Linda’s Book Bag 5th Birthday Giveaway

i am 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

I WILL read them all eventually…

5th Blog Birthday Giveaway

£20

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

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

For your chance to enter just click here.

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

Tiger Skin Rug by Joan Haig

Tiger Skin Rug

I love reading children’s books and am delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Tiger Skin Rug by Joan Haig. My enormous thanks to Kelly Macdonald at Cranachan Publishing for inviting me to participate and for sending me a copy of Tiger Skin Rug in return for an honest review.

Published yesterday, 6th February 2020, by Cranachan’s children’s imprint Pokey Hat, Tiger Skin Rug is available for purchase in all the usual places including directly from the publisher here.

Tiger Skin Rug

Tiger Skin Rug

An old promise. A mysterious tiger.
A magical adventure.

Lal and his brother Dilip miss home. They don’t like drizzle, midges, or the tiger skin rug in their creepy new house. All they want is to leave Scotland and go back to India. But that’s before they make friends with Jenny, and before the tiger comes back to life…

The tiger tells them it will take them home in return for their help: it cannot rest until it fulfils an old promise. Can Lal, Dilip and Jenny help it on its quest? Who is trying to stop them? And will they get back home?

Fly into the night with this fabulous tale of adventure, friendship and what it means to find home.

My Review of Tiger Skin Rug

A move from India to Scotland will lead Lal and Dilip on a huge adventure.

Tiger Skin Rug is a fantastic children’s book and I loved every word. Joan Haig has constructed a magical story of peril and adventure that is completely captivating and any child of any age, never mind the 8-12 year old target range, would enjoy it.

The plot is fast paced and exciting as the children have riddles to solve, enemies to outwit and a tiger’s promise to keep. There’s magical tiger rides, mythology and the more mundane all blended into an enthralling and perfectly balanced story.

The wonderful sense of place, in both Lal and Dilip’s new Scottish home and in the descriptions of India, is so vivid and colourful that I felt transported, and my understanding of India in particular was deepened by Tiger Skin Rug so that I was learning as well as being entertained as I read. The weaving in of conservation and environmental elements is so skilfully done that they enhance the narrative without being heavy handed or obvious, making children aware of what is happening without too much gory detail.

I found Lal such a brilliantly rounded character. His first person account brings the story to life so that I felt I’d really understood him and had grown to love him by the end of the book. His narrative voice is one that children and adults alike will identify with, particularly as he articulates his vulnerability and fears without seeming weak. It was also lovely to have an Indian protagonist in Lal, and a strong female in Jenny, so that friendship can be seen to cross gender and ethnicity.

Joan Haig’s themes in Tiger Skin Rug are perfect too. She explores loyalty and friendship, family and betrayal, and, most importantly, a sense of home, in such an emotive way I found myself shedding a small tear as I finished the book.

Tiger Skin Rug held me entranced. It’s an example of writing for children at its very best and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s brilliant.

About Joan Haig

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Joan Haig, born in Zambia, was weaned on avocados and stories. When she was twelve, her family moved to the happy isles of Vanuatu in the South West Pacific. She has lived and travelled all over the world, most recently settling with her husband, children and cats into a little cottage in the Scottish Borders.

Joan has researched and taught at the University of Warwick and University of Edinburgh; her teaching has won awards and her work on migration and belonging has been published in academic journals and edited volumes. She now works for Arcadia University’s Edinburgh Center.

Her writing dream is that her stories for children are enjoyed far and wide -and touch some grown-up hearts along the way.

You can find out more by following Joan on Twitter @joan_md_haig, finding her on Facebook and Instagram or by visiting her website.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Tiger Skin poster

An Extract from The Year Without Summer by Guinevere Glasfurd

The Year Without Summer Cover

I’m utterly thrilled to be part of this Random Things Tour for The Year Without Summer by Guinevere Glasfurd and wish to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to participate. I have The Words Without Summer waiting to be read and having absolutely adored Guinevere’s novel The Words In My Hand, my review of which you can read here, I know I’m in for a treat.

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I was also lucky enough to interview Guinevere all about The Words In My Hand here on the blog and it was one of my books of the year in 2017. Since then, however, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Guinevere Glasfurd in real life as I hosted her at The Deepings Literary Festival last May where she held us spellbound talking about her research.

With an extract to share with you from The Year Without Summer you’ll get an idea of what a beautiful writer Guinevere is.

The Year Without Summer is published today, 6th February 2020 by Two Roads and is available for purchase through the links here.

The Year Without Summer

The Year Without Summer Cover

1815: Sumbawa Island, Indonesia

Mount Tambora explodes in a cataclysmic eruption, killing thousands and causing famine, poverty and riots. Lives, both ordinary and privileged, are changed forever. Sent to investigate, ship surgeon Henry Hogg can barely believe his eyes. Once a paradise,the island is now solid ash, the surrounding sea turned to stone. But worse is yet to come: as the ash cloud rises and covers the sun, the seasons will fail.

1816:
In Switzerland, Mary Shelley finds dark inspiration. Confined inside by the unseasonable weather, thousands of famine refugees stream past her door. In Vermont, preacher Charles Whitlock begs his followers to keep faith as drought dries their wells andtheir livestock starve. In Britain, the ambitious and lovesick painter John Constable struggles to reconcile the idyllic England he paints with the misery that surrounds him. In the Fens, farm labourer Sarah Hobbs has had enough of going hungry while the farmers flaunt their wealth. And Hope Peter, returned from Napoleonic war, finds his family home demolished and a fence gone up in its place. He flees to London, where he falls in with a group of revolutionaries who speak of a better life, whatever the cost.
As desperation sets in, Britain becomes racked with riots – rebellion is in the air.

For fans of David Mitchell and Andrew Miller, The Year Without Summer tells the story of a fateful year when temperatures fell and the summer failed to arrive. It is a story of the books written, the art made; of the journeys taken, of the love longed for and the lives lost.

Six separate lives, connected only by an event many thousands of miles away. Few had heard of Tambora – but none could escape its effects.

An Extract from The Year Without Summer

Sarah

IF I’D KNOW’D it were wrong, I’d never have done it.

Weren’t anything much anyhow.

Mairster Benton had sent me away from his farm that morning  with nothing  and it was then that I catch’d up with Tessie and I guessed he’d sent her away too.

‘Mornin’,’ I said in greeting, as is only polite and she’s my elder by four years.

‘Mornin’,’ she said back, not looking at me, as if I were the slummocky one though she had the same lack of shoes on as me.

‘Where are you oft to?’ I asked, polite as I could, enquiring. Her striding on, head in the air, as though making for Norwich.

I asked her again and tugged on her sleeve to get her to say.

‘Never you mind, Sarah Hobbs,’ she said and shook my hand free.

Hobbs, was it? I didn’t know Tessie so well, but we’d worked the same fields last year, ’cluding Benton’s, and we were only two alleys apart when we were home so there weren’t need for talking to me as if I were up on high with the rectory folk.

‘Did he not have work for you then either?’

‘What’s that?’

‘Mairster Benton.’ Of course, Mairster Benton. Who else did she think I meant?

Her shoulders went up and down as though she’d been bumped over a tussock.

On we went like this, me asking and her not saying, though me knowing she was in the same such difficulty as me. I’d walked three miles already from Littleport to Benton’s  farm and now  here we was, halfway through walking those three miles back again. I hadn’t done it for the good of it and neither I knew had she.

‘Are  you going home?’ I asked. The path we were on could take us on further, if we decided we wanted to.

She shrugged again. All that shrugging. She’d only herself to blame if her arms shook off.

‘Because I was thinkin’ of going on to Cook’s farm. To see what’s likely there.’ Well, I had her attention  then, I could tell. By this point, we’d reached the edge of Willow Row and were walking along a ditch. I noticed the spar­ rergras they’d planted alongside were shrunk up as if shy of the light, as if it’d changed its mind and had turned its way back to the earth again. The thought of no sparrergras was a miserable thing. It weren’t the only miserable sight. A mizzlin rain had started, cold as frost.

Tessie’s eyes redded up and not just from the cold and I saw she was crying.

‘Tessie?’  I said and this time when I touched  her she stopped with her long striding ahead. Her name, me saying it, brought  from her such a shudder. She was crying the way you cry when there’s not anyone for miles to see. ‘Tessie, Tessie,’ I said and I rubbed her back. I hadn’t expected this.

‘How can I marry now?’ she said.

There weren’t no place to sit but she sat down anyway and I sat down beside her. I’d have pulled at the cotton grass but there were no grass to pull, nor anything much else come  up  green. Spring had passed us by without resting. I felt the rain, prickling, on its way to snow. No wonder the sparrergras wanted none of it. Still, Tessie and me both had our bonnets on so at least our heads could keep warm, after a fashion.

Tessie cried for some time. It were best to let her be and maybe she would tell me what were wrong but maybe she wouldn’t.

‘He’s a bastid,’ she said at last. ‘If I were a man, I’d take up a gun an’ I’d shoot him, I would.’

‘Who?’

‘Mairster Benton, that’s who.’

It was shocking to hear it, so strongly said, though I knew no one around had a good word for him.

‘You’d not!’ I imagined her with a gun, taking aim.

‘I would!’ and I saw then that she meant it.

‘They’d hang you, Tessie. By your neck.’

‘Don’t care.’

You would, I thought, but I kept that to meself. ‘What’s he done? He turned you away too?’

She nodded and dipped her head down. I knew she was trying not to cry again even though  her bonnet  had her hid.

‘I  don’t  know what I’ll  do . . .’  She wrung her hands, despairing.

‘He  didn’t  want me either.’  Small consolation  to her, adding my own misery to hers, no help at all, in fact. So I put on my Mairster Benton voice: ‘Employ a girl like you when I have my fill of good men?’  Sounded funny how I said it. Hadn’t been funny when he had.

‘Bastid,’ she said again and this time I agreed.

We sat for a while in the prinkling drizzle. I tucked my feet into my skirts to keep the worst of the cold off.

‘He hadn’t work for Thomas either.’ Thomas was her sweetheart, I knew. ‘Says he now has a plough this wide.’ She stretched her arms open as far as she could. ‘Would plough a field as wide as from here to Littleport. No need of Thomas with a plough like that. He said if I wanted to pick up stones he’d pay me half what he did before, elsewise he could get a man who’d do the same for what he paid me last year, only a man would pick up twice as much. He had a choice of fine men, good strong soldiering men more deserving of work than me, he said.’

‘Why’d he not take Thomas on then?’

She looked at me as if I were slower than a snail on dry sand. ‘Thomas told him straight he’d not pick up stones for a girl’s wages. That it weren’t right to put a man to such work.’

Well, yes. If I were a man, I’d be thinking it weren’t fair either. I never liked picking up stones anyway.

‘Benton told him beggars could not be choosers. And Thomas called him a bad ’un and damned him and his new plough and that’s when Benton told him to be gone and never come back.’

‘Bastid!’ I clapp’d my hand over my mouth.

Tessie pushed me on the shoulder and though she were not happy, she gave a small smile.

*     *     *

Now that we were on swearing terms together, we carried on our way in better cheer having decided we’d go on to Park Farm after all and ask after work there.

It was a fair traipse to the farm in the rain. We passed two men dragging a contraption  by hand. So beggardly muddy they were, they’d not even the breath to call after us.

Irish,’ she whispered and we hurried on by.

I couldn’t say it, but perhaps the thought was too noisy, chattering away to itself there in my head because then Tessie said, ‘I don’t have no hope we’ll be welcome at Cook’s farm.’

It was proper  blowy when we reached the farm’s fence, there being nothing  on the Fen to keep the wind from blowing how or where it wanted. I was relieved of it raining; there’d be a choke of dust otherwise. Through the gate, the track went on out to a farm at the end. Simple enough to walk down there to the door in a straight line like that. There were straight lines everywhere now since the Bedford Level lot had put in their ditches. Not all the land was fenced off like here at Cook’s farm, with a farmhouse  plonked down in the middle of it, but that didn’t give us the say­so to walk over it. Tessie and I stood there, our feet mired in mud and it had me thinking about the differences between straight and simple.

A notice had been fixed either side of the gate.

Capture

‘What’s they say?’

Tessie shrugged. ‘Summat else they got to shout about, I suppose. Never could read.’

She gave a look same as to say come on then and reached for my hand.

We’d gone no more than halfway down the track when I stopped and pulled out what I’d had in my pocket all the while. Tessie’s eyes opened up wide when she saw it.

A penknife. Handsome carved, with initials too. I turned it over in my hand and pulled out the blade.

‘That’s never yours . . .’

‘It’s Mairster Benton’s.’ Pride swelled my voice; I’d fluffed out fatter than a dandelion clock.

She looked at me full agog. ‘How did you come by it?

Did you steal it?

I pretended not to hear. One puff of wind would have shivered me all away. Truth was, he’d dropp’d it without noticing and I’d covered it with my foot and whipped it up quick when he looked the other way.

‘Finders keepers,’ I said and skipped ahead. Weren’t much use other than for whittling that I could see, but he weren’t having it back.

And that about served him right.

About Guinevere Glasfurd

Guinever Glasfurd Author Pic

Guinevere Glasfurd was born in Lancaster and lives near Cambridge with her husband and daughter. Her debut novel, The Words in My Hand, was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa First Novel Award and Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and was
longlisted in France for the Prix du Roman FNAC. Her writing has also appeared in the Scotsman, Mslexia and The National Galleries of Scotland.

You can found out more about Guinevere on her website, or follow Guinevere on Twitter @GuinGlasfurd. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Year Without Summer BT Poster

Cover Reveal: Summer on a Sunny Island by Sue Moorcroft

summer on a sunny island

I’m a huge fan of Sue Moorcroft’s writing and as I’m part of her ‘street team’ she is a regular here on Linda’s Book Bag so it gives me enormous pleasure to help reveal the cover for her summer 2020 book, Summer on a Sunny Island.

Summer on a Sunny Island will be published by Harper Collins imprint Avon on 30th April 2020 and is available for pre-order through the publisher links here. Let’s find out more:

Summer on a Sunny Island

summer on a sunny island

This summer, sparks are flying on the island of Malta…

When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus, her Mum Dora suggests a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dora introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that romance will bloom under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work, after all.

Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for love – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?

cover for sue

Doesn’t that sound the perfect summer read?

You’ll find other Linda’s Book Bag posts featuring Sue in the following links:

My review of Let It Snow

Discussing One Summer in Italy

An interview with Sue Moorcroft

A guest post from Sue on over-sharing and my review of The Christmas Promise

A guest post from Sue on her fantasy holiday companions

My review of Just For The Holidays

A guest post from Sue on loving a village book

My review of The Little Village Christmas

My review of A Christmas Gift

About Sue Moorcroft

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Award winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Wedding ProposalDream a Little Dream and Is This Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

The Christmas Promise was a Kindle No.1 Best Seller and held the No.1 slot at Christmas!

Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.

You can follow Sue on Twitter @SueMoorcroft, find her on Facebook and visit her website.

An Interview with Isabelle Broom, Author of Hello, again

Hello Again

If you’re a regular visitor to Linda’s Book Bag it will come as no surprise that I am thrilled to welcome Isabelle Broom, author of Hello, again to the blog in interview today.

To find out why I’m so excited I suggest you read my review of Isabelle’s book One Winter Morning here, my review of My Map of You hereA Year and a Day here and The Place We Met here. Sadly I haven’t yet managed to get to One Thousand Stars and You, but I do have a lovely personally signed copy on my shelf!

The RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) celebrates its 60th birthday this year and as we’re almost the same age (eek – am I REALLY almost 60?) I thought it would be wonderful to interview Isabelle as part of the celebrations. My grateful thanks to RNA Press Officer, and friend, Annette Hannah for arranging this.

An Interview with Isabelle Broom

I’m thrilled you’ve agreed to be interviewed for Linda’s Book Bag as part of the #RNA60 celebrations Isabelle. I think you know how much I love your writing.

Firstly, would you mind telling blog readers a little bit about yourself please?

I certainly can. I’m an author of escapist romantic fiction novels – six, so far, with the seventh due to be published this coming July – all of which are set in various locations around the world. I spend my time travelling to do research, writing, and I also work as a freelance sub editor, reviewer and panel host. I live in Suffolk with my two dogs, Max and Julius, who are both extremely fluffy and utterly bonkers, and love nothing more than a long walk, a long bath and an even longer glass of red wine.

They are utterly adorable!

How would you describe your writing?

I write commercial fiction, so I guess my style is (hopefully) mass-consumer friendly. I love the challenge of bringing a place to life on the page, and try to avoid clichés wherever possible, opting instead for something less obvious. People have called my writing style evocative in the past, which is a huge compliment, but I also adore dialogue and would love to try scriptwriting one day.

That sounds like a really interesting direction for your writing to take. In the mean time, tell us about your latest book.

Hello Again

Hello, Again (which is out in July) follows Pepper, whose dreams of becoming a world-renowned artist have been scuppered by a childhood tragedy that still haunts her today. Never having left the small coastal town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk, where she grew up, Pepper finds her world rocked when her 71-year-old friend Josephine asks her accompany her on a trip abroad. The older woman wants to retrace the steps of an illicit love affair she had many years before, and the romantic in Pepper is entranced. The last thing she expects, however, is to stumble across her very own love story in the process…

Hello, again sounds just as fabulous as all your other books. I can’t wait to read it.

What are your writing routines?

Oh gosh, well, that really depends on the stage I’m at with a novel. If I’m editing, then I’ll be at my laptop for ten-plus hours a day, tweaking and rewriting and hair-tearing, but if I’m drafting, it tends to be more like five or six. I enjoy writing in my local library, but I also have a home office and often write on the train to London and back. One of my most favourite places to write is at Book Camp, which takes place twice a year down in Somerset. Nothing inspires me more than being surrounded by my fellow authors in a beautiful place – many a novel has been saved this way!

Which aspects of writing do you find easiest and which most challenging and why?

I wouldn’t say that writing ever feels easy; I would describe it as feeling magical. Those moments when you sit down to write and feel as if the story is telling itself, when the characters take over and dictate their own actions and words, and it feels as if you’re a mere portal through which they travel – those are incredible. And fun – so much fun. I would say the most challenging stage for me comes around the first big structural edit. I said to my author friend recently that editing is like doing a blank jigsaw, in the dark, on the edge of a cliff, with a strong wind blowing. Very tricky indeed! But it is always so worthwhile. Once that stage is over, I find the line and copy edits a breeze by comparison.

I love that analogy – and I think it helps those who don’t know your writing to get a feel for how wonderful it is!

One Thousand Stars and You

I know you travel for your research into settings and I always find your descriptions so vivid. How do you record what you see and do in order to use it in your writing?

Thank you! It’s a tough job, etc. But no, it can come with its own set of problems. Sometimes the plots don’t work within the locations, or vice versa, and geography can be a pain. I had to create a completely made-up nature reserve in my fifth novel in order for the elephant scene to happen at the right time. In terms of recording data, I take gazillions of photos and videos, I do voice recordings as I stroll around, so I don’t forget how places smell and what sounds I can hear. I also carry a notebook with me and jot down first impressions – it gives me the perfect excuse to stop for numerous cups of coffee (or vin brulé, if I happen to be in Lake Como at Christmas time). I’m very fortunate in that I have a photographic memory, so when I’m back home in my office, I can put myself back into the locations pretty easily, simply by closing my eyes. Then I just describe what I can see.

With that level of attention to detail no wonder your settings are so evocative. So, which of the countries you’ve visited have you enjoyed the most and why?

Oh, I love all of them. They all have their different merits. Zakynthos in Greece is like a second home to me; Prague is pure magic, Mojacar in Spain holds so many memories from my teenage years and Lake Como is spectacular. Sri Lanka remains one of the most amazing countries I have ever visited, and the people there are so wonderful, as is the scenery. I will never forget the moment I watched the sunrise from the top of Adam’s Peak – a true life highlight. New Zealand, where I set my sixth novel, is probably my current favourite, and I’m heading back there in March for a second look. I knew before I went that I would love it, but I wasn’t prepared for how moved I would be by the stunning landscape, or how welcoming the locals would be. The country’s Maori heritage lends it an almost mystical quality – it feels like a place where anything could happen, and the adventurer in me is enthralled by that.

I love Sri Lanka too and Prague. I have still got my signed copy of One Thousand Stars and You to read but I adored A Year and A Day where you capture Prague perfectly.

a-year-and-a-day

To what extent do you think studying journalism has helped or hindered your writing?

It certainly gave me a good grounding in terms of story – ie the what, who, where, when, why? – and also got me very used to a brutal edit. I worked as a sub editor (and still do, on a freelance basis) for a number of magazines, and I am definitely not scared of cutting, cutting and cutting some more. I’m not precious about my words, which I hope makes my edits far less painful. Of course, I was also lucky enough to be a Book Reviews Editor for a number of years, and through that I met so many incredible people in the publishing industry – including you! There truly are no better people in the world than book people.

It’s been my pleasure to meet you several times too!

Every time I read one of your books I’m reduced to tears. How does your writing affect you as a person and as you write?

Writing is such a personal thing – at least it is for me. I have never shied away from sharing the experiences I’ve been through, and along with those come a whole heap of complicated emotions. Creating novels can often feel like therapy, because you start with something you know to be true, and often learn a new lesson along the way. Romantic fiction is all about exploring people and their relationships with themselves and each other, so I suppose it is inevitable that lots will come to surface as you go along. Every novel I have written has taught me something new, and every single one contains so much of who I am in its pages. I do hear from readers who have been a similar journey to that of my characters, and to know that those stories are finding connection means the absolute world to me. There are a lot of miraculous things about being an author, but that one is right up at the top.

I’m a member of the RNA NWS (Romantic Novelist Association New Writers Scheme) and have finally finished my first draft of a romantic novel. What advice would you give me as an emergent writer?

Congratulations! Getting to The End is such an achievement, and you should feel very proud. This is the really exciting bit. I would start by urging you to connect with other writers and industry figures, but you are way ahead of me on that score! In order to get published in the traditional way and have the best chance of your novel finding its way to the right publisher, you need to start by sourcing an agent. As well as working on your draft with you, they will also submit, negotiate and take care of selling into other territories. I could not do what I do without my agent. It’s also a good idea to have a think about how you want your career to look; ask yourself if you’re in it for a few books, or the long haul? Are you set on one genre, or keen to explore multiple subjects? Where do you envisage your book sitting in Waterstones? What are your dream five-year goals? The more you prepare, the more you will impress an agent.

My goodness, that’s plenty to think about…

Frequently, romantic fiction finds itself vilified and I know that in its 60th year The RNA is keen to dispel the negativity. What would you say about romantic fiction?

Oh, this just makes me feel so sad and SO frustrated. Love is what makes us human, and humans are what make stories interesting, and relatable, and important. People don’t turn pages simply for words, but for the characters saying them, and for the relationships those characters are having. Whether it’s a scandalous bonkbuster, a tragic tale of unrequited passion, a meet-cute will they/won’t they or a sweeping historical epic (complete with bodice ripping), they all have an element of wonderful romance, and it’s FUN to read about. Anyone who poo-poos romantic fiction deserves to be flushed – grrrr!

I couldn’t agree more!

What can we expect next from you?

First up is Hello, again my seventh novel (see answer above), which will be out in July, and after that it’s back to the laptop for book number 8. I can’t give away too many secrets about that one yet except to say that readers should expect a bit of a mystery this time… I’m coming along to Romance In The Court at Goldsboro Books in London on 14 May, so if anyone wants to bring their books to be signed, I will be there, Sharpie in hand! Hopefully, there will be some bookshop panel events coming up through the summer, too – keep an eye out on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom for all my announcements. And if you want to follow my trips abroad, Instagram is your best bet. Find me @isabelle_broom

I’m really looking forward to catching up with you again in person at Romance in the Court Isabelle. Thank so much for your time in answering my questions. You’ve been so generous with your answers and good luck with Hello, again. I can’t wait to read it and I think I’d better tell readers all about it.

Thank YOU for having me! xx

Hello, again

Hello Again

Philippa Taylor (Pepper to her friends) has big dreams. When she closes her eyes, she can picture exactly who she ought to be. The problem is, it’s about as far away from her real life in a small coastal town in Suffolk as she can imagine.

So when her elderly friend Josephine persuades Pepper to accompany her on a trip to Europe, she jumps at the chance to change her routine. And when Pepper bumps (literally) into the handsome Finn in Lisbon, it seems as though she might have finally found what she’s been looking for.

But Pepper know all too well things are rarely as they seem. Her own quiet life hides a dark secret from the past. And even though she and Finn may have been destined to find each other, Pepper suspects life may have other plans as to how the story should end.

A romantic and sweeping story about friendship, love and realising that sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Hello, again will be published by Hodder on 9th July 2020 and is available for pre-order here.

About Isabelle Broom

isabelle broom

Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts in London before a 12-year stint at Heat magazine. Always happiest when she’s off on an adventure, Isabelle now travels all over the world seeking out settings for her escapist fiction novels, as well as making the annual pilgrimage to her second home – the Greek island of Zakynthos.

Currently based in Suffolk, where she shares a cottage with her two dogs and approximately 467 spiders, Isabelle fits her writing around a busy freelance career and tries her best not to be crushed to oblivion under her ever-growing pile of to-be-read books.

For more information, visit Isabelle’s website. You can also follow her on Twitter @Isabelle_Broom and find her on Facebook.

Staying in with Karma Brown, Author of Recipe For A Perfect Wife

Recipe for the Perfect Wife cover - smaller

I’m absolutely thrilled to have a copy of Recipe For A Perfect Wife on my TBR and to have Karma Brown staying in with me today to tell me all about it. My enormous thanks to Lucy Chamberlain at Legend Press for inviting me to help celebrate today’s publication of Recipe For A Perfect Wife.

Staying in with Karma Brown

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

Thank you for inviting me to stay in with you!

As it’s publication day for Recipe For A Perfect Wife I think I can guess the answer, but tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Recipe for the Perfect Wife cover - smaller

I’ve brought along Recipe For A Perfect Wife, which is my fifth novel and newly released in North America.

And a happy UK publication day Karma! Tell me a bit more about it.

It’s a domestic drama with a touch of mystery about two women—a 1950s quintessential housewife and a modern wife who has reluctantly moved from Manhattan to the suburbs—who live in the same house, 60 years apart, and how a dark secret buried in an old cookbook connects them. It’s a story with feminist themes, as it explores gender roles within marriage—both past and present—and encourages dialogue about how women may not have come as far as we’d like to believe, despite our more progressive times.

It sounds wonderful and that cover image would appear to fit it perfectly. So, what can we expect from an evening in with Recipe For A Perfect Wife?

The book is dual narrative, flipping between 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch and modern day (house)wife Alice Hale, and it features both vintage recipes and epigraphs that offer depressingly comical advice for wives of the past. It’s an exploration of the role of ‘wife’ and ‘woman’ across the decades, and is—I hope—both entertaining and thought provoking! It has been heralded by reviewers as an excellent choice for book clubs, sure to generate stimulating discussions.

Oo. I’m in an all female book group and I think we’d enjoy chatting about the role of women in the home.

What else have you brought along this evening and why?

Cookbook Karma Brown

I’ve also brought along my quite old and food splattered copy of the Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book, which is from 1956 and has been passed down to me from my mum.

It certainly looks well used Karma.

It’s one of the vintage cookbooks I own that inspired Recipe For A Perfect Wife, and it’s a charming and revealing glimpse into the sorts of foods and meals that ended up on dinner plates in the 1950s. I view cookbooks as a legacy of the women who owned and used them, and love to run my fingers over the spills and notations on the pages. This particular cookbook also has heaps of advice for tired housewives, which was useful to inform Nellie’s character when I was drafting the book. I’ve had many of the recipes over the years, thanks to my mother and her wonderful cooking, but thankfully none of the (awful sounding) jelly salads ever made it to our dinner table!

I think it would be perfect to end our evening deciding something to cook from Betty’s book whilst I tell blog readers a bit more about Recipe For A Perfect Wife. Thanks for staying in with me to chat about it Karma.

Thanks for having me Linda.

Recipe For A Perfect Wife

Recipe for the Perfect Wife cover - smaller

When Alice Hale leaves a career to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in the basement, she becomes captivated by its previous owner: 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the pages Nellie left clues about her life.

Soon Alice learns that while a Baked Alaska may seem harmless, Nellie’s secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister, even dangerous, side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.

Recipe For A Perfect Wife is out today, 4th February 2020, from Legend Press and is available for purchase here.

About Karma Brown

Karma Brown - credit Jenna Davis

Image courtesy of Jenna Davis

Karma Brown is the bestselling author of four novels and is a National Magazine Award winning journalist.

Karma lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband, daughter, and a labradoodle named Fred.

You can find out more by following Karma on Twitter @KarmaKBrown, visiting her website or finding her on Instagram, Facebook and Goodreads.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Recipe for a Perfect Wife Blog Tour

Dreaming of Verona by T A Williams

DREAMING OF VERONA Landscape

There are a few authors whom I’ve come to love through their books and by meeting them several times in real life and T.A. Williams is one of those authors so when Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources invited me to participate in the blog tour for Dreaming of Verona I couldn’t resist.

Dreaming of Verona

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

I have also reviewed Trevor’s Chasing Shadows hereDreaming of Venice here and To Provence, With Love here and Dreaming of Christmas here.There’s also an extract from Dreaming of St Tropez that you can read here.

Published by Canelo today, 3rd February 2020, Dreaming of Verona is available for purchase on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Dreaming of Verona

Dreaming Of Verona Cover

Verona is the City of Love. But will Suzie find romance there or, like Romeo and Juliet, will it all end in tears?

When Suzie is hired to accompany spoiled, abrasive Lady Alexandra Tedburn on an all-expenses paid holiday to Italy, she fears the trip will be a disaster.

But she soon discovers there’s more to Alex than shopping and tantrums, and she’s determined to help her realise her potential – against Alex’s authoritarian father’s wishes.

As they settle in Verona, Suzie can’t stop thinking about local artist Michael, who is still mourning the tragic death of his wife. With Suzie’s future uncertain, and Michael’s past
holding him back, it seems there’s no hope for romance in the city of
star-crossed lovers… or is there?

A gorgeously uplifting and moving story, Dreaming of Verona is the perfect read for fans of Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant and Jenny Oliver.

My Review of Dreaming of Verona

Suzie’s new job will bring more than she thought.

It was such a pleasure to read another T.A. Williams book because I knew I would be transported to another place comprehensively, that somewhere I’d find a black Labrador and there would be challenge and romance along the way. I wasn’t disappointed. In Dreaming of Verona there’s the flowing, engaging style I’ve come to enjoy from this author so that I felt relaxed and confident that my expectations would be met.

In Dreaming of Verona T.A. Williams has created the perfect setting. I’ve never had any desire to visit the area before reading this book and now I’m desperate to go. His attention to detail and the use of the senses is exemplary so that I was completely immersed in Italian culture and geography. My only complaint is that I was desperately hungry throughout my reading. The descriptions of food are wonderful and actually made me salivate.

The plot is engaging and interesting, but especially enhanced by the Shakespearean themes and references. However, a reader doesn’t need to be able to make the links in Dreaming of Verona, to enjoy this story completely. Universal themes of parental dominance and control, friendship, education, grief, love, ambition, a sense of personal identity and self-worth give layers to Dreaming of Verona that elevate it above a simple love story, although it can be read in that way too.  I also loved the wind surfing element of the book. It felt vivid and real giving added depth to the action and also to Suzie’s character.

And I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Suzie, Alex and the others. I felt every single person in this story developed and changed so that it was as if I were reading about real people who have to learn to deal with what life throws at them. The concept that money cannot buy happiness and that you have to be your own person and shape your own future in spite of your past, that Alex learns in particular, resonated with me profoundly.

Dreaming of Verona is a lovely book. It’s romantic with dynamic action and vivid characters. It draws in the reader and entertains them royally. I really recommend it.

About T.A.Williams

TAWilliams

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

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

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

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

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