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!

My One True North by Milly Johnson

My one true north

With February designated Romance Reading Month in celebration of #RNA60, the Romantic Novelist Association’s 60th birthday celebrations, what better time to review My One True North by Milly Johnson? The RNA has just awarded Milly their Outstanding Achievement Award which she’ll be receiving on 2nd March. You can read all about this much deserved award for Milly here.

I always enjoy Milly’s books and most recently reviewed her The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew here. Milly was kind enough to write a piece for Linda’s Book Bag when The Mother of All Christmases was released in a post available here and I have my review of another of Milly’s books, The Perfectly Imperfect Womanhere.

My enormous thanks to Sara-Jade at Simon and Schuster for allowing me read an early copy of My One True North.

My One True North will be released by Simon and Schuster on 5th March 2020 and is available for pre-order through the links here.

My One True North

My one true north

Laurie and Pete should never have met.
But fate has pushed them together for a reason.

Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other.

From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning. Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories.

Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything.

But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.

My One True North is a story of friendship and what love means, of secrets uncovered, teashops on corners and the northern lights.

My Review of My One True North

Grief brings more change for Pete and Laurie than they might imagine.

Before I review My One True North properly, I have to say that I think this book is Milly Johnson at her absolute finest. I always enjoy her writing but My One True North seems to have that extra magical ingredient that makes it a joyous book to read in spite of the sadness that is the catalyst for the story. I absolutely loved it.

The plot is fabulous. The compass references leading North work so well, drawing the reader along with the narrative. It’s no plot spoiler to say there will be a happy ending – this is Milly Johnson writing – by my goodness, the twists and turns getting there are totally entertaining and wonderfully realistic. So many secrets swirl through the pages that it’s fascinating to see how the story will be resolved. At the moments when sadness seems almost overwhelming, the subplot elements from the newspaper where Laurie works bring glorious comic relief so that I laughed aloud even as I had tears in my eyes. Milly Johnson makes her readers experience the full gamut of emotion, from grief to joy, sadness to laughter, fear and frustration to comfort and satisfaction so that reading My One True North is an emotional roller-coaster.

I thought the characterisation was exemplary too. Through Pete especially we see how grief can knock us out of alignment, but all those present in My One True North are warm, vivid people who are all the more realistic for their flaws and life experiences. I thought the way Alex and Tara were presented was perfectly poised because although I couldn’t forgive them the hurt they created, I could understand them fully. Again, I experienced a full spectrum of emotion in my responses to all the characters because of the quality of the writing. I wanted Pete and Laurie to be happy and felt protective of them. I loathed Reid and Cora to the extent that I’d happily have done them physical damage. I wanted to attend Molly’s tea shop and have her as my friend. I found myself thinking about the people in My One True North when I wasn’t reading about them which I think illustrates how real they became to me.

However, it was the themes of My One True North that made this such a warm, humane and enveloping book. There’s a gritty realism that shows just how we are affected by loss and grief. It is as if Milly Johnson has glimpsed into the soul of humanity and is reassuring us that we can break down, we can rage and we can behave appallingly and yet, or rather because, we are still human and still deserve happiness. Friendship and love, passion and anger, grief and joy, betrayal and loyalty, all weave through the pages of this lovely book. The added extra of a little bit of mysticism alongside these more familiar themes makes for a really wonderful read.

I loved My One True North. It’s realistic, entertaining, emotional, funny and ultimately uplifting. What more could a reader ask?

About Milly Johnson

milly

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being a prolific author, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer, and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.

She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016 and the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015. Milly has recently been awarded the RNA Outstanding Achievement Award.

She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls, cats, meringues, handbags and literary gifts – but hates marzipan. She is very short.

You can follow Milly on Twitter @millyjohnson and Facebook.

Milly has an excellent website too where you can sign up for her brilliant monthly newsletter with exclusive, news, offers and competitions.

An @Bookollective Interview with Douglas Renwick, Author of Traumata

Traumata cover

It’s not often that I feature an interview I haven’t personally conducted on Linda’s Book Bag, but I’m breaking my own self-imposed rules today to let the lovely folk at Bookollective interview Douglas Renwick, author of Traumata because I simply couldn’t find time to read Traumata for review or interview Douglas myself but I really like the sound of the book.

Traumata is available for purchase here.

Traumata

Traumata cover

In Khuh Tabar, high up in foothills of the Hindu Kush, a young Englishwoman watches her husband and son murdered. Two years later, she returns to England, still traumatised by the memory. Her grief turns to rage when she finds out the killer walks free. Will she honour the ancient code of the Pashtuns and avenge the deaths, risking a life sentence for murder? Or will she abide by the laws of her homeland and live with her anger for ever?

A Bookollective Interview with Douglas Renwick

First off, who is your perfect reader?

I aim my books at intelligent people who like to expand their knowledge of some of the more controversial issues of our time. A Balance of Evil was about the doctrine of necessity; The Gathering looked at the ethics of organ transplant.

I like to do this in an entertaining way within a feasible plot with a satisfactory ending. My perfect reader is one who guesses the denouement a page or two before it’s revealed. I hope my novels appeal equally to all sexes.

What books are on your bedside table?

Daughter of Time, a novel written by Josephine Tey in 1935 about Richard III which showed he was not the wicked uncle of history books: conspiracy theories and fake news are nothing new.

The Spy and the Traitor, by Ben Macintyre.

Mythos, by Stephen Fry

When you wrote Traumata, did you have a writing routine?

Not really. I’m an early riser so on most of my mornings when I’m at home I write for a couple of hours. But writing is also about thinking and I do that anywhere at any time. My problem is dragging myself away from my desk and doing other things, like sweeping the leaves off the drive or mowing the lawn.

Where do you write best?

In my study in France. We have a chalet in the mountains and I love being at altitude surrounded by the most beautiful views. In the winter, I write before the ski-lifts open, then do a bit of thinking in the telecabine on the way up.

Where did your inspiration for Traumata come from?

Some years ago I met a female RAF doctor who was stationed in Afghanistan and had a hard time.

What are your hopes for reader’s to take away from reading Traumata?

That justice means different things to different people, and that in this country (UK) we don’t necessarily have it right. In trying to do three things – deter, punish and protect the public – prison fails in all three. Our judicial system is broken.

What are you working on next?

A psychological thriller about a young girl with special powers, having been born in her caul. Damning evidence shows she has committed a terrible crime, but as she is below the age of legal responsibility she is denied any form of trial and ends up in care.

About Douglas Renwick

me at mill3

According to his British passport, Douglas Renwick’s occupation for many years was ‘Government Service’. This included spells in Libya, Malta, Cyprus, Ireland and Germany. He also worked at the Ministry of Defence in London, the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe in Belgium, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

He has spent time in East Berlin, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. He has jumped out of planes, swum across Valetta harbour, skied across the Alps and the Rockies, and been transferred by breeches buoy from one Royal Navy ship to another, at sea and under full steam. He has been down a coal-mine in Yorkshire, a salt-mine in Poland and a nuclear bunker in Essex.

Now a grandfather, retired and living in Kent, time allows him to commit some of his experiences to paper. He prefers writing fiction on the grounds that it is safer.

Traumata tour poster

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

the aftermath

I’m delighted that this month I’ve actually managed to read the book for the U3A reading group to which I belong. Our choice this time was The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook and I’m looking forward to our group discussions and to finding out what everyone else thought.

Published by Penguin, The Aftermath is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

The Aftermath

the aftermath

In the bitter winter of 1946, Rachael Morgan arrives in the ruins of Hamburg. Here she is reunited with her husband Lewis, a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city.

As they set off for their new home Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an extraordinary decision: they will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower and his troubled daughter.

In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.

My Review of The Aftermath

Rachel’s arrival in Hamburg may not be the glorious reunion with husband Lewis they might hope for.

It took me a while to tune in to The Aftermath. Initially I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it because it is a very intense, almost intimate, read that needed my full attention when my brain was occupied elsewhere. I think it says a great deal about the quality of Rhidian Brook’s writing that he drew me in and captivated me as a reader almost in spite of myself so that I thoroughly enjoyed, or rather, appreciated, The Aftermath as it is quite a disturbing book in many ways. I have found myself thinking about it long after I’ve finished reading it. I did find it challenging at times, having to drag up my O’Level German and look up some vocabulary but I think that adds to the book’s success. This wasn’t an easy period as different nationalities had to adjust and work together so some challenge in the reading is a perfect indication of that period in history. I thought the overall quality of the prose was masterful.

The description of post-war Hamburg is devastatingly vivid making for an often disturbing and disquieting sensation as I read. Ozi’s apparel in particular gave me a greater insight into the time than any factual history has managed, so that I had an understanding of events at a very individual level. I’d defy anyone to read The Aftermath and not be altered or moved by it or to learn from it. I experienced several sensations, from an underlying fear for Lewis and Edmund in particular, to loathing of some of the military characters, sadness for many, including the Trummerkinder, and an early contempt for Rachel, despite her loss, that transformed into understanding and, ultimately, admiration. Indeed, it is Rhidian Brook’s ability to manipulate me as a reader that is so skilful and that I found highly effective.

I loved the title. There are numerous ‘aftermaths’ reverberating through the plot and themes. To say too much would spoil the plot, but the aftermaths of war, separation, loss, guilt, infidelity, action and inaction, need and desire all form a maelstrom of meaning that I’m still contemplating. So often I found myself wondering what I might have done, or how I might have behaved and my answers were not always comfortable ones. It’s this insight into humanity that I found so intense and thought provoking.

Having begun The Aftermath not fully engaged and wondering if I would complete it, I ended the book filled with admiration for Rhidian Brook’s honed and manipulative prose. I found it atmospheric, captivating and swirling with meaning and emotion. I really recommend The Aftermath.

About Rhidian Brook

rhidian

Rhidian Brook is an award-winning writer of fiction, television drama and film. His first novel, The Testimony of Taliesin Jones, won several prizes including the Somerset Maugham Award. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the Paris Review, New Statesman and Time Out, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He is also a regular contributor to ‘Thought For The Day’ on the Today programme.

For more information, follow Rhidian on Twitter @Rhidianbrook, visit his website or find him on Facebook.

Staying in with Trevor D’Silva, Author of A Bloody Hot Summer

ABHS- Front Cover

It’s ages since I last spent an evening with Trevor D’Silva chatting all about Fateful Decisions. I’m delighted that Trevor wasn’t put off by staying in with me, but instead has returned to tell me all about his latest book.

So, let’s see what he has to say:

Staying in with Trevor D’Silva

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag, Trevor. I’m delighted you were happy to return. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me once again. 

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

ABHS- Front Cover

I brought along my latest novel – A Bloody Hot Summer, which was released on November 14, 2019.

I chose it, since it will be of interest to people living in the UK, because it is set in England in the 1920s. Even though it is a murder mystery, the novel touches on some history of the British empire. So, you can also call it a historical fiction novel. It is written in British English and has some characters speaking in Cockney and Scottish accents too.

A major portion of the story takes place in England, but there are some chapters where the story takes place in Scotland, India and South Africa. For those who do not speak British English, I’ve added a glossary at the end for people to look up words and terms. Of course, some words are spelled differently and I have pointed that to the readers before the novel begins.

I very much like the sound of A Bloody Hot Summer Trevor. What can we expect from an evening in with it?

A Bloody Hot Summer is a murder mystery set in the summer of 1927 during a heat wave in a small village on the outskirts of London called Meadowford Village.  Hence the unusual title of the book. The lady of Fitzhugh Manor is found brutally murdered after her eightieth birthday party. A young detective called Dermot Lucian Carlyle is tasked with solving the case by his superior in London, because he is holidaying there. This is his first solo case and he’s not very confident of solving it.

Sounds great – very much in the tradition of British crime fiction.

Stuart Nulman, who reviewed the book for the Montreal Times said that the story had an Agatha Christie feel to it. British author Paul Beatty had a similar opinion. Another reviewer from the Wishing Shelf Book Awards felt that it reflected many aspects of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work within it. Celia Sandys the grand daughter of former British Prime minister Sir Winston Churchill said that my novel is – “A real page turner, full of suspense”.

Wow. What wonderful feedback. You must be delighted.

I was very honoured that the reviewers said that, since the literary works of Dame Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle inspired me to write my first murder mystery and I’ve mentioned that fact in the Acknowledgements.

Those reviews from the people mentioned above including Sublime Book Review, are on my website. So, please feel free to read them on the pagespecifically for this novel (My novel won the Author Shout Recommended Read Award for 2019. The logo for that is on this page. I recently got the news that I won the Coffee Pot Book Club Award. The logo for this new award will be on this page in February.)

Congratulations. That’s fantastic news.

So, judging from the reviews, you can be sure to have a thrilling evening as we discuss the book.

I think you’re right. What else have you brought along and why?

pie

Well for food, let’s do something very English, shall we? I have brought steak and kidney pie, vegetables and also some sherry.

You can have all the sherry Trevor but I’m happy to eat your share of the pie.

tea

I also brought some Indian tea and we can have it with biscuits after dinner. All these food items are mentioned in my novel, especially the tea (many times).

Now you HAVE enticed me to read A Bloody Hot Summer Trevor. I’m addicted to tea! I’m off to India soon so I shall look forward to drinking proper Indian tea. Thanks so much for staying in with me and telling me all about A Bloody Hot Summer. In the meantime, pass those biscuits whilst I tell everyone a little more about the book: 

A Bloody Hot Summer

ABHS- Front Cover

It’s 1927 and Great Britain is sweltering in an unprecedented heatwave. On the morning after her eightieth birthday party, Lady Fitzhugh is discovered bound and butchered in her bed, with her family and staff the prime suspects…

Whilst holidaying at nearby Meadowford Village, Detective Dermot Carlyle is asked to help investigate the brutal murder. The clues all point to a robbery gone wrong, but Dermot suspects that there is more to the horrific crime. The Fitzhughs’ secrets take Dermot along a path linking some of the biggest events of the British Colonial Empire – from India to Africa, to the dark days of the Great War itself.

As more murders take place, Dermot is racing against time to discover the killer’s identity. What are the family hiding, why did Lady Fitzhugh have to die, and what horror was committed in the colonies that led to this trail of death and deceit?

Published by Black Rose on 12th November 2019, A Bloody Hot Summer is available for purchase here and directly from the publisher here.

About Trevor D’Silva

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Trevor D’Silva has several degrees in engineering and accounting. He has lectured in mechanical engineering and environmental science subjects at various colleges. Trevor’s debut novel, Fateful Decisions, a historical fiction, was released in October, 2017. A Bloody Hot Summer is his second novel and first murder mystery. An avid anglophile, Trevor loves all things British and uses his free time to expand his knowledge in history and reading crime, thriller, and mystery novels.

You can visit Trevor’s website for more details, follow him on Twitter @TrevorDAuthor, and find him on Instagram. Trevor is also on Facebook.

Staying in with Ritu Bhathal, Author of Marriage Unarranged

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It’s a real pleasure to be staying in with Ritu Bhathal today to celebrate her latest book Marriage Unarranged as I’ve met Ritu in real life and she’s lovely! My thanks to her for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

Staying in with Ritu Bhathal

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

Thank you so much for having me, Linda. I am nervously excited!

I think we might just have guessed, but tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

Today, I have brought my new book, Marriage Unarranged. This truly is my book baby, having lovingly created it over the last twenty years. It has reached adult status, age-wise, and now it is time for it to grow wings and fly the nest. Tomorrow, in fact. 9th February 2020 is the release date.

Oh. Happy publication day for tomorrow Ritu! I love that child metaphor you use about getting Marriage Unarranged to publication.  So, what can we expect from an evening in with Marriage Unarranged?

An evening in with Marriage Unarranged will send you on a little journey of your own, visiting India, through Aashi’s eyes, with a look at a slice of India, based here in the UK, in Birmingham.

How exciting. I’m off to India again in March so this could be just the book for me.

You’ll meet a whole host of characters, from Aashi, our main girl, and her protective family, to Kiran, her best friend, and a few others too.

It is a genre I have coined a phrase for – Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit with an Indian twist. You’ll find culture, romance, laughs, and quite possibly, you might learn something new.

That’s just brilliant – Chickpea Curry Lit really needs to catch on!

Oh, and I can’t guarantee it being just an evening… as one of my readers mentioned, “Ritu, do you know what? YOU WROTE A BOOK!!!!! And not just any book, a book that I stayed up past my bedtime reading!”

Now, I don’t want to steal anyone’s sleep, but that particular quote made my week, and I created a meme of it to pin up and encourage myself to carry on writing!

I’m not surprised. You must be delighted with that feedback Ritu.

What else have you brought along and why?

download

Well, I feel it would only be fitting for me to have brought along an Indian themed set of snacks, and music, so for tonight, I have brought my jeera spiced chicken wings, samosas (mild, not overly spicy, provided by my sister in law), homemade pakoras (thank you, mum in law), and some gulab jamuns for something sweet (they are my mum’s recipe). For a truly Indian experience, there would have to be real masala chai, as drunk by the characters in the book, during their trip to India!

If you’re going to bring food like that Ritu, you can come again. I love Indian meals.

You can cook the chicken wings yourself Linda. Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Jeera Chicken

20 pieces of chicken (wings)
Butter
Olive Oil
Cumin Seeds
Garlic
Ginger
Fresh red chillis
Salt
A Little Natural Yoghurt
Garam Masala
Lemon Juice

Honestly, it is so simple, and really tasty!

  • Add the butter and oil to a wok or large pan and allow to cook together. Both fats together stop each other from burning,
  • Once hot add around two teaspoons of cumin, ginger, garlic, chillis and salt. Allow to cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the chicken, stirring so all the pieces are coated with the spices.
  • Add a tablespoon of natural yoghurt to allow the chicken to keep its moistness.
  • When the chicken is almost cooked, add around two teaspoons of garam masala and a few squirts of lemon juice.
  • Allow the chicken to cook thoroughly.
  • Enjoy!

It’s actually my husband who does most of the cooking these days so I’ll pass this on. We have some chillis from our allotment in the freezer that will come in handy.

The music would be early 2000s Bollywood tracks, and Bhangra – It’s never quiet in my life! Here’s a track from Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, the film mentioned in the book.

It’s certainly got that epic Bollywood feel to it hasn’t it?

India is a wonderful place, filled with culture and colour, so here are a couple of photos from a trip I took out there, a couple of years before the book is set.

They look great Ritu and remind me of being in Mumbai – that’s the Haji Ali Durgah mosque behind you isn’t it?

It is Linda!

It’s been lovely spending this evening with you Ritu. Thank you for staying in with me. You pour the masala chai and I’ll let readers know a bit more about Marriage Unarranged:

Marriage Unarranged

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It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged is available for purchase here.

About Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.

A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.

You can find out more about Ritu by visiting her blog or her website., following her on Twitter @RituBhathal and Instagram or finding her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Blog Tour Banner

 

Linda’s Book Bag 5th Birthday Giveaway

i am 5

My goodness me! I can’t believe it’s five years ago today that I sent out a tentative blog post into the world and began blogging for the very first time. This post marks my 2,112th blog post!

It’s been an absolute pleasure to become so immersed in the world of books once more. I’ve lost count of the number of bookish events I’ve been invited to, the festivals I’ve been involved with, the authors, publishers and fellow bloggers I’ve met. Many of those people are now friends in real life and it’s a joy to know them. I’ve even reconnected with students I have taught who are now authors and that has been fantastic.

I’ve been sent wonderful books for review, have won awards, been a character in a book, been featured on other blogs and in magazines and have been quoted time and again in books and on the covers. It has been an incredible privilege and very exciting.

The greatest number of physical books I’ve been sent in any one day is 31 and the biggest number of emails asking for reviews or a slot on Linda’s Book Bag on one day is 212 so my apologies if I can’t fulfil all requests.

I’ve even written my own novel – not that I think it will ever see the light of day!

I love it, even when I’m feeling under pressure to try to read something in time for a blog tour or review, or when social media gets in a pickle and annoys me! I’m somewhat ashamed that I haven’t always managed to review as promised but life gets in the way at times. In fact, I have cut right back on blogging, despite appearances, so that I can deal with the everyday aspects of life. My TBR pile never seems to diminish and there are many, many books I still want to read from the 900+ on the shelves, book cases, the floor, in my book trolley, surrounding my desk, next to the bed, under the spare bed, in the wardrobes and amongst the 1200+ on my Kindle.

I WILL read them all eventually…

5th Blog Birthday Giveaway

£20

So, to celebrate five years of blogging, to thank those of you who support Linda’s Book Bag, and to help spread the book love further, I have a small blog birthday giveaway. It’s open internationally and closes at UK midnight on Thursday 13th February 2020.

As I know some readers prefer to buy their books from their local bookshop, the winner might prefer to choose a National Book Token, but the choice could be an Amazon UK or Amazon US voucher. The value is £20 or $20.

For your chance to enter just click here.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog, for your support and bookish friendship. Good luck and happy reading!