An Escape to Provence by Sophie Claire

My enormous thanks to Sophie Claire for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for her latest book, An Escape to Provence and to Oliver Martin at Hodder for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share that review today.

An Escape to Provence was published by Hodder and Stoughton on 21st July 2022 and is available for purchase here.

An Escape to Provence

Where there’s a will, can love find a way?

When cynical divorce lawyer Daisy Jackson unexpectedly inherits a ramshackle farmhouse in Provence, she sets off for the French countryside to oversee renovations herself.

But Gabriel Laforet has other ideas. A local builder with ties to the property, Gabriel is determined to see Daisy off and preserve the characterful, charming farmhouse – which, but for a missing will, he knows is rightfully his.

When the two meet, it’s clear they couldn’t be more different: Gabriel has lived in the small country village all his life; Daisy is a city girl whose career means everything. He is laid-back and messy; she is used to being in control. As they begin to work together, sparks fly. Yet they’re inexplicably drawn to each other and, in the heat of the Provence sun, secrets begin to spill. Perhaps Daisy can trust him with her carefully guarded heart after all?

But Gabriel is still searching for the missing will that proves the farmhouse belongs to him – and in doing so, risks upturning everything he and Daisy have started to build together . . .

My Review of An Escape to Provence

Daisy Jackson has inherited a run down house in Provence.

My goodness, An Escape to Provence was a delight to read. Sophie Claire whisks the reader away to her Provençal setting just perfectly, with the heat, the aromas, the weather, the food and just enough smatterings of simple French to make to story feel completely authentic. Reading An Escape to Provence made me want to be in the region immediately and I certainly felt transported to the setting.

The plot in An Escape to Provence is very much a ‘will they, won’t they?’ romance, but that only enhances the enjoyment of reading the book as it is sheer escapism. I think I found myself as much in love with Gabriel Laforet as any fictional character I’ve ever read about. He embodies the perfect fantasy hero so that there’s real interest in how his relationship with Daisy might develop – and not a little day-dreaming on my part too! That isn’t to say he is stereotypical or two dimensional. Far from it. He has his stubbornness, his intractable sense of morality and his temper too that add to the layers in his personality, making him all the more vivid.

Daisy works so well as a character because there is genuine change and development over the course of the narrative. Her demons from the past are satisfyingly, gradually, revealed giving her a complexity that makes her all the more real. I think the pressure she feels to exceed her own expectations is something so many women feel and I found myself increasingly drawn to her as a person as I read.

Because An Escape to Provence is so clearly set in a warm, vibrant and realistic community, the story seems to unfold more convincingly. I enjoyed meeting the secondary characters, and especially the catalyst of the deceased Jeanette, every bit as much as Daisy and Gab.

An Escape to Provence crackles and fizzes with sexual tension in the heat of the summer and yet there is genuine romance here too that engages the reader. I loved the underpinning themes of moral and legal right, family and community, self-preservation, truth and self-knowledge that gave An Escape to Provence added layers of interest alongside a smashing summer read.

An Escape to Provence is a lovely summer story and you need to pack it in your suitcase immediately! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

About Sophie Claire

Sophie Claire, born to a French mother and Scottish father, grew up in Manchester where she still lives with her husband and two sons. She writes stories centred around sunny Provence, where she spent her summers as a child.

You can find out more by visiting Sophie’s website or by following Sophie via Twitter @sclairewriter. You’ll also find Sophie on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover reveal: Together Again by Milly Johnson

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Milly Johnson’s writing because she seems to be able to convey the life events and emotions of real women so brilliantly. I’ve been reading Milly’s books since way before I began blogging. Having met Milly on numerous occasions, I’m also a huge fan of her as a warm-hearted, funny, kind and talented person. As a result, I couldn’t be more excited to help share the news about Milly’s twentieth book, Together Again.

Before I do tell you about Together Again, here are other Linda’s Book Bag posts where Milly’s writing has appeared:

I’ve a review of The Woman in the Middle here

I’ve a review of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day here

I reviewed My One True North here and it was one of my books of the year in 2020.

My review of The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew is here.

Milly was kind enough to write a piece for Linda’s Book Bag when The Mother of All Christmases was released in a post available here.

I have my review of another of Milly’s books, The Perfectly Imperfect Womanhere.


However, today is all about Together Again so let’s find out more:

Together Again

Sisters, Jolene, Marsha and Annis have convened at their childhood home the huge and beautiful Fox House following the death of their mother, the cold and impenetrable Eleanor Vamplew, to arrange the funeral and sell up. Born seven years apart, the women have never bonded and are more strangers than sisters.

Jolene, the eldest, is a successful romantic novelist who writes templates of beautiful relationships even though her marriage to the handsome and charming  Warren is a barren wasteland.

Marsha, the neglected middle child has put every bit of her energy into her work hoping money would plug up the massive gap in her life left by the man who broke her young heart, only to find it never has. And now he has been forced back into her life.

Annis is the renegade, who left home aged sixteen and never returned, not even for the death of their beloved father Julian, until now. It is therefore a surprise to all of them to discover that Eleanor recently changed her will to leave everything to the daughter she considered a wretched accident.

Together, Again is the story of truths uncovered and lies exposed, of secrets told – and kept. It is a novel about sister helping sister to heal from childhood scars, and of finding, in each other, the love they have all been deprived of. Together, Again is about vulnerability and strength, acceptance and family. 

Published by Simon and Schuster on 29th September, Together Again is available for pre-order through the links here.

About Milly Johnson

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

Sunday Times bestseller, she is one of the Top 10 Female Fiction authors in the UK with millions of copies of her books sold across the world. In 2020, she was honoured with the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award and was a featured author in the Reading Agency’s Quick Reads and World Book Night campaigns.

A writer who champions women and highlights the importance of friendship and community, Milly’s characters are celebrations of the strength of the human spirit. Together Again is her twentieth novel.

You can follow Milly on Twitter @millyjohnson and Facebook, or you can visit her website for more information. You’ll also find Milly on Instagram.

Other People’s Husbands by Elizabeth Noble

Although I’ve been aware of Elizabeth Noble’s writing – not least because I have a friend of the same name – I have never read her until now. Consequently I’m very grateful to Courtney Jefferies at edpr for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for Other People’s Husbands.

Published by Penguin’s Michael Joseph on 21st July 2022, Other People’s Husbands is available for purchase through the links here.

Other People’s Husbands

Sometimes friendship crosses a line . . .

A group of close friends, their bonds forged at the nursery gates two decades ago, have celebrated, commiserated and grown together: they thought they all knew each other so well.

Until the affair.

Now a crack appears in everything.

Could one betrayal really destroy it all?

Other People’s Husbands is a story of friendship and love, crossing boundaries and breaking vows, of trying to fix what you believed could never be broken.

My Review of Other People’s Husbands

A group of friends is about to be split apart.

I confess that when I opened Other People’s Husbands and saw there was a cast list my heart sank. I wasn’t going to enjoy the book because I would find it impossible to know who was who. How wrong can you be? I absolutely adored Other People’s Husbands even if (or perhaps, especially because) it did leave me crying on more than one occasion.

Whilst the men, especially Dom, Kit and Will, play a pivotal role in the narrative, it is the women here who are so brilliantly depicted. Each of the six women around whom the story revolves is distinct and real, and I had none of my expected difficulty in knowing who was who, but it is Natalie who is the star of the story. I wanted to hate her for her infidelity, for hurting Kit and for not considering Arlo sufficiently but Elizabeth Noble writes so skilfully that she simply didn’t allow it. Certainly Natalie is selfish, flawed and reckless, but by the end of the story I understood clearly why she behaved as she did and I so wanted her to find resolution and happiness. There are no carboard characters in Other People’s Husbands, but rather real, dynamic and vivid people who could be those living in our own streets.

To some extent the plot of Other People’s Husbands is as old as time, where love and lust become confused and destructive, but this story is so imbued with sensitive understanding, with realism and compassion that it feels quite perfect. I believed in the people, the settings and the situations completely so that I found the story very affecting and emotional. Carefully plotted over a year, Other People’s Husbands would make a fantastic television drama series.

The themes in Other People’s Husbands are exquisitely considered. It’s no plot spoiler to say there is infidelity, but Elizabeth Noble illustrates so beautifully the butterfly effect of a relatively simple decision, giving the reader so much to consider. She also weaves in guilt, grief of many kinds, love, betrayal, anger and hurt, for example, so that all life and its vicissitudes ebb and flow through the story making it a captivating and engrossing read.

I haven’t previously read Elizabeth Noble so I am unsure how typical Other People’s Husbands is of her writing, but I so loved this story that I think I may have discovered a new favourite author. I found Other People’s Husbands surprised me. I expected a pleasant read that might be mildly diverting and instead discovered a narrative of depth, understanding and complete engagement. It’s a cracker and I adored it!

About Elizabeth Noble

Elizabeth Noble lives in Surrey with her husband and two daughters. Her previous Sunday Times bestsellers include: The Reading Group, which reached Number One, The Friendship Test (formerly published as The Tenko Club), Alphabet WeekendsThings I Want My Daughters to KnowThe Girl Next DoorThe Way We WereBetween a Mother and her ChildLove, Iris and The Family Holiday.

Between a Mother and her Child and Love, Iris were both Richard & Judy Book Club picks. Other People’s Husbandsis her tenth novel.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Letter From A Tea Garden by Abi Oliver

It’s far too long since I reviewed Abi Oliver’s A New Map of Love here and so I was delighted to be able to participate in the blog tour for her latest book Letter from a Tea Garden. My thanks to Becky Smith at Literally PR for inviting me to participate.

Published on 22nd June 2022, Letter from a Tea Garden is available for purchase here.

Letter from a Tea Garden

1965, an English country mansion.

Eleanora Byngh is not in a good state. Wedded to the whisky bottle and with her house crumbling round her ears, her days seem destined to follow a lonely (and grumpy) downhill path.

When the post brings an unexpected invitation to return to the Indian tea gardens of her childhood, Eleanora risks breaking open painful memories of her younger years, lived across a tumultuous century.

As relationships with her new-found family face their own challenges, she is offered fresh truths, the chance of love and unexpected new life – if she is prepared to take them.

By the author of A New Map of Love.

My Review of Letter from a Tea Garden

A letter from her nephew returns Eleanora to India.

I confess that for the first few pages I didn’t initially warm to Eleanora as I found her use of diminutive forms like ‘doggies’ irritating and I wondered whether I would enjoy Letter from a Tea Garden, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that this is all part of Eleanora’s characterisation and her brusque, dismissive language is simply a cover for deep emotional pain that Abi Oliver conveys so convincingly. In fact, I went from being unsure about the book to loving it unreservedly!

The narrative is told through Eleanora’s conversational tone mixed with a dry wit and an emotional reticence that makes her such a multi-dimensional person. Her deep passion and grief, her desire to belong and to be valued, and her emotional insight despite her attempts to suppress her feelings, mean that Eleanora is as real as any person I’ve actually met. I think any reader can find a little bit of themselves in her so that Letter from a Tea Garden is relatable and emotionally connecting, making it completely wonderful.

The plot ranges over many years but is so deftly constructed through Eleanora’s storytelling that it flows seamlessly. I was desperate for a particular ending (though I can’t say more for fear of spoiling the plot) because Abi Oliver made me completely invested in Eleanora’s tale. Steeped in geographical richness so that the reader is truly transported to India through fantastic use of the senses, and vivid in historical accuracy and detail that adds texture and lends authenticity, Letter from a Tea Garden is an immersive, totally mesmerising read.
Whilst the story is totally convincing and entertaining, it is the themes of Letter from a Tea Garden that give it an emotional depth that I thought was so affecting. There’s a real sense of how our family and upbringing can affect us years into the future, of how life isn’t a linear, straight-forward experience but rather is messy, complicated and challenging and doesn’t always have a happy outcome. The impact of national and international events like WW1 on individuals is sensitively portrayed, and that basic human need to love and be loved simply shimmers with genuine understanding through the narrative. This is such skilled writing.
Having begun reading Letter from a Tea Garden wondering if I was going to like it, I ended up absolutely loving it. The emotional pull that Abi Oliver engenders is remarkable. Letter from a Tea Garden is a story of human frailty and strength, of love and loss and of what it is to be lost and to belong. It touches the soul, is quite wonderful and I adored it.

About Abi Oliver

Abi Oliver (pseudonym of Annie Murray, bestselling novelist)has spent much of her life in the Thames Valley. At boarding school, Abi met a teacher who became a friend and mentor for 30 years, who had been a nun in Bangladesh, prompting a visit to Barishal in 1980, and sparking a life-long interest in South Asia.

She studied at Oxford and London Universities, has worked for a charity, on Indian Railways, as a nurse and as a writer. In 1991, she won the SHE/This Morning (Richard and Judy) short story competition, securing a literary agent and her first novel was accepted in 1993. She has since written 30 novels, raised four children and lives in Dorchester-on-Thames.

You can follow Abi on Twitter @AbiWriterOliver and visit her website. You’ll also find Abi on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

All I said Was True by Imran Mahmood

I’ve all of Imran Mahmood’s books awaiting me on my TBR so although I’m trying to cut back on blog tours I simply couldn’t resist taking part in this one for Imran’s latest book, All I Said Was True. My huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to participate and to Raven Books for sending me a copy in return for an honest review.

Published by Bloomsbury Raven on 21st July 2022, All I Said Was True is available for purchase here.

All I Said Was True

When Amy Blahn was murdered on a London office rooftop, Layla Mahoney was there. She held Amy as she died. But all she can say when police arrest her is that ‘It was Michael. Find Michael and you’ll find out everything you need to know.’

The problem is, the police can’t find Michael – there is no evidence that he exists. And time is running out before they have to either charge Layla with Amy’s murder, or let her go.

As a lawyer, Layla knows that she has only forty-eight hours to convince police to investigate the man she knows only as ‘Michael’ instead of her.

But the more she attempts to control her interviews with police, the more the truth leaks out – and how much of that truth can Layla risk being exposed?

My Review of All I Said Was True

Layla has been arrested.

Wow. All I Said Was True is fantastic. Imran Mahmood writes with such skill and dexterity that he draws his reader in to a swirling vortex of intrigue, mystery and possibility. My brain was reeling because the first person account from Layla feeds information to the reader and yet tells them nothing at all. All I Said Was True feels almost audacious at the same time as being completely compelling.

The short chapters create a fast paced plot and given the unity of Layla simply being interviewed by the police, the way the action is threaded into the narrative is astonishing. It’s so difficult to articulate the seemingly paradoxical simplicity and sophistication of how this story is constructed without spoiling the read for others.

All I Said Was True is a kind of Schrodinger’s cat narrative with concepts of free will and determinism, fate and possibility, truth and perception thrumming through the narrative so that until the box is opened and the final page is read, the reader has no idea if Layla’s truth it the actual truth. The characters might be manipulative, but my goodness, so is Imran Mahmood in his dual time structure, pitch-perfect plotting and snappy pace, stunning the reader with this brilliant narrative.

The characters are compelling. Although All I Said Was True isn’t a lengthy novel, there’s a simultaneous back story to the main characters that adds depth, such as the mental health of Layla’s mother, which makes the reader question Layla every bit as much as the police do. Combined with a deliberate withholding of information about those like Michael, the story is made all the more captivating. I am still wondering what those I’ve left behind in All I Said Was True are doing now.

Intelligent, intriguing, innovative, interesting and so impressive, All I Said Was True is an elegantly written, mesmerising read I loved unconditionally. It’s one of my favourite books this year. Don’t miss it.

About Imran Mahmood

Imran Mahmood is a practising barrister with thirty years’ experience fighting cases in courtrooms across the country. His debut novel You Don’t Know Me was chosen by Simon Mayo as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice for 2017 and longlisted for Theakston Crime Novel of the Year and for the CWA Gold Dagger, and was made into a hugely successful BBC1 adaptation in association with Netflix. His second novel I Know What I Saw was released in June 2021, was chosen as a Sunday Times crime novel of the month and reached no. 2 on the Audible charts. He has been commissioned to write three screenplays and is working on his next novel. When not in court or writing novels or screenplays he can sometimes be found on the Red Hot Chilli Writers’ podcast as one of the regular contributors. He hails from Liverpool but now lives in London with his wife and daughters.

You can find out more by following Imran on Twitter @imranmahmood777 and finding him on Instagram and Facebook.

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It’s here! The @CapitalCrime1 Festival 2022

I was so disappointed not to be able to attend the launch of Capital Crime Festival 2022 (that I wrote about here) but I was suffering post-Covid exhaustion. Now, however, I’m thrilled to be able help announce the full details for Capital Crime Festival 2022 to be held at Battersea Park, London from 29th September to 1st October. If the 2019 Capital Crime Festival (that I wrote about here) is anything to go by, I think it’s going to be a brilliant, unmissable, event.



Richard Osman, Rev. Richard Coles, Kate Mosse, Robert Harris, Dorothy Koomson, Bella Mackie and Paula Hawkins are amongst the authors confirmed for Capital Crime, London’s only crime and thriller festival, which returns 29th September-1st October after its hugely successful inaugural event in 2019.

Taking place in London’s stunning Battersea Park, Capital Crime will be hosting over 164 panellists, bringing together readers, authors, industry figures and the local community for the first major literary festival held on the site. With a Goldsboro Books pop-up bookshop in the iconic Pump House Gallery, the first ever Fingerprint Awards ceremony, alongside an array of London’s tastiest local street food vendors and bar area, it promises to be a weekend of fun, innovation and celebration of crime fiction.

Thursday 29th September

On the opening night (Thursday 29th September), Anthony Horowitz, Kim Sherwood and Charlie Higson will be discussing all things Bond, and the role the capital city has played in the fictional spy’s life, and the 007 car from Sherwood’s incredible new novel, ‘DOUBLE OR NOTHING’ will be on display at the heart of the festival, in association with Alpine and Ian Fleming Publications.

Outreach Work

Thursday’s programming will comprise of a series of events dedicated to Capital Crime’s social outreach programme, in which two sixth form students and their teachers from schools in and around the capital will be invited to meet with authors and publishing professionals to demystify the industry and attract new and diverse young voices into publishing.

Pitches and Awards

Robert Harris will be in conversation with comedian and podcaster Andrew Hunter Murray, discussing dystopian fiction, and there will also be a very special opportunity for aspiring authors to pitch their novel idea to agents David Headley (DHH), Emily Glenister (DHH), Camilla Bolton (Darley Anderson) or Phillip Patterson (Marjacq). The first evening will close with the very first Fingerprint Award Ceremony. The winners, selected by readers across five categories Crime Novel of the Year; Thriller Novel of the Year; Historical Crime Novel of the Year; Debut Novel of the Year and Genre-Busting Novel of the Year, will be announced alongside a very special Lifetime Achievement Award and Industry Award of the Year.

Friday 30th September

Friday’s events include Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Robotham and Mark Billingham interviewed on the theme of ‘Crime Across Continents’ by Victoria Selman, and Mark Edwards, Will Dean, Erin Young and Chris Whitaker speaking to Tariq Ashkanani about setting their thrillers in the US. In addition, Abir Mukherjee, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Anna Mazzola and Jessica Fellowes will be speaking to Suzy Edge about historical crime writing, and Dorothy Koomson and Kate Mosse will be in conversation about their work with the Women’s Prize and the versatility of crime fiction. Claire McGowan, David Beckler, Catriona Ward, Chris Carter, Nicci French, W.C. Ryan, Stuart Neville and Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir will also be taking part in panels on the themes of courtroom dramas, ghost stories, crime set in Brighton and medicine in crime fiction, amongst other topics, throughout the day, and the first two rounds of Capital Crime’s quiz ‘Whose Crime Is It Anyway?’ will take place, featuring teams of debut authors.

Saturday 1st Otober

Saturday will see Peter James interviewed on his writing career by clinical psychologist Chris Merritt; bestsellers Jeffrey Archer, Lucy Foley and Clare Mackintosh in conversation with Barry Forshaw and a Polari Panel hosted by Paul Burston. Other events include former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Lady Hale in conversation with Harriet Tyce; bestselling Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson in conversation with the Prime Minister of Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir; Sarah Vaughan, Louise Candlish and Paula Hawkins discussing the experience of screen adaptations, before rounding off the festival with Richard Osman in conversation with Bella Mackie.

The final round of ‘Whose Crime is it Anyway?’ will also take place, as well as panels on the topics of spies, Grand Dames, detectives and comedy crime featuring Vaseem Khan, Robert Thorogood, Antti Tuomainen, Steve Cavanagh, Jane Casey, Catherine Ryan Howard and Steph Broadribb.

And Extras!

As well as panels and events, there will be exciting public events throughout the weekend, including launch events for Elly Griffiths’ breath-taking new thriller Bleeding Heart YardThe Perfect Crime anthology, which brings twenty-two bestselling crime writers from across the world together in a razor sharp and deliciously sinister collection of crime stories, and an interactive treasure hunt inspired by Peter James’s latest blockbuster, Picture You Dead (publisher). There will also be entertainment, including a crime-themed comedy performance from The Noise Next Door on Thursday.

The full programme can be found here.


I think you’ll agree, Capital Crime 2022 is a MUST attend event. See you there!

Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave

I’m so enjoying reviewing online for the My Weekly website as I get to read some fabulous books. Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave.

Published by Harper Collins’ imprint HQ on 21st July 2022, Ginger and Me is available for purchase through the links here.

Ginger and Me

Wendy is lonely but coping.

All nineteen-year-old Wendy wants is to drive the 255 bus around Uddingston with her regulars on board, remember to buy milk when it runs out and just to be okay. After her mum died, there’s nobody to remind her to eat and what to do each day.

And Wendy is ready to step out of her comfort zone.

Each week she shows her social worker the progress she’s made, like the coasters she bought to spruce up the place, even if she forgets to make tea. And she even joins a writers’ group to share the stories she writes, like the one about a bullied boy who goes to Mars.

But everything changes when Wendy meets Ginger.

A teenager with flaming orange hair, Ginger’s so brave she’s wearing a coat that isn’t even waterproof. For the first time, Wendy has a real best friend. But as they begin the summer of their lives, Wendy wonders if things were simpler before. And that’s before she realizes just how much trouble Ginger is about to get them in…

My Review of Ginger and Me

My full review of Ginger and Me can be found on the My Weekly website here.

However, what I can say here is that Ginger and Me is absolutely brilliant and I gulped it down in one sitting because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Wendy as she’s so captivating.

Do visit My Weekly to read my full review here.

About Elissa Soave

Elissa Soave won the inaugural Primadonna Prize in 2019. She was also a Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect finalist 2019 and has had work published in New Writing ScotlandGutterStructo and The Glasgow Review of Books. She’s had two short plays performed by the Short Attention Span Theatre Group and has performed at various spoken word events. She currently lives in South Lanarkshire and Ginger and Me is her debut novel.

For more information, follow Elissa on Twitter @elissa_soave.

A Wedding at Sandy Cove by Bella Osborne

Having recently reviewed Bella Osborne’s The Library for My Weekly in a post you’ll find here, I’m delighted to share my review for My Weekly of Bella’s latest book, A Wedding at Sandy Cove.

Published by Harper Collins imprint Avon on 21st July 2022, A Wedding at Sandy Cove is available for purchase through the links here.

A Wedding at Sandy Cove

Escape to Sandy Cove, where the scent of summer and the sound of wedding bells is in the air!

Ella is in the business of making brides’ dreams come true with yards of white tulle, delicate lace and sparkly sequins.

But Ella’s own love life couldn’t be further from a fairy tale. Recently dumped by her boyfriend and with her best friend’s wedding only months away, Ella feels more alone than ever so she finally accepts her friends’ offers to set her up on a blind date.

But a mix up on the night throws her into the path of Kit, instead.

Kit is most definitely not the man she was supposed to meet, but he could end up changing her life in ways she never thought possible…

A perfectly funny, feel-good summer romance that will whisk you away to sandy beaches and a seaside wedding. Fans of Cathy Bramley, Katie Fforde and Milly Johnson will adore Bella Osborne.

A Wedding At Sandy Cove was originally published as a four-part serial. This is the complete story in one package.

My Review of A Wedding at Sandy Cove

My full review of A Wedding at Sandy Cove can be found on the My Weekly website here.

However, what I can say here is that A Wedding at Sandy Cove is filled with fun, laughter and love – with a touch of darkness and peril too. I loved it.

Do visit My Weekly to read my full review here.

About Bella Osborne

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel.

In 2016, her debut novel, It Started At Sunset Cottage, was shortlisted for the Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year and RNA Joan Hessayon New Writers Award.

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Her novels are often serialised in four parts ahead of the full book publication.

Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands, UK with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

For more about Bella, visit her website, follow her on Twitter @osborne_bella and Instagram or find her on Facebook.

Staying in with Victoria Goldman

When I first began blogging Victoria Godman was one of the first bloggers I met both virtually and in real life. Consequently it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome Victoria to stay in with me today in her new role as author!

Let’s find out more:

Staying in with Victoria Goldman

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

I’m so happy to be here! I could talk about books for hours, as you know!

I do indeed! So, tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve brought along The Redeemer, my debut murder-mystery novel. It took me two-and-a-half years to write, and I finished writing it in May 2019. I’m excited that it will finally be out in the world and that I can share it with everyone!

Congratulations on The Redeemer. I’ve been hearing fabulous things about it from other bloggers. What can we expect from an evening in with The Redeemer?

The Redeemer is set in Hertfordshire, in a small town on the cusp of London suburbia. The town is based on where I live, with a thriving Jewish community. This book is a work of passion for me, highlighting antisemitism (anti-Jewish hate crimes) and Jewish culture and heritage, which are topics that haven’t featured in depth in contemporary crime fiction in the UK. I’ve not only written my book with ‘blood, sweat and tears’, but I’ve put my heart and soul into it too.

I know that’s a subject very close to your heart. I understand The Redeemer is the first in a series featuring Shanna Regan. Tell me more.

My main character is a journalist, Shanna Regan, who has returned to England after years on the road. She’s working on a local magazine, is finding it hard to settle down, and is desperate for a new adventure. After intervening in an antisemitic incident in the local park, and then uncovering a series of threatening fake commemorative plaques, Shanna hopes she’s found some excitement. She certainly gets more than she bargained for!

That sounds brilliant. What’s it like releasing your debut into the world?

I’ve been nervous about getting The Redeemer out into the world for lots of reasons, and am so relieved that it’s been well-received by early readers. Thriller author Adam Hamdy has called it ‘a tense, twisty crime thriller’, and crime author Sarah Hilary has called it ‘an astute, important and compelling read’. A recent Goodreads reviewer called it ‘Brilliant! Interesting! Intriguing! A fantastic tale that leads you not just by the hand but by your whole being into a shadow world’. Every time a new review comes in, I cry with relief!

With responses like that you must be thrilled Vicki. Congratulations. 

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

I’ve brought some Thunder toffee vodka, as everyone knows I’m partial to this delicious (in my opinion) alcoholic drink. Shanna hasn’t tried any yet – but she does love vodka. So I may have to introduce her to it in the next book.

I haven’t tried it either as I’m not a big fan of vodka but did someone say toffee? Might just give it a go…

To soak up the alcohol, I’ve brought some challah, plaited loaves of bread that are traditionally eaten on the Jewish Sabbath, also called Shabbat (which lasts for 25 hours from Friday evening at sundown until Saturday evening at sundown). Two challahs are covered with a special cloth and dipped in salt. We also have a cup of wine.

I love guests who bring food. You can come again!

Finally, I’ve brought a photo of the crossroads and church that inspired the setting of The Redeemer, and also some of the plot, with a synagogue directly opposite the church. One of the questions I ask in The Redeemer is ‘Is it wrong to do a bad thing to a bad person for good reason?’ Hopefully I make readers think about revenge and redemption and the paths we choose in life, often via a decision-making crossroads.

Now you’ve intrigued me completely and I’m going to have to bump The Redeemer up my TBR. Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about it Vicki. I hope to see you in real life again soon but until then, you pour us a toffee vodka and I’ll give a few more details to Linda’s Book Bag readers about The Redeemer.

The Redeemer


Threatening plaques, vigilante killings, a Jewish community in an English town – what’s the link? The clock is ticking to the next murder.

After witnessing a racist incident in a small Hertfordshire town, journalist Shanna Regan uncovers a series of threatening fake commemorative plaques. Each plaque highlights someone’s misdemeanour rather than a good deed.

Delving deeper, Shanna discovers these plaques are linked to vigilante killings spanning several decades, with ties to the local Jewish community.

As her search for the truth becomes personal, Shanna puts her own life in danger. Can she stop the next murder in time?

The Redeemer is a compelling, thought-provoking murder mystery debut, featuring themes of prejudice and racism, identity and heritage, revenge and redemption, and secrets from the past.

Published on 12th July 2022, The Redeemer is available for purchase via Waterstones, Hive and Amazon.

About Victoria Goldman

Victoria Goldman is a freelance journalist, editor and proofreader. She was given an honourable mention for The Redeemer in the Capital Crime/DHH Literary Agency New Voices Award 2019. Victoria lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two sons. The Redeemer is her first novel.

For more information, follow Victoria on Twitter @VictoriaGoldma2 and on Facebook or visit her website.

Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 by Clive Hardy and Deborah Linton

When Gabrielle Ball from iNostalgia got in touch about their fabulous new collection of historical books I simply had to read and review Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45. Although iNostalgia have so many historical gems to choose from I selected Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 because my wonderful Dad was obsessed by the war and two of my aunts were land girls and another became a telephone engineer in Manchester; the home of iNostalgia. My enormous thanks to Gabrielle for sending me a copy of Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 in return for an honest review.

Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 was published by iNostalgia on 26th November 2021 and is available for purchase (including signed copies) here.

Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45

The war was only two weeks old when the British Government announced plans for the gradual drafting of at least one million women into war work. They would replace men in occupations such as bus conductors, railway cleaners, textile workers, clerks, shop assistants, and in processed food factories. At this early stage of the war, it was thought that at least 500,000 women would be needed by munitions works, though not in skilled work.

By 1945 it is estimated that around 770,000 women were working in engineering, shipbuilding, and vehicle construction. 640,000 were serving in the armed forces, 10,000 in the Merchant Navy, and 260,000 were working in munitions. Tens of thousands more were working in transport (railways, buses and trams, canals, road haulage) and 74,000 were in the Women’s Land Army with a further 6000 in the Women’s Timber Corps. Others worked in local government, the police, or the post office. Still more were employed in Civil Defence where one in six full time ARP wardens was a woman. Others were pilots ferrying new aircraft from manufacturers to RAF squadrons. At Bletchley Park, women played a major role in deciphering enemy codes, and a very brave few were trained as secret agents operating in enemy held territory.

This book contains 200+ Mirrorpix Archive photographs featuring some of the many roles undertaken in women in Britain during the six years of the greatest armed conflict world history. The Mirrorpix Archive includes images from the Daily Mirror, Daily Herald, Daily Record, Western Mail, Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Post & Mail, Coventry Telegraph and the Derby Telegraph.

My Review of Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45

An account, with photographs, of the roles of women in war.

When my copy of Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 arrived I had no intention of reading it straight away, but I was so drawn in by the first couple of images and the introduction that I read it immediately, losing a whole day in the process. I thoroughly enjoyed it, because there is much that is familiar, such as women working at Bletchley, but equally, so much that was new to me. I hadn’t realised that it was women who had initiated the requirement for other women to quit their jobs when they got married, for example.

What I found most interesting and equally most disturbing in our modern era was just how much of the sexism, inequality, focus on appearance and the not infrequent hostility towards women featured in Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 still resonates today. That’s not to say that Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 is a navel gazing, miserable book –  far from it as it shares so much positivity too, but rather that it helps place the roles of women in a modern world, as well as during the 1939-45 war, in razor sharp perspective, making the read so engaging. I learnt so much from reading this book. I’m sure Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 will be enjoyed by older female readers because there is so much for them to relate to, but I think it would be a perfect gift for anyone at any age who is remotely interested in social history to entertain and inform them. I found it fascinating.

Engaging and informative text aside, it is the photography that truly enhances Women in Wartime Britain1939-45. Whilst some images are obviously staged or propaganda and are accredited appropriately, those showing the ordinary woman in extraordinary situations are incredibly affecting. There’s one of a Mrs Rayner and her daughter Susan that could have been taken in Ukraine within the last few weeks so that Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 feels modern, relevant and perceptive as well as detailed, historic and steeped in detail. There’s a humanity behind the history in this book.

Celebratory and yet honest and down to Earth, interesting and informative, educational and entertaining, Women in Wartime Britain 1939-45 would make a wonderful gift for any reader with an interest in C20th history. I thought it was excellent and thoroughly recommend it.

About iNostalgia

iNostalgia is a small publishing company based in Manchester and is a group of experienced publishers, editors and writers who believe passionately in recording local heritage. They love hearing, reliving and capturing the public’s stories. They are dedicated to bringing local history to life via images, social media, books, online magazines and events.

For more information, follow iNostalgia on Twitter @inostalgiauk, find them on Facebook and Instagram or visit their fascinating website.