Staying in with Matt Doyle

Addict

I know many readers love to get their reading teeth into a series so it gives me very great pleasure to welcome Matt Doyle to Linda’s Book Bag to stay in with me today as he has a couple of books in his new series on the go. Those who know me well will, I think, find the events of the evening amusing!

Staying in with Matt Doyle

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

No, no, thank you. It’s always fun stopping by new places.

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

Addict

I’ve chosen Addict, which was released last May by NineStar Press. It’s the first book in my crime noir / sci-fi series, The Cassie Tam Files, and the sequel The Fox, The Dog and The King just came out in July, so I wanted to get the first book out there a little more in the build-up. It’s been well received so far, which has been absolutely thrilling, so I’m hoping more readers start picking it up and enjoying too.

Fox

(How exciting to have two new books out in the world. Congratulations Matt.)

What can we expect from an evening in with Addict?

For one, you can expect a coherent mix of genres. A couple of reviewers have described it as Sam Spade meets Blade Runner, which is great because I binge watched both said cyberpunk classic and The Maltese Falcon in preparation for writing the book. It’s also had a bunch of other comparisons which I really liked too; the leading PI Cassie Tam has been compared to Jessica Jones (which actually gave me the kick to start watching the Netflix show), and the setting has been compared to the anime Psycho Pass before now, both of which really made me smile.

(Crikey – that sounds like an eclectic approach. Sounds really interesting and not my usual genre!)

What can we expect from an evening in with Addict?

You can also expect a journey through a near future world full of tech that’s a realistic advancement of what we have now.  We’re talking VR being used for business, but also becoming an addictive add-on to drug use. We’ve got animal roleplay using metal exoskeletons that have also been adapted for law enforcement. There’s AI pets that range from cats and dogs to miniature gargoyles. It’s all kinda derivative of a few modern favourites, but that was important for me, because I wanted to make this seem like a viable, albeit dark, future.

(It all sounds scarily possible to me.)

And let’s not forget Cassie herself! With her, you can expect the three S’s: smarts, stubbornness, and a lot of snark. She has a strong sense of justice, and is well established in her job, but she’s far from perfect. She’s also an out lesbian whose sexuality is not part of a coming out story, but rather just a part of her. The romance in the book isn’t a plot device for her to find herself, but rather a longer tale designed to be built over the course of the series.

So, to summarise … except pulp style sleuthing, cool tech, and a diverse lead.

(I like the sound of Cassie. I think we still don’t have enough diversity in fiction.)

What else have you brought along and why?

I’ve brought a couple of things with me.

First, a pair of songs by The Tea Party: Temptation that you can listen to here and Babylon, here.

These songs actually link with the book a little. Even putting aside that Cassie is Chinese-Canadian and the band are from Canada, they lyrically deal with the concept of giving in to and being dragged down by temptation. New Hopeland, the fiction city that the series is set in, was designed to be a hub for world progress in technology, but it fell into corruption quite quickly. Now, the people who live and work there are faced with the temptation of the underworld every day, even if they sometimes don’t even know it. These songs were the ones that I listened to the most when working on the worldbuilding relating to the city itself. In a way, they’re kinda like the unofficial anthems of New Hopeland City.

(Many authors tell me they are inspired by music so it’s fascinating to hear why you’ve chosen these two pieces Matt.)

Next, I’ve brought a selection of horror films.

(O-oh! So not my genre. Pass me a cushion to hide behind.)

I’m thinking American Werewolf In London, The Exorcist, Insidious, and Nightmare on Elm Street.

(All totally terrifying Matt – and there I was enjoying our evening up until this point. Why did you bring such a selection?)

The reason is, Cassie Tam herself loves horror films … they just don’t love her. She’s drawn to watching them, and despite spending large amounts of time hiding behind pillows during, she does enjoy them. But they cause her to suffer from nightmares a lot. You’d think she’d stop watching, but there’s no way she’d give up something she enjoys just because of a few bad dreams.

(She must be mad. You make a start on the viewing and I’ll go and er … put the kettle on. It might take several hours to boil…)

Thank you, for the most part (!) for staying in with me to tell me all about Addict Matt. I was having a really good time until you brought out the films! Congratulations again on having The Cassie Tam Files out. Good luck with the series.

Addict

Addict

When PI Cassie Tam is hired to investigate the death of a local virtual reality junkie, she thinks it will be easy money. In New Hopeland, VR junkies die every day, and the local PD already declared it an accidental overdose on synthetic stimulants. But the more she digs, the more that things don’t add up.

To make things even more complicated, her client, the deceased’s sister Lori, is a Tech Shifter – someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal – and Cassie has always been wary of that community. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with her ex.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

Addict is available for purchase from AmazonNineStar PressSmashwordsBarnes and NobleKobo and the Apple Store.

About Matt Doyle

headshot bw 2

Matt Doyle lives in the South East of England and shares his home with a wide variety of people and animals, as well as a fine selection of teas. He has spent his life chasing dreams, a habit which has seen him gain success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.

These days, Matt can be found working on far too many novels at once, running his pop culture website, and plotting and planning what other things he’ll be doing to take up what little free time he has.

To find out more, follow Matt on Twitter @mattdoylemedia, find him on Facebook or visit his website.

Giveaway and Staying in with Caroline Beecham

Eleanor's Secret

War related fiction has a special place in my reader’s heart so I am thrilled to welcome Caroline Beecham to stay in with me today to tell me about one of her historical novels.

I am also thrilled to be able to offer a paperback copy of the book we are discussing to a lucky winner in a giveaway at the bottom of this blog post.

Staying in with Caroline Beecham

I’m delighted to welcome you to Linda’s Book Bag, Caroline. Which of your books have you brought along to share with me and why have you chosen it?

 Eleanor's Secret

I’ve brought my second novel, Eleanor’s Secret, which was published in the UK in May by Ebury Press. It’s an engrossing wartime mystery of past deceptions, family secrets and long-lasting love, so it’s got broad appeal and isn’t just for lovers of historical and romantic fiction.

(Eleanor’s Secret sounds like the perfect read for me!)

Australian version

Australian Cover for Eleanor’s Secret

It was published in Australia and New Zealand at the same time as the UK.

(How exciting to be out right round the world. I love that Australian cover Caroline.)

One Australian reviewer said, “Fans of Natasha Lester and Kate Morton will very much enjoy this new release and the dual time-zones mean the books will also appeal to a broader audience.” Debbish.com

That’s a great recommendation and I was also lucky that it was chosen as fiction ‘Pick of the Week’ by the Sydney Morning Herald. I really liked that a male reviewer chose it and commented, ‘Historical romance isn’t really my bag, but Beecham’s easy-flowing prose and astute structure make the pages fly.’

(Brilliant. It’s quite hard, I think, to appeal to both sexes so you must be thrilled with that response.)

The novel is inspired by the real work of the War Artists’ Advisory Committee War and a generation of courageous war artists during the Second World. It was a real privilege to research and write because like my first novel, Maggie’s Kitchen, it focuses on a lesser known part of the Second World War.

Maggie's Kitchen

The idea came about when I discovered that of the thirty-seven artists given full time contracts, thirty-six were men and there was only one woman. This really sparked something for me because in wartime Britain women were taking on the majority of roles, yet that wasn’t reflected in the WAAC or the art world. I imagined there would have been female artists who had an issue with this, and Eleanor was one of them!

(Now I HAVE to read Eleanor’s Secret to find out more. I’ve never even considered women in the role of war artists before.)

What can we expect from an evening in with Eleanor’s Secret?

The book has dual timelines, the historical storyline focusing on Eleanor trying to achieve her ambition of becoming one of the few female war artists, and the contemporary storyline that sees Eleanor’s granddaughter, Kathryn, help to solve the wartime mystery:

London, 1942

When art school graduate, Eleanor Roy is recruited by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, she comes one step closer to realising her dream of becoming one of the few female war artists. But breaking into the art establishment proves difficult until Eleanor meets painter, Jack Valante, only to be separated by his sudden posting overseas.

Melbourne, 2010

Although reluctant to leave her family at home, Kathryn can’t refuse her grandmother Eleanor’s request to travel to London to help her return a precious painting to its artist. But when the search uncovers a long-held family secret, Kathryn has to make a choice to return home or risk her family’s future, as Eleanor shows her that safeguarding the future is sometimes worth more than protecting the past.

(I am loving the sound of Eleanor’s Secret more and more – especially as Melbourne is my favourite Australian city!)

There is a lot to think about in the novel such as Kathryn’s interest in how war was depicted then and now; it couldn’t be more different recording conflict with drones now and the instant feeds compared to producing thumbnail sketches and then watercolours that took weeks to be sent home during the Second World War. Jack also has secrets that unfold as the storyline evolves that help explain his disappearances and gives a greater understanding of the cost to his family. I was interested in the sacrifices we make for the ones we love and this is a recurring theme in the book; how far our characters are prepared to go…

(That’s it! I don’t need to hear any more! Hang on a minute whilst I head off to grab my copy of Eleanor’s Secret. I’ll be back in a minute…)

Sorry about the delay! What else have you brought along and why?

 inspiration

I’ve brought along some of the research images as people seem to be very interested in these and the lives of the war artists, so I hope your readers will be too.

(I’m certain they will Caroline.)

These booklets were produced as part of a first series by British war artists in 1942 and a second series came out in 1944. The WAAC played an important role in recording the war, and for morale and propaganda in Britain and overseas, and these booklets were very popular. I really like this quote in Women, a booklet in the Second Series, in which artist Laura Knight wrote:

‘After what she has done in this titanic struggle, will she not guard what she has gained, and to Man’s effort add her own? If she can do what she has done in war, what may she not do in peace?’

The booklets were important for research but they also play a role in the story as one of the clues that helps Kathryn find out what happened to Jack. There are other clues that provide plenty of intrigue throughout the novel for those who want a mystery, but for those who want a night in with an engrossing love story, Eleanor’s Secret is also a romantic tale of long-lasting love.

insp 2

(War Pictures by British Artists, Second Series, WOMEN, Oxford University Press)

Browsing through the catalogues of the Imperial War Museum enabled me to see works by war artists and there were some that were very evocative; I found the work of Edward Ardizzone really moving as he often captured civilians and troops in their day-to-day lives, which in some ways makes it harder to look at as you know what may be in store for them. I became so inspired by the artists and their works that I was thrilled to find this print by Edward Ardizzone in an online art sale. I would love to own a picture by a female war artist but since they are rarer, I might need to write a few more novels before I can do that!

caroline.PNG

Author, Caroline Beecham, with print by war artists and WAAC member, Edward Ardizzone

(I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know about Edward Ardizzone Caroline. You’ve not only introduced Eleanor’s Secret, but you’ve opened up a whole new area of interest. Thank you.)

As well as having these artworks for inspiration, I also interviewed a number of artists including Wendy Sharpe, who was official artist in East Timor, the first female war artist since the WWII. She was able to give a female perspective on working in difficult conditions and helped speculate on what life might have been like for Eleanor. She talked about the materials that would have been used and the processes but also of the feelings of volatility–of everyone on edge–and how this makes you aware of how things happen by chance.  British military artist, David Rowlands, was extremely valuable in helping colour Jack’s character and understanding the emotions and feelings of being on the frontline. And as someone who grew up watching BBCs Kate Adie, reporting from battle-zones, I was really grateful for a deeper understanding of what these artists and journalists went through; different time period and artistic tools but still the same emotions, sense of fear and unpredictability.

(Your research must have been utterly fascinating Caroline. What amazing people to have come into contact with.)

And if anyone is interested in finding out more about the research or the book there is more detail on my website.

(I’m sure there will be Linda’s Book Bag readers heading there right now.)

It has been genuinely wonderful spending an evening with you Caroline, and finding out all about Eleanor’s Secret. I feel honoured to have heard how you conducted your research and have found your information fascinating. Thanks so much for staying in with me.

Thank you so much for having me as your guest Linda and enjoy the rest of your evening. Warmest wishes, Caroline.

Eleanor’s Secret

Eleanor's Secret

Can Eleanor follow her heart in troubled times?

Eleanor Roy is determined to do her bit for the war effort after being recruited by the War Artist Advisory Committee. When she meets handsome artist Jack Valante, her dreams seem to be finally coming true when Jack promises to help her pursue her ambition of becoming an artist. But after a whirlwind romance, Eleanor is devastated when Jack is posted overseas.

When Eleanor receives some unexpected news she desperately tries to find Jack. But with the young couple torn apart by war, will they be reunited and find happiness at last?

Eleanor’s Secret is available for purchase through these links.

About Caroline Beecham

Caroline portrait

Caroline Beecham grew up at the English seaside and relocated to Australia to continue her career as a writer and producer in film and television. She has worked on a documentary about Princess Diana lookalikes, a series about journeys to the ends of the earth, as well as a feature film about finding the end of the rainbow. Caroline decided on a new way of storytelling and studied the craft of novel writing at the Faber Academy in 2012. She has an MA in Film & Television and a MA in Creative Writing and lives with her husband and two sons by Sydney harbour.

You can find out more about Caroline on her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter @CarolineBeecham.

Giveaway: A Paperback Copy of Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham

 

For your chance to win a paperback copy of Eleanor’s Secret by Caroline Beecham click here.

Open internationally. Please note that once Rafflecopter has chosen the winner, I will not retain your personal details!  Giveaway closes UK midnight on Thursday 16th August.

The Adventures of Jilly and June in India by Denise Drew

Jilly and June

My enormous thanks to Denise Drew for sending me a copy of her children’s story The Adventures of Jilly and June in India in return for an honest review. Having been to India recently I was delighted to read this one!

Part of Denise’s books inspired by her travels, The Adventures of Jilly and June in India is available for purchase here.

The Adventures of Jilly and June in India

Jilly and June

Jilly is a young girl who lives with her mother June and Jimmy the ginger tom cat. Their home is no ordinary house, but a magical flying that takes them on many hilarious adventures. Where do they go? Join them, and read to find out what happens when they arrive at the Taj Mahal and end up Bollywood dancing.

My Review of The Adventures of Jilly and June in India

Jilly and June set sail in their house and head to India.

The Adventures of Jilly and June in India is a smashing way to introduce children to another culture and country.

Firstly children will be captivated by the idea of simply putting in the coordinates and ‘sailing’ away in their own house to have many adventures. I can see this leading to several discussions about where they might like to travel so that The Adventures of Jilly and June in India is educational as well as entertaining.

I liked the fact that there is plenty of story to share so that The Adventures of Jilly and June in India would make a really good bedtime book. It’s a book that can be shared with an adult or read independently so that is has longevity and would reward more than one reading. With Jilly and June appearing to be mother and daughter, status is given to single parent families too which I feel is very worthwhile.

However, what I think works best in The Adventures of Jilly and June in India is the way in which children are presented with new experiences from the Indian culture, from attending an Indian wedding, wearing a sari and riding in a Tuk Tuk, through visiting the Taj Mahal to Bollywood dancing and trying new foods. There’s humour too making the book fun to read.

I think children aged 5-9 will find much to enjoy in The Adventures of Jilly and June in India.

About Denise Drew

Denise drew

Denise Drew was born in Liverpool in 1970. She has raised her daughter, as a single parent, since her daughter was two years old. Never deterred by being a one parent family, Denise worked full time, provided a loving home and continued life in a strong and positive light. As a small family, they were lucky enough to have holidays every year and this led Denise to dream of writing adventure stories about her and her daughter travelling the world.

Denise would say that she would love to pick up her house and take it on holiday with her, so they could have their home comforts. What an idea! A flying house. A magical house, with sails, that flies them to “wherever takes their fancy”.

You can follow Denise on Twitter @DeniseDrew70 and visit her website for more information.

The Book Ninja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

book ninja cover

My enormous thanks to Rhiannon Carroll at Simon and Schuster for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for The Book Ninja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

The Book Ninja is available for purchase through the publisher links here.

The Book Ninja

book ninja cover

‘Frankie, think about it. Literature is your life. You’ve been trawling Tinder looking for well-read intellectuals, but it’s not working. Let’s shake things up! Just use your favourite books to find a man.’ 

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person. It’s not that she hasn’t tried – Frankie is the queen of online dating. But she has had enough.

With the help of her best friend and colleague Cat, Frankie decides to embark on the ultimate dating experiment. Inspired by her surroundings at The Little Brunswick Bookshop where she works, Frankie places her hope in her favourite books to find her the perfect man… Secretly planting copies on trains, trams and buses, Frankie hopes to find the man of her dreams through a mutual love of good books. The only flaw to the plan? That she may never get her books back!

But that turns out to be the least of her worries… In between crazy dates and writing them up on her blog, Frankie stumbles upon her perfect man. There’s just one problem…Frankie is strictly a Jane Austen kind of woman and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Seriously, obsessively into it…

Can Frankie overcome her book snobbery for the man of her dreams? Or will she be left searching the trains for her modern-day Mr Darcy forever?

My Review of The Book Ninja

Books dominate Frankie’s life and might just get her into more than she bargained for.

What a brilliant book! The Book Ninja made me smile from start to finish and I loved it. Usually I find co-authored books slightly disjointed, but there’s so much variety in the plot devices that it works perfectly in The Book Ninja. There’s a real freshness to the texts, Facebook and Twitter posts as well as Frankie’s blog alongside the conventional narrative that I think The Book Ninja offers something for all readers, especially when the iterative image of books is so brilliantly carried through. I had feared it might be too clever or obvious or become irritating but not a bit of it. Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus have carried this off with consummate skill. The conceit of writing and publishing woven throughout the story is a triumph. I really enjoyed spotting bookish jokes and being reminded of books I love as well as those I have yet to read. And I am immediately adopting the game of matching complete strangers to genre!

Having visited Melbourne I thought the setting in The Book Ninja was pitch perfect. The vibrancy and quirkiness of the city comes through so that it is the perfect backdrop to the action. And I loved the plot. The quest for true love is a universal theme but in The Book Ninja it was so engagingly presented that it seemed new and delightful. Other themes explored, such as fidelity and identity, add extra layers of interest so that whilst The Book Ninja is a light and entertaining read it also has layers of depth. There is smashing humour that runs throughout too so that The Book Ninja is actually a joyful read, even at the point when I was shouting ‘No. Don’t do that’ at Frankie!

Speaking of Frankie, the characters (even Winnie the turtle) were wonderful creations. I thought the balance between those at the core of the story and the more peripheral characters was perfectly poised. Much of my enjoyment of the characters came through the witty and realistic dialogue which gave a real effervescence to the story.

The Book Ninja is a wonderful book for book lovers because it has literary references throughout whilst challenging those who might be book snobs! However, it is also a wonderful book for those who love a romantic tale, or who want to read a story with friendship at its heart, or for those who wish to explore the way social media affects our lives or… What I’m really saying is that The Book Ninja is a cracker of a read and, depending on what the reader brings to the reading, it can be enjoyed in so many ways. I thought it was a smashing read.

About Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

ali and Michelle

Authors Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus are lifelong friends who  set up the Books on the Rail campaign in Melbourne, an initiative aimed at encouraging people to put down their phones and pick up a book. This inspired them to sit down and write The Book Ninja, their first novel.

You can follow Ali and Michelle on Twitter @thebookninjas and visit their website. You’ll also find them on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Book ninjas poster

Staying in with Cesario Picca

coverbrokenlives

Usually when I spend an evening in with authors here on Linda’s Book Bag I ‘host’ them in my Lincolnshire home that is about as far from the sea as you can get. Today, however, I’m off to the seaside with Cesario Pica as he tells me about one of his books.

Staying in with Cesario Pica

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

Tell me, which of your books are you sharing this evening and why have you chosen it?

coverbrokenlives

Hi Linda. First of all thank you very much for inviting me to stay in with you in this fantastic location on the seaside. You must know I was born and bred in a place where the seaside and the countryside were neighbors. So, staying here with the smell and the sound of the sea is for me a sort of madeleine cake as Proust wrote in his In search of the lost time… Also, the context could inspire love, although I’ve not brought a romance, but my thriller Broken Lives. I’ve written five thrillers but only two in English: Broken Lives and Murder in the Tremiti Isles (about a femicide).

tremiti

What can we expect from an evening in with Broken Lives?

Broken Lives is a psychological thriller set in London, dedicated to victims of abuse and inspired by TV series Criminal Minds. A person abused in his childhood can become an abuser or, worse, a serial killer. The main characters are the Scotland Yard’s detective Sonny D’Amato, the coroner July Pence and the Italian reporter Rosario Saru Santacroce. Sonny D’Amato must stop the serial killer before he kills the fourth person.

(Sounds exciting stuff. I sometimes think truth is stranger than fiction so it would be interesting to read Broken Lives and see how you’ve brought the two together.)

What else have you brought along and why? 

cin cin mescita

We’re talking about a thriller in this beautiful place without shadows or witches but with mental monsters who kill the soul. So, we need something good to face this argument. And I think, and I’m certain I’m not alone, that with a good book you need a good wine. So, what’s better than a bottle of fresh prosecco? I like it too much. I know, it’s not champagne but as I said before I come from countryside, so I love simple things like wine, cheese, salami, bruschetta and meatballs.

(I agree. Simple foods are sometimes the best and I’m very partial to a glass or two of prosecco.)

bruschetta

You must know that the bread, the olive oil and the prosecco are self produced. Then, after having eaten, we will run to avoid terrifying effects of the book…

(That looks delicious. I’m not sure I’ll be able to run after all that food and prosecco though!)

Broken Lives

coverbrokenlives

The monsters from the past destroy the future…

A monster from the past reemerges in the present destroying the life of three young students and engaging in a fight against time with the promising Scotland Yard detective, Sonny D’Amato, in charge of solving the difficult case.

The suffering of someone who as a child doesn’t know about love but suffers only abuse can turn into the worst nightmare when it triggers that dangerous stress factor that makes anger push a person to cross the hellish threshold of no return.

Thanks to the precious help of the coroner July Pence, the detective digs in the past in search of the logical thread that will allow him to solve the intricate enigma. He will most likely get the promotion that he feels he deserves, but without being able to rejoice. In fact, his soul will be hostage to the pain emanating from this sad inquiry that will make him lose sight of the difference between the victim and the executioner. Because, as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being”.

Set in London, Broken lives, the new thriller by Cesario Picca, sees once again the reporter from Salento Rosario Saru Santacroce looking for news to inform the readers about these crimes which are worrying a city already wracked by terrorist attacks.

Broken Lives is available for purchase here.

About Cesario Picca

cesario picca - Copia

Cesario Picca, was born and bred in Salento (South Italy seaside) thanks to his parents Francesco and Antonia. For 25 years he worked as a crime and judicial reporter so it was a very simple move to starting write thrillers. In his books, like Broken Lives and Murder in the Tremiti Isles, there are many real stories crossed with fantasy.

The main character of his thrillers is a rough and rational man, talkative, charismatic, ready to savor every moment of life as if it was the last. Nicknamed Saru (the nickname that is given in Salento to those named like him), the reporter Rosario Santacroce covers the city’s crime beat. As often happens, occasionally work also follows him on holidays because a real reporter is destined (almost) never to unplug. And that is probably why he gets entangled in murders.

Maybe, between Saru Santacroce and Cesario Picca there are many points in common; they love life and they think life is a gift, so they have to taste this present even if sometimes it can be difficult. They both love running and until now they have run 20 marathons. A good way, in their opinion, to relax and feel good, especially after having enjoyed eating.

In 2002 Cesario Picca was awarded the Piero Passetti prize for Chronicler of the year. He’s a speaker or moderator at numerous conferences and participates in many radio and television broadcasts.

You can find out more by following Cesario on Twitter @cesariopicca, visiting his website and finding him on Facebook. Cesario is also on Goodreads, YouTube and Pinterest.

Discussing The Psychology of Time Travel with Kate Mascarenhas

Cover

I would like to thank Blake Brooks at Head of Zeus for sending me a copy of The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas in return for an honest review. I’ll be sharing my review later in this blog post but first I am genuinely thrilled and delighted to welcome Kate Mascarenhas to Linda’s Book Bag to tell me all about the book.

Published by Head of Zeus today, 9th August 2018, The Psychology of Time Travel is available for purchase through these links.

The Psychology of Time Travel

Cover

1967

: Four female scientists invent a time travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…

2017

: Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…

2018

: When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, that strong reek of sulpher. But when the inquest fails to find any answers, she is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

Staying in with Kate Mascarenhas

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Kate. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me and tell me about The Psychology of Time Travel.

It’s lovely to be here Linda.

Firstly, can you tell me a little bit about The Psychology of Time Travel please? 

Cover

The Psychology of Time Travel is my first book deal and I’m so looking forward to it being out in the world. It’s on sale from 9 August.

(That’s today. Happy publication day Kate and huge congratulations.)

It took around two years to write and stemmed from me wondering what kind of emotional adjustments time travel might involve. My professional background is in psychology and, like Barbara in the book, I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

(I can see that your own background has impacted enormously on the book. I found it fascinating and will share my review in a few minutes.)

What can blog readers expect from an evening in with The Psychology of Time Travel?

It’s a time travel murder mystery that spans the nineteen sixties to the present day. You’ll be in the company of pioneering female scientists and time-hopping sleuths, in a layered, Inception-like plot.

(We certainly will!)

What else have you brought along and why? 

gin

Grace, one of the time travellers in the book, enjoys a shot of Genever – which is the Dutch variety of gin. And to eat, maybe freeze dried ice-cream, as that’s available to buy in the time travellers’ headquarters.

velvet

For added atmosphere some sixties music might be appropriate. Grace has The Velvet Underground & Nico on vinyl, so we could give that a spin

That sounds like a plan to me Kate. Whilst I get the music on, you might like to read my review of The Psychology of Time Travel. Thanks so much for staying in with me and telling me more about it. Enjoy your publication day!

My Review of The Psychology of Time Travel

Time travel will be at the centre of a mystery death that spans decades.

Goodness me. The Psychology of Time Travel is a remarkable book. It wasn’t always an easy read because of the time frames and number of characters who might be within those time frames and I think it’s so much the better for challenging the reader. Kate Mascarenhas made me question my own morals and questioned my intelligence and thinking so that I was utterly absorbed in, and occasionally disturbed by, reading The Psychology of Time Travel.

This is such an intelligent and compelling read. It felt akin to being part of an orrery where aspects are forever shifting but are all interconnected. I was constantly having to shift my position and assessments about the narrative. I loved the way The Psychology of Time Travel totally ensnares the reader. Kate Mascarenhas weaves thought provoking philosophical questions throughout the story so that I had to consider how I might feel and behave if I were able to travel through time.

The characters are varied and wide ranging as they explore different versions of themselves in time, different sexualities and moralities. I thought Margaret was truly awful and they way she underpins the action is a stroke of genius. She’s a true example of absolute power corrupting absolutely and in many ways The Psychology of Time Travel is a perfect analogy of much of today’s world. I felt I wanted to join the Conclave myself to challenge Margaret face to face.

The magnificent plot is a stunning creation. Kate Mascarenhas uses popular culture, like music, to anchor each time frame really clearly so that each era is very realistic. I usually find novels with multiple time frames quite irritating but this story held my attention without wavering so that I wanted to know what would happen next, particularly to Ruby and Odette.

The most fascinating aspect of The Psychology of Time Travel for me, however, is the exquisite way in which themes are handled. It is perfectly possible to read the book on one level as an exciting murder whodunit across time, but there is so much more to it than that. Kate Mascarenhas mirrors society’s prejudices about lesbianism, mental health, race, science and politics in frequently disturbing ways. Even with the allowances of the 1960s and 1970s some of the views and attitudes felt uncomfortably only too familiar – and wrong, so that the author exposes the appalling attitudes those outside the rules and conventions often face. Barbara’s treatment by the Conclave and Margaret in particular is only one example.

The Psychology of Time Travel is a book that I think might just polarise readers. I found it complex, exciting and intriguing and I really enjoyed it.

About Kate Mascarenhas

KAte

Kate Mascarenhas is a part-Irish, part-Seychellois midlander. Since 2017, Kate has been a chartered psychologist. Before that she worked as a copywriter, a dolls’ house maker, and a bookbinder. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls. This is her first novel.

You can follow Kate on Twitter @KateMascarenhas and visit her website.

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Family Secrets: A Publication Day Guest Post by Beezy Marsh, Author of All My Mother’s Secrets

All my mother's secrets

As a lover of historical fiction with strong female characters, I’m absolutely delighted to be featuring All My Mother’s Secrets by Beezy Marsh on publication day.

When best-selling author Beezy Marsh looked into her family history, she unearthed the shocking truth about London’s slum laundries of the early twentieth century, as well as a long-buried family secret, which inspired her to write a book. I’m thrilled that Beezy has agreed to tell us all a little bit about that story behind All My Mother’s Secrets in a smashing guest post today.

Out today, 9th August 2018, from Pan MacMillan, All My Mother’s Secrets is available for purchase through the links here.

All My Mother’s Secrets

All my mother's secrets

A vivid, heart-warming story of survival…

Annie Austin’s childhood ends at the age of twelve, when she joins her mother in one of the slum laundries of Acton, working long hours for little pay. What spare time she has is spent looking after her younger brother George and her two stepsisters, under the glowering eye of her stepfather Bill. In London between the wars, a girl like Annie has few choices in life – but a powerful secret will change her destiny.

All Annie knows about her real father is that he died in the Great War, and as the years pass she is haunted by the pain of losing him. Her downtrodden mother won’t tell her more and Annie’s attempts to uncover the truth threaten to destroy her family. Distraught, she runs away to Covent Garden, but can she survive on her own and find the love which has eluded her so far?

From the grimy streets of Acton and Notting Hill to the bright lights of the West End, All My Mother’s Secrets is a powerful, uplifting story of a young woman’s struggle to come to terms with her family’s tragic past.

Family Secrets

A Guest Post by Beezy Marsh

I grew up in a house full of secrets, where conversations would end suddenly as I walked into the room and grown-ups would change the subject to things deemed more suitable for young ears.

Children know when adults are hiding things, even if they are too young to understand the complexities of relationships, so I developed a thirst for the “truth” of the matter.

That led me to my first career, as a national newspaper journalist, but I always had it in the back of my mind, that there was a story to be told about my own family’s secrets.

My earliest years were spent in the care of my maternal grandmother, Annie, who lived with her half-sister, my Great Aunt Elsie. They would tell me about the old days back in London, showing me pictures of my great gran Emma Chick and even my great-great gran, who worked as laundresses in the slums of Notting Hill and Acton, which was known as Soapsud Island, at the turn of the last century and the years between two world wars.

Researching All My Mother’s Secrets, I was horrified to learn about the squalor the laundresses worked in. Diseases such as TB and scarlet fever were a rife, hours were long for little pay and the conditions were squalid and dangerous, with floors awash with filthy water and scalds from searing hot irons just a part of everyday life. And the worst thing was, some of the laundry maids were just children – as young as 12; and that had included my Nan.

As I grew up, certain things were Just Not Talked About – such as what happened to my Nan’s father, Henry Austin, who she had been told, had “gone away to the First World War and never came back.”

I also learned that there had been a Great Uncle George, my gran’s brother, born in 1915, who died young, of tuberculosis. Great Aunty Elsie’s dad was a laundry hand, who Emma Chick had married as the First World War was drawing to a close but no-one spoke much about him either, other than to say he was a bit of a bad tempered bloke at times.

My Nan died when I was 12 and that sparked my mother’s interest in family history. This was in the 1980s, before the internet, and through her, I learned how to research births, marriages and deaths, on microfilm and from dusty old registers held in libraries and at the National Archives in Kew.

But try as we might, Henry Austin, who we knew had worked as a cabbie, driving a horse-drawn hansom cab around London’s bustling streets before the war, simply seemed to have disappeared into thin air.

It was after my mother’s untimely death from cancer that my Great Aunt Elsie let slip something which made me even more determined to put the pieces of the puzzle together. She believed that Great Uncle George’s father might not have been the mysterious Henry Austin but someone else, within the Austin family, who had lived with my great gran for a time, after he was widowed.

It inspired me to look again, with fresh eyes, and this time, I found Henry Austin had died, not in the Great War, but in 1906, when my gran was still a baby. So, Emma Chick had lied all along, but the question was: Why?

I won’t spoil the plot by revealing all the secrets just now, but I was able to find out who George’s father was and what had happened to him, after he went away to fight in the Great War. And in a sense, sadly, he never came back because he was such a changed man, so the story my Nan was told was partly true.

It’s easy to judge someone for lying to cover up a scandal but I believe Emma Chick did what she had to do to try to hold her family together, to avoid public shame, during the upheaval of the Great War. I am proud of her, and all the other laundresses, who toiled for such little reward, with the wellbeing of their children uppermost in their minds.

(That’s so fascinating Beezy. I’m sure so many families have stories to tell too and I can’t wait to read All My Mother’s Secrets and am delighted it’s very firmly on my TBR.)

About Beezy Marsh

beezy

Beezy Marsh is an award-winning journalist, who has spent more than 20 years making the headlines in newspapers including Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. This was never going to be enough for a girl from Hartlepool, whose primary school teacher told her to give up her dream of becoming a poet and concentrate on being a nurse instead. Thirty years later, give or take, she became an author.

Family and relationships are at the heart of her writing and she is a firm believer that sisters, mothers and wives are the glue which binds everything together. She writes romantic fiction, as well as memoir and biography, including her book Keeping My Sisters Secrets, and somehow finds time to write a blog about her life as an imperfect mother to two young boys, in between tackling a never-ending pile of laundry and doing the school run. She is the author of Mad Frank and Sonsalongside the two sons of gangland crime boss Frank Fraser.

You can find out more by following Beezy on Twitter @beezymarsh, and by visiting her website. You’ll also find Beezy on Facebook and Instagram.