Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay by Ali McNamara

Secrets and seashells at the Rainbow Hotel

I thoroughly enjoy Ali McNamara’s writing so that when Clara Diaz invited me to be part of the launch celebrations for Ali’s latest novel Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay, I simply couldn’t resist and I’m delighted to share my review today.

You can read my review of Ali McNamara’s book The Summer of Serendipityhere and my review of Daisy’s Vintage Camper Van here.

Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay will be released tomorrow by Little Brown imprint Sphere and is available for purchase through these links.

Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay

Secrets and seashells at the Rainbow Hotel

Amelia is a single mother, doing her very best to look after her young son, Charlie – but money is tight and times are tough. When she first hears that she is the last descendent of the Chesterford family and that she has inherited a Real-Life Castle by the sea, Amelia can’t quite believe her ears. But it’s true!

She soon finds that owning a castle isn’t quite the ticket to sorting out her money problems that she’d first hoped: she can’t sell, because the terms of the ancient bequest state that any Chesterford who inherits the castle, must live there and work towards the upkeep and maintenance of the family home. So ever-practical Amelia decides to uproot her little family and move to this magnificent castle by the sea.

Living in a castle on the beautiful Northumberland coast is fun at first, but organising the day-to-day running is a lot more complicated than Amelia first imagined. Luckily she has help from the small band of eccentric and unconventional staff that are already employed there – and a mysterious unseen hand that often gives her a push in the right direction just when she needs it most. It’s only when she meets Tom, a furniture restorer who comes to the castle to help repair some antique furniture, that Amelia realises she might get the fairy-tale ending that she and Charlie truly deserve…

My Review of Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay

Abandoned by her husband, Amelia needs some good luck.

I always enjoy reading Ali McNamara and Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay was as entertaining as I was expecting and such a super story. I loved the plot. I expect a happy ever after ending for this genre but what Ali McNamara does with consummate skill is keep the reader guessing how that ending might come about with some fabulous surprises along the way.

This time, that little bit extra frisson of the supernatural that Ali Mcnamara does so well is more developed and all the better for it, because it enhances the concept of identity running through the story, with an exploration of primogeniture, feminism, sexuality and identity which I felt elevated this book beyond what might be expected for the genre but with a skilful lightness of touch. I felt enormously entertained, especially when the element of mystery is added into the second half of the perfectly entitled Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay.

I thought the Northumberland setting was hugely evocative. I was reminded of Bamburgh or Alnwick castles and could just picture the wide sweep of sky and beach through Ali McNamara’s gorgeous descriptions. I’d certainly like to visit Amelia’s castle.

But for all the impressive themes and wonderful setting, it is the people in Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay that really make the book. Amelia’s ability to organise, to rise above adversity and to support the local economy should make her almost too good to be true, but far from it. She is warm and vivid with just enough negativity and self-doubt in her personality to make her feel very real indeed. I was desperate for her to find happiness. I really would like to spend some time with Tom in a darkened room too, but it was Arthur whom I found appealed most. His taciturn yet loyal nature made him feel someone I’d really like to get to know. Indeed all the characters felt like real people to me – even those who are no longer alive!

Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay is charming uplit at its very best, written by an author, Ali McNamara who understands the genre perfectly. It’s humorous, fast paced, entertaining and a thumping good story. I enjoyed every moment of it.

 About Ali McNamara

McNamaraAli (c) DanMartland normal res

Ali McNamara attributes her over-active and very vivid imagination to one thing – being an only child. Time spent dreaming up adventures when she was young has left her with a head bursting with stories waiting to be told.

When stories she wrote for fun on Ronan Keating’s website became so popular they were sold as a fundraising project for his cancer awareness charity, Ali realised that not only was writing something she enjoyed doing, but something others enjoyed reading too.

You can visit Ali’s website, find her on Facebook and you can follow her on Twitter @AliMcNamara.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj

A Feast of Serendib

Having recently returned from a trip touring Sri Lanka I couldn’t resist accepting the offer to participate in Rachel’s Random Resources blog tour for the cookery book A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj, even if it my husband who does most of the cooking these days!

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj is available for purchase here or here.

A Feast of Serendib

A Feast of Serendib Cover.png

Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.

Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

My Review of A Feast of Serendib

A wide variety of recipes from Mary Anne Mohanraj’s Sri Lankan heritage.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cookery book because of Mary Anne Mohanraj’s honest conversational tone. It’s more like listening to a friend describe her cooking than reading an austere and prescriptive chef’s manual! The author frequently drops in tips about changes that can be made such as adding alcohol or substituting dried for fresh herbs and spices which might be more readily accessible. It made me smile when she pointed out the extra washing up that might arise from using a food processor in her Red Rice Congee for example.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the personal anecdotes so that I felt I got to know Mary Anne Mohanraj and her family. Her daughter’s favourite ginger garlic chicken is probably my favourite recipe as well. The introduction to the book and the cultural background bring alive the reasons for the recipes and it isn’t every day a cookery book has poetry too so that A Feast of Serendib has little added extras that satisfy the reader and cook. Indeed, my favourite part of the entire book was the poem Come To Me.

It almost goes without saying that there are some super recipes to try and the photographs enable the reader to feast with their eyes before they even attempt to cook. I think some more cautious cooks might feel slightly scared of Mary Anne’s willingness to adapt and alter her recipes as she goes, but they would be wrong. Her style here encourages tentative cooks to experiment and adjust what they are cooking to their own tastes so that they can truly own their food.

A Feast of Serendib is exactly that – a feast of Sri Lankan serendipitous food, culture and information, making for a book to enjoy with recipes to adapt as you cook.

About Mary Anne Mohanraj

A Feast of Serendib - Author Photo

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages.  The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and also founded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal ( She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit ( and The Speculative Literature Foundation (  She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog.  Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin’s WildCards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies.  2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib.

To find out more, follow Mary Anne on Twitter @mamohanraj or Instagram, find her on Facebook or visit her website. There’s also a website for the Serendib Kitchen here.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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The Rapture by Claire McGlasson

The Rapture

Although I have been forcing myself not to accept new books for review as I can hardly fit into my home because of the vast number of volumes awaiting my attention, when Lauren got in touch from Faber and Faber to ask if I would like to read The Rapture by Claire McGlasson, all my resolve flew out of the window. My enormous thanks to Lauren for sending me a copy of The Rapture in return for an honest review.

Published on 6th June 2019 by Faber and Faber, The Rapture is available for purchase in all the usual places, including Amazon and via the publisher website.

The Rapture

The Rapture

Dilys is a devoted member of The Panacea Society, populated almost entirely by virtuous single ladies. When she strikes up a friendship with Grace, a new recruit, God finally seems to be smiling upon her. The friends become closer as they wait for the Lord to return to their very own Garden of Eden, and Dilys feels she has found the right path at last.

But Dilys is wary of their leader’s zealotry and suspicious of those who would seem to influence her for their own ends. As her feelings for Grace bud and bloom, the Society around her begins to crumble. Faith is supplanted by doubt as both women come to question what is true and fear what is real.

My Review of The Rapture

Based on real people and events, Dilys is part of The Panacea Society.

When I think of Bedford it conjures almost nothing in my mind, but what a magnificent debut Claire McGlasson has produced in the Bedford setting of The Rapture. I will never visit the town with the same flippant attitude again. The Rapture is a beautifully written, immaculately researched and vividly told story based on real life events that I could hardly believe. Claire McGlasson presents totally convincingly the events that could be happening behind the doors of any suburban street right now and, although the last Bedford member of the Panacea Society has died, this story has salutary freshness and relevance for our lives today, making it a stunning read.

I loved the intermingling of real transcripts, tracts and letters amongst the fictionalised aspects of the narrative because they lent authenticity but also added to the incredulous feeling I had as I read. As the book progressed I became more and more tense the more powerful Emily became until I could hardly bear to read on and yet I couldn’t stop myself as I was desperate to know what happened. I was frequently open-mouthed and wide eyed and I experienced a wide range of emotions as I read, from pity to rage. I can’t say much about the plot of The Rapture as I don’t want to spoil the book for others, but even if it is based on real events it has some impactful surprises along the way.

The characters of Emily and Octavia left me reeling and the fact they are based on real people made me astounded. I so wanted Dilys to escape the Panacea Society and the reach of Octavia and Emily. I thought her building relationship with Grace (who couldn’t be more aptly named) was sensitively and maturely created so that I was entirely on their side throughout. Dilys in particular is fabulous because we get to see inside her mind as well as witness her external behaviours. I found myself speaking to her to try to affect her actions which actually made me quite uncomfortable as I realised what an impact the book was having on me!

In The Rapture Claire McGlasson makes wickedly insightful observations tinged with a dark humour that had me laughing aloud at the same time as feeling unsettled by some quite disturbing undercurrents. There is, as the author explores, a fine line between passion and insanity, and reading The Rapture made me question just who decides the parameters of society and how blindly we may adhere to them.

The Rapture is a sublime read. When I began reading I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but within a very few pages I was entranced. Historical, compelling, educating, but above all else a brilliant story, I thought The Rapture was an outstanding debut. I really recommend it.

About Claire McGlasson

Claire McGlasson

Claire McGlasson is a journalist who works for ITV News and enjoys the variety of life on the road with a TV camera. She lives in Cambridgeshire. The Rapture is her debut novel.

You can follow Claire on Twitter @ClaireMcGlasson for more information.

All Summer With You by Beth Good

All Summer with You

My enormous thanks to TeamBookends for sending me a copy of All Summer With You by Beth Good in return for an honest review.

Published by Quercus on 27th June 2019, All Summer With You is available for pre-order through these links.

All Summer With You

All Summer with You

There’s no place like home…

Nursing a broken heart, Jennifer Bolitho retreats to Pixie Cottage. Her new landlord – a former soldier turned movie heartthrob – has grounds so large, she’s sure the little house nestled in the woods will bring her solitude.

Alex Delgardo also has reasons to hide away. Seeking refuge after a tragic incident turned his world upside down, he knows that the most important thing now is to care for his ailing family.

But when Jennifer enters their lives, that changes. Because, as they both learn, you can’t heal others until you learn to heal yourself…

My Review of All Summer With You

Jennifer seeks solitude to mend her broken heart.

All Summer With You is a lovely, lovely book that captured my attention from the first page and held it perfectly throughout. I loved this romantic story of love, life, family, trust, remorse – and goats!

Although All Summer With You might be seen as a light read, it is by no means insubstantial. So many thought-provoking themes, including grief and PTSD, underpin Beth Good’s exemplary and flowing writing in All Summer With You that she manages to ensnare the reader’s mind as well as their heart. Both Alex and Jennifer have past pain that they need to resolve which lends an added piquancy and depth to the narrative. I thought the way in which Alex’s past was gradually revealed to both Jennifer and the reader worked brilliantly. Indeed, I found myself very much in love with him too! I was desperate for Jennifer and Alex to realise they were meant for one another, often as frustrated as they were by the machinations of their encounters, but you’ll need to read the book to see what happens.

The characters are vividly drawn so that they feel real and warm. The way in which the whole spectrum of society populates the text from babies to nonagenarian Nelly, and actors to farmers, makes it feel as if it has relevance to all readers. Even the Cornish setting is vibrantly depicted through folk law and Jennifer’s oratory, making the county as much of a character as any of the people. I felt transported to the grounds of Porro Park House where most of the action is set.

There’s a smashing plot to All Summer With You that would make the most brilliant film. I felt completely emotionally invested in what happens because Beth Good has such a deft style that totally ensnares her reader. She writes with wonderful balance that made me feel I was there in the pages of the book.

All Summer With You was exactly the right book at the right moment for me. I adored every word. I was surprisingly touched by some scenes and shed a tear or two along the way. I think All Summer With You is the perfect summer read. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

About Beth Good

Beth Good

Born and raised in Essex, England, Beth Good was whisked away to an island tax haven at the age of eleven to attend an exclusive public school and rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Sadly, she never became rich or famous herself, so had to settle for infamy as a writer of dubious novels. She writes under several different names, mainly to avoid confusing her readers – and herself! As Beth Good she writes romantic comedy and feel-good fiction. She also writes thrillers as Jane Holland, historicals as Victoria Lamb and Elizabeth Moss, and feel-good fiction as Hannah Coates.

Beth currently lives in the West Country where she spends a great deal of time thinking romantic thoughts while staring out of her window at sheep. (These two actions are unrelated.) Beth says she can be found on Twitter where she occasionally indulges in pointless banter about chocolate making and the Great British Bake Off. Due to a basic inability to say no, she has too many children and not enough money, which means she needs as many readers as she can get.

You can follow Beth on Twitter as @BethGoodWriter or find her on Facebook.

The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas by Daniel James

ezra maas

I first came across The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas by Daniel James when it was featured on fellow blogger Jackie’s Never Imitate blog. I was really intrigued by her comments so when Daniel James got in touch and asked me if I’d like a copy for review I readily accepted. I had intended to read The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas earlier this year on holiday but it’s quite a heavy book and I had to lighten my suitcase and swap it for another so it’s taken me a while to catch up!

My thanks to both Dead Ink and Daniel James for my copy of The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas in return for an honest review.

The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas was published by Dead Ink Books on 26th November 2018 and is available for purchase here.

The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas

ezra maas

Compelling and suspenseful, The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas is the story of a journalist searching for the truth about a reclusive artist through 60 years of unreality. A chilling literary labyrinth, the book combines postmodern noir with pseudo-biography, letters, phone transcripts, emails and newspaper clippings.

Ezra Maas is dead. The famously reclusive artist vanished without a trace seven years ago while working on his final masterpiece, but his body was never found. While the Maas Foundation prepares to announce his death, journalist Daniel James finds himself hired to write the untold story of the artist’s life. But this is no ordinary book. The deeper James delves into the myth, the more he is drawn into a nightmarish world of fractured identities and sinister doubles, where art and reality have become dangerously blurred…

My Review of The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas

An anonymous writer pieces together Daniel James’ work on a biography of Ezra Maas.

Goodness me. What a book. I am totally at a loss to know how to review The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas as it defies category into genre or style and is a complex, multi-layered and totally compelling biographical conceit that twists reality and belief until the reader has no idea what is true and what is pure imagination. Reading The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas left my brain whirring and I felt very unsettled. In many ways the hypodiegetic style reminded me of a modern and more sophisticated Boccaccio’s The Decameron, or of the frame narrative of Shelley’s Frankenstein, but with many more elements and layers so that this really is a book that surprises and entertains.

The quality of writing is sublime. How Daniel James managed to plot The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas with its multiple viewpoints, footnotes and other components I have no idea. This isn’t so much a book as a work of art itself and a seething mass of philosophy, art, culture, science, literature, mystery and intrigue. The language used is so brilliantly crafted that I found myself educated as well as entertained, particularly through the footnotes. I frequently felt ignorant as I scurried off to check elements online to see whether they were real or an aspect of Daniel James’s creativity; either way they formed part of his scarily effective manipulation of me as a reader because I HAD to know. My vocabulary and knowledge have increased dramatically as a result of reading this book, but they have done so almost against my free will. I can’t decide whether to be delighted or horrified by this effect.

And it is those very same footnotes that hold so many of the clues to the entire concept of The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas. Frequent references to deception, false leads and the blurring of fact and fiction suggest this entire work is pure fantasy and yet the real people and events that pepper the text give authenticity and veracity. I thought this construction was brilliant.

Having read The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas I haven’t a clue who Ezra Maas was, even though I did visit the Ezra Maas website (which I’m pretty sure is another of Daniel James’s fabulous deceptions). I don’t think the book will appeal to all readers because it is so intricate, so erudite and so complex that it needs time and concentration fully to appreciate it. However, I have been utterly intrigued, totally fascinated and thoroughly entertained and found The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas a sensational read. I won’t forget it in a hurry!

About Daniel James

dan james

Daniel James is a writer, journalist and magazine editor, living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. His debut novel, The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas, was published by Dead Ink Books in November 2018.

Daniel is the founder and editor of The Bleed, an independent multidisciplinary arts magazine with contributors from New York and Japan. In 2016, he was a member of the Live Theatre Writers Group and completed his first full-length play. As a journalist, Daniel worked as a senior reporter on a daily newspaper and feature writer for The Culture Magazine.

You can find out more by following Daniel on Twitter @danjameswriter and visiting his website.

A Trio of Children’s Book Treats from @maverickbooks

Maverick trio

I may be fast approaching sixty, but I just love the quality of children’s books produced by Maverick and I was thrilled to find three recent or soon to be released books waiting for me on my return from a recent trip away and would like to thank Valerie Hall for my surprise book post.

Today I have short reviews of The Pirate Who Lost His Name by Lou Treleaven, illustrated by Genie Espinosa and available for purchase here, of The Moosic Makers by Heather Pindar, illustrated by Barbara Bakos and available for purchase here, and of I, Pod written by Rebecca Lisle, illustrated by Richard Watson and available for purchase here.

Previous Maverick publications I’ve featured on Linda’s Book Bag include:

Colin Mulhern’s Buttercup Sunshine and the Zombies of Dooooom reviewed here.

The Pop Puffin by Jill Atkins, illustrated by Kelly Breemer and King Carl and the Wish by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Marina Pessarrodona, both reviewed here.

Froggy Day by Heather Pindar and illustrated by Barbara Bakos reviewed here.

Not Yet A Yeti by Lou Treleaven and illustrated by Tony Neal reviewed here.

The Oojamaflip by Lou Treleaven and illustrated by Julia Patteon, Scary Scott by Katie Dale illustrated by Irene Montano and Nanny Ninja by Jenny Jinks, illustrated by Sean Longcroft all reviewed here.

The Pirate Who Lost His Name


There was once a pirate. A very piratey pirate. He had everything a pirate was supposed to have. The only thing he didn’t have was a name. He’d forgotten it!

My Review of The Pirate Who Lost His Name

This is such a fun story with considerable humour for children and adults alike. I loved pirate Captain Dreamboat with his pink man bun and self-obsession and the frustrated expression on the parrot’s face as he tries to communicate with the pirate whose name is missing.

The Pirate Who Lost His Name has just enough piratey direct speech to give authenticity without undermining language acquisition for children. Indeed, the mis-use of ‘me’ instead of ‘my’, ‘ye’ for ‘you’ and ‘yer’ for ‘your’ would make excellent talking points about how our language helps create an impression of who we are. So too would the elements that make up the pirate. I can imagine lots of discussion about stereotypes leading to role play and great excitement. The fact that the pirates are not all male and that others in the story have different coloured skin, are different shapes and sizes and ages conveys super messages about equality and acceptance.

The illustrations are a joy because they help tell the story. It isn’t written how the pirate lost his name, but the pictures show what happened so that children can make predictions and become actively involved in the narrative. There’s so many opportunities to use the book in several ways with numeracy through counting the different style of beards perhaps, or creativity in deciding the parrot’s name, for example.

Once again, Lou Treleaven has created a super book for children in The Pirate Who Lost His Name.

The Moosic Makers

Moosic makers

Nutmeg and Celery love their MOO-grass music and when Farmer Joni needs a new barn roof, it seems the perfect way to help raise money. Will MOO-grass music be enough or will they have to change their tune?

My Review of The Moosic Makers

What a clever book! Adults will love the word play references to music from the farmer being called Joni to Moo-grass and Discow genres or the animal band being called The Jersey Bleats, and I can envisage lots of fun being had with children as the real versions of music are discovered too. There’s a real opportunity for class room research here as well as simply sharing a story with a child in the home. Geography, music, newspapers and money could all become linked topics.

Whilst most of the language used is fully accessible and slightly older children would be able to read The Moosic Makers independently, there are smashing new words like ‘winsome’ to extend vocabulary so that children learn through their enjoyment. I would chat with them about safety too when Nutmeg and Celery hitch-hike home so that stranger danger might be discussed in a safe and comforting environment. Mr Smarm affords a similar opportunity.

The illustrations add a smashing level of interest. It would be lovely to create some artwork based on the story such as festival posters.

The Moosic Makers would be a valuable addition to any home or classroom.

I, Pod

I, Pod

Pod is in trouble when one of his inventions puts baby Nim in danger, but it’s okay because she knows exactly where to point the blame!

My Review of I, Pod

I, Pod is a brilliant story for children. There’s smashing humour as Pod tries to get Nim to learn his name and there are great spelling and phonetic opportunities as she attaches the wrong letter instead of d. The use of onomatopoeia illustrates how children can develop their own writing too.

The story is exciting and dramatic so that children will be hugely engaged. Illustrations are vibrant and exciting. I think some children might even be slightly frightened by the images of the fish and tiger so that they can discuss emotions and fear safely with the adults, but many will just love the level of peril and the opportunity to discover a story set in the time of dinosaurs. This works especially well when it’s actually a mammoth who saves the day.

I thought it was inspired to find Pod trying to think of an excuse for all Nim’s missing belongings as fibbing and taking responsibility are aspects of life children need to understand.

I really enjoyed I, Pod and I know children will too.


Common to all three books is a place for a class or child to write their name at the beginning. I love this concept because it creates the impression that books are special and to be valued and what could be better than engendering a love of books and reading?

I really do think Maverick have captured the very best of children’s fiction, early reader and picture books in their catalogue. I’d recommend them for home and school because, as well as being beautifully designed, they offer so many learning opportunities as well as great enjoyment.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, librarian or teaching assistant I’d highly recommend having a look at what Maverick have on offer.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak


My enormous thanks to Georgia Taylor at Penguin Random House for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World was published by Penguin imprint Viking on 6th June 2019 and is available for purchase through the links here.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World


‘In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away…’

For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works.

Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life – friends who are now desperately trying to find her. . .

My Review


10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World

Leila’s death is only the beginning.

As intricate and beautifully wrought as the finest Turkish carpet, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is a truly fabulous book. The story of Leila’s life as she gradually shuts down after being murdered and her physical body has died, all life is here in a tale that is moving, perfectly crafted and totally captivating. I found 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World such a potent and emotionally engaging book that it actually took me quite a long time to read because I had to give myself breaks from the intensity to reflect on the story and regain some composure.

What is so wonderful is the way in which Elif Shafek takes Leila and her five friends who are all social misfits, whether that is as a result of dwarfism, prostitution or being a transsexual for example, and illustrates what warm, vibrant and sublime human beings they really are so that the reader understands the hopes and despairs of all humanity through the dynamics of their relationships and friendship. There’s more of a feeling of inclusion through these characters, despite the prejudices of politics, religion and state presented, than in any factual treatise I’ve encountered. I wanted to climb into the pages and be with these stupendous people. I genuinely felt bereft when I had to close the book at the end. I miss them still.

The portrayal of Istanbul is magnificent. All of the senses are catered for making the city come alive both in the time of the narrative and at different points in its history so that it is a character in its own right; flawed, dynamic, fascinating. I felt I learned more about its real essence than in any of the time I’ve actually spent there. 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is a totally transporting book.

In 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World Elif Shafek explores the nature of love, ambition, fulfilment, identity and life and so much more. I’d challenge any reader to come up with an aspect of human existence and not find an example woven into this spellbinding story.

It’s impossible to convey the intricacies, the resonances and the sheer beauty of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World without recourse to hyperbole. Let me just say that I loved every single second of being immersed in Leila’s story. It’s a book to savour, to reflect upon and to be moved by. I thought it was wonderful.

About Elif Shafek


Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels. Her work has been translated into fifty languages.

Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne’s College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow.

She is a member of World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). An advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights and freedom of speech, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice a TED global speaker, each time receiving a standing ovation. Shafak contributes to many major publications around the world and she has been awarded the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people who would make the world better. She has judged numerous literary prizes and is chairing the Wellcome Prize 2019.

You can find out more about Elif Shafak on her website, by following her on Twitter @Elif_Safak and finding her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Blog tour banner

An Evening with #DestinationHQ


Lat night, Monday 17th June 2019, I was invited by the lovely folk at Harper Collins to their HQ imprint event #DestinationHQ, showcasing their forthcoming fiction from Summer 2019 to Spring 2020 and my goodness what a collection it is. It’s no wonder HQ have been celebrating considerable success with so many recent awards as Publicity Director Sophie Calder described in her introduction to the evening.

Having cleared security where being referred to as ‘Madam’ by the security guard made me feel a little bit ancient until I looked around and realised I probably WAS the oldest person in the room, we were taken to the 17th floor of the News Building where fantastic views are afforded across London.


The first table to greet us held most welcome cocktails and I confess I may have had one or three of those!


A table of water cooling fans was very welcome too!


However, more importantly was a table laden with some of the new and forthcoming releases from HQ. I confess that I collected some of these to take away at the end of the evening.


HQ Debut Authors

Once Sophie had introduced the evening, Senior Press Officer Joe Thomas introduced the HQ debut authors and invited them to tell us about their books in one minute.

Firstly, Alyson Rudd told us about The First Time Lauren Pailing Died which will be published on 11th July 2019 and is available for pre-order here.

Lauren Pailing

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties, and a child of the seventies. She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to finally being found…

Next Luan Goldie introduced her debut Nightingale Point which comes out on 25th July 2019 and is available for pre-order here.

Nightingale Point

On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.

Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.

It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.

Anita Frank (whom I was delighted to chat to during the evening over canapes and more cocktails) described The Lost Ones coming out on 31st October 2019 and available for pre-order here.

The Lost Ones

Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

Sarah Hussain


We were then treated to Sairish Hussain’s explanation of The Family Tree which really intrigues me! It’s so new that I can’t even share the cover or pre-order links with you, but it sounds fantastic and will be out on 20th February 2020!

Louise Hare




Our penultimate debut author presentation came from Louise Hare who described This Lovely City coming on 12th March 2020, so again I can’t show you a blurb or cover yet!Helen Monks Takhar


Lastly, but by no means least in the debut author category, we heard all about Precious You by Helen Monks-Takhar which will be released on 30th April 2020. As soon as I have further details about pre-ordering I’ll be doing so as it sounds fabulous!


Although all the debut authors had confessed to feeling nervous they did such a brilliant job of introducing their books that I know I’ll be reading them all over the next year!

Uplifting Fiction

HQ’s publicity manager Lucy Richardson then stepped up to introduce the forthcoming uplifting fiction and again I was so impressed by the books about to come our way.

We began with Elaine Bedell telling us all About That Night coming out very soon on 11th July 2019 and available through the links here. I may just have sneaked a copy of this one!

About that Night

Sometimes it only takes one night to change everything…

Elizabeth Place might have been jilted on her wedding day one year ago, but at least she’s still got her brilliant job producing one of the biggest shows on TV!

But when larger-than-life TV host, Ricky Clough, dies live on air, her life is sent spinning out of control. And with foul play suspected, the spotlight is turned firmly on his colleagues – especially Hutch, the man desperate for Ricky’s job and whom Elizabeth is secretly dating.

As her world comes crashing down around her, Elizabeth realises that perhaps the only person she can really trust, is herself…

One of the books I’ve had my eye on since it’s hardback release in January is Seni Glaister‘s Mr Doubler Begins Again and so I was thrilled to pick up a copy and hear all about it. It is available through these links.

Mr Doubler


Baked, mashed, boiled or fried, Mr Doubler knows his potatoes. But the same can’t be said for people. Since he lost his wife, he’s been on his own at Mirth Farm – and that suits Doubler just fine. Crowds are for other people; the only company he needs are his potato plants and his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood, who visits every day.

So when Mrs Millwood is taken ill, it ruins everything – and Mr Doubler begins to worry that he might have lost his way. But could the kindness of strangers be enough to bring him down from the hill?

Sara Alexander then described The Last Concerto which will be released on 22nd August and is available for pre-order here. This was another I simply had to put in my bag!The Last Concerto

Famed for its natural beauty and rich history, Sardinia in 1968 is notorious, too, for the bandits who kidnap wealthy landowners for ransom.

Famed for its natural beauty and rich history, Sardinia in 1968 is notorious, too, for the bandits who kidnap wealthy landowners for ransom. Eleven-year-old Alba Fresu’s brother, and her father, Bruno, are abducted by criminals who mistake Bruno for a rich man. After a grueling journey through the countryside, the two are eventually released—but the experience leaves Alba shaken and unable to readjust to normal life, or to give voice to her inner turmoil.

Accompanying her mother to cleaning jobs, Alba visits the villa of an eccentric Signora and touches the keys of a piano for the first time. The instrument’s spell is immediate. During secret lessons, forbidden by her mother, Alba is at last able to express emotions too powerful for words alone. Ignoring her parents’ insistence that she work in the family’s car dealership and marry a local boy, Alba accepts a scholarship to the Rome conservatoire. There she immerses herself in a vibrant world of art and a passionate affair.

But her path will lead her to a crossroads, and Alba will have to decide how to reconcile her talent with her longing for love and family, and convey the music of her heart …

Sophia Money-Coutts was the next to present her ‘elevator pitch’ for What Happens Now? which is another 22nd August release available through these links and one I’ll be adding to my TBR.

what happens now

‘I was pregnant with the baby of a man I had met once.
What was one normally left with after a first date? A bad case of thrush?’

After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she’d already found ‘the one’ – that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague. So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do: swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What’s the worst that can happen?

Well it’s pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later Lil discovers she’s pregnant. She’s single, thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it’s hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.

Lil’s ready to do the baby-thing on her own – it can’t be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he’s not that Max, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn’t ignoring Lil after all…

Miranda Dickenson (whom initially I didn’t recognise without a hat!) stepped up to tell us all about The Day We Meet Again which will be released on 5th September 2019 and is available for pre-order here.

The Day We Meet Again

Their love story started with goodbye…

The brand-new novel from The Sunday Times bestselling author, Miranda Dickinson.

‘We’ll meet again at St Pancras station, a year from today. If we’re meant to be together, we’ll both be there. If we’re not, it was never meant to be . . .’

Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn’t part of the plan. So they make a promise: to meet again in the same place in twelve months’ time if they still want to be together.

But is life ever as simple as that?

This is a story of what-ifs and maybes – and how one decision can change your life forever…

Finally in this group of authors, Sarah Morgan introduced her new book A Wedding in December which will be available through these links on 31st October 2019. The final cover is still to come but I do have the blurb for you.


In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding.

First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister Katie is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself. If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiance but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived – how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.

Domestic Suspense

The final set of fantastic authors was introduced by Izzy Smith. This time we found out all about the new domestic suspense books coming our way.


It was a bit of a fangirl moment for me as Adele Parks told us all about Lies Lies Lies which is out on 19th September 2019 and available for pre-order here. I didn’t manage to grab a copy of Lies Lies Lies so I know what I’ll be ordering …

Lies Lies Lies


Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it?

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three.

And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies Lies Lies Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in freefall in a mesmerising tale of marriage and secrets.

The Move

The Move, described by author Felicity Everett sounds a cracker and will be out on 26th December 2019. You can pre-order a copy here.

Karen is driving through a strange landscape into a new life. Always a city girl, now she is on her way to an idyllic country cottage, refurbished for her with impeccable taste by her husband Nick. They’re making a fresh start.

But something is awry in the new house – it’s not just the fact that Karen and Nick are ill at ease in one another’s company – that their recent history is far from picture perfect, it’s the whole vibe. The landscape is breathtaking by day, eerie by night. If the countryside is supposed to be a place of peace, far away from curtain-twitchers, who is the person watching them from the hill? And who are their new neighbours?

With Karen only recently emerging from a dark place in her life, can she find the trust in her husband Nick to let go of events that have followed them to their new house?

Our penultimate author of the evening was the incredible B. A. Paris who introduced The Dilemma coming on 9th January 2020 and available for pre-order here. (The cover here is an international one and may well be different in the UK and I must confess I was somewhat in awe of being in the same room as B A Paris.)Dilemma

It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

Our final author of the evening was H C Warner who closed the presentations in style with her account of She, coming out on 9th January 2020 and available for early pre-order here.


She’s everything he dreamed of.  Isn’t she?

Ben can’t believe his luck when the beautiful Bella walks into his life, just when he needs her most.

Still bruised and vulnerable since breaking-up with long-term girlfriend, Charlotte, he falls head over heels in love.

But Bella isn’t quite the ideal partner that Ben believes her to be. She quickly decides that everything is better when it is just the two of them – making it harder for friend and family to stay in touch. And then a sudden death triggers a chain of events that throws Ben headlong into a nightmare…

Secrets, lies, vengeance and betrayal are at the heart of this story about a family that is destroyed when their son brings home the perfect girl…

Once the formal presentations were over there was time to mingle, eat canapes, drink  and chat with fellow bloggers, publicists and authors. I had meant to dash away to another event, but time passed so quickly I didn’t have chance to do that and instead left #DestinationsHQ with my head buzzing with the absolutely brilliant sounding books I definitely need in my life as I dashed across London to get my train back to Lincolnshire. HQ definitely have something for every reader in their new catalogue so do check them out on Twitter @HQstories or sign up to their newsletter here.

The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse

The Things I know

I’m sure the wonderful Amanda Prowse features on Linda’s Book Bag more often than I do, but there’s a very good reason for that – I love her writing! Consequently, I broke my own NetGalley ban to access an ebook version of The Things I Know even though my sight makes them tricky to read. When a signed and dedicated hard copy arrived I simply had to get reading as soon as I could. My thanks to the team at ED Public Relations for sending me a copy of The Things I Know in return for an honest review.

The Things I Know was published by Lake Union on 13th June 2019 and is available for purchase here.

Here are a few links to other times Amanda Prowse has featured on the blog:

My review of The Coordinates of Loss is here.

My review of Anna is here.

My review of Another Love is here.

My review of My Husband’s Wife is here.

My review of The Food of Love is here.

My review of The Idea of You is here.

As well as meeting her in real life, I have also been privileged to interview Amanda here.

The Things I Know

The Things I know

From bestselling author Amanda Prowse comes a heartwarming tale of first impressions and lasting love.

Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott loves living and working on the remote family farm and B&B. But she also wants more. To see the world. To own her own home. To fall madly in love.

But those are fairy tales, and if her life is a fairy tale, then she’s the ugly duckling. Her deformed lip, her crooked limbs and her weak heart have kept her from taking chances. But that’s about to change.

When Grayson Potts comes to stay, he’s unlike anyone Thomasina has ever met. He’s aloof, eccentric and exceptionally kind. He’s also totally unconcerned with the physical flaws that have always defined Thomasina.

The two form a bond that neither has had before. It’s possible that it could become something more, but Thomasina also wonders if it’s too good to be true. By putting her heart on the line, Thomasina may open herself to heartbreak. But she may also open herself to so much more.

My Review of The Things I know

Life is hard for Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott as she farms with her over-protective parents.

Amanda Prowse is a truly remarkable writer. She delves into the very soul of humanity and lays it bare for her readers but she does so with such sensitivity and love that even a book like The Things I Know, which has the physically disabled Thomasina and the somewhat autistic Grayson Potts, never feels exploitative. Rather, the reader is shown just how much an individual can achieve in spite of perceived difficulties as long as they have their self-respect and some love and support. The Things I Know gives a powerful and effective message about how our flippant attitudes can harm others either intentionally or unwittingly and how bullies of any kind must not be tolerated. As usual when I read Amanda Prowse I found the occasional tear escaping because she manages to imbue every moment with emotion.

Indeed, the themes of The Things I Know are quite awe-inspiring and frequently touching. Love, identity, duty, responsibility, family, work, friendships and relationships permeate every aspect so that there is something here every reader can relate to. I loved the way in which Thomasina dropped her nickname Hitch in favour of her full name as she began to unhitch herself from the well meaning chains of family and responsibility. Thomasina may have physical disabilities and constraints, but she is a woman to be reckoned with. I felt she had become a real-life friend by the end of the book and The Things I Know celebrates difference wonderfully.

I’ve read several of Amanda Proswe’s books and feel that her quality of writing has achieved an even greater depth and resonance through the descriptions and dialogue in The Things I Know. Speech is so natural and her attention to detail brings each scene alive in the mind’s eye making for a very visual and auditory read. I loved this aspect because it placed me so close to Thomasina in every scene. I had been transported to the farm just as much as those guests staying for bed and breakfast. The plotting is perfect too so that I ended the book feeling uplifted, soothed and totally satisfied, not least because the things Thomasina knows which pepper the book are vivid, moving and frequently the hopes and fears so many of us experience in our own lives.

The things I know about The Things I Know are:

It’s a fabulous story

It is written with love, humanity and care

It is emotional and satisfying

I loved every word.

There’s a danger that a prolific and favourite author will become stale or repetitive. However, Amanda Prowse writes with such freshness, authenticity and skill in The Things I Know that I feel honoured to have read the book. I adored it and cannot recommend it highly enough.

About Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author who has published 28 novels and novellas sold in 22 countries and translated into 12 languages. She has sold millions of copies around the world.

Chart topping titles include What Have I Done?, Perfect Daughter, My Husband’s Wife and The Girl in the Corner.

A Mother’s Story won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the Year Award and Perfect Daughter that was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016. Amanda’s book The Food of Love went straight to No.1 in Literary Fiction when it was launched in the USA and she has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘The Queen of Drama’ for her ability to make the reader feel as if they were actually in the story.

You can follow Amanda Prowse on Twitter and visit her website here. You will also find her on Facebook.

All of Amanda Prowse’s wonderful writing is available here .

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****! by Gill Sims

Why Mummy Doesn't

I so enjoyed other of Gill Sims’ books that, although I have banned myself from Netgalley,  I couldn’t resist accepting my lovely auto approval for Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****!. I’d like to thank Jasmine Gordon at Harper Collins very much indeed for sending it to me.

You can read my review of Gill Sims’ Why Mummy Drinks here, and of Why Mummy Swears here.

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****! will be published by Harper Collins on 27th June 2019 and is available for pre-order through the links here.

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****!

Why Mummy Doesn't

Family begins with a capital eff.

I’m wondering how many more f*cking ‘phases’ I have to endure before my children become civilised and functioning members of society? It seems like people have been telling me ‘it’s just a phase!’ for the last fifteen bloody years. Not sleeping through the night is ‘just a phase.’ Potty training and the associated accidents ‘is just a phase’. The tantrums of the terrible twos are ‘just a phase’. The picky eating, the back chat, the obsessions. The toddler refusals to nap, the teenage inability to leave their beds before 1pm without a rocket being put up their arse. The endless singing of Frozen songs, the dabbing, the weeks where apparently making them wear pants was akin to child torture. All ‘just phases!’ When do the ‘phases’ end though? WHEN?

Mummy dreams of a quirky rural cottage with roses around the door and chatty chickens in the garden. Life, as ever, is not going quite as she planned. Paxo, Oxo and Bisto turn out to be highly rambunctious, rather than merely chatty, and the roses have jaggy thorns. Her precious moppets are now giant teenagers, and instead of wittering at her about who would win in a fight – a dragon badger or a ninja horse – they are Snapchatting the night away, stropping around the tiny cottage and communicating mainly in grunts – except when they are demanding Ellen provides taxi services in the small hours. And there is never, but never, any milk in the house. At least the one thing they can all agree on is that rescued Barry the Wolfdog may indeed be The Ugliest Dog in the World, but he is also the loveliest.

My Review of Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****!

Although I usually find Gill Sims’ writing hysterically funny, this time, in Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****! there were fewer belly laughs but a more sophisticated and mature contemplation of Ellen’s life and the hazards of bringing up two recalcitrant teenagers whilst estranged from her husband Simon. Consequently, the themes felt more poignant so that I was increasingly emotionally connected to the narrative rather than simply giggling along to Ellen’s ‘FML’ comments.

The portraits of ‘moppets’ Peter and Jane are incredibly well drawn as they begin to stretch their adolescent wings. I was reminded of many of the youngsters I’ve taught in the past because their attitudes felt so real. On a more personal level, Jane’s acerbic comments to her mother still frequently go through my own mind at times, although thankfully I’ve learnt to keep them silent! I’m sure many a mother has wondered just how their son can eat quite so much as does Peter… What works so well is the fine line between wanting to be a grown up yet still remaining a child that Gill Sims presents so astutely in Jane and Peter.

I have always been dubious about Simon and I was actually pleased that he and Ellen had parted company as the main plot device in Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****!

However, it was Ellen who still appealed to me the most and I found her predicament of dealing with single motherhood, (along with another couple of stressful life altering events that I can’t say too much about for fear of spoiling the read), actually quite moving at times so that I shed the occasional tear. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her more mature and contemplative persona and consequently she became a much more rounded and believable figure in my mind.

With the same effortless and conversational writing style, the plot of Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****! had greater depth than the other books in the series. I thought I’d guessed the resolution fairly early on, but Gill Sim kept me guessing with elements I really enjoyed and not everything worked out as I had imagined. There’s also less about extraneous characters and a more profound exploration of Ellen’s feelings and emotions so that I felt a greater affinity to the people this time.

With the same yearly plot structure, Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****! feels an artful and appropriate continuation of the other books and whilst Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****! may be less funny and light-hearted, it’s no less engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

About Gill Simms

Gill simms

Gill Sims is the author and illustrator of the hugely successful parenting blog and Facebook site ‘Peter and Jane’. She lives in Scotland with her husband, two children and a recalcitrant rescue Border Terrier, who rules the house. Gill’s interests include drinking wine, wasting time on social media, trying and failing to recapture her lost youth and looking for the dog when he decides to go on one of his regular jaunts.

You’ll find Gill on Twitter @whymummydrinks, and can visit Gill’s Peter and Jane Facebook page or read her blog.