Staying in with Pam Rhodes on Springtime at Hope Hall Publication Day

Springtime at Hope Hall Book Cover

I have a very special reason for being so thrilled to invite Pam Rhodes onto Linda’s Book Bag today. You see, my much missed Dad thought she was the nicest person on television and so Pam has a special place in my heart. I’d like to thank Olivia Neilson at Midas PR for arranging for Pam to stay in with me and tell me about one of her books.

Staying in with Pam Rhodes

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Pam. Thanks so much for staying in with me.

Oh, I’m always up for a night in and a good natter.  Mind you, bearing in mind that the book I’m bringing along is all about encouraging people to get out of the house to find great company, perhaps we should be putting out coats on and heading for the door!

We can have a walk later Pam. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you brought it?

Springtime at Hope Hall Book Cover

Well, I’d like to bring Springtime At Hope Hall, the first book in my new trilogy about a big old memorial hall that is probably very similar to one just around the corner from wherever you live!

You’re absolutely right Pam. There are several buildings like that here in the Deepings. We’ll take a look when we go on that walk! I understand Springtime at Hope Hall is out today so happy publication day!

Thanks Linda. Britain is full of these halls, whether they’re a century old like this one, or much younger – community halls with doors that are open from morning till night offering activities that cater for all tastes and ages from one to one hundred. So, whether you’re keen on Zumba, flower arranging, slimming club, pensioners’ lunches, Knit and Natter (or Stitch and Bitch, depending who’s there!), money advice, food bank, lessons in English as a foreign language or puppy training classes, you’ll find it – and much more – at Hope Hall!

I love your alternative name to Knit and Natter, which we have at the library!  Springtime at Hope Hall sounds wonderful and am delighted I have a copy ready to read. What else have you brought along and why?

glad

I’ve brought along the oddest-shaped carrot from my garden (well, that will have us giggling!), along with my best gladioli and chrysanths, because I’m hoping for a first prize rosette at the Hope Hall annual flower show again.

That’s some carrot Pam…

Are you planning to enter your tomatoes this year?  Tell me your secret.  What do you feed them to make them grow so huge?

toms

It’s the allotment that does it. Plenty of light in the greenhouse up there! I might add a bit of something to the watering too but I can’t tell you what as I don’t want the competition knowing all my secrets!

tap shoes

And I’ve brought a spare pair of tap shoes for you, as well as my own.  The tiles in your kitchen are perfect to hear the rhythm of our heels and toes, even if we don’t always hit the beat.

Ooh. Tap dancing is something I’ve always wanted to try.

tea and cake

We’ll work up an appetite and need a drink after that – so I’ll choose the creamiest, most mouth-watering cakes from Maggie’s café at Hope Hall, along with ice-cold glasses of her homemade elderflower cordial.  Yum!  Oh, and I want to talk to you about the pair of us volunteering for the Hope Hall panto later in the year.  They’re looking for a Good Fairy and a Village Idiot at the moment.  You’ve got just the right legs for a sparkly tutu and fairy wings – and that will leave me, your idiot friend, with all the best lines and a lot of laughs!

Leave that one with me Pam. I’m not sure the world is ready for me in a tutu. It must be almost 55 years since I last wore one.

And by the way, I’d like to bring along my neighbour, Ida, who’s now widowed and in her eighties.  She can be a bit prickly, but I think that’s because she spends so much time alone.  There’s always plenty of company for her at Hope Hall – even if that awful old fella, Percy, is likely to turn up, and he really does rub Ida up the wrong way.  I heard a whisper that Ida’s very first kiss was with Percy, but I really can’t believe that ….

Now you’ve got me intrigued. Ida is most welcome. I reckon I can wheedle a secret or two out of Percy, so you pour the elderflower cordial and I’ll tell everyone a bit more about Springtime at Hope Hall. Thanks so much for staying in with me!

Springtime at Hope Hall

Springtime at Hope Hall Book Cover

There’s never a dull moment at Hope Hall, as its rooms are filled throughout the day with gossipy grandmas, body-popping teenagers, temperamental dancing teachers, a choir without one decent singer to their name, knitters who natter, caterers who bake glorious cakes, slimmers nibbling chocolate, and a nursery group where it’s the grown-ups who are near to tears!

But it’s all in a day’s work for administrator, Kath, whose job it is to make sure Hope Hall offers something for everyone! Mind you, she can see that some key members of her team are struggling – like caretaker Trevor, who is nursing his beloved wife who has cancer, and Maggie, their wonderful cook, whose husband of twenty-five years has just left her for a woman half her age.

As the team works to pull off their ambitious Hope Hall Centenary Easter Monday Fayre, Kath realizes reinforcements are needed. Brash, loud and inexperienced though she may be, Kath has a feeling that Shirley might be just the ticket!

The Fayre is a triumph but when Kath’s old flame comes back on the scene, she suddenly has some tough choices to make…

Springtime at Hope Hall is the first book in a delightful new trilogy centred on a Victorian church hall, the like of which can be found at the heart of life in so many towns across England – full of friends and neighbours with stories that will have you giggling one minute, and dabbing your eyes the next.

Published by Lion Hudson, today, 21st February 2020, Springtime at Hope Hall is available for purchase here.

About Pam Rhodes

Author Photo Coloured Scarf

For more than three decades, Pam Rhodes has been the familiar face of BBC’s Songs of Praise, where she is known for her sensitive interviews with hundreds of people who face huge life challenges. Pam never forgets a story, and that rich tapestry of life experience has been wonderful inspiration for her down-to-earth, heart-warming books which now number more than twenty. Pam’s wide experience of Christian church life both in Britain and around the world has provided a backdrop for most of her novels, although her books always have a wide mainstream appeal.

Pam cut her teeth in broadcast journalism, working widely in TV, Documentary and Radio, especially Premier Christian Radio where she presents her much-loved Sunday morning programme Hearts and Hymns. She is often on the road compering evenings at churches and other large musical events across Britain, and she has been very active for years in her official roles with several national and local charities. Most dear to her heart is The Leprosy Mission of which she is a Vice President.  The appeal video she made at Anandaban Hospital in Nepal raised over £4m in 2019.  In January of 2020, her visit to Bangladesh continued her determination to do all she can to eradicate leprosy from the world at long last.

Pam is a mum and a grandmother, and she and her husband Richard run a boarding cattery at their Bedfordshire home where they care for RSPCA cats who are looking for new owners.

For more information, visit Pam’s website.

Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes by Peta Rainford

Milly front cover

My grateful thanks to author and illustrator Peta Rainford for sending me a copy of Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes in return for an honest review. I adore Peta’s children’s books and am even quoted on the covers of some! I have a review of The Niggle here alongside a smashing guest post from Peta about fitting illustrations to text in her books (although sadly the giveaway has now ended) and another review of Isabella’s Adventures in Numberland here. I also reviewed Peta’s Jacob Starke Loves the Dark here.

Out today, 20th February 2020, Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes is available for purchase in all good bookshops and online including here.

Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes

Milly front cover

Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes is is a funny, rhyming picture book for the X Factor generation of children brought up to expect overnight success and instant gratification!

Milly May’s paintings are full of blots and smudges. She really WISHES she could do better. Then– hey presto! – her fairy godmother appears (looking a little bit like artist Frida Kahlo) and grants her wish.

But Milly soon discovers that unearned success may not be worth having and failure is not always such a bad thing.

Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes is a funny, rhyming picture book about art, friendship and perseverance, that says it’s ok to make mistakes…

This book would be great for early readers or as a bedtime story for children of around 4 to 8 years of age.

My review of Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes

Milly gets three wishes but they might not all bring what she anticipated.

Peta Rainford has achieved another wonderful children’s book in Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes.

The main message of Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes is to show children that it’s better to try and fail, than to achieve success through cheating and no real personal effort. It does so brilliantly. However, Peta Rainford also shows children value of true friends and that we can’t all be good at everything. In a world where so many just want to be a celebrity without purpose I think this is an essential message.

The manner in which the story is conveyed is excellent. There’s humour and excitement making for an entertaining rhyming narrative. The rhymes and rhythms make this book an easy one to read aloud with a child or for an emergent reader to tackle independently. Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes also helps develop language use because some of the words are more unusual, like ‘fret’, so that vocabulary is extended and there are homonyms like ‘amazed’ and ‘praised’ as well as pure rhymes like ‘spell’ and ‘well’ that help children understand spelling rules and experiment with their own language.

As I have come to expect with Peta Rainford’s children’s books, illustrations complement the text perfectly. There is a naive style that will appeal to children and Milly’s own pictures are of a standard that many will relate to, giving young readers status and self worth. I also like the fact that there are children of different ethnicities included and that Milly appears to be of mixed race as this better reflects the nature of society. Similarly, the good fairy isn’t a beautiful blonde, but rather a brown haired, thick eyebrowed person who seems far more realistic.

I really liked Milly’s Marvellous Mistakes. It would be smashing for home or school use as well as being simply an engaging story for all children. Great stuff!

About Peta Rainford

peta

Peta writes and illustrates her funny picture books on the Isle of Wight, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and hairy jack russell, Archie.

Peta loves going into schools to share her books and inspire children in their writing and art. She has appeared at a number of festivals and other events, including: Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, Isle of Wight Literary Festival, Exmoor Dark Skies Festival and Ventnor Fringe.

She is one of the organisers of the inaugural IW Story Festival, taking place in February 2020.

You can find out more by following Peta on Twitter @PetaRainford and visiting her website. You’ll also find Peta on Facebook.

The Britain Potential by Jim Cowan

Thye Britain Potential

As an ex-teacher in the secondary sector, I’ve long been fascinated by the potential individuals have because so many of the youngsters I taught excelled beyond my expectations, but have never really given much thought to the nation as a whole. When Publishing Push got in touch about The Britain Potential I was intrigued. I’d like to thank author Jim Cowen for sending me a copy of The Britain Potential in return for an honest review.

The Britain Potential is available for purchase here.

The Britain Potential

Thye Britain Potential

Reading this is going to change how you see Britain, especially its politics. The way we are used to hearing about Britain’s politics is through the filter of our media. This book, however, delves below the surface to the underlying realities and from there a very different politics emerges. This is a politics which starts and ends with people realising their potential.

From Britain’s shifting political centre of gravity The Britain Potential pieces together a politics that is neither left nor right, is not of division and polarisation but is about integration, balance, and unity. It offers an entirely fresh, genuinely humanistic vision grounded in actual developments both historical and contemporary. This is a politics viewed as something at work in daily life which is not being reported in the media and that no political party has yet spelt out.

Told through stories, The Britain Potential helps readers take the pulse of the country and understand for themselves what `remedies` will be effective. It offers ways forward, and hope, for people newly interested in politics, the politically homeless, people dissatisfied with life in Britain, leaders and activists of all kinds, public servants, business people, and people in communities. People around the world, who look to Britain, should find much of interest.

Britain has enormous potential, but is it realising it? For too many the answer is no. This is a book about what it takes to realise that potential, as individuals, families, communities, organisations and as a country. The Britain Potential is in our hands.

My Review of The Britain Potential

There’s more potential in the nation than we might think!

I’m going to say at the outset that I did not find The Britain Potential an easy read; it took me considerable time to finish the book and frequently I had to reread sections to be sure I had understood fully. That comment, however, is by no means a criticism. Jim Cowen has written an intense, well researched and frequently personal exploration of what it mans to fulfil potential at both individual and collective levels so that The Britain Potential deserves sustained reading and consideration.

I don’t think The Britain Potential could be more timely. Jim Cowen considers the generally held perspective that Britain is a torn and broken society for which there is no remedy and proves that, on the contrary, Britain has the potential to be a socially balanced and thriving place. I liked the inclusion of detail relating to other countries too so that The Britain Potential didn’t feel insular and self-righteous.

Jim Cowen’s writing is filled with empirical statistics and notes that lend a gravitas to his claims that I found interesting, but for me it was the more human examples that held the most fascination. Jim Cowen is unafraid to use his own personal experiences as well as often moving examples from others’ lives, to exemplify his theories, so that there is an individual human perspective as well as a national one to consider. I very much appreciated the exploration of the practical, such as the cost of reeducating sex offenders versus their re-offending for example, against the more humanistic approaches and support for the arts where outcomes are not always quantifiable.

The Britain Potential is sometimes a challenging read as it makes the reader reassess their own perspectives and approaches. It’s certainly thought-provoking and enormously interesting. I’m not sure I fully grasped every concept, or indeed, agreed with every one either. However, having pondered Jim Cowen’s The Britain Potential quite thoroughly, I think, on balance, I’m going to aim for more ‘teal’ in my life, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why!

About Jim Cowan

jim cowen

Jim Cowan has focused on political and social change in Britain for over 40 years, working in many different roles of community development, from the early 70s until 2012.

Between 1968 and 2005 Jim acquired five social science degrees, including a PhD.

He was also an honorary visiting research fellow for 10 years up until 2016.

Jim has practised a socially engaged form of Buddhism for over 40 years which has enabled him to develop his consciousness more fully and realise more of his potential.

You can find out more about Jim via his website. You’ll also find him on Facebook.

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

Wild Spinning Girls Cover

I’ve been eschewing blog tours where possible this year to try to avoid taking on too much but when Anne of Random Things Tours told me she was organising a tour for Carol Lovekin’s Wild Spinning Girls, I simply had to take part. You see, Carol’s book Snow Sisters, reviewed here, was my book of the year in 2017 and I’m thrilled to have the chance to read her again today.

Published by Honno on 20th February 2020, Wild Spinning Girls is available for pre-order here and directly from the publisher through this link.

Wild Spinning Girls

Wild Spinning Girls Cover

If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died, Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her.

And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it. Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left..

It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlord, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.

My Review of Wild Spinning Girls

Ida’s trip to her birth place in Wales brings more than she anticipated.

I don’t want to review Wild Spinning Girls because I fear whatever I might say won’t convey adequately enough how fantastic Carol Lovekin’s latest book is and my attempts might sully its perfection.

Wild Spinning Girls is a magical book, not just because of the mysticism within the story, but because of the poetic, natural and lyrical quality of the prose. It is luminous with meaning, and with beautifully conveyed understanding of female relationships that touch the very soul of the reader. Wild Spinning Girls absolutely vibrates with emotion. I loved the imagery, the portents and omens, as well as all the more prosaic elements that weave into this narrative making it a glorious, affecting story.

The plot is deceptively simple as Ida returns to Ty’r Cwmwl, the Cloud House, where she was born and finds herself in conflict with the troublesome Heather. However, to say there is simplicity in Wild Spinning Girls is akin to saying a diamond is only a collection of carbon bonds. Carol Lovekin refracts simplicity into other-worldliness, creating an atmosphere that rings with meaning and ensnares the reader. I was utterly captivated.

The characters in Wild Spinning Girls are heart-rendingly realistic, and I include Ty’r Cwmwl and surrounding landscape as a character, so that there is an intensity that mesmerises. I loved how Carol Lovekin shows that those who are absent, like Ida’s parents, Heather’s unknown father and her mother Olwen, can shape and influence us way beyond the end of their mortal lives with an unbreakable reach, because it is as if all history, as far back as the dawn of time, is here between the pages of this outstanding book. I felt a genuine connection to them all, but especially Olwen who is simultaneously flawed and sublime.

The emotion in the book is so strong that I found reading the conversations between Ida and Heather felt almost wrong, as if I were intruding, by being party to an aspect of their hearts they might not want me to witness. Indeed, Wild Spinning Girls has such a rich seam of emotion that it isn’t a story so much as a glimpse into very fibre of humanity that leaves the reader reeling. Carol Lovekin’s words spoke to the very core of me. I envisage them remaining with me always, and I’m glad of it.

Universal themes of love and hate, betrayal and loyalty, family and friends, ambition and acceptance swirl through the pages but the aspect I found most compelling was Carol Lovekin’s exploration of belonging and what makes home, home. There’s such maturity and depth in Wild Spinning Girls that I revelled in its reading because it somehow made me feel as if I belong. It’s no exaggeration to say I felt a physical connection to the people and places in Wild Spinning Girls that I can’t explain. It’s as if reading this book has given me a new centre of gravity that was missing from my life.

Being unable to articulate completely how special this book is, let me just say that beautiful, ethereal and haunting, Wild Spinning Girls is utterly wonderful. I adored it. Anyone who has yet to read Carol Lovekin is missing out on a truly sensational experience. She is an author with magic in her writing whose words enhance the lives of those who read her. Don’t miss Wild Spinning Girls.

About Carol Lovekin

Carol Lovekin Author pic 2

Carol is a writer, feminist and flâneuse. Her home is in beautiful West Wales, a place whose legends and landscape inform her writing. She writes contemporary fiction threaded with elements of magic.

Ghostbird, her first novel, was released on 17th March 2016. The book was chosen as Waterstones Wales and Welsh Independent Bookshops ‘Book Of The Month’ for April 2016. It was longlisted for the Guardian ‘Not the Booker’ prize 2016 and nominated for the Guardian Readers’ Book of the Year 2016. Snow Sisters was her second book.

You can follow Carol on Twitter @carollovekin, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

Wild Spinning Girls BT Poster

From Here to Nashville by Julie Stock

From Here To Nashville

It’s been my pleasure to meet lovely Julie Stock a couple of times in real life. Firstly at  Deepings Literary Festival a couple of years ago when we had tea with Erica James, and again at last year’s festival when Julie was one of our speakers. Julie spoke so eloquently about her novel The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge that I was delighted to read and review it here.

Today, I’m reviewing another of Julie’s books, From Here to Nashville and I’d like to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in this book birthday blitz.

As well as my review, there’s a lovely From Here to Nashville birthday giveaway for you at the bottom of this blog post.

From Here to Nashville

From-here-to-nashville-cover-FINAL

Two worlds, 4,000 miles apart. Is their love strong enough to keep them together?

Rachel Hardy dreams of being a successful country music singer in Nashville’s Music City, four thousand miles away from her lonely life in Dorset. When Jackson Phillips, an independent record label owner, encourages her band to audition for a nationwide ‘Open Mic’ competition, she decides they have nothing to lose.

But when she starts to fall in love with Jackson, the stakes suddenly get higher and she finds herself with a great big dilemma on her hands. Should she abandon her dream and take the easy way out or should she leave the life she has always known behind and take a gamble on a man who has personal demons of his own?

Follow Rachel and Jackson as they learn to trust in love again to see whether their music really can unite them.

My Review of From Here to Nashville

Singer song writer Rachel is looking for her big break.

From Here to Nashville is a lovely music infused romantic story that I really enjoyed, particularly because of the authenticity brought by the references to music I’m familiar with. Julie Stock knows exactly how to write romantic fiction and does so with aplomb. All the elements I expect from this kind of fiction are here in an engaging story that is entertaining and uplifting, but what I most appreciated was the exploration of conflict. There’s conflict of emotion, action, interest, friendship and love so that From here to Nashville has just that added extra in the narrative.

Rachel’s story is one of ups and downs that are completely believable. The path of true love and that towards fame and fortune never run smoothly and I found myself championing her from the very first moment. One of the great strengths of From Here to Nashville is that Rachel finds herself wavering in her beliefs and struggling to define her feelings and desires in a way so many can relate to. However, it was Sam who engendered the strongest reaction in me. He so frustrated me that I wanted to shake him but was also desperate for him to be happy too. You’ll have to read From Here to Nashville to see if I got my wish! I really didn’t like Jackson at all to begin with. He seemed far too good to be true and the book’s structure, switching from Rachel’s first person account to Jackson’s half way through took me by surprise, but afforded a development of character I found so rewarding.

I love the sense of place Julie Stock creates. Both Dorset and America felt very real in the book because of the little details included. With the themes woven through this romance such as addiction, wealth and power too, I think From Here to Nashville would make an excellent film.

From Here to Nashville is a lovely example of romantic fiction and I very much enjoyed it.

About Julie Stock

DSCN8886 - Version 2

Julie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace in March 2017Over You (Sam’s Story) and Finding You (Jenna’s Story), her follow-up novellas to From Here to Nashville were published in 2018, making the From Here to You series complete. She has also published a boxed set of the From Here to You trilogy of books. Julie’s latest novel, The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge, is out now.

You can find out more about Julie via her website , by finding her on Facebook or following her on Twitter @wood_beez48. Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.

If you’d like to sign up to Julie’s newsletter list, you can do so here.

When she is not writing, she works in communications. She is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.

Giveaway

From Here to Nashville Giveaway Prize - IMG_0515

For your chance to win a signed paperback copy of From Here to Nashville, a bookmark and a guitar magnet (Open to UK Only) click here.

Please note that this giveaway is run independently of Linda’s Book Bag and  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

Staying In With Gayle Carline

Murder Bytes

One of the frustrations of being a book blogger is that there simply isn’t time to read all the wonderful books. However, that doesn’t stop me finding out about them and I’m delighted to welcome Gayle Carline to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me about the latest book in her Peri Minneopa Mysteries.

Staying in with Gayle Carline

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

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

Murder Bytes

It’s Murder Bytes, the 5th book in my Peri Minneopa Mystery series. Peri Minneopa is a 50ish woman who left her successful housecleaning business to get her license as a private investigator. Her plan was to do surveillance, background checks, all the boring stuff. Instead, she investigates murders and gets into a little danger now and then.

I understand that Murder Bytes is out today so happy publication day Gayle. What can we expect from an evening in with Murder Bytes?

When you spend time with Peri, you’re with a sassy, stubborn woman who will do things that frighten the pants off her, just to solve a case. This case involves cyber-crime, and trying to keep her brother out of trouble. Reviewers have compared Peri to an older version of Stephanie Plum, and BookLife Reviews says “This is a satisfying mystery that will leave readers eager for Peri’s next investigation.”

I think Peri sounds my kind of woman!

What else have you brought along and why?

guitar

Peri likes 70s guitars, so she’s either got Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughn pounding in her ears when she goes jogging. She also likes old movies, good wine, margaritas, and chocolate. Her assistant, Benny Needles is a Dean Martin fanatic.

dean martin

Yes, I’m using the entire word here—fanatic. So naturally there’s room for Dino to croon in the mix. The gang hits quite a few local Orange County restaurants here and there, and one famous LA spot—Musso and Frank’s in Hollywood. Now I’m hungry just thinking about it!

It sounds like a musical evening ahead. Thanks for staying in with me Gayle. You turn up the volume and I’ll tell readers a little bit more about Murder Bytes.

Murder Bytes

Murder Bytes

In this fifth and final installment of the Peri Minneopa Mysteries, Peri has had enough. She’s closing her business, marrying her detective boyfriend, and settling down to a life of ease–until her brother shows up, accused of a murder he swears he didn’t commit.

Now she’s back in the thick of things, investigating the death of an engineer who may have been stealing techno-secrets from other companies. Her relationship with her brother is an icy one, at best, and she struggles with her ambivalence, as well as her desire to leave investigative work behind.

Digging around in people’s lives is reasonably easy, but when the bullets start flying, will Peri be able to keep her promise?

Murder Bytes is available for purchase here and you’ll find the whole series here.

About Gayle Carline

Gayle Carline - author photo

Gayle Carline is a typical Californian, meaning that she was born somewhere else. She moved to Orange County from Illinois in 1978 and landed in Placentia a few years later. Carline began writing journalistic pieces for California Riding Magazine, then quickly added the title “humor columnist” to her resume with a weekly column in her local newspaper, the Placentia News-Times. What she really wanted to do was write mysteries, however, so in 2009 she crossed that off her list with the first of her Peri Minneopa mysteries. In her spare time, Carline likes to sit down with friends and laugh over a glass of wine. And maybe plan a little murder and mayhem for the next novel.

You can find out more by visiting Gayle’s website. You can follow Gayle in Twitter too @GayleCarline.

Jasper Viking Dog by Hilary Robinson

jasper viking dog

My enormous thanks to Strauss House and the team at StonehillSalt PR for a surprise copy of children’s book Jasper: Viking Dog by Hilary Robinson, illustrated by Lewis James. I have previously met Jasper here when I reviewed Hilary’s Jasper: Space Dog so I was delighted to have the opportunity to see what else he’d been getting up to. It was also lovely to find myself quoted in this new book and on the back cover too!

I also loved Peace Lily by Hilary Robinson, reviewed here, that it was one of my top three books in 2018.

Jasper:Viking Dog is published today 13th February 2020 and is available for purchase in all good bookshops and online including here.

Jasper Viking Dog

jasper viking dog

Jasper believes he may descend from a long line of Viking dogs and is keen to help out at the local Viking Museum.

The second book in the Misadventures of Jasper series, see Jasper, Charlie Tanner and Astrid the Curator, explore interesting and hilarious ways in which Jasper might help to attract visitors.

The Jasper series includes several features which may help those who find aspects of reading challenging. The stories include dyslexic font, tinted pages, graphics and text layout considerations to help engage reluctant, emergent and enthusiastic readers.

My Review of Jasper: Viking Dog

Jasper is off on another adventure.

Having previously read and reviewed Jasper: Space Dog I knew that Hilary Robinson’s Jasper: Viking Dog would have all the elements needed to engage and support reluctant readers and emerging independent readers. Indeed, there is an accessible font, plenty of white space so that the amount of text isn’t daunting, and a great balance of super illustrations from Lewis James to retain interest and break up the text. The manner in which Jasper: Viking Dog opens and the epistolary format echoes that of Jasper: Space Dog so that children are able to recognise the style and attune themselves more easily to reading which is hugely important to those struggling with reading.

In Jasper: Viking Dog, Hilary Robinson uses humour to engage readers brilliantly. Parrot’s interjections and Jasper’s misunderstanding of homonyms like mousse and moose and the thought of a camel doing long jump in the next Olympics will all appeal to young readers. I’m certain the inclusion of information about Viking poo will make many young readers smile.

Whilst I love the entertaining story in its own right, I love the potential that arises in Jasper: Viking Dog even more. The book is perfect in promoting literacy and reading, especially through the inclusion of Norse words in our language and the accessibility of the text, but numeracy is supported through the coins, the timelines and dates so that there is something for every parent, teacher and child to explore. There’s opportunity here to discuss language, history, sport and geography, so that the book is valuable beyond the enjoyment of the story. Jasper: Viking Dog is another cracker of a children’s book from Hilary Robinson.

About Hilary Robinson

hilary r

Hilary Robinson is an author, radio producer, broadcaster and feature writer. She was born in Devon and brought up in Nigeria and England. The author of over forty books for children she is best known for Mixed Up Fairy Tales. Her books have been translated into a number of languages and are sold across the world. She lives and works in London and Yorkshire.

You can follow Hilary on Twitter @HilsRobinson and visit her website for more information. You can also follow Jasper on Twitter @jasper_space!