Discussing Wartime for the Shop Girls with Joanna Toye

wartime for the shop girls

My enormous thanks to Jen Harlow at Harper Collins for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for Wartime for the Shop Girls by Joanna Toye. I have this gorgeous looking book awaiting reading and I’m delighted that Joanna has agreed to stay in with me today to tell me more about it.

Staying in with Joanna Toye

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

Thank you for asking me! It’s a nice change from a night in the air raid shelter or huddled under the stairs while the bombs drop….

I expect it is! I think I probably know the answer to this but tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

wartime for the shop girls

You’ve probably gathered by now I’m re-living the Second World War. I’ve brought along Wartime for the Shop Girls, my second book, which was out yesterday 23rd January.

Happy publication day for yesterday Joanna!

It’s the follow up to my first novel, A Store At War, which introduced Lily, Gladys and Beryl and life behind the shop counter in Marlow’s department store.

A Store at war

I think they both look fabulous Joanna. What can we expect from an evening in with Wartime for the Shop Girls?

Most of all, I hope enjoyment! Despite it being set in wartime – or maybe because of it – it’s not a dismal read. ‘Uplifting’ and ‘heartwarming’ are a couple of the words that have come up in reviews. It’s about how the characters have to pull together to face up to whatever life throws at them, big and small, and in wartime the challenges were constant. Loved ones were  far away – partings the length of which we can’t imagine. Daily and nightly worries for your own safety, and theirs – no FaceTime, no e-mails, no phone calls then! – and letters months apart, if they came at all. Going to work exhausted after another night of air raids, coming home to a meagre meal. But at the same time, Lily and her friends fret about exactly the same things as today – a promotion at work, a change of routine, clothes, shoes, hair. Most importantly, in Lily’s case, what to do about the boy you really like, but who looks like he might be lured away – not once, but twice in the course of the book. Thankfully she’s got a sense of humour, and her mum, and her mates to turn to. They need her support too – Gladys’s boyfriend goes to sea and Beryl’s having a baby.

I think you’ve described such a compelling story. I’m thrilled that I have Wartime for the Shop Girls waiting to be read.

What else have you brought along and why?

gas mask

Right, so I’ve brought my gas mask and tin hat, I doubt we’ll need them, but one for you, too, Linda, just in case.

Oo. I’m really claustrophobic. I’m not sure I like the look of that gas mask Joanna…


And of course, something to eat… sandwiches – there’s meat paste, Bovril or Spam straight from America.

I used to love Spam fritters for lunch when I was at school.

Oh, and a cake made with dried egg (am I treating you or what?)



To drink, there’s Vimto or a flask of sugarless tea.  While we tuck in we can listen to some great dance band music  – ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’ is Gladys’s favourite – and to round off we can sing along with Vera Lynn to ‘We’ll Meet Again’. Hope we do,  Linda – and thanks again for asking me!

It’s been my pleasure Joanna. Though once you’ve heard me sing a few bars of We’ll Meet Again I’m not sure you’ll want to stay much longer, let alone come back. I’m tone deaf! Thanks so much for being here and telling me all about Wartime for the Shop Girls. Now, pass those spam sandwiches whilst I tell everyone more about the book:

Wartime for the Shop Girls

wartime for the shop girls

It’s 1942 and as shortages of staff – and goods – begin to bite, young Lily Collins is thrilled to step up to sales junior in her job at Marlow’s department store.

But bombs are still falling and Lily and fellow shop girls Gladys and Beryl need a stiff upper lip to wave boyfriends, husbands and brothers goodbye, especially with a baby on the way and grim news on the wireless. When Jim, who works with Lily at the store, seems restless, things are bad enough, but nothing can prepare Lily for the secrets that come tumbling out when her favourite brother comes home on leave…

Somehow, she must keep smiling through. Community, family and friends rally round as her home town – and the whole country – is tested once again.

Wartime for the Shop Girls was published by Harper Collins on 23rd January 2020 and is available for purchase through the links here.

About Joanna Toye

Joanna Toye

Joanna Toye is a former BBC scriptwriter and producer. She worked for over 30 years on Radio 4’s much-loved ‘The Archers’, as well as on ‘Crossroads’, Family Affairs’, ‘Doctors’ and ‘EastEnders’. She has nine previous TV and radio spin-off books to her credit, but ‘A Store At War’ was her first original novel, the first in a series of four. It draws on her Midland roots and vivid family memories of the Second World War, as well as anecdotes and research into how shopping used to be – long before the internet was ever thought of!

You can follow Joanna on Twitter @JoannaToye and there’s more with these other bloggers:

Blog tour poster

Daring to be different? A Guest Post by Robert Crouch, Author of No Mercy

no mercy front reviewcopy

I’m thrilled to welcome back Robert Crouch to Linda’s Book Bag today to celebrate his latest book, No Mercy.

Robert Crouch has been a smashing guest several times, most recently when No More Lies was released in a post you can see here. I ‘stayed in’ with Rob in a post you can read here, and he’s been kind enough to provide a guest post (here) shortly after his Fisher’s Fables was released and another here to celebrate No Bodies.


Rob’s latest book, No Mercy, was published on 16th January and is available for purchase here.

No Mercy

no mercy front reviewcopy


Highways Inspector, Derek Forster, couldn’t go on after the death of his wife. Even though he had a secret lover, he took his own life. Or did he?

Samson Capote, the restaurateur from hell, brutally attacked and left to die in a deep freezer. Did he antagonise too many people? Was he sharing Forster’s secret lover?

Millionaire entrepreneur, Clive Chesterton, falls from his yacht and drowns in Sovereign Harbour. Why did he have Forster’s missing journals in his cabin?

When Kent Fisher becomes a murder suspect, he realises he could be the next victim of a killer who shows no mercy.

Can Kent connect the deaths and solve the mystery before the killer gets to him?

Daring to be different?

A Guest Post by Robert Crouch

When publishers say they’re looking for new talent, something different, a unique voice, it makes me smile. In my experience, they mean something similar to what they already publish.

Different means risk and publishers need to sell books and make a profit, after all.

I didn’t choose to write something different. I chose to write something distinctive.

As an avid fan of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, I love the classic whodunit. Whether the police or an amateur detective investigates, the stories are always complex mysteries that twist and confound with red herrings, plenty of suspects and motives buried deep.

They can be set in a locked room, a country mansion or in today’s world of social media, serial killers and scams. Whatever the setting, whoever the characters, these baffling mysteries must challenge investigators, sometimes leaving deep scars.

When I decided to try my hand at a classic whodunit, it seemed logical and natural to stick to what I knew best. Environmental health officers (EHOs) are law enforcers. They follow the same rules and procedures as the police. EHOs carry out taped interviews with witnesses and suspects, taking offenders to court when necessary.

I’ve no idea how crime fiction readers react when they check out my books and discover an EHO investigating murders. Those who read my books and leave reviews like the concept. Having characters different from the usual crop of traumatised police detectives appeals to these readers. They enjoy the glimpses into the world of environmental health and the distinctive characters and storylines it offers.

But at their heart is a dogged investigator who’s drawn into a murder, literally by accident. Or No Accident, as the first in the series is called. He’s investigating a fatal work accident, which is really a murder. It’s a perfect murder only he can solve.He becomes a local hero and gets drawn into more investigations. He can’t go looking for murders to investigate. The police do that. He’s not a private investigator for hire either.

It’s both a challenge and a delight to come up with new cases for Kent Fisher to investigate and keep it fresh and exciting. I’m sure Agatha Christie faced similar challenges with Miss Marple. And that’s part of the fun, part of the enjoyment, I hope.

There’s also something romantic and appealing about an ordinary person solving a complex murder, especially in this age of DNA profiles and forensics. Not that Kent Fisher is ordinary in any way. He simply doesn’t have the facilities, technology and systems available to the police. He has to use his personal skills and contacts and investigate in a more traditional way.

So far, with the release of the fifth novel, No Mercy, I hope I’ve managed to keep the series fresh and believable. There are jokes, comparing Kent to Jessica Fletcher. Chefs apologise for not having a body in the freezer for him to investigate. His bosses wonder whether he investigates during work time, using work facilities. (He’s already been suspended three times for treading on toes.)

The fun and humour are all part of my goal to entertain people with something distinctive and exciting yet familiar. Were the series to be televised (and I live in hope), I want it to appeal to all the family. I’d like it shown at 8pm on a Sunday evening. This places the novels at the cosy end of the crime fiction spectrum, but they’re still based in today’s world with all its warts.

I also wanted to avoid the traumatised detectives that seem to be everywhere at the moment.

I gave Kent Fisher a healthy lifestyle, a love of running over the South Downs in Sussex, where the novels are set. He owns an animal sanctuary where he cares for abandoned, injured and unwanted animals and pets. He’s a resolute environmentalist, opposing the destruction of the natural environment.

A typical investigator he’s not. But like many law enforcers, he hates unfairness and injustice. He has to speak out, to take action, to fight for the underdog, as I did during my long career as an environmental health officer.

Now I’m happy to let Kent Fisher fight my battles. He’s not your usual investigator and the settings and stories are not your standard police procedural or serial killer thriller. But in most other respects, they remain faithful to the traditional murder mysteries and classic whodunits I enjoy reading.

So, not that different.

That’s such a refreshing approach Rob. I’m with you all the way!

About Robert Crouch

Robert Crouch and Harvey

Robert Crouch writes the kind of books he loves to read.Books ranging from the classic whodunit by authors like Agatha Christie, the feisty private eye novels of Sue Grafton, thrillers by Dick Francis, and the modern crime fiction of Peter James and LJ Ross.

He created Kent Fisher as an ordinary person, drawn into solving murders. He’s an underdog battling superior forces and minds, seeking justice and fair play in a cruel world.These are the values and motivations that underpinned Robert’s long career as an environmental health officer.

He now writes full time from his home in East Sussex. When not writing, he’s often find walking on the South Downs with his West Highland white terrier, Harvey, taking photographs and researching the settings for future Kent Fisher mysteries.

You can find out more on Robert’s website, by following him on Twitter @robertcrouchuk or by finding him on Facebook.

Payback by R.C. Bridgestock

Payback bc

It gives me enormous pleasure to participate in the blog tour for R.C. Bridgestock’s Payback today. It’s three and a half years since I reviewed here When The Killing Starts, having ‘met’ this husband and wife writing duo vicariously online. Since then I have reviewed Poetic Justice here but even better, I had the opportunity to meet Bob and Carol in person at Capital Crime last September.

I’d like to thank Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for inviting me to participate in the Payback blog tour.

Payback is available for purchase here.


Payback bc

Charley Mann left Yorkshire for the Met and a fast-track career – but now she’s back, she’s in charge and the area’s first young, female DI.

Her hometown, the Yorkshire countryside, and her old friends all seem unchanged but appearances can be deceptive.

When a brutal murder is discovered, Charley is forced to question everything, and the interest of her ex – reporter Danny Ray – doesn’t make it easier.

My Review of Payback

Back on home turf, DI Charley Mann’s first day is off to a dramatic start.

I thoroughly enjoyed Payback as it is a carefully crafted and meticulously plotted crime thriller. I think it’s the attention to detail from authors who know police procedures so intimately that makes Payback so intriguing. I felt I learned a great deal at the same time as being hugely entertained.

The way Charley Mann’s character is gradually revealed throughout Payback is masterful, particularly when it comes to her back story which is drip fed tantalisingly throughout and creates super potential for future stories. Charley is the perfect blend of newness and experience, strength and vulnerability that makes her fascinating. I found her entirely real and vivid. She also has a reckless streak that adds an extra frisson of tension to the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting other members of her team too so that I feel I have come to know an entirely new set of people.

It is no surprise that the authors have been involved in television drama series in the past, as the descriptions and sense of place are captivating and enormously visual in Payback. I was able to envisage the settings perfectly as all my senses were catered for. I enjoyed the local folklore element that is included because it gave texture to the setting. I also found the naturalistic dialogue and dialect thoroughly enhanced my reading experience.

There’s a cracking plot to enjoy in Payback. I really appreciated the balance between procedural information and pacy events so that I was never quite sure what might happen next. I was desperate for Charley and her team to solve the case and whilst Payback is concluded in a very satisfying way, I am intrigued to see what the next case will be.

The themes of Payback give added depth to the narrative. Sexuality, power, corruption, trust, self promotion and public duty, the press and the impact of money on our services make this a realistic and modern read that I found engaging and impactful. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series as I think R.C.Bridgestock have an absolute winner here.

About R.C. Bridgestock

RC Bridgestock Author Photo

R.C. Bridgestock is the name that husband and wife co-authors Robert (Bob) and Carol Bridgestock write under. Between them they have nearly 50 years of police experience, offering an authentic edge to their stories. The writing duo created the character DI Jack Dylan, the ninth book of which was published by The Dome Press in 2019, along with their backlist.

Bob was a highly commended career detective of 30 years, retiring at the rank of Detective Superintendent. During his last three years, he took charge of 26 murders, 23 major incidents, over 50 suspicious deaths and numerous sexual assaults. He was also a trained hostage negotiator with suicide interventions, kidnap, terrorism and extortion. Bob was seconded to a protracted enquiry investigating alleged police corruption in another force. He worked on the Yorkshire Ripper and Sarah Harper murder, and received praise from Crown Court Judges and Chief Constables alike for outstanding work at all ranks, including winning the much-coveted Dennis Hoban Trophy.

As a police civilian supervisor, Carol also received a Chief Constable’s commendation for outstanding work.

The couple are the storyline consultants / police procedural on BAFTA-winning BBC1 police drama Happy Valley and series 3 of ITV’s Scott and Bailey, and are presently working with Scott Free Production scriptwriters on two commissioned TV drama series.

The couple pride themselves on being up-to-date on past and present day UK police procedures, and as a result, Bob is regularly sought by UK television, radio and national and local newspapers for comment on developing major crime incidents etc. They have also taken part in BBC Radio 4 (Steve) PUNT P.I.

Carol and Bob are also patrons and ambassadors for several charities.

You can find Carol and Bob on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @rcbridgestock and visit their website for more information.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Payback Blog Tour Poster

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes by James Lovegrove

Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes

I’ve recently become a real fan of short stories so I was thrilled when Lydia Gittins at Titan sent me a copy of James Lovegrove’s new collection The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes in return for an honest review.

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes is published today, 21st January 2020, and is available for purchase in all the usual places including through these links.

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes

Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes

Tales of treachery, intrigue and evil…

Maverick detective Sherlock Holmes and his faithful chronicler Dr John Watson return in twelve thrilling short stories

The iconic duo find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events: an otherworldly stone whose touch inflicts fatal bleeding; a hellish potion unlocks a person’s devilish psyche; Holmes’s most hated rival detective tells his story; a fiendishly clever, almost undetectable method of revenge; Watson finally has his chance to shine; and many more – including a brand-new Cthulhu Casebooks story.

My Review of The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes

Twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories; some previously published, some new to this collection and one even written as a drunken bet.

I had intended to dip in to James Lovegrove’s The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes over several days, but I began reading and before I knew it I had devoured the entire collection. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories as I found myself transported to an atmospheric world of crime and intrigue.

James Lovegrove has pitch perfect prose that emulates Conan Doyle utterly convincingly. Both Holmes and Watson’s voices ring out clear and true so that any fan of Doyle’s original stories will love The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes. The style works brilliantly and I think James Lovegrove goes beyond a pastiche and brings a fresh vibrancy to much loved characters. He draws on details that traditional Holmes readers will recognise in both character and plot but adds other elements that create further interest too, making for a very entertaining read.

Whilst each story is satisfying and engaging, being meticulously plotted and crafted, I particularly liked the added details from the author about the origins of each tale. There’s a dry wit and insight into James Lovegrove’s own life as well as links with, and information about, Conan Doyle – though if I were James Lovegrove’s wife I’d avoid flying insects! I loved the attention to social and historical detail so that there is also quite a Dickensian feeling to the settings of The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes and I think that fits perfectly with the more supernatural element James Lovegrove weaves in to this collection.

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes is a collection any Sherlock Holmes lover would be delighted to own. I’m not normally especially keen on Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes but I thought The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes was super and really recommend it for those wanting some cracking entertainment in their reading.

About James Lovegrove


James Lovegrove is the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Odin. He was short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1998 and for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2004, and also reviews fiction for the Financial Times. He is the author of Firefly: Big Damn Hero with Nancy Holder and Firefly: The Magnificent Nine, and several Sherlock Holmes novels for Titan Books. He lives in south-east England.

For more information, follow James on Twitter @JamesLovegrove7, visit his website and find him on Facebook.

Staying in With Glynis Peters, Author of The Orphan Thief

The Orphan Thief Cover Image

I’m delighted to be helping begin the blog tour for The Orphan Thief by Glynis Peters as it looks just my kind of book. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate.

I’m thrilled that Glynis is staying in with me today to tell me more about The Orphan Thief.

Staying in with Glynis Peters

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

Hi Linda, thanks for having me over. I’m thrilled to be here.

I think we already have a good idea, but which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?


I’ve chosen, The Orphan Thief. It’s my latest novel with One More Chapter / HarperCollins, and I’m rather excited as the paperback launch is this week for the UK and USA (Canada February). The cover is taken from a scene in the book, which means the creator gave it serious thought when putting it together. I love that I have two coloured coats, too. The navy coat is for the American and Canadian market, and the red one is for the UK.

How exciting. Happy publication week! I shall have to see if I can spot the moment in The Orphan Thief when I read the book!

What can we expect from an evening in with The Orphan Thief?

I’m told the story is an emotional read, and took me to a few dark places whilst researching. So, on a night in with this book, I’d suggest having a box of tissues to hand.

Ooo. I love a good cry when I’m reading. This sounds just my kind of story.

I cannot imagine going through a world war, and wanted to express the loss people went through in England, during WWII, and not just adults. Ruby Shadwell and friends are created characters, but believe me, the horrors they experienced were based upon my findings. I wanted to set the book in Coventry again, as I did with my first book, The Secret Orphan.

the secret orphan

The blitz took so much from so many. I thought we could have a look at the opening to The Orphan Thief so you can see what I mean:


Coventry, 15th November 1940

Ruby Shadwell stared out into the street, blinked away her disbelief and then looked down once again into darkness over the edge of a large smoking crater. A flash of light from the rising sun emerging from behind a cloud skimmed across scattered shards of glass, giving her an insight as to what was below. The epicentre of horror.

The place her parents and two siblings would have sat enjoying their cocoa around the fire, as they did every night. Ruby had no doubt their routine hadn’t altered despite the air raid warnings.

Even if they had been in the Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden, the scene before her would be the same. Total devastation. Her family crushed to death like ants under the foot of a human.

White-grey flakes fluttered from the sky. She held out her hand. It wasn’t snow, but something like the ash from the fireplace in their house. The house which no longer existed.

Ruby wrapped her arms around her chest and shoulders and gripped hard, digging her fingers into her flesh through the woollen coat she wore. At sixteen, she could not recall a pain so deep, even when her precious grandfather had passed away. Unable to absorb the enormity of the disaster, she remained staring downwards into the crater in the hope it could be a dream. She’d even accept a nightmare. One from which her family clawed their way back to the surface. Back into her life.

Her body, freezing with the November frost and easterly wind, felt stiff and bruised. Heavy drizzle dripped across her face and she brushed it away, her skin sore with cold, but she was unable to move away from the place she once knew as home. How had it come to this?

Walking home from Lammas Road, Ruby had witnessed the first of the bombs before a warden had grabbed her arm and took her at great speed to the public shelter underneath Radford Common.

Someone gave the time as seven-­twelve when the sirens blasted their warning around the city. They ran past the group and towards the shelter, the warden shouting for them to run faster. An elderly lady stumbled and the warden left Ruby in order to help. The enemy attacked before the wailing of the siren had stopped. Ruby screamed as a bomb dropped on the rooftops of a nearby street.

A feeling more than the fear of the bogeyman forced her onwards – it sickened her to think she was streets away from the comfort of her family. Her lungs burned with the cold of the evening air and by the time she made it into the shelter, huddled amongst strangers and a few familiar faces, more bombs had fallen. Too many to count, too many to ignore.

Everyone waited for the all clear to sound. It never rang out, but the reassurances and door-­banging from

ARP wardens now that the raid was over came as a huge relief. The warden seeing them out of the shelter warned people to be careful of fires and unexploded bombs, and that electricity was no longer on supply.

Ruby moved forward in the queue to leave and was stunned by what she saw as she stepped outside. Enemy bombs had proved themselves to be powerful and destructive – they’d destroyed Coventry.

My goodness Glynis. I can’t wait to read the rest now. You’ve conveyed brilliantly what it must have been like. 

I’m glad you think so Linda. Here’s what one of my American readers thought:

TheOrphanThief USA review Dec 12

That’s fabulous Glynis. You must be thrilled with a review like that.

What else have you brought along and why? 

carrot scones.jpg

I’ve brought along a few carrot scones, orange squash, bottles of brown ale, and spam sandwiches. I’ve also invited a few friends along; service men and women, a few of the home guard (my granddad is on duty so won’t be able to join us), and ladies from the aeroplane and ammunition factories. The others are on fire watch duties.

(My granddad was in the home guard too!)

gas mask

The bombers flying back to Germany might pay a visit, so don’t forget to grab your gasmask when heading for the shelter. How about a sing-song to take our mind off things for an hour or so? I’ll start with a Vera Lynn number, We’ll Meet Again.

If it’s all the same to you. I’ll just listen. My singing sounds worse than the air raid siren and we don’t want to panic anyone!

Oh, and just a whisper, I heard there might be sausages at the butcher’s tomorrow. I’ll send my daughter to stand in the queue. Two hours I spent queuing last time. I’ll have to leave early tonight, as I have to drive the bus to town, and am on early shift.

It’s amazing how we take so much for granted now compared with the time of The Orphan Thief isn’t it?

It is Linda. Today, I head to the supermarket whenever there is a get-together, where there is no shortage of treats. I’d never think of standing in a queue for food any longer than a few minutes. The thought of wearing a gasmask is beyond me. I can’t bear things over my face.

I agree. I’m very claustrophobic.

My grandfather used to finish his day job, then join the Home Guards for the evening, after he’d tended the vegetable plot. Days and nights were filled with endless chores, so to have a siren go off just as you manage to climb into bed, must have been exhausting. Writing these books have made me eternally grateful for those who had so little, yet gave so much.

I bet it has. Tell me a bit more about your writing style.

My writing style of capturing the WWII life and romance, is a bit different to some of the saga books out there. I try to bring the strife and struggles of loss to the fore. I’m told this book has achieved just what I set out to do, and now I’ve written about WWII Coventry, I feel can visit the city for the first time. I didn’t want to lose the image of the war-torn city by visiting, and folk find it hard to believe I’ve never been. One reader praised my setting as she lives there, for which I heaved a sigh of relief, but was also delighted I’d managed to express what I’d learned enough to satisfy a true Coventarian. My next book will be set in a different blitz city; Southampton.

I think The Orphan Thief sound brilliant Glynis. Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat about it. 

Let me tell readers a bit more:

The Orphan Thief

The Orphan Thief Cover Image

From the international bestselling author of The Secret Orphan

When all seems lost…

As Hitler’s bombs rain down on a battered and beleaguered Britain, Ruby Shadwell is dealt the most devastating blow – her entire family lost during the Coventry Blitz.

Hope still survives…

Alone and with the city in chaos, Ruby is determined to survive this war and rebuild her life.  And a chance encounter with street urchin Tommy gives Ruby just the chance she needs…

And love will overcome.

Because Tommy brings with him Canadian Sergeant Jean-Paul Clayton.  Jean-Paul is drawn to Ruby and wants to help her, but Ruby cannot bear another loss.

Can love bloom amidst the ruins?

Or will the war take Ruby’s last chance at happiness too?

Published in paperback by Harper Collins imprint One More Chapter on 23rd January 2020, The Orphan Thief is available for purchase through the links here.

You can also purchase your e-copy of The Orphan Thief here.

About Glynis Peters

Glynis peters

Glynis Peters, lives in Dovercourt, Essex, England.

She married her school sweetheart in 1979, and they have three children. They also have three grandchildren, with another due in the spring of 2019, the year of their ruby wedding Anniversary.

​In 2014, Glynis was short-listed for the Festival of Romantic Fiction New Talent Award.

​In 2018, HarperCollins/HarperImpulse published her novel, The Secret Orphan. The novel rose to several bestseller positions within a few months of release.

​When Glynis is not writing she enjoys fishing with her husband, making greetings cards, cross stitch and the company of her granddaughters.

Her grandson lives in Canada, and it is for that reason she introduced a Canadian pilot into The Secret Orphan.

You can follow Glynis on Twitter @_GlynisPeters_ for more information, or visit her website and find her on Instagram and Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Orphan Thief BT Poster

Lampie and the Children of the Sea by Annet Schaap


My enormous thanks to Poppy Stimpson at Pushkin Press for sending me a copy of  Annet Schaap’s children’s book Lampie and the Children of the Sea in return for an honest review.

Already available in hardback, Lampie and the Children of the Sea, will be released in paperback on 27th February 2020 and is available for pre-order here.

Lampie and the Children of The Sea

Lampie 2

Every evening Lampie the lighthouse keeper’s daughter must light a lantern to warn ships away from the rocks. But one stormy night disaster strikes. The lantern goes out, a ship is wrecked and an adventure begins.

In disgrace, Lampie is sent to work as a maid at the Admiral’s Black House, where rumour has it that a monster lurks in the tower. But what she finds there is stranger and more beautiful than any monster. Soon Lampie is drawn into a fairytale adventure in a world of mermaids and pirates, where she must fight with all her might for friendship, freedom and the right to be different.

My Review of Lampie and the Children of The Sea

Illiterate and poor, Lampie is about to start a new life not of her choosing.

What a glorious book. If Lampie and the Children of the Sea doesn’t take its place in the canon of children’s classic books there is no justice. Annet Schaap has captured the very best in children’s writing, with peril, adventure, mythology, good and evil, and distilled it into a mesmerising and captivating tale that children of all ages will love. I adored it because not only did it transport me back to my own childhood, when I first discovered the love of books, but Lampie and the Children of the Sea is a stunning and spellbinding narrative for readers of all ages.

There is everything a reader could want in Lampie and the Children of the Sea. The plot races along, elevating the heart rate and ensnaring the reader. Atmospheric illustrations enhance the story and the quality of Annet Schaap’s descriptions ensures a vivid setting both on land and water. Her use of the senses brings the writing alive and although this book is in translation, I didn’t once feel there was anything awkward. It’s beautifully written and translated, making for a smooth and affecting read. Laura Watkinson has translated the original flawlessly.

The characters are fantastic. Annet Schaap understands so intuitively what it is like to be different or an outcast, that she made me long to put my arms around Edward and Lampie and comfort them. Physical, mental, social and educational differences are explored thoroughly, ensuring that any reader can identify with so many of the people here. I loved the feminist element to Lampie too. She demonstrates that lack of formal education does not mean a person is stupid, and her feisty attitude is a wonderful role model to other girls. I also loved the concept that strength doesn’t have to be physical and the development of Edward throughout the story is incredibly touching.

In fact, I experienced many emotions reading Lampie and the Children of the Sea and I think that’s one of the aspects that makes it so special. I was horrified by Lampie’s treatment from many of the adults around her, saddened by Edward’s aggression masking terrible unhappiness, afraid at what might happen to the characters at different parts of the story, gladdened by some of the outcomes and amused by some of the events. This really is a magical book.

As Lampie and the Children of the Sea comes to a satisfying conclusion, there is the potential for further adventures and I am desperately hoping that this isn’t the last we see of Lampie and of Annet Schaap’s wonderful writing. I thought Lampie and the Children of the Sea was just fabulous.

About Annet Schaap


Annet Schaap is one of the Netherlands’ best-loved illustrators. Lampie and the Children of the Sea is her debut novel and won four prizes in the Netherlands and Flanders, including the Gouden Griffel for the best Dutch children’s book of the year.

You can follow Annet on Twitter @schaap_annet for more information or visit her website.

The Alligator Who Liked To Jump by Janet Popham

The Aligator Who Liked to Jump

My grateful thanks to Janet Popham for sending me a copy of her children’s book The Alligator Who Liked To Jump in return for an honest review.

Published by Olympia, The Alligator Who Liked To Jump is available for purchase here.

The Alligator Who Liked To Jump

The Aligator Who Liked to Jump

Archie is an autistic alligator, who worries that being ‘different’ from the other animals will make him stand out.

Archie likes to jump and bounce but the other animals think he shouldn’t do this, until the wise elephant tells them that they should listen to Archie.

Archie finds it difficult to speak, but he manages to explain how he feels and makes the other animals understand him, so that they realise he isn’t all that different, after all!

A lovely story told in rhyme, for very young readers, different or not.

My Review of The Alligator Who Liked To Jump

Archie feels different to all the other animals.

What an utterly charming children’s book. Janet Popham has taken a highly emotive subject in The Alligator Who Liked To Jump and turned it into a story that all ages can relate to and in which they can find understanding of those who are different, or, in Archie’s case, autistic.

Through Archie’s words and actions in The Alligator Who Liked To Jump we are shown carefully how what could appear to be a temper tantrum or uncontrollable behaviour might simply be a frustrated child trying to express themselves, so that readers gain a greater understanding. Exploring the themes of tolerance, difference and the basic human need for friendship and company, The Alligator Who Liked To Jump gives a realistic and heart-warming narrative that I thought was brilliantly conveyed. The fact that Archie likes computer games and sport also helps exemplify that he isn’t so very different from the other animals after all.

The rhyme scheme is also a benefit when sharing The Alligator Who Liked To Jump with children because it helps them develop their own language use as well as provide a structure that will appeal to young readers who are themselves on the autistic spectrum.

The illustrations that accompany the writing are perfect because the range of expressions on Archie’s face provide brilliant talking points about how we convey emotions. The colours are vibrant and the images dynamic in style making for a hugely entertaining book.

I heartily recommend The Alligator Who Liked To Jump because it is written in an entertaining style by someone who obviously knows first hand the frustration of young children who live with autism. That said, any child would enjoy this book too.

About Janet Popham


Janet Popham is a primary school teacher, originally from Glasgow who now lives in South Wales with her husband and children. She is a mum to three children, one of whom is autistic.

You can follow Janet on Twitter @Janetpops for more information.