The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems by Sunita Thind

My enormous thanks to poet Sunita Thind for sending me a copy of The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems in return for an honest review.

The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems was published by Black Pear Press on 30th March 2020 and is available for purchase here.

The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems

This debut collection of poems from the Indian, female perspective gives an insight into Punjabi culture in the UK.

Sunita says, ‘I don’t often find mainstream poems that share ideas on other cultures.’

Her poems are layered with deep imagery and display an irreverant, playful approach to language. Sunita is a poet who draws deeply on her dual UK-Punjabi heritage to cast a new light on multicultural Britain.

My Review of The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems

A collection of poems considering a multi-cultural life.

I have one small criticism of The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems that I would like to express before my review. I’d have preferred not to have translations into English within some of the poems themselves as I felt it broke the flow of the writing. That said, embodying the English translations alongside the original writing does model a blending of cultures, which is something we need, and is part of the poet’s life so I can appreciate why the poems may have been presented in this way. Indeed, one of the pleasures of reading The Barging Buddhi is that I learnt new language words and felt at first hand a sense of otherness that so many in the BAME community must frequently feel.

There’s a glorious richness in The Barging Buddhi so that reading the collection felt like looking at a bejewelled casket. Colours and textures weave through the writing in a very visual manner and there are even real gems like diamonds within the poems. Similarly, the other senses are wonderfully explored. I found the sense of taste, conveyed by the references to food, almost overwhelming at times and was ravenous by the time I’d finished reading the poems. I loved Sunita Thind’s ability to manipulate language with stunning metaphors and so many images of things glittering or sparkling and contrasting with the ooziness of coconut oil and honey, so that there’s a sensual and sensuous sensation reading these poems. Equally, Sunita Thind’s ability to create visceral pictures is both striking and effective so that I found many of the poems in The Barging Buddhi very affecting.

I found the themes incredibly thought provoking. Sunita Thind considers race and colour, obedience and rebellion, language and identity with general societal approaches as well as more intimate poems that reflect intimate aspects of her own life. A couple of the poems relating to the poet’s ovarian cancer are almost unbearable in their intensity.

I didn’t always find the writing in The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems immediately accessible. This is by no means a criticism. Rather, I loved the fact I needed to read closely, to concentrate and to consider what I’d read. This is a collection I will return to many times and where I’m sure I will uncover something new on each occasion. I really recommend it.

About Sunita Thind

Sunita Thind is from Bedford and lives in Derby. She is a qualified Secondary English and Primary School Teacher, a make up artist, singer, writer and nail technician. She holds a degree in English and History from Northumbria University and has had her poems published in various ezines, poetry websites, magazines and literary journals. She lives with her husband Peter and handsome Samoyed Ghost.

You can follow Sunita on Twitta @sunitathind and find her on Facebook for more information.

Blood Ties by Peter Taylor-Gooby

blood ties

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to ‘stay in’ with Peter Taylor-Gooby in a post you can read here. We chatted about Blood Ties which I’m delighted to be reviewing today as part of the Love Books Group blog tour. It’s a privilege to help start it off. My thanks to Kelly for inviting me to participate.

When Peter’s The Baby Auction was published he provided a fabulous piece for Linda’s Book Bag on writing dystopian fiction that you’ll find here. I reviewed Peter’s excellent Ardent Justice here.

Blood Ties

blood ties

Blood Ties is about love, betrayal and compassion. Ritchie, a successful advertising executive, is blackmailed into leading a campaign to make modern slavery acceptable to the public. His children, activists in the struggle against people-trafficking, are horrified. The novel tells of his journey through a Britain where rich and poor live as close and as distant as the cheeks of the blade of an axe, and how he finds that it is only through self-sacrifice that he can reunite his family.

Blood Ties is currently available in e-book from all online sellers including here.

My Review of Blood Ties

Blood Ties is absolutely brilliant. I loved it.

Peter Taylor-Gooby writes with erudite style, intelligence and pitch perfect plotting, but above all that, he writes with humanity so that whilst his reader is entertained, they are educated and affected too. The themes of Blood Ties are incredibly pertinent to Britain today, with modern slavery, political corruption and family relationships at the very heart of the writing. And heart is the correct term. The author displays such moral empathy whilst crafting a brilliant thriller of a book. However, none of the story is self-righteous, so that its impact is all the more powerful. I genuinely felt ashamed of my lack of knowledge of some of the subject matter and hugely grateful for the comfortable, privileged life I have. Blood Ties is a book with real, emotional impact. It has come as no surprise to me to discover that Peter Taylor-Gooby is both a Professor of Social Policy and has an OBE for services to social science, as the authenticity of Blood Ties is astounding.

The plot zips along at breakneck, thrilling speed but manages to retain complete credibility so that I couldn’t trust the narrative not to move on without me if I put the book down. I was completely captivated and in fact read Blood Ties in one sitting. There’s an episodic nature the the story that would make a simply fabulous television series. I think Blood Ties is a book that needs championing in every quarter to bring it to as wide a readership as possible.

Peter Taylor-Gooby has a deft touch in imparting textual details that enliven the prose but don’t cause a break in the pace. I found Blood Ties surprisingly visual and this effect enhanced my enjoyment still further. I loved the variety of sentence structure, the natural dialogue and how brilliantly meaning is conveyed just as effectively by what is withheld as by what is revealed. I confess I was moved to tears more than once.

The characters are all wonderfully drawn, but it is Ritchie’s first person voice that rings out so clearly making him completely compelling. I finished reading Blood Ties feeling I wanted to sit down with Ritchie, talk through the events and issues he’d told me about and to support him in any way I can.

Blood Ties is thriller with a moral conscience that never preaches, but rather grips the reader to the extent they feel they are sitting on Ritchie’s shoulder in the thick of the action throughout. Blood Ties is splendid in every respect and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

About Peter Taylor-Gooby


Peter enjoys talking to his children, holidays, hill-walking and riding his bike. He has worked on adventure playgrounds, as a teacher, as an antique dealer and in a social security office in Newcastle. Before that Peter spent a year on a Gandhian Ashram in Vijayawada, supporting himself as assistant editor on a local English-language newspaper. In his day job Peter is an academic but believes that you can only truly understand the issues that matter to people through your feelings, your imagination and your compassion. That’s why he writes novels.

His first novel, The Baby Auction, 2017, is a love story set in a fantasy world where the only rule is the law of the market. That someone should help another because they care for them simply doesn’t make sense to the citizens of Market World, any more that auctioning babies might to us. His second, Ardent Justice, 2018, is a crime story set in the world of high finance and city fat-cats, where money rules, but greed can trip even the most successful. Peter’s latest book, Blood Ties, 2020, is about the ties of love in a troubled family, and the bonds of debt that chain illegal immigrants to people-traffickers, and how they can be broken through self-sacrifice. He hopes you enjoy them.

For more information you can follow Peter on Twitter @PeterT_G. He’s also on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:


Under A Siena Sun by T.A. Williams

It gives me enormous pleasure to participate in the publication day blog blast run by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for Under a Siena Sun by T.A Williams. What better way to start my 37th wedding anniversary than by sharing a review of a romantic book?

T.A. or Trevor, has featured many times on Linda’s Book Bag, having written about how much of himself goes into his books here, and why he writes books for women here.

More recently I reviewed Dreaming of Italy here, Dreaming of Verona here with a review of Trevor’s Chasing Shadows here. Other reviews include Dreaming of Venice here and To Provence, With Love here and Dreaming of Christmas here. There’s also an extract from Dreaming of St Tropez that you can read here.

Under a Siena Sun is published today, 27th August 2020 by Canelo Escape and is available for purchase here.

Lucy needed a change of scene. She didn’t expect the change of a lifetime.

Doctors Without Borders has been Lucy Young’s life for the past four years. After being rescued from a conflict zone, she’s making a change from saving lives under gunfire to practising medicine in safe, serene Siena.

Now treating wealthy patients at a private clinic, she’s never felt less comfortable. She’s used to helping those in dire need – not those in need of a nip and tuck. Her turmoil grows when she encounters injured tennis star David Lorenzo, whose smiles make Lucy forget her aversion to the rich.

She’s soon falling for the sportsman but is she losing herself in this world of excess? All she’s ever wanted was to help the underprivileged, so can her future lie in Siena at the clinic – with David?

My Review of Under a Siena Sun

Following her dramatic escape from DRC medic Lucy needs a break.

Under a Siena Sun is a perfect example of the romantic stories I’ve come to expect from T.A. Williams, but this time with a slightly edgier atmosphere created partly by the dramatic opening to the narrative and partly by a clear underpinning social message of wealth versus poverty and privilege versus disadvantage so that I thoroughly appreciated the added depth and enjoyed the narrative all the more.

There’s a super story in Under a Siena Sun that entertains the reader royally. The plot is fast and interesting so that I loved being in Italy with Lucy. Her relationships with different men, her principled attitudes and the glorious Italian settings transport the reader completely. It’s unwise to read a TA Williams book when I’m hungry as his descriptions of food are so mouth-wateringly realistic that they make me desire all kinds of forbidden and out of reach food. I always finish reading T.A. Williams feeling as if I’ve been taken on a holiday away from the trials of my own life and Under a Siena Sun is no exception, but this time with a glorious element of extra glamour too as I visited vicariously the areas of Tuscany I’ve never been to. The sheer escapism is as much a pleasure of reading Under a Siena Sun as is the entertaining plot.

I thought Lucy’s character was extremely well crafted even if she did make me feel slightly shallow, because I’m not sure I would have maintained such a moral standpoint when faced with a gorgeous romance! Joking aside, I loved the fact that Under a Siena Sun gave me cause to think when I read Lucy’s thought processes and romantic dilemma. Indeed, it isn’t an exaggeration that Lucy, albeit a fictional person, has helped restore my faith in humanity which has been somewhat lacking of late. She is adaptive, feisty and intelligent and it’s so good to have a romantic read where a relationship with a man isn’t the be all and end all for the lead character.

Under a Siena Sun is a lovely new addition to the TA Williams canon. Familiar elements such as a black a Labrador, romance and transporting travel are there so that fans will be reassured that they are getting another super read, but there’s something a little bit more here too with reference to war and difficulty so that the writing feels deeper and more important somehow. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Just wonderful.

About T.A.Williams


T.A. Williams lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He was born in England of a Scottish mother and Welsh father. After a degree in modern languages at Nottingham University, he lived and worked in Switzerland, France and Italy, before returning to run one of the best-known language schools in the UK. He’s taught Arab princes, Brazilian beauty queens and Italian billionaires. He speaks a number of languages and has travelled extensively. He has eaten snake, still-alive fish, and alligator. A Spanish dog, a Russian bug and a Korean parasite have done their best to eat him in return. His hobby is long-distance cycling, but his passion is writing.

But let’s see what Trevor has to say about himself:

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations and, as a writer, I obviously have to go there in person and check them out first. I love my job…

You can find Trevor on FacebookGoodreads and Amazon. You can also follow him on Twitter @TAWilliamsBooks and visit his website.

Older and Wider by Jenny Eclair

I’ve long been a fan of Jenny Eclair, but have never got round to reading one of her books so I thought it was time to rectify that situation. My hugely grateful thanks to Hannah Robinson at Quercus for sending me a copy of Older and Wider in return for an honest review.

Older and Wider was published by Quercus on 2nd July 2020 and is available for purchase through the links here.

Older and Wider

‘If you’re after an in-depth medical or psychological insight into the menopause, I’m afraid you’ve opened the wrong book – I’m not a doctor . . . However, I am a woman and I do know how it feels to be menopausal, so this book is written from experience and the heart and I hope it makes you laugh and feel better.’ JE

Older and Wider is Jenny Eclair’s hilarious, irreverent and refreshingly honest compendium of the menopause. From C for Carb-loading and G for Getting Your Shit Together to I for Invisibility and V for Vaginas, Jenny’s whistle-stop tour of the menopause in all its glory will make you realise that it really isn’t just you. Jenny will share the surprising lessons she has learnt along the way as well as her hard-won tips on the joy of cardigans, dealing with the empty nest (get a lodger) and keeping the lid on the pressure cooker of your temper (count to twenty, ten is never enough).

As Jenny says, ‘I can’t say that I’ve emerged like a beautiful butterfly from some hideous old menopausal chrysalis and it would be a lie to say that I’ve found the ‘old me’ again. But what I have found is the ‘new me’ – and you know what? I’m completely cool with that.’

My Review of Older and Wider

One woman’s insight into the menopause.

I was having a bad day when I picked up Older and Wider, and I’d just read a pretty intense book so I was hoping for something entertaining and humorous from Jenny Eclair to raise my spirits. My word I got what I’d hoped. And more. Much more. Older and Wider is absolutely brilliant.

Written with pithy humour, complete honesty and a witty style that feels as if Jenny Eclair is chatting with you over a cup of tea (and probably a large plate of cheese), Older and Wider is such an effortless, engrossing and entertaining read.

I thought the structure of Older and Wider worked so well. Although I read the book straight through and in one sitting because I simply couldn’t put it down as I was so absorbed, the A to Z nature affords the opportunity to dip in and out of areas of interest too. The short sections allow those readers suffering from menopausal brain fog fully to absorb and enjoy each part without their frustrating symptoms spoiling it! I can’t comment on the plot as, well there isn’t one and as Jenny Eclair might tell you, most menopausal women have probably lost the plot anyway.

That’s not to say Older and Wider doesn’t deal with weighty issues like divorce, sexual intercourse, family relationships and physical and emotional changes for women experiencing the menopause, because it does. It’s just that Jenny Eclair strips back the secrecy and mysticism surrounding menopause and manages to provide solutions and advice with brilliant insight into human nature and so much humour that I chortled, nodded and laughed until I cried my way through Older and Wider as every word resonated with me. I may not have had all the same physical menopausal experiences as Jenny Eclair, but I could certainly recognise so many of her emotions. My husband seemed to think I had taken leave of my senses as I tried to read passages aloud to him but failed because I was laughing too much.

I loved the concept conveyed that embracing who we are and how our bodies are changing can be a positive experience and that where it isn’t an easy thing, there are services and people to help us. Equally wonderful was the level of autobiographical detail that made me feel I know the author a little better and consolidated my opinion that Jenny Eclair is an absolute star. I began reading Older and Wider as a grumpy old woman and ended it as an entertained, uplifted and happy one.

Utterly hilarious, completely relatable and totally fabulous, Older and Wider is a must read for any woman – or man!

About Jenny Eclair

Jenny Eclair is the Sunday Times top ten bestselling author of the critically acclaimed novels Camberwell BeautyHaving a Lovely Time and Life, Death and Vanilla Slices, as well as the Richard and Judy bestseller, Moving, the short story collection, Listening In and her latest novel Inheritance. One of the UK’s most popular writer/performers, she was the first woman to win the prestigious Perrier Award and has many TV and radio credits to her name. She lives in south-east London.

To find out more, follow Jenny on Twitter @jennyeclair or visit her website. You’ll also find Jenny on Facebook.

All About Us by Tom Ellen

It was back in January when I first encountered All About Us by Tom Ellen at a fabulous blogger, author and media evening in London. You can read about that evening and the other books and authors in Harper Collins’ HQ New Voices event here. Since then I’ve been desperate to read All About Us and I’m delighted to share my review today.

All About Us is published by HQ, an imprint of Harper Collins, and is available for purchase in ebook now and paperback pre-order here.

All About Us

If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?

Ben usually loves the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

Two loves. Two lives. One destiny…

My Review of All About Us

On Christmas Eve Ben and Daphne are not getting on well.

I absolutely devoured All About Us over a couple of days because it’s such an enchanting read. Although very much romantic fiction, it has a fairy tale aspect with the watch seller that is so perfectly woven through the narrative that I believed every word. There are those who might eschew reading All About Us before December as much of the action takes place on various Christmas days or dates nearby, but that would be to miss out on a simply wonderful book.

The plot absolutely zips along in a highly entertaining fashion that would make a fantastic film, but also tripping up the reader by surprising them by the level of humour and emotion in some of the sections. I found tears in my eyes on several occasions, and yet I have finished reading All About Us feeling optimistic and uplifted because Tom Ellen has shown me there is a world of glorious possibility if only we grasp it firmly. Indeed, it is the themes of All About Us that make it such a brilliant and affecting story. Ben’s time hopping actions make the reader realise that there may not be a second chance with some of those in our lives so we need to make the most of here and now, that being true to ourselves is far better than trying to make ourselves into someone that others want us to be and that love – deep abiding love – is the most precious commodity we have. I feel my personal life has been enhanced by reading All About Us.

It was so refreshing to have a romantic novel written from a male perspective too. Ben is totally realistic as a flawed thirty something man who has some considerable growing up to do. For all his imperfections, I so wanted him to be happy because Tom Ellen made him a character I cared about completely.  I loved his relationships with other men in the book, Harv in particular, and the way Tom Ellen illustrates how those relationships usually work. I found this a very insightful aspect of the narrative. The different time periods that Ben lives through had the effect of making me relive and reflect on some of my past memories too, giving me an added joyfulness as I read. I loved Daphne’s characterisation too and thought she was so cleverly conveyed through direct speech particularly. I began reading All About Us wanting one outcome for Ben, Alice and Daphne and ended it having have my expectations and readerly desires completely inverted by the super story-telling.

With a sparkling plot and every emotion possible from confusion to fear and love to grief holding the reader spellbound, All About Us is a gorgeous, gorgeous book. I adored it and can see it becoming one of THE romantic fiction reads of 2020. Fabulous stuff Tom Ellen!

About Tom Ellen

Tom is an author and journalist from London, England. He is the co-writer of three critically acclaimed Young Adult novels: LOBSTERS (which was shortlisted for The Bookseller’s inaugural YA Book Prize), NEVER EVERS and FRESHERS. His solo adult debut novel is the romantic comedy All About Us (HQ/HarperCollins). His books have been widely translated and are published in 20 countries. He is a regular contributor to Viz magazine, and has also written for Cosmopolitan, Empire, Evening Standard Magazine, The Daily Mash, Glamour, NME, ESPN, ShortList, Time Out London, Vice, Stylist and many more.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomEllen7.


Staying in with Rosie Blake

It was such a shame that the vagaries of technology failed us last week as I had hoped to stay in with lovely Rosie Blake on THE GIN O’CLOCK CLUB publication day last Thursday but sadly our emails got lost in the ether. However, it means that instead I can have a wonderful start to a new week by staying in with Rosie today instead.

You see, Rosie has been very much a part of Linda’s Book Bag since the very beginning. Writing as Cesca Major, her book The Silent Hours, reviewed here, was one of my Books of the Year in 2015. I also reviewed Cesca’s The Last Night and interviewed her about it here. The Last Night made it onto my Books of the Year in 2016!

Quite early on in my life as a blogger I reviewed Rosie Blake’s How To Stuff Up Christmas here. That was followed by my review of How To Find Your (First) Husband, and then my review of How To Get A (Love) Life. My next review of one of Rosie’s books is here and features The Hygge Holiday. Now, I loved every single one of those reads so you can see why I was so desperate to chat with Rosie about her latest book (which is on my TBR).

So, with all that in mind, let’s see what happened when Rosie stayed in with me.

Staying in with Rosie Blake

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag, Rosie. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. I’m so sorry our emails got lost in transit!

It is lovely of you to have me here, I love a chat about books!

Me too. Now, I know I already know, but tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

I’ve chosen THE GIN O’CLOCK CLUB which is my latest novel and inspired by the utter joy that was my own grandad. I always wondered what kind of advice he might doll out watching me rush around, often too busy to stop and smell the roses. The book is about Teddy and his eighty year old golfing mates that make up his ‘Gin o’clock club’ helping stressed granddaughter Lottie to slow down and save herself. Think old people on Tinder and young people on whist drives and you’re there!!

Knowing the fabulous humour in your books Rosie and with the reviews I’ve read from other bloggers I can’t wait to read this one. What can we expect from an evening in with THE GIN O’CLOCK CLUB

A career highlight for me was receiving a letter from my idol Jilly Cooper who described this book as ‘touching and hilarious’. I grew up on a diet of Jilly and to know she has read something I’ve written blows me away.

That must feel incredible to have such an endorsement.

And the fact that this book is inspired by my own grandad always brings a lump to my throat. I hope everyone who reads it can be wrenched out of this rather miserable year and lose themselves in the joy and wisdom of the older generation. It’s all about family and friendship and love.

And with everything that’s going on in 2020, I think family and friendship and love are the things we all need the most! What else have you brought along and why? 

I thought I would bring along a photo of my grandad so you can see the type of man he was and imagine what life advice he might give you!

Oh he looks wonderful Rosie. Reminds me of my Dad. Thank you for sharing him with us and for staying in with me, albeit a bit later than we meant, to tell me all about THE GIN O’CLOCK CLUB.

Thank you for having me Linda!


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-gin-oclock-club-cover.jpg

Bring the sparkle and fizz back into your life with the help of The Gin O’Clock Club

Lottie is always in a hurry, rushing through her days ticking tasks off her to-do lists. Teddy is worried about his granddaughter – and he knows that his late wife, Lily, would have known exactly what to say to make things better. Now that Lily has gone, it’s up to Teddy to talk some sense into Lottie.

With the help of Arjun, Geoffrey and Howard, the elderly reprobates who make up his Gin O’Clock Club, Teddy makes a plan to help Lottie find her way back to the things that really matter – family, friendship and love. But as Lottie balances a high-powered job with her reluctant attendance at whist drives, ballroom dances and bingo, Teddy wonders if she’s really ready to open up her heart to the possibility of true happiness…

Laugh, cry and fall in love with this colourful cast of characters in THE feel-good novel of the year

Published by Little Brown imprint Sphere on 20th August 2020, THE GIN O’CLOCK CLUB is available for purchase through the links here.

About Rosie Blake

Rosie is a writer, recovering TV presenter and mother of many children. She has written for Cosmopolitan, The Lady, Best and Reveal Magazines. She has appeared on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky. She enjoys hosting writing panels and running creative writing workshops. Rosie has written comic women’s fiction for Atlantic Books and Sphere Fiction. Her latest, The Gin O’Clock Club, a quirky inter-generational love story about friendship, gin, golf and whist, is out now.

She continues to attempt to become Julia Robert’s best friend but is starting to worry it might never happen despite “liking” all her Instagram posts.

For more information, follow Rosie on Twitter @RosieBBooks, Facebook or Instagram – she has twins so she says she is always keen to chat.

Staying in with Tom Bale

I’m a real fan of thrillers and have been hearing such good things about thriller writer Tom Bale from other bloggers that I simply had to ask Tom to stay in with me to tell me about his latest book.

Let’s see what happened:

Staying in with Tom Bale

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Tom, and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

It’s very kind of you to invite me, Linda. Thank you!

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

I’m bringing my latest novel, SURVIVE, because it’s been described as the perfect summer read. Okay, I’d originally envisaged it as a book to be read by the pool or on the beach in some exotic sun-drenched resort, but with the recent heatwaves in the UK I’m sure that a garden or patio will do just as well!

I’m sure it will. And with all that’s going on, a book that we can escape into whilst still at home sounds exactly what we need right now!

What can we expect from an evening in with SURVIVE?

SURVIVE is the story of Sam and Jody and their young children, taking their first ever holiday abroad. What should be a relaxing all-inclusive break turns into a life-threatening ordeal. It’s a slightly different kind of book from my others, though still very much a thriller.

Intriguing. Tell me more.

My initial inspiration for a novel is usually a character or a situation, sometimes a place, but with SURVIVE it was a theme: the growing power of the super rich, and the fact that such people can seemingly do whatever they like and face no consequences (as my poor family are to discover!) I drew inspiration from a Graham Greene novel, Dr Fischer of Geneva, which has a similar theme. Other influences included Stephen King’s MISERY and The Magus by John Fowles, stories where the main characters find themselves as pawns in a game, and also the movie Castaway.

SURVIVE sounds fabulous and with recent events I can see that your theme is incredibly pertinent. How have readers responded to it?

Because it is a bit different, I was even more apprehensive than usual prior to publication, but I’ve been stunned by the passionate response I’ve had from readers. You know a book has worked the way you hoped when people are messaging to say they’ve gone without sleep to finish it. The review headings on Amazon have included phrases such as: “Gripping, terrifying and absolutely brilliant!” “A real nailbiter!” “A riveting read.” “Could not put this down!” “Best book of the year!” “Edge of the seat thriller.”So I couldn’t be happier about the reception it’s had.

Crikey! No wonder you’re happy with those comments. I must get SURVIVE onto my TBR immediately after this evening Tom.

What else have you brought along and why?

I’ve got a couple of cold beers to drink as we sit and chat in the garden. I also have some pictures of Shoreham upon Sea, a town just along the coast from Brighton. It was in a couple of the cafes here that most of SURVIVE was written, and after a few hours immersed in Sam and Jody’s world there was nothing I liked more than a swim in the sea before cycling home.

Those photos look wonderful. Next time you head for a swim give me a call and I’ll come too! Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat all about SURVIVE Tom. You pour us a beer and I’ll give readers some more information. 


From a bestselling author comes THE ultimate summer thriller.

Paradise is about to become hell…

On a remote island in the Adriatic, an enigmatic billionaire hosts a twisted form of entertainment to satisfy the jaded appetites of his exclusive guests. And for one unsuspecting family, the holiday of a lifetime is about to become a desperate battle for survival.

As young parents, Sam and Jody have managed to defy the odds once before. But years of struggle have taken their toll, and Sam’s demons return to haunt him at the worst possible time.

Caught up in a sick game of cat and mouse, can they put their differences aside and work under intolerable pressure to save themselves and their children?

Live or die. It’s the only choice they have.

Published by Bloodhound, SURVIVE is available for purchase here.

About Tom Bale

Tom Bale had a variety of jobs before realising his lifelong ambition to be a full-time writer. He is the author of eleven novels, including the best sellers SEE HOW THEY RUN, ALL FALL DOWN and SKIN AND BONES. His latest book is SURVIVE, described as ‘the ultimate summer thriller!’ A keen cyclist and swimmer, he lives by the sea in Brighton.

For more information, follow Tom on Twitter @t0mbale or visit his website. You’ll also find Tom on Facebook. All Tom’s books can be found here.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People

One of the downsides of blogging is that you get so many books and requests that, on occasion, one of your favourite authors become neglected. It’s been far too long since I read Fredrik Backman so when Anxious People appeared on Netgalley I broke my self-imposed ban and requested it. I was thrilled when my request was granted.

One of the very first reviews I ever posted on Linda’s Book Bag was of Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises in a post you can see here. I reviewed A Man Called Ove here and Britt-Marie Was Here, here! The blog has evolved considerably since then, but I have never forgotten the excitement I felt when I was asked to meet and interview Fredrik Backman in June 2015. I have met hundreds of authors since but that meeting was very special. You can read about it here.

Published by Penguin imprint Michael Joseph on 20th August 2020, Anxious People is available for puchase through the links here.

Anxious People

Anxious People

In a small town in Sweden it appears to be an ordinary day. But look more closely, and you’ll see a mysterious masked figure approaching a bank…

Two hours later, chaos has descended. A bungled attempted robbery has developed into a hostage situation – and the offender is refusing to communicate their demands to the police.

Within the building, fear quickly turns to irritation for the seven strangers trapped inside. If this is to be their last day on earth, shouldn’t it be a bit more dramatic?

But as the minutes tick by, they begin to suspect that the criminal mastermind holding them hostage might be more in need of rescuing than they are…

My Review of Anxious People

Robbing a bank isn’t as easy as the robber thinks!

Despite the suggestion in the title, Anxious People is utterly glorious, uplifting and such a touching read. I laughed aloud on far too many occasions to count and I cried too so that Fredrick Backman has created the perfect blend of compassion and humour for me.

In a sense, Fredrik Backman exploits the classical three unities of time – a few hours, place  – an apartment, and action – a hostage situation, and he does so with such clever and witty writing. That said, the backstories of each of the characters and the peripheral places of the psychologist’s office and the police station all blend into sheer perfection so that I finished reading Anxious People feeling that I had been given a glimpse into the very souls and innermost thoughts of every single person in the story.

It’s so hard to say too much about the plot of Anxious People because it would spoil the discoveries for the reader, but I can say it’s about a bridge, a bank robbery, a hostage situation and some police interviews! It can be read for sheer entertainment alone. It is cleverly structured so that several seemingly disparate elements are actually totally fundamental to the story. The direct appeal to the reader draws them in until they are as much part of the story as the robber, the hostages and the police. More than that, however, Anxious People is predicated on Fredrik Backman’s total understanding of human nature and complete compassion for even the least likeable people because he understands why we are as we are. Indeed, it is those who appear to deserve our sympathy least who earn it more through the skilled writing so that the experience of reading this narrative leaves the reader changed for the better too. The robber is such a brilliant character. Misguided, hopeless as a hostage taker and totally believable. I was as duped by the robber as are the police.

Speaking of the police, Jim and Jack are simply fabulous. Their relationship, and the presence of their lost loved ones, serve to show the reader how we all have our frailties, our dreams and our loyalties. Fredrik Backman somehow seems to know innately, and be able to convey so effortlessly, just what humanity is at its most fundamental level. I found reading Anxious People renewed my faith in my fellow man – or woman.

I’m aware how little I’ve actually said about Anxious People in this review. It’s impossible to define Fredrik Backman’s magical ability to make his readers know and understand not just the Julias et al in the story, but to come to know themselves better too. I adored Anxious People. It left me feeling I belong in the world at a time when I’ve been feeling detached from it. What could be better than that?

About Fredrik Backman

fredrik backman

Fredrik Backman is the Number One New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove – now a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks. His subsequent fiction includes My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown and Us Against You. Beartown is being adapted for HBO by the team behind The Bridge. He is also the author of two novellas: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. Fredrik Backman’s books are published in more than forty countries and have sold over 10 million copies. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

For more information, follow Freddrik on Twitter @Backmanland, find him on Facebook and Instagram or visit his website.

Our Story by Miranda Dickinson

Our story

As most of you who read Linda’s Book Bag regularly are already aware, I can be very foolish and I most certainly am when it comes to Miranda Dickinson because I’ve never actually read one of her books before although I OWN several! I’m putting that right today by sharing my review of Our Story.

Our Story will be published by Harper Collins’ imprint HQ in ebook on 25th August 2020 and audio and paperback on 3rd September. It is available for pre-order here.

Our Story

Our story

Otty has just landed her dream job. She’s about to join the writing team of one of the most respected showrunners in TV. And then the night before her first day, she’s evicted from her flat.

Joe has been working with Russell for years. He’s the best writer on his team, but lately something has been off. He’s trying to get his mojo back, but when his flatmate moves out without warning he has other things to worry about.

Otty moving into Joe’s house seems like the perfect solution to both their problems, but neither is prepared for what happens next. Paired together in the writing room, their obvious chemistry sparks from the page and they are the writing duo to beat. But their relationship off the page is an entirely different story, and neither of them can figure out why.

And suddenly the question isn’t, will they, or won’t they? It’s why won’t they?

An epic and modern love story for our times, we will all see ourselves reflected in Otty and Joe. We are our own biggest barriers and this novel explores what happens when we get out of our own way. And it is glorious.

My Review of Our Story

Otty wants to be a television writer.

I cannot believe Our Story is my first Miranda Dickinson read. I have others on my shelves but I’ve never actually found time to pick one up and read it. Our Story has convinced me that that ridiculous state of affairs needs rectifying immediately. I adored this book.  Miranda Dickinson has a smooth, effortless style that makes reading her words a sheer delight. I thoroughly appreciated the structure of the narrative because although there are two points of view, the chronology gives coherence and flow that I sometimes find missing in other books, adding to my enjoyment immensely.

I thought the setting of the writers’ room was inspired. Giving a unity to the action it provides an insight into a world most of us will never encounter so that there’s an extra layer of interest outside the simply glorious love story that is Our Story. I adored the concept that, whilst people like Joe and Otty can write life narratives for others, they can’t write their own happiness and the way this hooked me into the book was genius. Miranda Dickinson captivated me completely.

Despite the fact that the narrative is set in the global, cut-throat world of television writing, it has an intimate, personal atmosphere that I found incredibly affecting. In Our Story, Miranda Dickinson illustrates events that might well be happening in any working environment in any era so that there is a realism here. I loved the balance of viewpoint from Joe and Otty because not only does it fit the theme of not accepting the truth, and moves on the plot with dynamism and pace, but hearing both their voices clearly has the effect of making the reader fall in love with them both and care about what happens to them. I became so immersed in their story, experiencing such emotion that I felt a physical ache where my heart lies in my chest.

Otty, Joe and all the characters in Our Story are brilliantly created. I thought it was a wonderful message to give Otty a career far outside the usual expectations of her working class Brummie background because whilst the story is fabulously entertaining, it reminds readers that dreams can be fulfilled through hard work and ambition.

In essence, the book has a relatively simple plot revolving around two protagonists writing for television. However, there were several points during the story where I wasn’t sure I would finish reading Our Story. You see, Miranda Dickinson kept breaking my heart, sticking it back together briefly and then smashing it again until I wasn’t sure just how much more emotion I could take. I desperately, desperately wanted Joe and Otty to be together and to have a happy ending. By the time I reached the final part of the story I was a blubbering, weeping wreck. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to see if I got what I wanted!

Our Story is just wonderful. It’s both realistic and romantic. It’s heart-breaking and joyous. It’s going straight on my list of books of the year and Miranda Dickinson has a new fan!

About Miranda Dickinson


Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. Born in Wolverhampton, in The Black Country, West Midlands, she grew up in Kingswinford and dreamed of one day writing a book that would reach the heady heights of Kingswinford Library.

Her first novel, Fairytale of New York (2009) was discovered on – HarperCollins’ site for unpublished authors. Within three weeks of its release, Fairytale of New York had entered the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers List, where it remained for five weeks – making it the world’s first crowd-sourced bestseller. The novel was also shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010 at the Pure Passion Awards.

Miranda is a six-times Sunday Times Bestseller, with Fairytale of New York, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall in Love, Take a Look at Me Now, I’ll Take New York, A Parcel for Anna Browne and Searching for a Silver Lining. Her Christmas novella, Christmas in St Ives, is a festive treat and also a prequel to her ninth novel, Somewhere Beyond the Sea. She is an international bestseller in four countries and her books have been translated into fifteen languages. To date, she has sold one million books worldwide. The Day We Meet Again, her tenth novel was published on 5th September 2019.

Miranda lives in Dudley with her husband, Bob and daughter, Flo. She is also a singer-songwriter and recently released her first solo album, About Time.

For more information, follow Miranda on Twitter @wurdsmyth, on Instagram or find her on Facebook. You can also visit her vlog and website.

BETTY by Tiffany McDaniel

My enormous thanks to author Tiffany McDaniel for ensuring I received a copy of BETTY in return for an honest review. I have been desperate to read Tiffany’s book The Summer That Melted Everything but along with so many others it is still sitting on my TBR pile, so I thought I’d dive straight in to BETTY.

Published today, 18th August 2020, by Weidenfeld and Nicholson, BETTY is available for purchase through the links here.


‘A girl comes of age against the knife’

So begins the story of Betty Carpenter

Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty and violence – both from outside the family and also, devastatingly, from within. When her family’s darkest secrets are brought to light, Betty has no choice but to reckon with the brutal history hiding in the hills, as well as the heart-wrenching cruelties and incredible characters she encounters in her rural town of Breathed, Ohio.

Despite the hardship she faces, Betty is resilient. Her curiosity about the natural world, her fierce love for her sisters and her father’s brilliant stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination, and in the face of all she bears witness to, Betty discovers an escape: she begins to write.

A heartbreaking yet magical story, BETTY is a punch-in-the-gut of a novel – full of the crushing cruelty of human nature and the redemptive power of words.

My Review of Betty

I had no idea what kind of book I would be reading when I picked up BETTY and when it opened with a biblical quotation I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it. I was completely wrong. Betty is utterly fabulous. Tiffany McDaniel has produced an intense narrative that has a truly physical effect on the reader. Reading BETTY is a visceral and affecting experience and I’d defy any reader to remain unchanged by it.

Based on the author’s mother, BETTY is the story of one particular female whilst simultaneously being the possible story of every female through time, or even the story of the Earth herself. This book is a song to womanhood but also to what it means to be a father and husband. Betty’s voice is so clear that it is as if the reader is inside her head as she describes her life as a young child. Her relationships with her siblings, her mother and, especially her father, are conveyed exquisitely. At times I wasn’t sure I could bear to read what might happen next in Betty’s story because I found it so realistic and so touching. I wept several times during my reading.

Written in a memoir style, events are balanced so perfectly that all aspects from love to brutality are conveyed in a way that touches the soul of the reader. Tiffany McDaniel writes about incest, rape and violence as well as nature and belonging, with poetry, with humanity and with an understanding of human nature that is astounding. Her characterisation is so fabulous that it is impossible not to be caught up in the lives of Betty and her family. I loved Betty’s father unconditionally despite some of his actions and my heart broke for the way Betty learnt life’s lessons. Every single family member is clear and distinct so that I know they will all remain with me for a very long time.

The themes in BETTY are sadly terrifyingly familiar in a modern world but presented through innovative writing making them all the more convincing. From various forms of abuse, including prejudicial and sexual, to identity and mental health, all life thrums through the pages of BETTY. I cannot imagine anyone with a shred of humanity in their soul not being totally spellbound by this story.

BETTY is written with beauty and skill, but above all else it is written with love and I absolutely adored it. It’s heart-achingly wonderful. I fear BETTY will be a quiet book with the length and content matter putting off readers, but anyone who doesn’t have the opportunity to discover Tiffany McDaniel’s magical, heart rending and affecting creation is really missing out. I adored it and thought it quite wonderful.

About Tiffany McDaniel

Tiffany McDaniel is a novelist, poet, and visual artist born and raised in Ohio. She is the author of The Summer That Melted Everything and BETTY.

You can find out more by visiting her website.