Sanatorium by Abi Palmer

It was the super folk at The Barbellion Prize who organised for Penned in the Margins to send me a copy of Sanatorium by Abi Palmer. My grateful thanks to them all.

Sanatorium was shortlisted for The Barbellion Prize and published by Penned in the Margins, Sanatorium is available for purchase here.

Sanatorium by Abi Palmer

A young woman spends a month taking the waters at a thermal water-based rehabilitation facility in Budapest.

On her return to London, she attempts to continue her recovery using an £80 inflatable blue bathtub. The tub becomes a metaphor for the intrusion of disability; a trip hazard in the middle of an unsuitable room, slowly deflating and in constant danger of falling apart.

Sanatorium moves through contrasting spaces bathtub to thermal pool, land to water, day to night interlacing memoir, poetry and meditations on the body to create a mesmerising, mercurial debut.

My Review of Sanatorium

A young woman’s month at a water based rehabilitation centre.

I have absolutely no idea what I’ve just read in Abi Palmer’s Sanatorium. It’s part memoir, part flash fiction, part fantasy, part lucid explanation of illness and pain, part metaphor for life, frequently written with the fabulous intensity of a narrative poem and always with luminous, beautiful, and occasionally stark, prose. However Sanatorium might be defined, it is written with incredible imagination, intelligence and beauty. There’s both sadness and humour so that Sanatorium feels perfectly balanced even while the narrator herself can feel slightly unhinged.

The quality of the prose is mesmeric and quite unsettling. Frequently poetic in tone, I found the writing ethereal and slippery. Reading it felt a bit like trying to catch something in the corner of my eye and not quite being able to see it. Ali’s experience illustrates how we are simultaneously bound by and yet not confined to our bodies so that there is a magic lantern effect in reading Sanatorium. This effect gave the book an almost mystical feeling that I absolutely loved. The iterative image of water is sensational. Abi Palmer conveys its power to heal and destroy, to support and dissolve, to buoy us up and to deluge us in ways that are poetic, unusual and completely compelling. 

The conversational tone is so convincing that it is as if Abi Palmer is on the phone, telling the reader about her month in the sanatorium in Budapest. This had the effect of drawing me in completely. 

It’s difficult to review Sanatorium because it is such an elusive chimera of a book. I was spellbound reading it because, it’s moving, mystical and magnificent. In Sanatorium Abi Palmer gives everyone a mesmerising insight into pain and life affecting illness, but above all, into hope. I didn’t always understand every allusion or reference, but I finished the book with renewed gratitude for my own life and a feeling that, if ever I were to meet Abi Palmer I would like and respect her unreservedly. I really recommend giving Sanatorium a read.

About Abi Palmer

Abi Palmer is a mixed-media artist and writer. Her work often includes themes of disability, gender and multisensory interaction. Her artworks include: Crip Casino, an interactive gambling arcade parodying the wellness industry and institutionalised spaces, displayed at the Tate Modern and Somerset House; and Alchemy, a multisensory poetry game, which won a Saboteur Award in 2016. She has written for BBC Radio, The Guardian and Poetry LondonSanatorium is her first book.

You can find out more on Abi Palmer’s website and follow her on Twitter @abipalmer_bot. You’ll also find her on Instagram.

Staying in with Abi Silver

I’ve tried really hard NOT to take on new blog tours this year as I am inundated , but when Amber Choudhary at Midas PR told me about The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver and asked me if I’d like to participate in this blog tour I knew I had to accept. I’m delighted to stay in with Abi today to find out more about her latest book.

Staying in with Abi Silver

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

Hello Linda. I’m delighted to be here with you.

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

I’ve brought along my latest offering, The Rapunzel Act, the fourth in the Burton & Lamb legal thriller series. It’s being published as we all begin to emerge with joy and optimism and perhaps a little trepidation, from more than a year of lockdown, rather like the fairy tale character from whom the book takes its name.

Intriguing Abi. What can we expect from an evening in with The Rapunzel Act

It’s a rollercoaster ride through what might happen if our criminal trials were filmed and livestreamed. There’s lots of rhetoric about educating the public and ‘justice being seen to be done’ which is very laudable. But, at the same time, much as we might hate to admit it, we all love to share our views on controversial events. And the trial of Debbie Mallard, a trans woman, former Premier League footballer and one half of what used to be the biggest celebrity couple in the UK, for the murder of Rosie Harper (the other half) is always going to spark loads of debate, not all of it pleasant.

Crikey. The Rapunzel Act sounds an absolute corker. Tell me more.

We’ll meet Rosie’s brother, Ellis, a whisky-loving interior designer, whom Debbie labels ‘a waster’, her children Laura and Ben and Jason Fenwick, Rosie’s co-presenter from Breakfast Time, who has a self portrait hanging in his living room.

Ha! I can think of one or two real breakfast TV presenters who might have a self portrait too!

The story also features fame-seeking barrister Andy Chambers, an old adversary of Judith Burton’s, who becomes chief legal adviser to the new channel, Court TV and the reappearance of entrepreneur Greg Winter, who developed the lie-detecting software in The Pinocchio Brief.

I think The Rapunzel Act needs to head straight onto my TBR Abi. It sounds fabulous. 

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I’ve brought a hot dog, smothered in mustard and ketchup and topped with onions (I’m covering all bases). Although Judith is a great ‘foodie’ – she reveals to Constance Lamb in The Cinderella Plan that she has a cookery book signed by Jamie Oliver, which praises her ‘avocado mousse’ – this hot dog dates back to 1994 and the trial of OJ Simpson in the USA for the murder of his wife Nicole and her friend, Ron Goldman. It’s symbolic of the public spectacle which Henry Allen described, when he reported on the trial for the Washington Post and I’ve used his quote right at the start of my book.

I sometimes think truth is stranger than fiction Abi.

And I’m wearing a t-shirt with Darth Vader’s head and the caption ‘Choose the Green Side’. All my three boys like science fiction and that includes the Star Wars franchise and various associated merchandise. So when I created campaigner-for-hire and leader of environmental pressure group ‘Dead Earth’, Nicki Smith, whom Constance suspects of involvement in Rosie’s murder, it seemed like appropriate attire for her to wear. She’s let me borrow it for my evening with you.

How kind of her! It’s quite impressive (and a little unnerving). Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat about The Rapunzel Act Abi. I’ve found it not only fascinating, but it has made me desperate to read the book immediately! You serve up teh hot dogs and I’ll just give readers a few important details about The Rapunzel Act:

The Rapunzel Act

CAN YOU FIND JUSTICE… WHEN THE WORLD IS WATCHING?

When breakfast TV host and nation’s darling, Rosie Harper, is found brutally murdered at home, suspicion falls on her spouse, formerly international football star, Danny ‘walks on water’ Mallard, now living out of the public eye as trans woman, Debbie.

Not only must Debbie challenge the hard evidence against her, including her blood-drenched glove at the scene of the crime, she must also contend with the nation’s prejudices, as the trial is broadcast live, turning it into a public spectacle. For someone trying to live their life without judgment, it might just be too much to bear.

Legal duo Judith Burton and Constance Lamb are subjected to unyielding scrutiny as they strive to defend their most famous client yet.

Another thought-provoking courtroom drama from the acclaimed author of the Burton & Lamb series.

Released on 21st January 2021, The Rapunzel Act is available from Amazon or directly from the publisher Lightning Books here.

About Abi Silver

Abi Silver is an author and lawyer who grew up in Leeds in a traditional Jewish family. Watching Granada TV’s ‘Crown Court’ in between lessons led her to study Law at Girton College, Cambridge. Abi then worked in London at international law firm, Allen & Overy and at RPC, before spending five years in Israel, where her husband, Daniel, was posted. During her time there, alongside raising her three young sons, Abi completed an MBA by distance learning, learned Hebrew and pottery on the wheel and began to write fiction, usually late at night. On returning to the UK, she went back to law before quitting a permanent position in 2015 when she decided to try her hand at writing again which led to publication of The Pinocchio Brief. Based in Radlett, Hertfordshire, Abi works part-time as a legal consultant and author.

For more about Abi, follow her on Twitter @abisilver16 and visit her website.

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Together by Luke Adam Hawker

I’m not supposed to be taking on new blog tours but when Anne Cater of Random Things Tours told me about Together by Luke Adam Hawker, with words by Marianne Laidlaw I knew I had to be involved. My thanks to Anne for including me in the tour and to Kyle Books for sending me a copy of Together in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share that review today.

You’ll find buy links for Together here and via Kyle Books here.

Together

A beautiful book to connect us after such a challenging time.

‘Dark clouds were looming in the distance. We watched them gather, and we wondered… When will it come? How long will it last?’

A monumental storm brings huge and sudden change. We follow a man and his dog through the uncertainty that it brings to their lives. Through their eyes, we see the difficulties of being apart, the rollercoaster of emotions that we can all relate to, and the realisation that by pulling together we can move through difficult times with new perspective, hope and an appreciation of what matters most in life.

My Review of Together

A pictorial account of a difficult time.

In Together I had expected a quick read that I could race through. I had not expected a profoundly moving, beautifully illustrated, and emotionally annotated, account of the past year or so that, whilst it doesn’t mention Covid 19 directly, references it in ways that make reading Together cause the reader to feel part of a much bigger scenario.

Together was by no means a quick read, not least because part way through its relevance hit me and I burst into tears that took a considerable while to stem. Reading Together was complete catharsis. Here was a visual narrative that understood me completely so that Together has helped me feel healed from the trials of the last year.

Together also took much longer to ‘read’ than anticipated because it deserves complete attention. I read it for the sparse and beautiful words by Marianne Laidlaw that articulated my thoughts so sensitively and perceptively. I read it for the wonderful, wonderful drawings that transported me, held me spellbound and helped me to put my own life into perspective. I looked at the pitch perfect balance of text to image that made me feel a balance returning to my own life. I scrutinised every illustration to find the man (based on Luke Adam Hawker’s grandad) and his dog who reminded me so much of Captain Sir Tom Moore and rekindled the positivity I had felt at his efforts.

Magnificent, moving and memorable, Together is a very special book and I cannot thank Luke Adam Hawker enough for creating it. I won’t be parting with my copy of Together because just knowing it is in the house gives me a strength I didn’t realise I needed. It’s a wonderful book that I think the whole nation needs. I urge you to buy it and press it into the hands of those you love.

About Luke Adam Hawker

Luke Adam Hawker worked as an architectural designer before becoming a full-time artist in 2015. Since then he has focussed on drawing on location, fascinated with the world around him and how drawing can help us connect with both places and people.
He lives just outside of London with his partner Lizzie and dog Robin. Luke ships his prints and originals to buyers all over the world and has been commissioned by brands such as Soho House Hotel Group, Annabel’s Club, and Eventbrite. 

You can find out more about Luke and his work on Instagram and his website. You can follow Adam on Twitter @lukeadamhawker and there’s more with these other bloggers too:

Discussing The Immortals of Tehran with Ali Araghi

My enormous thanks to Nikki Griffiths for inviting me to participate in the launch celebrations for Ali Araghi’s The Immortals of Tehran. Although I wasn’t able to get round to reading The Immortals of Tehran in time for my stop, I do have it on my TBR and I’m thrilled to be staying in with Ali today to chat all about the book.

Staying in with Ali Araghi

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Ali. Thanks so much for agreeing to stay in with me. I rather think I know, but tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

It’s my debut novel, The Immortals of Tehran.

Congratulations on your debut. What is The Immortals of Tehran about?

It is about family under a curse. Every other son dies young and the other lives as if forever. The novel tells the story of this family from the 1941 invasion of Iran until the 1979 Revolution. One of these apparent immortals is Ahmad. He loses his ability to speak after a childhood catastrophic event. Later in life he becomes interested in poetry and writes verse so powerful that it gives off light. Some of his best poems even burn paper and cardboard.

Crikey. That has me completely intrigued Ali.

There are also cats in the novel. Some of the characters think that anything that happens in contemporary Iran is the doing of these cats, not people.

As a cat lover, I might just agree too!

The Immortals of Tehran is not your usual debut by the sound of it. What can we expect from an evening in with The Immortals of Tehran?

A fictional world that feels real with instances of the magical. A large cast of characters united by bonds of kinship and friendship, but also special in their unique ways of life. You can expect to read about Agha, an age-old, bent man who lives in a hollow plane tree, the ten-year-old Ahmad unable to speak but excited to teach Sara how to read and write, or a musician’s masterful solo performance bringing life to dead plum trees and making them blossom.

I think The Immortals of Tehran sounds both mystical and magical Ali. 

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I’ve brought a manual Ferris wheel. There is a scene in my novel with one of these and I thought it might be nice to see what they exactly look like. They were popular when I was a kid, perhaps as young as the ones in the photo. The men operating them would bring them to parks where kids rushed for rides.

What a brilliant memory. From what I’ve heard, reading The Immortals of Tehran is a bit like being on a Ferris wheel with lots of different perspectives and one heck of a ride! Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat all about it Ali. Let me give blog readers a few more details: 

The Immortals of Tehran

A sweeping, multigenerational epic, this stunning debut heralds the arrival of a unique new literary voice.

As a child living in his family’s apple orchard, Ahmad Torkash-Vand treasures his great-great-great-great grandfather’s every mesmerizing word. On the day of his father’s death, Ahmad listens closely as the seemingly immortal elder tells him the tale of a centuries-old family curse… and the boy’s own fated role in the story.

Ahmad grows up to suspect that something must be interfering with his family, as he struggles to hold them together through decades of famine, loss, and political turmoil in Iran. As the world transforms around him, each turn of Ahmad’s life is a surprise: from street brawler, to father of two unusually gifted daughters; from radical poet, to politician with a target on his back. These lives, and the many unforgettable stories alongside his, converge and catch fire at the centre of the Revolution.

Exploring the brutality of history while conjuring the astonishment of magical realism, The Immortals of Tehran is a novel about the incantatory power of words and the revolutionary sparks of love, family, and poetry – set against the indifferent, relentless march of time.

The Immortals of Tehran was published yesterday, 15th April 2021, by Melville House and is available for purchase through the links here.

About Ali Araghi

Ali Araghi is an Iranian writer and translator. He earned his MA in Ancient Cultures and Languages at the University of Tehran and has translated Samuel Beckett into Persian. He won the 2017 Prairie Schooner Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing and is currently working on his PhD in Comparative Literature, International Writers Track, at Washington University. He lives in St. Louis.

For further information, follow Ali on Twitter @ataraghi and visit his website. You’ll also find Ali on Facebook and Instagram.

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Staying in with E J Wood on Amalie Publication Day

My enormous thanks to lovely Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me to participate in this very first Question Mark Press blog tour. I’m delighted to take part and to welcome E.J. Wood to stay in with me to chat about her brand new book. Let’s see what she has to say:

Staying in with E. J. Wood

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

Thank you for having me!

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

I’ve brought along with me this evening my latest novel, Amalie, released by Question Mark Press today, the 15th of April.

Oo. Happy publication day. How exciting. So, what can we expect from an evening in with Amalie?

Amalie is a tenacious soul with her mind set on revenge. The book, I would catagorise as a historical thriller as it is set in and just after the Second World War. I wanted to write a story with a real diverse set of characters during real times. My protagonist, Amalie is a sophisticated, methodical murderer who finds herself being chased by MI6, as well as Britain’s criminal underground. The story follows her journey eluding authorities for years.

This sounds fascinating.

One quote that particularly stays in mind is, “Just because I survived, doesn’t mean I could live.”

Now, of course, I want to read Amalie immediately to find out why that is said!

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

Well, I can’t go anywhere without my English bulldog, Harley, so he has joined me this evening. I’m going to apologise in advance if there are any unwanted noises or smells, because, I know if we are here for any length of time there are bound to be. Other than that, he’s quite well behaved.

Hmm. We might ask Harley to stay in the conservatory for a while until I’ve told everyone a bit more about Amalie. Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about teh book and happy publication day once again.

Amalie

THEY MURDERED FAMILIES
THE FUHRER CANNOT PROTECT THEM NOW

It’s not wise to murder the family of a budding assassin. Created by Auschwitz, her skill is honed by revenge.

A very different type of serial killer is loose in 1950s Europe. In Britain, a Brotherhood of powerful men takes notice and enhances the expertise and artistry of a killer.

DCI John Owen was born to serve. Recruited by MI6, he tracks an accomplished executioner whose love of luxury and the arts is second only to the love of watching an early death come to those who truly deserve it.

Join the chase. Then ask yourself…

Can there ever be only one winner?

Amelie is published by Question Mark Press today, 15th April 2021 and is available for purchase here.

About E.J. Wood

E.J. Wood is a thriller writer from England.

Although British born, she now resides in Spain, speaks English and Spanish, and is currently learning German. Wood co-owns a custom automotive workshop, and is also in the process of buying her first home. When she’s not working or writing, she’s riding her motorcycle or chasing after her bulldog and three cats.

You will find E.J. Wood on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and on Twitter @E_J_Wood. There’s more information on her website as well as with these other bloggers:

The Whispers by Heidi Perks

My enormous thanks to Rachel Kennedy at Penguin Random House for inviting me to be part of the hardback launch for The Whispers by Heidi Perks. I’m delighted to share my review today.

It’s been too long since Heidi Perks featured here on Linda’s Book Bag. Last time was in 2019 when I reviewed Come Back To Me here. Prior to that I shared my review of Now You See Her here and Heidi was kind enough to provide a brilliant guest post here about becoming a writer when Beneath the Surface was published.

Published by Penguin Random House imprint, Century, The Whispers is available for purchase through the links here.

The Whispers

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A missing wife. Four friends. Who is telling the truth?

Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.

She has a loving husband, a son she adores, a perfect life… surely she wouldn’t abandon them. And if not, then something terrible must have happened.

It’s not long before the rumours start at the school gates where this group of friends all met. What exactly happened on that mum’s night out?

Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers and certain that someone is hiding the truth.

With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And as the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks…

A scintillating thriller exploring female friendships and the secrets we keep from those who think they know us best.

My Review of The Whispers

Anna Robinson is missing.

If you’re looking for a fast paced all action thriller then The Whispers is probably not for you. If, however, you want a scarily insightful narrative that delves into the minds of the characters and builds and builds in atmosphere until the reader simply has to know how the story will resolve itself, then Heidi Perks provides it magnificently. Initially I was unsure if I was going to enjoy The Whispers and yet finished the book completely satisfied and entertained, appreciating the skill with which the author had built her tale.

The characterisation is brilliant. Anna’s disappearance is a catalyst for the present scenarios, but it is the gradual unfolding of the past, the way friendships work, the insidious school gate politics and the manipulative control of relationship dynamics that makes The Whispers so compelling.

I didn’t like any of the characters at all. They are flawed, frequently shallow in behaviour and self-centred so that I was glad they weren’t part of my life. But they are also vivid, realistic, loyal and fascinating so that I loved trying to work out their real thoughts and personalities. I thought Heidi Perks was incredibly skilful in manipulating me as a reader, drawing me in to petty jealousies until I felt as if I were like Grace, watching from a tangential distance in the playground. The Whispers is fascinating in delving into the human psyche.

I think what works so well in The Whispers is that Heidi Perks forces the reader to confront their own personality and loyalties; to consider what friendship really means and to question aspects of others that they simply take for granted. I found this aspect of The Whispers brilliantly constructed and somewhat unnerving. 

From what felt like a slightly unpromising beginning for me, The Whispers ended with me understanding exactly why it had been constructed as it had and realising I had just read a cleverly manipulative story.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.   

About Heidi Perks

Heidi

Heidi Perks is a Sunday Times bestselling author of Now You See Her, Come Back For Me and Three Perfect LiarsElements of The Whispers are drawn from Heidi’s own personal experience of making friends at the school gates and the intrigues and dramas of motherly friendships. Heidi Perks’ debut novel Now You See Her twice reached the Sunday Times bestseller list, first in hardback in July 2018 at No.9 and again at No.6 in paperback in March 2019 where it was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2019.

Now You See Her has sold over 300,000 copies across formats to date and has received over a staggering 1000 five start reviews on Amazon from readers, with more than 400,000 copies of Heidi’s books sold in the UK alone. Now You See Her has also been optioned for TV from the production company behind BBC One’s ‘The Miniaturist’ and Channel 4’s ‘National Treasure’. Heidi Perks lives with her family in Bournemouth, and sets all over books on the South Coast of England.

She is a graduate of the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative Online Novel Writing Course (the only creative writing school run by a literary agency). 

Follow Heidi on Twitter @HeidiPerksBooks and join in the conversation with #THEWHISPERS. You’ll also find Heidi on Facebook and Instagram

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Staying in with Jessica Barry

My thanks to Graeme Williams for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for the paperback release of Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry. I’m delighted to stay in with Jessica today to find out more about the book and only wish I’d had time to squeeze in reading it as it sounds fabulous. Let’s see what Jessica told me:

Staying in with Jessica Barry

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Jessica and thank 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?

I’ve chosen my latest novel, Don’t Turn Around, which is just out in paperback in the UK.

How exciting. Congratulations! What can we expect from an evening in with Don’t Turn Around?

Well, it’s a thriller, so hopefully it’ll have you on the edge of your seat! The novel opens with Cait and Rebecca driving through the night on a deserted road. Their destination is unknown. Out of the darkness, a pair of headlights appear, intent on destruction. The two women – who, up until that night, were strangers to each other – are forced to dig into their pasts to understand who might want to do them harm.

Wow. That sounds brilliant. Tell me more.

It’s a novel about the way in which women coexist with the constant threat of violence.

Anyone could be behind that pair of headlights. Anyone could be waiting for us around a darkened corner, waiting to strike.

You know that old cliché, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’? For most women, that mantra is a way of life.

And very much resonant with recent events in the world Jessica. I think Don’t Turn Around feels bang up to date.

So far, so dark: I know. But there’s a silver lining in all this, and that’s the way that this fear bonds women together. The risk-assessment calculations make us sharper. The keys clutched between fingers make us tougher. The close calls and rough scrapes and stories of survival make us stronger.

For Cait and Rebecca, in order to survive their night on the road and make it to safety, they will have to work together and learn to trust each other. Their lives depend on it.

Don’t Turn Around sounds absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait to read it. I’m delighted it’s on my TBR.

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I brought a bottle of bourbon to steady the nerves and a cosy blanket to hide under when things get a bit too tense!

I have a feeling that after reading Don’t Turn Around I might need that drink Jessica. Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me all about it. Let me give blog readers a few more details.

Don’t Turn Around

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TWO STRANGERS. DANGEROUS SECRETS. THEIR ONLY CHANCE IS EACH OTHER.

Cait’s job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something.

But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed.

And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move…

*Named one of the New York Times top 10 crime novels of 2020*

Already available in hardback and e-book, Don’t Turn Around is published by Penguin imprint Vintage and the paperback is available for purchase through the links here.

About Jessica Barry

Jessica Barry is a pseudonym for an American author who has lived and worked in London for the past fifteen years. Look for Me, previously published as Freefall, her debut thriller, has sold in more than twenty-two territories around the world and has also secured a major Hollywood film deal.

You can Follow Jessica on Twitter @jessbarryauthor and you’ll find her on Instagram.

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Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove by Kim Nash

Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove

My enormous thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources at for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove by Kim Nash. I can’t believe it’s approaching a year since Kim stayed in with me to chat about her previous book Sunshine and Second Chances in a post you can read here.  I loved and reviewed Kim’s debut novel Amazing Grace here and was just as impressed by her next, Escape to Giddywell Grange. You’ll find my review of that book here. Consequently, it’s a real pleasure to review Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove today and to help close the tour.

Published on 30th March 2021, Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove is available for purchase on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove

When thirty-four-year-old Nellie Wagstaff loses her job and discovers her fiancé is a cheating scumbag in a single day, she feels like the world has come crashing down. And that’s before the solicitor’s letter, along with a request to visit a place she hasn’t thought about for a very long time.

Heartbroken, Nellie escapes to the beautiful seaside town of Muddleford in Dorset, where she discovers she’s inherited more than she ever bargained for. Nellie never knew why her mother stopped talking to her sister, but now childhood memories of Muddleford come flooding back: long hot summers, the sea glistening beyond the sandy cove… and a stolen kiss with a boy called Jack.

Jack, now a devilishly handsome vet, has the local pet owners swooning over him, and as Nellie and he become close once more, and she gets used to gossiping with the locals and sipping wine at her beach hut with sand between her toes, she’s sure she can feel sparks flying once more. But just as she thinks she might be able to open her heart again, her newest frenemy, the glamourous Natalia, tells her a secret about Jack that changes everything.

Nellie will never know why her mother and aunt parted ways. She’ll sell the house, forget about Jack, and get back to real life. Because there’s nothing for her in Muddleford… is there?

An utterly uplifting and completely hilarious summer read about learning to trust yourself and of finding love and friendship in the least expected places for fans of Jessica Redland, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin.

My Review of Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove

Ellen’s life is about to change.

I thoroughly enjoyed heading off to Muddleford Cove and am hoping that this won’t be my first visit. Kim Nash has created a wonderful, warm and witty environment that totally transported me to Dorset and left me entertained, happy and uplifted. I thought the narrative was just lovely.

Although there is a smashing, romantic story in Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove, with several laugh aloud moments, plenty of twists and turns, and that wonderful knowledge of this genre that everything will turn out well eventually, what I most enjoyed about Kim Nash’s writing this time was the level of wisdom behind her story. Whilst entertaining her reader the author manages to show them how we shouldn’t leave it too late to mend bridges and tell those we love how we feel. Through Nellie’s story we come to realise that life is what we make it and that we should be true to ourselves and make the most of the opportunities that come our way. I thought this aspect of Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove was just wonderful.

Equally as inspiring was the characterisation here. Aunt Lil may not actually be present in the story, but she shapes it so convincingly that I felt she was someone I’d known all my life. Ellen, or rather Nellie, is a delight. Her delusions, her self-knowledge, her friendships and her love are all realistic so that she feels like a real woman and not merely a character. Natalia exemplifies the falseness and obsession with appearance that sadly pervades society and I could picture her through Kim Nash’s writing as easily as if I were sitting opposite her. However, although I loved meeting Nellie, it was Jack who held my attention most but you’ll have to read Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove to find out why – though you should be prepared to fall in love a little bit yourself too!

When I’d finished reading Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove I felt I had had a lovely break from the corrupt, Covid dominated world we’ve been living through, and that I had been able to take a stroll along the Dorset beach with Nellie and Norman, very much enjoying their company.

Moonlight Over Muddleford Cove is such a lovely read. It’s warm, funny and romantic so that it really is a tonic for the woes of the world. I finished the book feeling soothed and uplifted. It’s a lovely story.

About Kim Nash

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Kim Nash is an author of uplifting, funny, heartwarming, feel-good, romantic fiction.

She lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is Head of Publicity for Bookouture and is a book blogger at Kim The Bookworm.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

Amazing Grace was her debut novel with Hera Books and came out in April 2019.

Escape to Giddywell Grange is Kim’s second novel and was published in September 2019.

Sunshine and Second Chances is Kim’s third novel and is published today, June 4th 2020.

For more information, visit Kim’s blog:, where you can sign up to be the first to hear about new releases. Your e-mail will not be shared with anyone else and you will only contacted about Kim’s books.

You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @kimthebookworm, and Instagram.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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The Republic of Love by Carol Shields

I cannot begin to think how long ago it was that I first read The Republic of Love by Carol Shields, but when Anne Cater of Random Things Tours got in touch to say she was organising a blog tour for this new edition I had to be part of it, despite my intention to take the whole of the beginning of April off from blogging as I celebrate turning 60 on 7th. It is such a pleasure to rediscover an old book friend.

Published by World Editions, this edition of The Republic of Love with a foreword by Margaret Atwood is available for purchase through the links here.

The Republic of Love

A celebration of love in its many guises, The Republic of Love recounts the heartfelt tale of two of life’s unlucky lovers: Fay, a folklorist whose passion for mermaids has kept her from focussing on any one man; and, right across the street, Tom, a popular radio talk-show host who’s been through three marriages and divorces in his search for true happiness.

Touching and ironic, The Republic of Love flies the flag for ordinary love between ordinary people.

‘Vividly fresh, glittering and spangled with fabulous surprises.’ —The Sunday Times

‘The Republic of Love marries a wide diversity of elements, mythical and modern, ironic and moving, exhilarating and melancholy … a love-surveying story that is enticingly seductive.’ —The Times Literary Supplement

My Review of The Republic of Love

A story of everyday love.

It’s years since I first read The Republic of Love by Carol Shields and I had forgotten just what a magnificent writer she was. Her eye for detail is just perfect so that her readers can visualise every nuance she presents with absolute clarity. It was a total joy to rediscover The Republic of Love. And although this book is some thirty years old, it has a resonance with today’s society that remains as fresh and vital now as it was then.

In essence, there isn’t a great deal of action in The Republic of Love but to say that totally belies the intensity of emotion and the wonderful exploration of what love really is that Carol Shields presents. She has a razor sharp perception of human frailty, desire and struggle so that frequently I found myself nodding in agreement at Fay and Tom’s thoughts and behaviours. I loved too, the gentle, wry and brilliantly witty humour that runs through The Republic of Love. Carol Shields peels back the layers of Tom and Fay’s lives and pasts through perfect vignettes so that the reader understands them completely – even more than they understand themselves.

However, this isn’t just a story of romantic love. Rather, Carol Shields presents aspects of love from filial to sexual, self love to passion so that there is an intensity behind the narrative that is so compelling.

Similarly, The Republic of Love causes the reader to look deep into their own lives, relationships and memories and to wonder how much they really know those they love. Carol Shields sees between the cracks of who we are and reveals as much through what is withheld as she does through what is said. This is especially affecting as the lives of minor characters are uncovered.

The Republic of Love is a book to savour and I really appreciated having it back in my life.

About Carol Shields

Carol Shields (1935–2003) was born in the United States, and emigrated to Canada when she was 22. She is acclaimed for her empathetic and witty, yet penetrating insights into human nature. Her most famous novel The Stone Diaries was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, along with the Governor General’s Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Happenstance was praised as her tour de force, masterly combining two novels in one. The international bestseller Mary Swann was awarded with the Arthur Ellis Award for best Canadian mystery, while The Republic of Love was chosen as the first runner-up for the Guardian Fiction Prize. In 2020, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, a North American literary award dedicated to writing by women, was set up in her honour. Her work has been published in over 30 languages.

Staying in with Gillian Jones-Williams

When I was unexpectedly invited by Dawn Newson of Emerge UK to the online launch of Locked Down But Not Out by Gillian Jones-Williams I was intrigued and was delighted to accept. I had a fantastic evening when I discovered more than I had imagined, I simply had to invite Gillian to Linda’s Book Bag to tell me more about the book, because Locked Down But Not Out supports a very worthwhile cause.

Staying In With Gillian Jones-Williams

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Gillian. Thanks so much 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?

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I have bought my latest book Locked Down but Not Out – a Covid 19 Diary.  It was published a month ago and it is to remember of all of the NHS members who worked so hard to save us – it is also in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who I fell in love with during lockdown.  All proceeds from the book are going to raise money for the bereaved families of NHS Workers who died through Covid.

That’s amazing. I think Captain Sir Tom Moore touched us all, but, importantly, he stood for all those who have been affected by Covid 19, none more so than those who’ve lost their lives trying to save the lives of others.

I understand that, as well as supporting charity by buying Locked Down but Not Out either directly from your organisation by emailing info@emergeuk.com or on Amazon, blog readers can also donate directly to the charity The Healthcare Workers Foundation Families Programme here too.

That’s right Linda. And it’s such a worthwhile cause.

I agree. So, what can we expect from an evening in with Locked Down but Not Out?

You can expect to laugh out loud, to experience the joy of miraculous recovery, but also to cry as the book is both heartbreaking and heart-warming. You will be reading my brutally honest day to day diary of everything that happened from the middle of March 2020 when we rapidly returned from our skiing holiday as France locked down to a fast-changing UK to the end of the first lockdown. 

I think that sounds something we can all relate to Gillian. Tell me more.

Whilst I tell the story through my eyes, the everyday issues that we were all encountering such as queuing in shops, fighting for click and collect spots, missing sport and music, watching every event and holiday being cancelled, I am sure you will be nodding throughout as it will no doubt parallel your own journey.  I left nothing out, every detail of my (extremely frequent) breakdowns, as I struggled to save a business that I have loved and nurtured for 25 years decimated by the pandemic, the moments of change and reflection as my crazy life travelling around the world ground to a halt and the deep joy of an amazing event (no spoilers!) that has changed my life, my perspective and my business. There are plenty of learnings from the lockdown, both personally and for my business and it may remind you of your learnings.

Oo. Intriguing! I loved hearing about Locked Down but Not Out at the recent launch and am so pleased to have a copy here waiting to be read. How had it been received?

Here is a recent review “Reading this book was like reading a gripping, fictional thriller. The devastating evidence of destruction with documented death rates at the end of each chapter provided a sense of impending doom, enough so that I had to remind myself that this story isn’t fiction.

Although the book focuses on the loss the virus has caused, it is also one of hope, gratitude & perspective. I can’t wait to treasure this book. It will be a great insight for future generations to discover the trauma caused by COVID-19 throughout 2020 & 2021.”

It sounds to me as if you’ve created a personal, yet universal insight into a very particular time in history.

The final entry is dated 30th November 2020. Total deaths in the UK: 57,000. It makes me nauseous that I released this book on 24th March 2021. Total deaths: 126,000. The pandemic is by no means over. But the personal story of the pandemic is interwoven through my factual account of every decision the government made as I wrote every single night through the government briefings, so you can expect to feel anger and irritation as you remind yourself of some of the promises we were made by ministers and watch the response to the pandemic unfold day by day. You will also discover my love/hate relationship with Piers Morgan as I watched the news on GMB each morning and recorded it – but I will leave you to read the book to see if it was more hate than love!

I have a feeling a few readers might have views here!

My husband said I mentioned Piers more than him in the book, but you will also get to know my long-suffering husband pretty well – in the 10 years we have been together I have travelled so much we have probably only been in the same place for 1 of those years!  Living together 24/7 for a year was something we never planned to experience and like many other people had to make many adjustments.

I think I’ve been lucky in that respect Gillian. I’ve spent 24/7 with my husband for years. We even taught in teh same school at one point.

I think you may also see the book as a historical record, just imagine if you have a 6-year-old child now, reading the book in 10 years. Whilst they might have only been able to remember that very hot spring and summer when mum and dad were at home all the time, they can then fully understand what it was like to live through the pandemic– something I sincerely hope that will never happen again.

I hope you’re right. What else have you bought and why have you brought it?

I couldn’t bring it, but if I could it would have been my hot tub as we spent so many evenings in there. Could you come to me and have a night in there instead? 

I think that sounds like a very welcome idea!

I would also bring my best friend Sarah who features heavily in the book and I missed her terribly all year – that would lead to Prosecco and much bad singing and dancing, yes a lot of dancing. 

As long as we can play some Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music that is fine by me!

Thanks so much for staying in tonight to chat about Locked Down But Not Out Gillian. I think it sounds brilliant and I hope it raises a bucket load of money for such a worthwhile cause.

The irony of this whole ‘Staying In’ article, is that the whole book was about staying in!!  So now I wonder, will anyone want to read it or will they be so busy going out now that they can!

Well let’s give them the details. They don’t need to read it – just buy it and support the charity!

Locked Down But Not Out

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No one could have predicted what would happen in 2020, the year that shocked the world. When coronavirus hit it plunged every country into lockdown and killed millions of people. For the NHS it was a major unprecedented crisis as they worked in horrendous conditions to save as many lives as possible.

Everyone was touched by the pandemic; our freedom was brutally taken away and our income affected – some more than others. Businesses were closed, whole industries were shut down, jobs were lost and mental health was affected. For Gillian Jones-Williams, her training company that she founded twenty-five years ago, was devastated, with all bookings cancelled within a few weeks. And whilst she struggled to turn the business around, the world went through changes that we could never have envisaged. Each day brought new shocks as we watched legendary events being cancelled, airports grinding to a halt, shops and restaurants closing, and politicians making life-changing decisions that had far-reaching effects.

This book documents not just one woman’s fight to save her business, but a daily diary of events that occurred, and every decision that the Government made.

But more importantly, it is to remember the extraordinary NHS workers who died from Covid-19 and it celebrates the amazing people in the NHS who fought so bravely to save us, and the key workers who kept our country running. And, of course, the legendary Captain Sir Tom Moore.

They gave their lives to help our families. Now we must help theirs.

May we always remember.

Every one of us has our own pandemic story, but few can tell theirs with such panache and visceral colour that Gillian Jones-Williams can. Her story shows us all how to sieve the good out of so much bad, how to be locked down, but certainly not out. A wonderful book, and supporting a wonderful cause.

Dr Dominic Pimenta BSc (Hons) MBBS MRCP and best selling author of Duty of Care

All proceeds from the book go to the fund for families of NHS workers who lost their lives during the pandemic.

Buy Locked Down but Not Out by emailing info@emergeuk.com or on Amazon,.

About Gillian Jones-Williams

Gillian Jones is Managing Director and founder of Emerge Development Consultancy. For over 25 years Gillian has worked on organisational strategy development and change initiatives with companies worldwide.  Gillian partners with many organisations to implement culture change and has designed and delivered programmes of varying sizes to national organisations and independent companies.

Gillian is also an author, having co-authored 50 Top Tools for Coaching which was published by Kogan Page in Autumn 2009 and is now on its 5th edition. Gillian is an expert in organisational culture change and her second book ‘How to Create a Coaching Culture Strategy’ is in its 2nd Edition.

In the last 5 years she has been specialising in championing Women’s development, specialising in supporting women to achieve their goals, develop their confidence and reach more Senior Positions.  In 2015 she developed the acclaimed Empowering Women’s programme RISE which is delivered in the UK and the Middle East.

Gillian is a regular speaker at many conferences specialising on the subject of Diversity and Inclusion and Women’s Development. She has a passion for equality and is working with many companies on Conscious Inclusion workshops with a particular focus on Black Lives Matter. 

You can find Gillian on Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook or follow her on Twitter @gjones8 for further information.