)

What else have you brought along and why? 

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I brought a tape of the songs from the book. Music plays a special role in the novel. It is set in the 50’s and 60’s. The music of this time is in the DNA of anyone who lived through it. I use the music to set the mood. It is evocative of the complexities of the times as our culture in America and in Europe as well moved from a time of innocence and began to evolve a political and social consciousness. This tape has The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Kinks and the Rolling Stones. It also has Johnny Cash and Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and The Dave Clark Five.

(Now you’re talking my era – and a bit before – I bet there will be some earworms for readers with those artists.)

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I also brought a few items mentioned in the Prologue: A gold gross on a chain, a Nancy Drew book, a high school ring and a picture of Jesus.

This is the Prologue:

Sarah is leaving this house; leaving the sagging porch, leaving the peeling paint, and leaving this town behind. Gone…gone forever.

She looks around her bedroom at what else she is leaving behind. Pressed and dried yellow rose corsage pinned to her bulletin board, fifteen Nancy Drew books—she’d given up on collecting the entire set, Dolly, one eye closed, the Bible she got the day of her baptism, and the picture of Jesus hanging on the nail she had hung it on the day she got it. I was mad at Him for so long.

She picks up the box, starts out the door and turns to take one last look. She goes back, takes the picture of Jesus off the wall and puts it in the box, with Charlie’s Bible. Around her neck are a small gold cross and two wedding bands tied to a pale yellow ribbon.

(That’s a really enticing snippet that makes me want to read the book straight away.)

I also brought a reader review:

I read A Sparrow Falls and it resonated deep in my soul. Sarah’s story really stayed with me. It has been a few weeks and a few books since I finished it and my mind still wanders to Sarah. I went through an emotional rollercoaster with Sarah but we came out the other side. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more from Ms.Olsen in the future!

(That’s a lovely endorsement. You must be very pleased to receive such a review.)

I start each chapter with scripture. The scripture foretells what will happen in the chapter.  But this is by no means a book about religion. I use it as a backdrop representative of southern culture of the period.

(Sounds interesting. I love trying to match these kind of aspects with what happens in the text as I read Vicky.)

The next book is also about Sarah and what happens to her after she leaves Tolerance. It‘s  a much happier story—and it has real Hippies.

(Oh, we all have a bit of hippy inside us I think!)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about A Sparrow Falls Vicki. You certainly have me intrigued. I wish you a happy birthday for 4th December and every success with the book.

A Sparrow Falls

Sparrow Falls Final Kindle-edit

Doors were never locked, in Tolerance, Arkansas in the 1950’s. Everyone went to church on Sunday and the corner grocer extended credit, never asking for a credit card. Things were good —the age of innocence in America that laid the foundation for the sexual and Cultural Revolution that was to explode onto the scene in the sixties.

But for Sarah Jones, a glimpse into the shadows snatched away her childhood innocence. Her way of dealing with the despicable acts committed against her threatened to destroy who she truly was.

Can she find the inner strength to overcome her past?

Can she see that letting go of the desire to punish oneself is often the hardest act of forgiveness?

Content Advisory: This book is intended for mature audiences and contains child sexual abuse and disturbing imagery.

A Sparrow Falls is available for purchase here.

About Vicki Olsen

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Vicki describes herself as an Air Force brat who grew up in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Idaho and Germany.

After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Economics from the University of Arkansas, she worked as an insurance adjuster, a corporate paralegal and owned an antiques and gifts shop in Dallas. Leaving her ex-husband and grown children in Texas, she now lives in Arkansas with ten goldfish and an array of African violets.

Vicki’s works explore themes of fate and man’s inhumanity to man. Her stories about common people are influenced by a tradition of southern storytelling.

You can find out more by visiting Vicki’s website, following her on Twitter @vickiolsen48 and finding her on Facebook.

Presumed Guilty by Jane Isaac

Presumed Guilty

My enormous thanks to Jane Isaac for a copy of Presumed Guilty in return for an honest review.

It’s almost exactly three years to the day that I first featured Jane Isaac here on Linda’s Book Bag when I helped reveal the cover to Jane’s novel An Unfamiliar Murder. I reviewed Jane’s Beneath the Ashes here and have been lucky enough to meet Jane on several occasions including as part of the Deepings Literary Festival 2017 where I live. You can find out about that here. Shortly after that post I was lucky enough to review The Lies Within here and since then I was privileged to share an extract here from the first of Jane’s DC Beth Chamberlain books, After He’s Gone.

Published on 10th December 2018 Presumed Guilty is available for purchase here.

Presumed Guilty

Presumed Guilty

Accident or murder?

The first victim – a prominent local councillor, killed in a hit and run ‒ could be either, but the next bodies leave no doubt. A twisted killer is at large. And he’s not finished yet.

DC Beth Chamberlain, Family Liaison Officer, has to support the victims’ families, but before she can solve the crimes in the present, Beth needs to uncover the secrets of the past.

Meanwhile, the killer has her in his sights…

My Review of Presumed Guilty

One murder is just the start of a complicated investigation for Beth Chamberlain.

Although I haven’t read the first book in this series it made no difference whatsoever to my enjoyment of Presumed Guilty (except for the fact that I now really want to read it) because the background to the characters and the previous case was so skilfully woven into this narrative that I felt I had a thorough understanding of them and their personalities.

By the end of Presumed Guilty I was completely captivated by Beth in particular and I am now desperate to read any future book in the series to find out what happens next. I loved the concept of Beth as a family liaison office as this made such a refreshing change from police procedural novels where there is a hard bitten, hard drinking, cynical detective. Beth felt real and human to me with a perfect balance of strength and sensitivity that brought her alive.

Having read Jane Isaac before I was expecting a fast paced and exciting story, which I got in spades, but I also felt the quality of her writing had taken on a real poise and elegance so that I enjoyed the book even more than I had anticipated. It was the natural quality of the direct speech that worked so well for me. I could hear the conversations so vividly that I wanted to take part and put in my viewpoint too. I think it shows a successful story when I forget I’m reading fiction, but believe in the people and action completely. I also loved the settings as they are places I know well, having gone to school in Oundle and having lived in county. Reading Presumed Guilty took me right back to Northamptonshire.

The short chapters added pace and vibrancy and I thought the entire plotting from title to final full stop felt assured and masterful so that I was entertained but also impressed by the writing. I appreciated the exploration of motive behind the murders and the complex interplay of relationships that so many experience. This felt like mature and intelligent writing to me.

Presumed Guilty kept me captivated and engrossed throughout. I’m not a great fan of explicit gore and violence and prefer a novel that explores the motives behind the crimes with authority and panache which is exactly what Jane Isaac gave me in Presumed Guilty. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it.

About Jane Isaac

jane

Jane Isaac lives with her detective husband (very helpful for research!) and her daughter in rural Northamptonshire, UK where she can often be found trudging over the fields with her Labrador, Bollo. Her debut, An Unfamiliar Murder, was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’ The follow up, The Truth Will Out, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-Thriller.com.

After He’s Gone is Jane’s sixth novel and the first in a new series featuring Family Liaison Officer, DC Beth Chamberlain. The second DC Beth Chamberlain novel will be released later in 2018.

You can follow Jane Isaac on Twitter @JaneIsaacAuthor and visit her web site. Jane is also on Facebook,

Staying in with Liza Perrat

TSMEbook Cover MEDIUM WEB

I’ve got a bit of a thing about Australia in fiction so it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome back Liza Perrat to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me a little bit about one of her books which is set there. Liza was last on the blog with an extract from The Silent Kookaburra and although the giveaway is now over, you can read the post here.

Staying in with Liza Perrat

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Liza 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? 

TSMEbook Cover MEDIUM WEB

I’ve brought along my latest novel, The Swooping MagpieThis is the second story (but they are both standalones) in an Australian 1970s family drama series. It is set at the same time and in the same place in New South Wales, as the first in the series, a psychological suspense, The Silent Kookaburra.

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(I love books that take me to Australia Liza and I think both your books would be exactly my kind of read. I’m so glad The Swooping Magpie is on my TBR.)

As well as evoking a true-life scandal that shocked Australia, The Swooping Magpie explores the effects and consequences of a dysfunctional family, and a rigid society, all set during a time of great change in Australia. Women were on the cusp of liberation, society itself was becoming more liberal and tolerant and everyone was protesting against Australia’s part in the Vietnam war, as America’s “puppets”.

(This sounds really interesting.)

What can we expect from an evening in with The Swooping Magpie?

Entertainment and enlightenment, I hope! Early readers have said this about the story:

It’s so tempting to look back on the 1970s as halcyon days for a young girl but The Swooping Magpie shows a seedier side of the end of the swinging 60s and the still early days of the sexual revolution where traditional values and the power of the church were such that young girls were often caught in the middle, and subterfuge and denial robbed them of what was rightfully theirs, affecting them for the rest of their lives.

Beautifully written, the novel combines the twists and reversals of a psychological thriller with a heart-rending drama that is also a searing commentary on a shocking aspect of all too recent history.

I recommend The Swooping Magpie if you enjoy books with strong psychological insights into their characters’ lives and a serious underlying theme.

 … as with all Liza Perrat’s novels, the settings send you straight into the heart of the location, engaging all the senses: the story abounds with lorikeets and cockatoos, the sounds of cicadas and the scent of frangipani, the heat of the Australian sun.The story’s twists and turns are shocking and yet totally credible and will keep you turning the pages until the very end.

(These are fabulous responses Liza. You must be completely delighted with them. They make me want to read your books even more.)

What else have you brought along and why? 

Chocolate Paddlepop

Probably for nostalgic reasons, as I grew up in the 70s in Wollongong, where the story is set, I’ve brought some pictures of food I enjoyed back then (and still do), and which is mentioned in the story: chocolate paddlepops and Vegemite (complete with finger smudges!), a Vitamin B spread that all good Aussie kids grow up on. I don’t think I’ve ever met a non-Aussie who likes Vegemite, and no, it’s really NOT the same as Marmite.

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(Isn’t it interesting how food can evoke an era and setting?)

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I’ve also brought some photos of 1970s Wollongong and the harbour where part of the story takes place. I remember Friday night treats eating fish and chips down on the shorefront, the gulls wheeling and squawking around us! It’s changed a lot now, but every time I go home to Australia, that place tugs at the heart strings.

FishnChips1970WgongLibImage

Photos courtesy of the collections of the Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society

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I also have a photo of a “swooping magpie” danger sign, which is really just a bit of a nod to the title.

(Ha! That made me smile, Liza.)

Thank you so much for staying in with me, Liza and telling me about The Swooping Magpie. I can tell it’s going to keep calling me until I read it!

The Swooping Magpie

TSMEbook Cover MEDIUM WEB

The thunderclap of sexual revolution collides with the black cloud of illegitimacy.

Sixteen-year-old Lindsay Townsend is pretty and popular at school. At home, it’s a different story. Dad belts her and Mum’s either busy or battling a migraine. So when sexy school-teacher Jon Halliwell finds her irresistible, Lindsay believes life is about to change.

She’s not wrong.

Lindsay and Jon pursue their affair in secret, because if the school finds out, Jon will lose his job. If Lindsay’s dad finds out, there will be hell to pay. But when a dramatic accident turns her life upside down, Lindsay is separated from the man she loves.

Events spiral beyond her control, emotions conflicting with doubt, loneliness and fear, and Lindsay becomes enmeshed in a shocking true-life Australian scandal. The schoolyard beauty will discover the dangerous games of the adult world. Games that destroy lives.

Lindsay is forced into the toughest choice of her young life. The resulting trauma will forever burden her heart.

Reflecting the social changes of 1970s Australia, The Swooping Magpie is a chilling psychological tale of love, loss and grief, and, through collective memory, finding we are not alone.

The Swooping Magpie is available for purchase here.

About Liza Perrat

liza

Liza grew up in Australia, working as a general nurse and midwife. She has now been living in France for over twenty years, where she works as a part-time medical translator and a novelist. She is the author of the historical The Bone Angel series. The first, Spirit of Lost Angels is set in 18th century revolutionary France. The second, Wolfsangel, is set during the WW2 Nazi Occupation and the French Resistance, and the third novel, Blood Rose Angel, is set during the 14th century Black Plague years. All of Liza’s books are available here.

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Liza is a co-founder and member of the writers’ collective Triskele Books. Liza also reviews books for Bookmuse.

You can find out more by visiting Liza’s website, her blog and by following her on Twitter @LizaPerrat. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

Staying in with Kris Pearson

Summer Sparks

You all know how much I love to travel and although Australia has been on my list, I’ve not yet made it to New Zealand. Consequently I’m delighted to welcome Kris Pearson to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me and chat about one of her books as she’s going to get me to New Zealand – albeit vicariously.

Staying in with Kris Pearson

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Kris. Thank you for staying in with me. Which of your books have you brought along to share with me and why have you chosen it?

Summer Sparks

I’ve brought along the first in my Scarlet Bay series. It’s called Summer Sparks and it’s a sexy contemporary which introduces my readers to the Wynn family and the New Zealand holiday destination of Scarlet Bay (which doesn’t quite exist.)

(What a shame – I like the idea of visiting Scarlet Bay. I’ll just have to read Summer Sparks and travel through my reading.)

What can we expect from an evening in with Summer Sparks?

This is older daughter Anna’s story. She’s been hiding a shameful secret for fourteen years and it has turned her into a dutiful busybody. She unexpectedly meets a man who shakes her out of her comfort zone and demolishes her world as she’s known it.

(I know a few busybodies who could benefit from the same treatment Kris. I think I’d be very interested in Anna’s story.)

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

I also heard you like gardening so I also brought along some photos of my garden.

Front Beds (1)

Garden from top step

(What a beautiful space Kris. I’m not at all jealous. No. Definitely not. Not a bit. I do have that self same cat ornament in my own garden though…)

Just to make sure you’re really not jealous Linda, and knowing how much you love travel, I have also brought a photo my husband took looking our over Wellington Harbour too.

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(That makes me even more jealous!)

Thanks so much for staying in with me Kris, to introduce your Scarlet Bay Series and Summer Sparks. Despite being insanely jealous of your beautiful photos I’ve really enjoyed our chat and I love the sound of the whole series. I have very much enjoyed our evening in. Good luck with the series.

Summer Sparks

Summer Sparks

A woman with a fourteen-year secret. A man with a harrowing past.

Jason’s dreams were ruthlessly crushed by his alcoholic father, but he’s finally become the man he always hoped to be – the strong, focused boss of his own construction company. Now, uptight interfering Anna Wynn is threatening to turn his life upside down.

Anna has arrived at the idyllic beach house to prepare for her wealthy family’s Christmas holiday. Big tough Jason Jones is right in the way – even in the bed she intended claiming as her own. She vows not to let this infuriating tower of testosterone upset her careful plans, but his rippling body and huge tattoo are hard to ignore.
Soon her closed-off heart is under siege from a man determined to break through her reserve. Enemies become lovers, but when her secret is revealed and her life is in tatters, will he be willing to pick up the pieces?

Summer Sparks is sexy, funny and heart-warming, and is intended for mature readers.

Summer Sparks is available for purchase here.

About Kris Pearson

Kris - Glasses 18-09

Kris was born to write – at twelve she completed her autobiography – an easy subject which required no research. It filled a whole school exercise book.

She lives in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. She has used this lovely city as the setting for six of her novels – hot, passionate, contemporary romances full of love and laughter.

She’s taken readers to wider New Zealand for the three stories that make up her Heartlands series. This is where you’ll meet the girls and guys who live in remote country areas. She has also published two sheikh novels and has another waiting in the wings.

Her current series is set in Scarlet Bay – a beach holiday resort which doesn’t quite exist – but it would be a little north of Wellington if it did.

Her most widely distributed novel is The Boat Builder’s Bed. Gambling that people would enjoy it, she made it free for a while in 2011 when this was a new thing to do, and more than two million copies were downloaded in a few weeks which kick-started sales of all her others.

Her first proper job was as an advertising copywriter. After living in Italy and London she returned to the capital city of Wellington and worked in TV, radio, several advertising agencies, and then spent many happy years as a retail ad manager. Totally hooked on fabrics, she followed this by going into business with her husband as a curtain installer. (Obvious career progression!)

It was finally time to write fiction. In nineteen years she hasn’t fallen off her ladder once through drifting off into romantic dreams. All the places she’s visited and people she’s met on décor jobs have been wonderful inspiration for her settings and characters. She once stole a whole house, although politely ‘built’ an extra storey on to disguise it.

She writes sizzling contemporary romance, pure and simple. Well, maybe not that pure. They’re sexy stories about modern couples who fall in love and into bed along the way, just like real people do. She’s the author of fifteen novels so far, three of which were finalists in New Zealand’s full-novel Clendon Award. Four have been translated into Spanish, two into Italian, and one into Portuguese. Five are very close to being released in China. Because sexy stuff is not culturally appropriate in China, she was asked to create new ‘sweeter’ editions of these, and they’re also available in English under her (sweeter) author name of Kerri Peach.

Kris inherited her mother’s love of gardening, and has so many flowers that hay-fever is possible if you visit. She has a much tidier garden than house.

You can find out more by visiting Kris’s website, finding her on Facebook and following her on Twitter @krispiewrites.

You’ll find Kris’s books here.

Staying in with John Mayer

The Trial

There’s a wry smile on my face today as I welcome John Mayer to stay in with me thanks to Caroline at Bits About Books and tell me about one of his books as, when I was preparing the blog post, I was so intrigued I decided to buy the book John has brought along. Turns out I bought it a while ago it’s been on my TBR some time! Let’s see what John has to say about it:

Staying in with John Mayer

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

Well firstly, thanks for the invitation. I’m looking forward to this.

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

The Trial 3D

I’ve brought along a copy of The Trial which is the first full length novel in my series The Parliament House Books. I’ve chosen it because it deals with something we all meet at some point in our lives, and when this thing arrives, it flies like an arrow piercing the very heart of people’s lives from which they don’t recover. I think it is an apt analogy, because when this thing does arrive, it’s not unusual for people to commit suicide. I’ve known that to happen several times.

(Crikey. What on earth is it John?)

What that is? I’ll tell you in a moment. Patience, grasshopper. The subject of The Trial is a weighty one, but as we’re staying in, we have plenty of time to get into it. Perhaps we shall open the wine first? I’d love a red, please.

(You can have all the red you like. I’ll have prosecco as ordinary wine doesn’t agree with me.)

The reason I mentioned ‘first full length novel’ is because there are three Prequels to this series. These develop the central character from the auspicious night of the birth of my protagonist, Brogan McLane, through a ‘coming of age’ story which revolves around an old Glasgow phenomenon; that of a criminal trial in a pub, and lastly, to his first case as an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland in Parliament House.

(Sounds intriguing.)

These Prequels set up the message, which I hope comes over loud and clear, that this series is about one deeply important thing to people all over the world and that thing isn’t justice: my books are about something much more damaging than the pursuit of justice, though that in itself is usually a long and arduous journey. My books are about injustice: something that happens all the time, but of course, there are no votes about it in Parliament, no money from local authorities to right wrongs and far too often, nobody cares whether injustice ruins lives or not. I accept that injustice is very occasionally high profile and gets TV coverage. But just as quickly, that flash in the pan is over and the vast majority of people just settle down to eat their dinner before watching Spiderman and forget about those suffering injustice. One thinks of the cases of the Guilford Four and the Birmingham Six, but there are millions of others. Ask any child who is standing in a school playground crying and screaming that what has happened to them isn’t fair. They’ll tell you about injustice and exactly how damaging it is to the body and the psyche. If that all sounds a bit preachy, it’s really not supposed to. What I’m trying to do is remind adults what injustice felt like and of course, how with the right lawyer, the tables can be turned.

(Yes! At last! I loathe injustice with a passion and it’s the one thing guaranteed to get me yelling at the television or in a real strop.)

JM in Wig and Gown

I thought long and hard about the title The Trial. After all, who would, as an unknown novelist, title their book after a classic which has the same title and subject matter? Only an idiot? Or someone who’s a successful trial lawyer with over twenty years’ experience, if you don’t mind me saying so? I’m the latter who’s read Franz Kafka’s The Trial maybe a dozen times. Of course, my book isn’t the same as his in any way, but the subject matter i.e. injustice, is identical.

(I’m a bit ashamed to say I’ve never read Kafka…)

Essentially, The Trial highlights the motto of the entire series: which is ‘Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.’

(The more I hear, the more interested I become John!)

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

Ooh that wine is good. An excellent choice.

(Have another glass and tell us more.)

Well, readers tell me that what you can expect from an evening in with The Trial is a fascinating journey behind the scenes in Parliament House. The central character Brogan McLane inhabits two worlds. Parliament House in Edinburgh where he is an Advocate of the Scottish Bar, and the Calton Bar in Glasgow, where he drinks and eats with men he’s known all his days and whom he can trust with his life. Which group of people do you think comes out more honourably?

(Erm…)

Ah! Don’t judge too quickly grasshopper. Life is complex and arriving at a just solution to an unjust situation is one of the most complex parts of life. I won’t spoil the ending by saying how nor even if that journey is completed. What you can be sure of is that justice is in the hands of a very few people in every country of the world and not all of them are honourable. Particularly in Parliament House in Edinburgh. Believe me, I know every inch of the place and every story which has unfolded over its five hundred year history. What you have to understand is that justice isn’t automatic. Not by a long way.

(I’m fully aware of that John! I’ve seen injustice all over the world but it makes me so cross when there are those who claim we live in a wholly just society. We do not!)

In The Trial you’ll encounter blood brothers, old school ties and not always of the material kind. You’ll meet judges who are reluctant members of the secret brotherhood called The Lochie Society and others for whom being a Member is all that supports their position on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Scotland. In particular, you’ll learn a lot about a scumbag judge called Lord Aldounhill. Is he representative? Well, you must make up your own mind. You’ll also meet honest men and a lowly but important man in Parliament House who is old Jimmy Robertson the Queen’s Macer; a man without whom Parliament House couldn’t function. You’ll see how it’s the interactions of these people which facilitate that pinpoint moment when a jury pronounces ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty’.

(Quite a lot to ponder there John. Have some more wine. Cheese too?)

Gosh, that wine is really good and goes very well with the cheese.

What else have you brought along and why? 

notebooks

Here, try the Wensleydale. For my money it’s the best English cheese and every bit as good as Wallace says it is. Did you know we have a dog called Gromit? So I guess that makes me Wallace. You may know that we’ve been living on a tiny island in Greece for the last two years. Well, when we got back I discovered a few manuscripts tucked away in the attic. I’ve brought them along just for old times’ sake. The first three are law books which are used in universities and occasionally by the courts. I’m very proud of having been an expert in international child abduction law. In fact, the character ‘Ababuo’ who’s featured in The Order was based upon a real child whom we rescued and saw through to adoption in Edinburgh. I also discovered a full novel called The Power of Clean Hands which was written twenty years ago. Another project waiting to be completed!  Anyway, I’m presently writing the sixth novel in the Parliament House Books series entitled The Court. But you’ll have to wait a few months for that one.

It sounds to me as if you’ve plenty to be getting on with John. Thanks so much for staying in with me and telling me all about The Trial. Now I realise I have already bought it, I’d better get reading it.

This has been great. We should do it again sometime. Many thanks for having me.

(My pleasure.)

The Trial

The Trial 3D

Parliament House Books #1

In Parliament House,scandal can be deadly.
A maverick lawyer. A secret worth killing for….

Brogan McLane has always been an outsider. Born on the wrong side of the tracks, he learned to fight tooth and nail for justice in the mean streets of Glasgow, Scotland. But now, after years of of hard work and study, McLane has been ‘Called to the Bar’, and become a member of the most prestigious legal club in the country; The Faculty of Advocates in Parliament House…

But his legal career may be cut short before it even begins. In the wake of a seedy sex scandal, a High Court Judge is found dead… murdered in his palatial estate. The victim’s wealthy and connected friends close ranks. One of them knows the killer’s identity, but they care more about appearances than justice. They need to pin the heinous crime on a scapegoat. And who better than ‘outsider’ Brogan McLane…

Out on bail, his career on hold, McLane needs to get ahead of his enemies fast, or go down for a crime he didn’t commit. Enlisting the help of his scrappy Glasgow friends, and an honest police commander, the rogue lawyer decides there’s only one way to clear his name… find the real killer!

From Russian mafia bordellos to the halls of Scotland’s highest court, McLane must use every trick in the book to catch a murderer as skilled at legal manipulation as he is. But will it be enough to win the most important trial of his career… His own?

The Trial is the first standalone book in the addictive Parliament House Scottish crime series. If you like heroic lawyers, scandalous twists, and edge-of-your-seat suspense, you’ll love this gripping legal thriller.

The Trial is available for purchase here.

About John Mayer

John MAyer

Like his leading character, Brogan McLane, John Mayer was born in Glasgow, Scotland and spent much of his time in the Mitchell Library in central Glasgow where he devoured books of all kinds.

Having as the owner of a record company had a court battle with global giants, John decided to study law and became an Advocate in the Supreme Courts of Scotland – yes, at Edinburgh’s Parliament House. John acted for the downtrodden and desperate as well as Greenpeace International. His specialism was in fighting international child abduction.

John’s experiences as an Advocate are the foundation for his Parliament House Books, his battle to seek justice is what motivates and inspires his protagonist, crusading Scottish Advocate, Brogan McLane,  who fights injustice casually delivered by Low Life in High Places in the Old Town.

To find out more, visit John’s website, find him on Facebook, Instagram and Amazon or follow John on Twitter @johnmayerauthor.