Staying in with Hannah R. Goodman

Till it stops beating

It’s half way through the summer here and what better time to feature a book just perfect for a summer or beach read? I took one look at the cover of Hannah R. Goodman’s book and had to invite her onto Linda’s Book Bag to tell me all about it.

Staying in with Hannah R. Goodman

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Hannah. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

Till it stops beating

I have with me the delicious Till It Stops Beating, which was released on July 5, 2018. I say delicious because look at this cover!

(I couldn’t agree more. It really makes me want to lick the cover but I think you might find that slightly strange!)

What can we expect from an evening in with Till It Stops Beating

You can expect to have one of those I-can’t-leave-this-chair-until-I-finish-the-entire-book evenings. Till It Stops Beating is a beach read/summer read love story…it’s a story of all kinds of love: romantic love, family love, friendship love. I’ve had baby boomers, millennials, Gen-X-ers, and teens tell me they loved the book! Many of the older readers have started off their emails or messages with, “I didn’t think I would connect with a book for young adults…” What everyone forgets is, we have all been young and in love, at least once in our lives.

(Oh, I so agree with that sentiment. Love has nothing to do with age – it’s a timeless emotion. Till It Stops Beating sounds lovely.)

What else have you brought along and why?

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I have this box of munchkins because jelly doughnuts are a key component to this love story. Maddie, the main character, has a bit of a love/hate relationship with them for reasons she doesn’t uncover fully until the end of the story. So, you really do have to read the entire book to fully understand the jelly doughnut connection.

(Now that is intriguing. I will have to read Till It Stops Beating to find out now! I love the way you call jam jelly too!)

Thanks so much for staying in with me Hannah. What with the cover of Till It Stops Beating and the jam doughnuts I have a feeling reading your book might be a fattening experience!

Till It Stops Beating

Till it stops beating

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab).

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.

Till It Stops Beating is available for purchase here.

About Hannah R. Goodman

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Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreenOC87 Recovery Diaries,  and The Mighty. Black Rose Writing released Till It Stops Beating on July 5, 2018.

You can find Hannah on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin. You can also visit Hannah’s website and follow her on Twitter @hannahrgoodman.

Discussing A House Called Askival with Merryn Glover

Askival paperback

Almost exactly a year ago I was delighted to head off to Mussoorie in a smashing guest post (here) from Merryn Glover when A House Called Askival was published. A lot has been happening since then, including my on visit to India, so I invited Merryn back to stay in with me and tell us a bit more!

Staying in with Merryn Glover

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Merryn. 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? 

Askival paperback

This is A House Called Askival, my first novel and the one that arose out of a very deep place in me. It is set where I went to boarding school in India: Mussoorie, a hill-station in the far north, and although the characters are invented and their story is not mine, the novel still explores some very potent experiences from my upbringing. Mussoorie is an extra-ordinary place, with a town that looks ‘like the contents of an upended rubbish bin’ but spread across a range of the Himalayan foothills where the beauty stops you in your tracks. ‘The mountain fell away into the green swathe of the Dun valley where the twin sacred rivers coursed like ribbons of light.’

For more on why Mussoorie is ‘story gold’, I encourage readers to dip into this post I wrote for you last year. But far more than the setting, A House Called Askival is significant because it delves into some of the themes and questions that have been important throughout my life as the daughter of Australian missionaries in South Asia: crossing-cultures and finding home; the gifts and wounds of religious faith; reconciliation, forgiveness and the way of peace. I feel these questions are at the heart of many of the challenges facing our globalised world, a view expressed by Dr Carol Leon of The University of Malaysia when she reviewed Askival for Wasafiri magazine. ‘In the light of what is happening on the world stage today, A House Called Askival is a book which demands our engagement.’

(You make A House Called Askival sound utterly fascinating Merryn. I must try to get to is soon.)

What can we expect from an evening in with A House Called Askival?

Judging from the hundreds of responses I’ve had from the novel, it looks like you can expect a story that will take you to India, set up house in your being and fill you with characters who may never leave.  Perhaps there should be a Content Warning on the front about pesky tenants!

This is from Kerrie Warren, a gifted Australian artist:

‘Merryn Glover took me on an unexpected journey to A House Called Askival, all the way to India where my mind and emotions took up residence, and still linger. I’ve not been so affected by a novel for years and now miss being trapped within its pages.’

I always love that kind of response, because for me, a good book is one where you miss the characters at the end.  I’ve also been delighted at how many readers have found the portrayal of India so powerful, especially when they are Indian.  Here’s a review from Aditi Saha of Bookstop Corner

‘There are authors like Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitava Ghosh, Salman Rushdie, Neel Mukherjee, Kiran Desai, etc who have brought alive this country with rich descriptions through their stories… I would gladly put Merryn Glover’s name on the same list.’

As you can imagine, I felt hugely honoured by that praise!

(I bet! And having been to India earlier this year I now want to read A House Called Askival even more!)

The novel has a strong historical thread, going back to the 1930s and the Indian Independence movement (including a cameo appearance from Mahatma Gandhi, as described to me by a man who attended one of his meetings) but there is also a contemporary time-frame in which the estranged father and daughter must face the truth of history – their own and the nation’s – in order to forgive.

(Oo. I visited Ghandi’s house in Mumbai which is now a museum.)

It explores religious conflict on every level: the political and national, within communities and families, and within ourselves; and asks the simple, difficult question: How do we make peace? And it’s in the examining of those questions through the relationships that many readers have found real resonance, as in this response:

‘What will grab every reader: the deft portrayal of character, family dynamics, inter-cultural relationships … you will care deeply about the people of Askival.’

It’s only when we grasp that at the heart of every conflict and every story there are people – for whom we must care deeply – that we can begin to answer the difficult questions.

(You’re absolutely right Merryn. I think it is the place of literature to help us confront and answer those questions. A House Called Askival sounds a really important read as well an an entertaining one.)

What else have you brought along and why? 

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I have brought cake.  Because I’m aware that my book may sound terribly serious and, actually – though it has made several grown men cry – it is also quite funny. And there’s food. Lots of it, because threaded throughout the novel is the story of a unique cookbook.  It’s based on a real one that drew on the wide culinary experience of the international community of the Mussoorie hill-station. Begun in the 1930s as a collection of typed recipes from missionary women raising funds for a community library, it kept selling out and was expanded and developed over the years, becoming increasingly international in flavour. (Sorry about the pun!) There’s more about the cookbook on the My Reading Corner blog here but this is the chocolate Wacky Crazy Cake from it.  It’s a recipe I made as a teenager, it features in the novel and I still use it – making this one for my son’s seventeenth birthday.  He’s happy for me to share!

(Now, if you’re going to bring chocolate cake Merryn, you can come back at ANY time!)

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Music is another important element in the story, as the main character, Ruth, is in a high school musical in Delhi that goes terribly, tragically wrong.  Another key character, Iqbal, is a singer of ghazals, a form of Urdu poetry and happens to be, like his father Iqbal, an exceptional cook. If Askival was made into a film, I’d love the soundtrack to be written by my high school friend Christopher Dicran Hale, whose music captures the India and Nepal we both grew up in.

(I love this music. It transports me right to India.)

Finally, I could also have brought an old rifle and a hundred beetles, but that could make folks a bit nervous, so I’ve left them safely tucked inside the pages of the novel where they wreak their own havoc.

(Phew! I’m glad to hear that!)

So, you can rest easy, listen to exquisite Indian music, eat chocolate cake and meet the people that inhabit A House Called Askival. Be warned, though: they may never leave you!

After everything you’ve told me Merryn, I won’t mind if they stay as long as they like. Thanks so much for staying in to tell me about this fascinating book. I am very much looking forward to reading it.

A House Called Askival

Askival paperback

James Connor is a man who, burdened with guilt following a tragic event in his youth, has dedicated his life to serving India. Ruth Connor is his estranged daughter who, as a teenager, always knew she came second to her parents’ missionary vocation and rebelled, with equally tragic consequences.

After 24 years away, Ruth finally returns to Askival, the family home in Mussoorie, a remote hill station in the Northern State of Uttarakhand, to tend to her dying father. There she must face the past and confront her own burden of guilt if she is to cross the chasm that has grown between them.

In this extraordinary and assured debut, Merryn Glover draws on her own upbringing as a child of missionary parents in Uttarakhand to create this sensitive, complex, moving and epic journey through the sights, sounds and often violent history of India from Partition to the present day.

A House Called Askival is available for purchase here.

About Merryn Glover

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Merryn Glover was born to a missionary family in a former palace in Kathmandu and brought up in Nepal, India and Pakistan.  Australian by passport, she did a teaching degree in Melbourne and has worked in education and the arts in Australia, India, Nepal and Scotland, now her home for twenty-five years.  Her writing has won awards and been published in anthologies, magazines and newspapers. Also a playwright, her fiction and drama have been broadcast on Radio Scotland and Radio 4. A House Called Askival, published in 2014 by Freight Books, is her first novel, and her second, set where she lives in the Highlands of Scotland, is with agent Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown.

Two days a week she works in the library at Kingussie High School where she loves being surrounded by books and young people, and works hard to get them together.  Travelling more with her imagination than a backpack these days, much of her writing explores themes of culture, identity, belief and belonging.

You can find out more about Merryn on her website, on Facebook, on Goodreads and by following her on Twitter @MerrynGlover.

Staying in with Robert Crouch

No Accident Front 2017

It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome back Robert Crouch to Linda’s Book Bag. Robert has been kind enough to provide a guest post (here) shortly after Fisher’s Fables was released and another here to celebrate No Bodies. I simply had to invite Robert back to the blog to find out what else he’s been up to.

Staying in with Robert Crouch

It’s lovely to have you here this evening Rob. Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag.

Hi Linda. Thank you for inviting me.

I know you’ve been here before so which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

No Accident Front 2017

I’ve brought along the first Kent Fisher mystery, No Accident, because it’s a testament to persistence and refusing to throw in the towel.

When I wrote the first draft many years ago, I had to abandon it two-thirds of the way through, unable to find a way for my protagonist, Kent Fisher, to solve the murder. It seemed I had created the perfect murder.

(That makes me smile! I love the idea of books getting away from authors!)

Several years later, I wrote an ending, though I still hadn’t solved the murder. A friend, who’s a published author, offered to help, but told me the story needed a lot of work. “Set it aside,” she said. “Write something different rather than waste any more time on it.”

But I couldn’t move on until I’d found a way to solve this murder. No Accident became a test of my will as much as my skill.

In 2015, I rewrote the first three chapters and sent them to an American publisher. He liked them, particularly the humour and asked to see the rest of the book. Then I spotted the publishing contract, attached to the email.

(Oh. How exciting.)

How could I even consider or sign the contract until I was satisfied with the story – and found a way to solve the murder?

Whether it was the publisher’s interest after years of rejection, or rewriting and cutting to produce the best novel possible, I don’t know, but I found a way to solve the murder and the novel was originally published in 2016.

Having finally got there, what can we expect from an evening in with No Accident?

Something different, maybe even unique in crime fiction, I hope.

When I created Kent Fisher, I had two aims.–

I wanted to show that an ordinary person could solve a murder.

Let’s be honest, whoever heard of an environmental health officer (EHO) investigating a murder? It sounds as implausible as it is unlikely until you learn that EHOs investigate workplace accidents. Having investigated several fatal work accidents, I knew it was a great way to disguise a murder, which is where the book gets its title.

(Oo. My next door neighbour is a retired environmental health officer. I’ll pop and get him when we finish our chat and you can compare notes!)

Having successfully solved a murder, EHO, Kent Fisher, then has the credibility to go on and solve more complex cases in No Bodies and No Remorse.

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Naturally, he’s weighed down by more baggage than an airport carousel. This allows me to create an interesting backstory and cast of characters to make his life as complicated as it can be. Many bloggers and readers comment and become involved with these characters and relationships, which is music to an author’s ears.

(I bet!)

I wanted to pay tribute to the mysteries that inspired me – Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and the late Sue Grafton’s feisty Californian detective, Kinsey Millhone.

I wanted to write the kind of book I loved to read – an entertaining murder mystery/whodunit with a complex, twisting plot full of surprises, colourful characters, and humour to counterbalance the murders.

Crime Fiction Lover, which gave me my first ever review, summed it up beautifully:

Expect sharp dialogue and irreverent humour in this whodunit, which manages to pay homage to the traditional murder mystery, while striking a contemporary and irreverent note.

Since then, another reviewer said:

Kent Fisher is a wonderful creation, unique in crime literature.

I know this could put off as many readers as it attracts because crime readers are more familiar with police procedurals and hard-boiled private detectives, but the review always reminds why I write these stories.

(Actually, Rob, there are so many hard boiled private detectives that your series sounds like a breath of fresh air.)

What else have you brought along and why? 

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Well, as you can tell from the attention you’re getting, I’ve brought my West Highland white terrier, Harvey. Apart from being cute, he’s the embodiment of Kent Fisher’s spirit (and mine). Harvey’s tenacious, determined (or stubborn, if you prefer) and independent, refusing to give up or conform.

(I love Harvey – and not just because he shares a name with my Grandfather! He’s quite friendly isn’t he? Doesn’t he distract you from your writing?)

While I was revising No Accident, he often slept by my feet. If I struggled with a passage, I often talked it through with him. He would sit there, ears pricked, tilting his head from side to side as he listened. Sometimes he would bark and wag his tail. I don’t think he was trying to tell me which solution to choose, but he always made me feel better and return to my writing with renewed enthusiasm.

(Brilliant.)

That’s why he had to be a part of the novels.

(I can imagine. Harvey is a real star!)

During the revisions of No Accident, I realised I had to create an animal sanctuary for Kent Fisher to live in and run in his spare time. It contained some rescue dogs, including a Westie that Kent rescued after it had been badly beaten by its owner. Kent loves the dog, finally taking him off the rehoming list to be his own. Kent names his new companion Columbo after his (and my) favourite TV detective.

And if you’ve watched the TV detective in the crumpled raincoat, you’ll know he never gives up either.

(I loved those programmes.)

Neither will Harvey until you give him another treat.

Then he must have one. Thanks so much for staying in with me tonight Robert and for bringing Harvey along. It’s so lovely hearing how No Accident came into being (with Harvey’s help) and I’m sure many aspiring writers will be encouraged by your story.

No Accident

No Accident Front 2017

A former gangster is dead. It looks like an accident. Only Kent Fisher suspects murder.

When the police decide Syd Collins’ death is a work accident, they hand over the investigation to environmental health officer, Kent Fisher, a man with more baggage than an airport carousel.

He defies a restraining order to enter Tombstone Adventure Park and confronts the owner, Miles Birchill, who has his own reasons for blocking the investigation. Thwarted at every turn, Kent’s forced to bend the rules and is soon suspended from duty.

He battles on, unearthing secrets and corruption that could destroy those he loves. With his personal and professional worlds on a collision course, he knows life will never be the same again.

Inspired by Agatha Christie and Sue Grafton, Robert Crouch brings a fresh voice and a new twist to the traditional murder mystery.

No Accident is available for purchase here.

About Robert Crouch

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Inspired by Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and Columbo, Robert Crouch wanted to write entertaining crime fiction the whole family could enjoy.

At their heart is Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. Passionate about the environment, justice and fair play, he’s soon embroiled in murder.

Drawing on his experiences as an environmental health officer, Robert has created a new kind of detective who brings a unique and fresh twist to the traditional murder mystery. With complex plots, topical issues and a liberal dash of irreverent humour, the Kent Fisher mysteries offer an alternative to the standard police procedural.

Robert now writes full time and lives on the South Coast of England with his wife and their West Highland White Terrier, Harvey, who appears in the novels as Kent’s sidekick, Columbo.

You can find Robert on Facebook and visit his website. You can also follow him on Twitter @robertcrouchuk.

All That Was Lost by Alison May

all that was lost

My enormous thanks to Lucy Chamberlain at Legend Press for a copy of All That Was Lost by Alison May in return for an honest review. I have previously welcomed Alison May to Linda’s Book Bag with a fantastic guest post about Shakespeare as the ultimate romance writer that you can read here.

However, All That Was Lost marks a change in Alison’s writing and it is the first of her books that I have reviewed.

All That Was Lost will be published on 6th September 2018 by Legend Press and is available for pre-order here.

All That Was Lost

all that was lost

In 1967 Patience Bickersleigh is a teenager who discovers a talent for telling people what they want to hear. Fifty years later she is Patrice Leigh, a nationally celebrated medium. But cracks are forming in the carefully constructed barriers that keep her real history at bay.

Leo is the journalist hired to write Patrice’s biography. Struggling to reconcile the demands of his family, his grief for his lost son, and his need to understand his own background, Leo becomes more and more frustrated at Patrice’s refusal to open up.

Because behind closed doors, Patrice is hiding more than one secret. And it seems that now, her past is finally catching up with her.

My Review of All That Was Lost

Celebrity medium Patrice finds she can’t see everything that might be about to happen in her life.

I am used to the concept of Alison May as a romantic novelist so I wasn’t sure what to expect from All That Was Lost, but it is a triumph. What Alison May has produced is an intimate and affecting study of loss, grief and identity that is just wonderful.

As the cast list is quite narrow, having a focus mainly on Patrice, with Leo and Louise to a lesser extent, there’s a real sense of understanding and knowing the characters. Their lives interweave in a spellbinding way that ensnares the reader and makes them want to know what will happen to them. That said, the more peripheral people like Barney add a colour and depth that adds definition to the main characters, especially to Patrice who is such a magnificent creation. She is deceptive on so many levels, including to herself, and yet she is a heartbreaking individual too because Alison May gradually reveals her to the reader in such a convincing manner. I’m still worrying about Patrice after having finished reading!

The structure of All That Was Lost is so clever. As the narrative reaches its denouement in the present, the 1960s past is increasingly brought into focus, giving clarity and empathy. Alison May shines a very bright light onto the 1960s era so that society is conveyed painfully sharply through the microcosm of Pat’s family. I thought this was such skilful writing. There’s a fabulous story here that is all absorbing and engaging, but more important I think, are the themes explored. We see first hand how our lives are manipulated and changed by others, how we can lose sight of what is important, including our own identity and how we sometimes need extremes of grief and loss to redefine us and show us who we truly are.

I thought All That Was Lost was a glorious read. I enjoyed it so much because I found it touching, compassionate and human. Magnificent!

About Alison May

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Alison was born and raised in North Yorkshire, but now lives in Worcester. She is a History graduate from the University of York and has a Creative Writing degree from the University of Birmingham. Alison has worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, and as a creative writing tutor and freelance trainer for charities and voluntary organisations.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and won their Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012 for her short story Feel the Fear which was published in the RNA’s 2014 anthology.

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

Staying in with M.J. Mallon

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Recently I’ve seen quite a bit about Young Adult (YA) fiction claiming it is a lesser cousin of adult fiction. I couldn’t disagree more. Some of the best books I’ve read have been YA books and I’m delighted to welcome M.J Mallon to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me about her YA release.

Staying in with. M.J. Mallon

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

Thank you so much for inviting me Linda I really appreciate it.

My pleasure. 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 chosen The Curse of Time Book One Bloodstone because it’s my debut novel.

What can we expect from an evening in with The Curse of Time?

We can expect an intriguing evening with The Curse of Time. Take a seat, grab a drink and let me entice you to find out more about my YA Fantasy debut novel, The Curse of Time.

Here’s what Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor) says:

“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!”

(That makes The Curse of Time sound very appealing Marjorie. I bet you were thrilled with that response.)

It’s the first in a series of three intended books. All three will focus on the power of a magical crystal –Book One introduces you to the blood cleansing power of the Bloodstone.

The Curse of Time series features three fascinating Chronopage clocks invented by Dr John C Taylor, OBE: Book one: showcases the grasshopper, Book Two: the medieval fly and Book three: the dragon. All three images courtesy of Dr John C Taylor.

Corpus Christi Chronophage Detail

There are many intriguing elements within the narrative which will take you on a mystical, magical journey. Expect an abundance of light and hope in the beautiful, magical crystals that Amelina discovers. But with light elements of darkness, shadows, and sadness linger nearby. Meet Esme, a young girl captured in the mirrors of Amelina’s house. Discover Amelina’s dad – the victim of a terrible curse. Mysteries abound, and magical gifts bring art to life. The Curse of Time is a coming-of-age story. Fifteen-year-old Amelina must cure her father of a terrible curse that has struck at the heart of her family’s happiness.

(This sounds as if it’s going to be a brilliant series Marjorie.)

What else have you brought along and why? 

I’m bringing along some very special guests.

My friend, artist Carolina Russo who lovingly painted two of my characters: Esme The Mirror Girl. And Eruterac, The Creature. Carolina’s blog is here.

Esme And The Mirror ©Carolina Russo - Online Use

(Oh – welcome along Carolina!)

Imagine what it would be like to chat with the mirror girl, Esme. She hasn’t had it easy. In her recent past poor Esme self-harmed whilst trapped in a cycle of self-hatred. Now a captive, she is no longer able to self-harm but her mood swings continue.Will Esme escape the double prison of her self-harm and the mirrored prison that she is locked in?

(Crikey – now I want to know more!)

The Creature ©Carolina Russo_Online Use

The Creature’s coming too! He might want to sit next to you. Perhaps he might hold your hand but if he does he will drop a few bugs, worms, and the like in your lap. Does he scare you?

(Erm. He does. And I’d really rather he didn’t drop worms. I’m not keen on things without legs…)

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Also why don’t you cuddle my black cat character Shadow? If you dare! Shadow is friendly but he doesn’t like to be picked up. He is the most powerful cat I have ever met but he has the kindest heart too. I adore the idea that looks can be deceptive. Do you agree?

(Aha. Shadow is MUCH more my kind of guest than The Creature. If you look round you’ll see cat items all round my home. He does look friendly, but maybe I’ll just stroke him first.)

The image of Lily (aka Shadow,) comes via my friends blog here.

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I’ve brought along Amelina because well it would be wrong of me not to. She’s my main protagonist and I love her very much. She has had a tough life too. Who wants to be stuck in a terrible situation? She copes by writing Tanka, short-form poetry, she paints, and plays guitar. Amelina is a soulful girl who develops powerful skills using magical crystals.

(Amelina sounds far too talented for her own good. But she’s still welcome too!)

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Then there is Ryder. The enigma. Who is he? And why is there smoke coming out of his mouth? Is that just a smoke-screen? Read The Curse of Time to find out whether he is a loveable character…

(Ooer! I hope that’s NOT cigarette smoke as I can’t abide cigarettes. If so, he’s going to have to stay in the garden as far away from the house as possible.)

The photos of Ryder and Amelina were created by my daughter Georgina Mallon.

Gosh – that’s quite a collection of things you’ve brought with you Marjorie. It’s been a breathless evening staying in with you and not just because of that weird smoke from Ryder! I’ve really enjoyed finding out all about The Curse of Time. Thanks so much for being here and chatting to me about it.

Thanks for having me Linda.

The Curse of Time

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Fifteen-year-old Amelina longs for someone to confide in.  Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had.

The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

The Curse of Time is available for purchase here.

About M. J. Mallon

Marjorie

M. J. Mallon is a debut author who has been blogging for three years at her lovely blog Kyrosmagica. Her interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. Marjorie write Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. She loves to read and has written numerous reviews here.

You’ll find Marjorie on Facebook and can follow her on Twitter @Marjorie_Mallon.

The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh

The Rest of Me

My enormous thanks to Emma Knight at Hodder for a surprise copy of The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh in return for an honest review. I love Katie Marsh’s writing and I reviewed My Everything here when I first began blogging (and how the blog has changed since then!). I have a review of A Life Without You here and of This Beautiful Life here which was also one of my books of the year in 2017.

In addition, I was thrilled to host a guest post here by Katie all about the playlists of her life when This Beautiful Life was published and honoured to attend the book’s launch.

Published by Hodder, The Rest of Me is available for purchase through these links.

The Rest of Me

The Rest of Me

Alex Fox knows there are lots of things she should be.

She should be the perfect wife to her chronically ill husband Sam, and the perfect mother to their two daughters. She should be excelling in her high-stress job. And she should be completing the demanding to-do lists she makes to keep herself on track.

Even if, just sometimes, she doesn’t have time to breathe.

When Sam’s condition worsens and Alex donates a kidney to save his life, her carefully scheduled existence starts to unravel – eventually forcing her to face up to a past that she has buried for years.

As the family she has fought so hard for threatens to fall apart, can Alex finally confront the mistakes that have shaped her – and rediscover what is most important in life?

The Rest of Me is an emotional and uplifting story which will make you laugh, cry and hug the people you love a little bit tighter.

My Review of The Rest Of Me

Alex Foxy Fox is superwoman until life reminds her we’re all human.

I have loved everything Katie Marsh has written so I was extremely apprehensive about reading The Rest of Me. I didn’t want to be disappointed. Oh – I wasn’t. I think The Rest of Me may be her best book yet. There’s a depth of emotion and raw honesty between the pages of The Rest of Me that hit me in the solar plexus and knocked me for six. I didn’t just read about the emotion in The Rest of Me, but rather felt it physically so that my heart feels a little bit bruised as a result.

Alex is so fabulous a character. I defy any woman (and that may sound sexist but I don’t care) to read about Alex and not understand her or feel a little bit of her personality in themselves. Her desperate need to maintain her shell of competence at all costs, her ‘self-bullying’ and her unhappiness as she loses sight of the real things in life that matter are all too familiar. I felt as if Katie Marsh had looked into my soul, understood me and had written a novel just for me to help me understand myself better. At the risk of being accused of hyperbole, I genuinely think Katie Marsh has a Shakespearean understanding of humanity.

The others in the story are perfectly depicted too. Izzy is a triumph and, although I don’t have children of my own, I can envisage mothers looking at their children anew having read The Rest of Me.

The wonderful plot is so clever. Aside from the major event of donating a kidney to Sam, Alex’s life is one we can all relate to as it revolves around juggling work and home. So often I wanted to step into the narrative, grasp Alex by the shoulders and shake her until she understood what she was doing – not because the story didn’t work, but because it worked so well I couldn’t bear what was happening to her. I was desperate for her to find happiness, and the depth of sadness I felt as I read is beyond description.

I genuinely believe reading The Rest of Me has changed me as a person. Once again Katie Marsh’s words have made me reappraise my life and helped me understand what is truly important. If you’ve yet to discover her as an author, what are you waiting for? Your life will never be the same again.

About Katie Marsh

katie

Katie lives in south-west London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her novels are inspired by the bravery of the people she met in hospitals and clinics across the country. Her first novel My Everything (available here) was picked by the Evening Standard as one of the hottest summer debuts of 2015.

She loves strong coffee, the feel of a blank page and stealing her husband’s toast. When not writing, she spends her time in local parks trying and failing to keep up with her daughter’s scooter.

You can follow Katie on Twitter @marshisms, visit her website and find her on Facebook.

Staying in with Tori L Wilson

The Skeleton Lady

One of the pleasures of running Linda’s Book Bag is discovering new, young authors and today I am very pleased to welcome Tori L Wilson to the blog to stay in with me and tell me about a book inspired when she was very young.

Staying in with Tori L Wilson.

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Tori, Thanks for staying in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

The Skeleton Lady

I have brought along The Skeleton Lady. I got the idea for this book when I was only fourteen years old. My dad had passed away the year before and I was having a difficult time processing the emotional pain I was in, so I created the character, who goes by the name of the Skeleton Lady, as a sort of human embodiment of those feelings

What an interesting way to deal with grief. I’m not surprised you were struggling. Tell me more. What can we expect from an evening in with The Skeleton Lady?

The Skeleton Lady will bring an evening filled with twists and turns, wild emotions, love, hate, and much, much more! Follow Oliver and Kayte as they are met with pure evil in human form, and must figure out how to escape the bonds of their captors.

(This sounds intriguing!)

I’d like to share a review from Nada Hosny, blogger at Early Bookish Birds:

The skeleton lady gave me the creeps! The writing was so easy to keep up with, I loved the simplicity especially with such a short story, it made everything easier. the story had so many, so many hidden lessons: abusive relationships, pleasing society, learning to say no, compassion friendship and love. I connected with the characters on an emotional level even though the journey was quite short but this story with written with so much love and effort. Overall: such a small quick read with so many deep emotions, it truly touched my soul.

(That’s a cracker of a review Tori. You must be thrilled.)

What else have you brought along and why?

illustration

I’ve brought a sketch of the main antagonist, the Skeleton Lady. On top of being an author, I am also currently in college, majoring in art education, and I love bringing the world of art in with the world of writing.

(I think the two mediums are often so closely linked Tori – an image can lead to writing and writing to images.)

Thanks so much for staying in with me to tell me about The Skeleton Lady Tori. I think it sounds fascinating and not a little scary!

The Skeleton Lady

The Skeleton Lady

Oliver Adams and Kayte Westin have been best friends since the first grade, when Kayte stood up against Oliver’s bully, earning his undying loyalty. The two are neighbors and are now attending their small town of Adairsville, Georgia’s local high school together, counting down the days until summer vacation. Oliver and Kayte both have feelings for one another besides simply friendship, however neither of them have been able to summon the strength required to confess their true feelings.

When the Skeleton Lady, a terrifying woman with brilliant red eyes and an extremely thin, skeleton-like figure, captures the two friends they must use their mental and physical strength to escape the clutches of their captors.

Will their love be enough to break the grasp of their tormentor’s clutches, or will they die trying? Find out in this exciting tale filled with twists and turns at every corner.

You’ll find The Skeleton Lady for purchase along with all Tori’s books here.

About Tori L Wilson

tori

Tori Wilson is a young author who began her writing career at only nineteen years old. She is now twenty one years old and has had three books published. Tori lives in a small town and is attending college, majoring in art education. In her free time, she enjoys singing, dancing, painting, modeling Japanese fashion at local anime conventions, and studying foreign languages. Tori’s latest book, The Skeleton Lady, is a romantic suspense filled with action-packed twists and turns.

To find out more, visit Tori on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.