A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan

A House of Ghosts cover

Although I’m supposed to be avoiding blog tours this year in order to reduce my mountainous TBR, when Tracy Fenton got in touch about W.C. Ryan’s latest book A House of Ghosts, I snapped up the opportunity to participate because I know what a fabulous writer William Ryan is. I reviewed his novel The Constant Soldier here and it was one of my books of the year in 2016. I’m thrilled to share my review of A House of Ghosts today.

A House of Ghosts is published by Zaffre and is available for purchase in all the usual places including here.

A House of Ghosts

A House of Ghosts cover

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.

At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.

For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .

An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read this winter.

My Review of A House of Ghosts

A weekend house party will have surprising consequences for all participants!

A House of Ghosts is a delicious read. I loved every moment of immersing myself in this wonderfully atmospheric, ghostly tale of espionage, betrayal and, quite surprisingly, romance.

What W. C Ryan has managed to do in A House of Ghosts is to write with complete authenticity for the era, especially through the direct speech, within the traditional unifying parameters of time, place and action and yet craft a narrative that is completely enthralling to a modern reader. I thought this skill was astounding. I loved the manner with which humour provides dramatic relief and the way W.C. Ryan presents the most unusual elements with an almost casual tone so that they are believable to even the most sceptical reader. Kate’s private thoughts in particular add an extra dimension that is so satisfying. The themes explored such as grief, spiritualism, patriotism, PTSD and revenge mean that there is something for every reader here. The short chapters make the book race along and each has an ending that simply refuses to allow the reader to stop. So many surprises await discovery that it’s exciting and surprising too.

The setting is just perfect for the narrative, especially when coupled with the pathetic fallacy of the weather so that much of the novel feels quite visual. I think A House of Ghosts would make the most amazing film. Blackwater Abbey’s passages and cellars, the lighthouse and the storm all create a creepiness that draws on readers’ knowledge of other traditions to intensify the mystery of the story.

In amongst the fast pace and captivating setting are vivid and compelling characters. Kate’s feistiness is so engaging and I can’t wait to read more about her and Donovan in any future books. With A House of Ghosts I truly felt as if I were watching the people first hand and observing them rather than reading about them.

I found W.C. Ryan’s A House of Ghosts thoroughly entertaining and engaging as well as elegantly written. I thought it was brilliant and cannot recommend it highly enough.

About W.C. Ryan

William Ryan

William Ryan is the Irish author of five novels, including the Captain Korolev series set in 1930s Moscow. They have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Irish Fiction Award, the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, the Endeavour Historical Gold Crown and the Crime Writer Association’s Steel, Historical and New Blood Daggers. His latest novel, A House of Ghosts, set in 1917, has been described as ‘an atmospheric, hugely entertaining mystery that offers all the pleasures of a classic ghost story – with an appealing dash of romance’.

William lives in London with his wife and son and is a licensed mudlarker and keen cyclist. Not both at the same time.

You can follow William Ryan on Twitter @WilliamRyan_, find him on Facebook  and visit William’s website. All William Ryan’s books are available here.

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Cover Reveal: The Snow Killer by Ross Greenwood

The Snow Killer

It’s an absolute joy to feature friend and author Ross Greenwood on Linda’s Book Bag with the cover reveal for his brand new thriller, The Snow Killer. Last time Ross was here he was writing all about seizing the day when his book Shadows of Regret was published in a post you can see here.

You can read also read a post in which Ross introduces his protagonist for Abel’s Revenge here. You can read my Lazy Blood interview with Ross here, a guest post and my review of The Boy Inside here and my review of Ross’s Fifty Years of Fear here.

Published by Boldwood Books on 12th November 2019, Ross’s latest book The Snow Killer is available for pre-order through the links here. Let’s find out about the book:

The Snow Killer

The Snow Killer


A family is gunned down in the snow but one of the children survives. Three years on, that child takes revenge and the Snow Killer is born. But then, nothing – no further crimes are committed, and the case goes cold.

Fifty years later, has the urge to kill been reawakened? As murder follows murder, the detective team tasked with solving the crimes struggle with the lack of leads. It’s a race against time and the weather – each time it snows another person dies.

As an exhausted and grizzled DI Barton and his team scrabble to put the pieces of the puzzle together, the killer is hiding in plain sight. Meanwhile, the murders continue…

The first in a new series, Ross Greenwood has written a cracking, crackling crime story with a twist in its tale which will surprise even the most hardened thriller readers. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride.

Now doesn’t that sound a cracker of a read? I’ll definitely be adding The Snow Killer to my TBR.

About Ross Greenwood

ross greenwood - author image

Ross Greenwood was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until he was 20, attending The King’s School in the city. He then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.

Ross found himself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually, so he says “when things had gone wrong.” It was on one of these occasions that he met his partner about 100 metres from his back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. And, according to Ross, he is “still a little stunned by the pace of it now.”

Lazy Blood book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then four years as a prison officer got in the way. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave the author the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep he completed it in the early morning hours.

Ross Greenwood’s second book, The Boy Inside, was picked up by Bloodhound Books, and in September 2017, Fifty Years of Fear was published. The year 2018 saw the publication of his next psychological thriller, Abel’s Revenge. All his books are thought provoking, and told with a sense of humour.

Ross Greenwood hopes you enjoy reading them.

You can find out more about Ross on his web site. You can also follow Ross on Twitter @greenwoodross and find him on Facebook.

Staying in with Dean Burnett, Author of Psycho-Logical on World Mental Health Day 2019


With friends and family suffering their own mental health problems, it feels absolutely right to be part of the Audible launch celebrations for the audio book Psycho-Logical by Dean Burnett on world Mental Health Day 2019. I’m delighted Dean is staying in with me today to tell me more about his work and would like to thank Anna Zanetti at Midas PR for inviting me to start off this blog tour.

Psycho-Logical is available for purchase here.



Countless charities and awareness campaigns work tirelessly to show people that mental health problems are common and serious issues. But when it comes to mental health matters, one question that’s rarely asked is…why?

Why are conditions like depression and anxiety so common?

Why is our mental health so vulnerable to the stresses and events of modern life?

Why do so many mental health problems have pronounced physical symptoms?

Why, if mental health problems are so commonplace, does anyone need to be made ‘aware’ of them in the first place?

And why is there still so much confusion and stigma about mental health matters?

Drawing from nearly 20 years working in the areas of neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry, international best-selling author Dr Dean Burnett (The Happy Brain, Why Your Parents Are Driving You Up the Wall and What To Do About It) hopes to answer these questions and more in his new audiobook Psycho-Logical (exclusive to Audible). Combining in-depth research with genuine testimonials from those who deal with their own issues on a daily basis, Psycho-Logical aims to uncover just what we think is going on with our brains when serious mental health problems occur, how and why the available therapies work (when they do), and just how flexible and uncertain much of the scientific understanding of mental health is.

Psycho-Logical combines in-depth research with genuine testimonials from those who deal with their own issues on a daily basis. Contributors are: comedians Bethany Black, Dan Mitchell and Guy Kelly; sex blogger Girl on the Net; writer and actor Amelia Stubberfield; journalist Rachel England; HR officer Lowri Williams; and social media manager Martha Mills. Each contributor has narrated their own section.

Expertly narrated by Matt Addis, and written in an engaging and straight-forward style, Psycho-Logical is must for anyone who’s ever dealt with mental health issues of their own, knows someone who has, or is interested in the ever-more-important subject matter of mental health, for whatever reason.

Staying in with Dean Burnett

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Dean. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Although I have a pretty good idea, tell me, which of your books/audiobooks have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 


Hi. I’ve brought along my new book Psycho-Logical, a dedicated audiobook currently exclusive to Audible. While I’ve covered the subject in various ways and from various angles in my previous books and articles, this is my first book entirely about mental health. I’ve chosen it as it’s being released today, October 10th, which is World Mental Health Day 2019, which is very appropriate. It’s all about the science of mental health, about why it goes wrong, why therapies work or not, what’s going on in the brain, and more.

It sounds utterly fascinating Dean. Tell me more about what we can expect from an evening in with Psycho-Logical.

An evening with Psycho-Logical may be not what you expect if you’ve read other books about mental health, as Psycho-Logical is a bit different to most mental health books currently on the market. Most of the others are written by, or from the point of view of, someone who deals or has dealt with their own mental health problems, the journey they went on, what they learned etc. I take a different approach, as I don’t have mental health problems of my own (so far), but I have spent nearly two decades in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry, and mental health matters have played a big part in both my earlier and current life.

Therefore, this book is more objective, and instead of just making people ‘aware’ of mental health, I’ve tried to do what I can to show why mental health goes wrong so often, and how. It explores the current understanding of mental health from the clinical or psychiatric perspective, and why this always been changed and updated. It explores the mechanisms and benefits as well as the problems and issues with contemporary therapies, explaining why antidepressants or CBT work, or don’t. It looks at the underlying processes happening in the brain (as far as we know) that cause us to become depressed, or anxious, or addicted, and so on.

Overall, it’s a book about the hows and whys of mental health, how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. It’s basically me trying to put mental health in more tangible, concrete terms, in order to enhance understanding, reduce uncertainty, and ideally remove some of the suspicion and stigma it still regularly attracts.

I can’t wait to listen to Pyscho-Logical as I have friends and family who struggle with their mental health and it would be perfect to be able to understand more.

What else have you brought along and why? 


It may seem a weird choice, but I’ve brought along an old pint glass. It’s one of those old-school glass-tankards you used to get in the 80s, the squat ones with a handle, that are basically a big transparent mug. This is from the Royal Hotel, which is the pub I grew up in, back in the Garw Valley, South Wales. The pub is derelict now, which is sad, but when we moved out we kept some souvenirs, and over the intervening years I’ve ended up with some of the old glasses in storage in my garage. I have one or two I use as pen and pencil holders in my office, which is an odd but perhaps ironic fate for something intended to help people get drunk; to assist a neuroscientist writing about mental health matters.

It does seem a bit incongruous to me. Can you explain more?

I brought this because Psycho-Logical covers matters such as alcoholism and addiction. Statistics show that those with mental health problems are at a greatly increased risk of addiction or substance abuse, and while it’s tempting to attribute that to compromised logical thinking and restraint due to the mental health issue, it’s arguably a lot more to do with self-medicating, with people trying to achieve some respite from the constant negative effects of a disorder, when little or no official help or resources are available.

It must be devastating for those who cannot access appropriate help Dean.

But I also bring this glass as it signifies where my journey, my interest in mental health, and my life in general, really began. I grew up in a pub, in a remote, isolated, economically-depressed community (the coal mine the village was built around was shut down around the time of my birth). When you have a village full of burly no-nonsense working-class miners suddenly unemployed, this has consequences. I saw a lot of mental health problems, being a child in a pub in such a context. I saw a lot of tragedy. If I knew then what I know now (and was an adult they’d take seriously) maybe I could have done something. It’s what motivates me still.

And, I keep these pint glasses around to remind me of who I am, where I’m from. I was the first person in my immediate family to even do A-levels, let alone more. The fact that I’ve ended up where I am is ridiculous, in hindsight. And when so many other academics and writers are from more privileged, more entitled origins, I think it’s vital to be conscious of my own ore rough-and-ready roots.

Well said. And you have my complete respect. I think Psycho-Logical sounds fabulous and would like to thank you for staying in with me to tell me more about it.

About Dean Burnett

dean burnett

Dean Burnett is a working-class Welsh science writer.

Having grown up in a pub in the former mining village of Pontycmer, in the Garw Valley, South Wales, Dean is now a doctor of neuroscience, an honorary research associate at Cardiff University Psychology School, and a Visiting Fellow at Birmingham City University. He is the author of four books and counting, which have been translated into over 20 languages, as well as countless articles and blog posts across a wide range of media platforms, including the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, LA Times, New York Magazine, and more.

Dean is much in demand as a speaker, pundit, talking head and all-round contributor for TV and radio whenever a complex brain-related subject requires explaining in the mainstream.

Part of his outlook and relatable style comes from the fact that Dean has also spent close to two decades performing stand-up comedy, having performed on stages as large as the Hammersmith Apollo.

Dean currently lives in Cardiff with his wife and two children, and their cat Pickle who, even by cat standards, is something of a psychopath.

To find out more about Dean, visit his website, follow him on Twitter @garwboy. There’s more with these other bloggers too:


The Family by Louise Jensen

The family

When I began blogging four and a half years ago, lovely Louise Jensen was one of the first authors I met in real life. Since then we have encountered one another on several occasions, including at my local Deepings Literary Festival, and I am delighted to be part of the paperback launch celebrations for Louise’s latest book, The Family and would like to thank Jessica Lee for inviting me to participate. However, I’m also taking part with a sense of shame and guilt too as I realised this is the first time I’ve reviewed one of Louise’s books. It won’t be the last time!

The Family is published by Harper Collins imprint HQ and is available for purchase through the links here.

The Family

The family


Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.

But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader, Alex, refuses to go.

Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave…

My Review of The Family

Laura’s life is in meltdown and she needs a place to stay.

I’m so annoyed with myself that The Family is the first book I’ve read by Louise Jensen as it is a stunning narrative that held me captivated from the first word to the last. She has such writing skill in employing a variety of sentence length that controls the reader’s heart rate and compels them to read on, especially at the end of chapters. I loved too, the balance of inner and external dialogue so that the reader gets an insight that the characters may not, making the reader almost complicit in the action. Add in the excellent descriptive passages, the carefully structured plotting and the other perfectly blended cultural references such as omens, The Wizard of Oz and fairy tales and The Family really is a fabulous book because Louise Jensen creates an underlying sense of dread that is totally gripping.

The different perceptions of events from Laura and Tilly’s perspectives were fascinating, because the author explores with sensitive skill the way actions can mean very different things to those participating or observing. This felt like a wonderful insight into the human psyche. I found the ease with which invidious situations can be rationalised and accepted, especially by Laura, illustrated perfectly how the vulnerable can be controlled and manipulated. It was this psychological element that made The Family so disturbing for me. I wanted to enter the world of Oak Leaf Organics and rescue Laura and Tilly before they came to harm. I can’t say too much more about characters as they are integral to the plot’s success and I don’t want to spoil the read for others.

The plot simply canters along with a breathless pace that is exhilarating. The Family twists and turns and wrong-foots so that there are surprises as well as satisfying resolutions. I genuinely felt I had been fabulously entertained and at the same time I found the themes of trust, threat, bullying, mental health, society and family gave me much to ponder too. The Family is absolutely a book perfect for the point we are at in modern civilisation. Louise Jensen holds up a mirror to society and presents it with all its flaws and perfections in a riveting story.

I loved The Family. I appreciated the tautness of the plot, the narrative resolutions, twists and reveals, and the wonderful overall quality of the writing. I think I may have found a new favourite psychological thriller writer in Louise Jensen. Brilliant stuff. I cannot recommend The Family highly enough.

About Louise Jensen

Louise Jensen

Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s fifth thriller, The Family, is published by Harper Collins.

The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

You can find out more by visiting Louise’s website, finding her on Facebook and following her on Twitter @Fab_fiction.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

The Family Blog Tour Banner

Visualising My Readers: A Guest Post By Jessica Norrie, Author of The Magic Carpet

Magic carpet ecover.jpg

Some few years ago I recall having a conversation with Jessica Norrie about English teaching and education and when she got in touch to tell me all about her latest book The Magic Carpet, I was so sorry I just couldn’t add it to my TBR to be read any time soon. However, I decided to set Jessica a challenge because we’d spoken about a writer’s audience both in person and over email so I asked if she would kindly write a guest post for Linda’s Book Bag and luckily she agreed.

The Magic Carpet is available for purchase here.

The Magic Carpet

Magic carpet ecover.jpg

Outer London, September 2016 and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling.

As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?


Visualising my readers

I was cheeky to ask Linda to review The Magic Carpet, as I knew her TBR pile was taller than the Shard. I asked because she taught English, and I’d welcome the half million UK teachers as readers. I hoped Linda could help me contact them. Instead she gave me homework – write a guest post imagining my readers. It was a fair cop.

If you’re sitting comfortably, here’s the back story. I retired from teaching after thirty odd years (some very odd). I’d started my career believing education should be creative and child centred. After seeing too many pupils struggle with dull worksheets, I still hoped for a world where families and schools fretted less about test scores. I wrote The Magic Carpet to make sure that happened, in fiction if not the real world. I hope parents will be as keen as teachers on my story of five families wobbling, succeeding, and wobbling again when the school asks them to work on performing a traditional story. Some struggle, some run with the project, meeting each other as they work. Their deeper worries come to the fore, and their own life stories blend with those their children have brought home.

I set The Magic Carpet in the children’s homes, with a few key scenes in their diverse London primary school. I hope both parents and teachers will appreciate being represented. It can be cathartic when a book holds up a mirror – one reviewer certainly thinks so: “The characters were beautifully drawn and real. I’ve taught children like this. I’ve spoken to parents like this at the school door. I’ve seen how communities like this can unite and give hope.”

My five fictional pupils have single mothers, a widowed father, grandparents covering for working parents, and a childminder. Vignettes from my own children’s after-school life came back as I wrote, and at least one parent found echoes after she commented: Loved this book. Fabulous story telling and wonderful believable characters. Brought back happy memories of (NE London) School. There are 4.14 million 6-10 year-olds in the UK. I may have started writing the book as post retirement therapy, but now it’s published I’m thinking: if one carer of each read it along with those teachers, my UK readership would near 5 million.

Whether parents or not, we’ve all been children. My daughter’s friend, in her 20s and childfree, said “There were so many intersecting plots! It was like where I grew up!” That’s 8.71 million interested readers aged 20-30 for my potential audience. I won’t labour the point – they could be any age! Actually, I will labour it. The Magic Carpet includes rounded (though one is very thin), believable grandparents of different ages, abilities and outlooks. I hope the 14 million real grandparents in the UK may relate to them, so I’m pleased the website Books for ‘Older’ Readers is to feature the book.

My invented families are diverse – Somali, Gujarati and Punjabi speaking, Hong Kong born and “White British”. I could have included others; the children I taught had families with roots all over the world and all London schools are multicultural in different ways. I researched everything the best I could, but readers from those backgrounds are welcome to contact me if they find any glaring errors. The beauty of self publishing is details can quickly be changed – but please remember my characters are fictional, flawed, quirky individuals, never intended to speak for a whole race or religion. I hope many readers will find parts of their realities, reflected and discover others.

Perhaps you’re thinking it sounds a bit worthy? Please don’t worry – I set out to tell a story, and a story there is, with several others within and a cast of engaging characters reviewers say they cared about long after the end – (happy or sad? Read to find out). My characters resemble us: human beings who hear and tell stories to make sense of life, whether in traditional book form, water cooler gossip, memes or articles, blockbuster films or the epitaphs on gravestones. So I think the audience for my story about storytelling is actually limitless. When my agent submitted The Magic Carpet to publishers, several loved it but turned it down because they couldn’t define the market for it. I like to think they missed a trick. The readership is, potentially, pretty much everyone in the English speaking world (then there’s translation but that’s another story).

Jessica Norrie

(Argh! You’ve made me really want to read The Magic Carpet Jessica. Having taught in a school that some 30 years ago had 76 different home languages I think it could be just my kind of read. Maybe my TBR needs to be as high as the Shard plus one more book!)

jessica norrie

Jessica Norrie was born in London and studied French Literature and Education at Sussex and Sheffield. She taught English, French and Spanish abroad and in the UK in settings ranging from nursery to university. She has two adult children and divides her time between London and Malvern, Worcestershire.

She has also worked as a freelance translator, published occasional journalism and a French textbook, and blogs here.

Jessica sings soprano with any choir that will have her, and has been trying to master the piano since childhood but it’s not her forte.

She left teaching in 2016. The Infinity Pool (available here) was her first novel, drawing on encounters while travelling. Her second novel The Magic Carpet is inspired by working with families and their children. The third is bubbling away nicely and should emerge from her cauldron next year.

For more information, do visit Jessica’s blog or find her on Facebook and Twitter @jessica_norrie.

Creative Writing Skills: Over 70 fun activities for children by Lexi Rees

Creative Writing Front Cover

Having been banging on about wanting to write fiction for about four decades (and I have actually just completed my first ever novel) I simply couldn’t resist taking part in this blog blitz organised by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for Lexi Rees’s new book Creative Writing Skills: Over 70 fun activities for children.

Creative writing skills

As well as sharing my review today, there’s also the chance for you to win a copy of the book. Details are at the bottom of this blog post.

Creative Writing Skills: Over 70 fun activities for children is available for purchase on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Creative Writing Skills: Over 70 fun activities for children

Creative Writing Front Cover

Discover the secrets to becoming an amazing author

  • Find your creative spark
  • Grow your skills and confidence
  • Have more fun with your writing

Packed with top tips, this awesome workbook has everything you need to know about creating colourful characters, perfect plots, dynamite dialogue, and lots more …

My Review


Creative Writing Skills

Over 70 fun activities for children

A workbook to develop creative writing in children.

Although Creative Writing Skills: Over 70 fun activities for children: Over 70 fun activities for children is ostensibly aimed at children in the 7-11 age range, it is a fabulous resource for aspiring writers of all ages from 5 -105! As soon as I saw the alliterative chapter titles I knew this was going to be a brilliant book.

I do have one niggle (and I usually do with children’s books) as I would prefer ordinary sentences not to be written entirely in upper case letters because I’d rather model how we expect sentences normally to be written. I completely forgive Lexi Rees this time though, because when she does use sentences entirely in upper case, they are usually pointing budding young writers to a really helpful or important piece of advice and I know children will love the format and variety of font and style.

Indeed, the advice in Creative Writing Skills is superb for all writers. Everything from show, don’t tell, for example, through development of character to the W arc for plotting, are covered through hints and tips that don’t patronise, but rather encourage young writers to improve and develop so that this book is a fabulously helpful resource. There’s space to write and draw, wonderful appealing illustrations and the opportunity to go beyond the realms of the book with website suggestions to visit for further ideas and stimulus.

I think Creative Writing Skills: Over 70 fun activities for children is absolutely brilliant. I adored it. There’s so much to occupy and entertain that I think it would make a wonderful gift for any child – especially one who loves writing, is perhaps housebound or in hospital and unable to do something physical or who simply needs some help in their writing. As for me, I’ve rolled my dice for character, setting and problem and am off to write a story about a monster getting lost in a forest… I suggest you go and buy this fantastic book!

About Lexi Rees


Lexi Rees writes action packed adventures for children. As well as the Creative Writing Skills workbook, the first book in The Relic Hunters Series, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids and is currently longlisted for a Chanticleer award. The sequel, Wild Sky, will be published in November.

When not writing, she’s usually covered in straw or glitter, and frequently both.

She also runs a free club for kids designed to encourage a love of reading and writing which you can check out here.

For more information visit Lexi’s website, find her on Facebook and Instagram or follow her on Twitter @lexi_rees.


Creative Writing Front Cover

Lexi is offering the chance to win a copy of Creative Writing Skills: Over 70 fun activities for children here, with a choice of paperback or pdf for UK winners and pdf for international winners.

Please note this giveaway is being run independently of Linda’s Book Bag.

An Extract from This Little Dark Place by A. S. Hatch

This Little Dark Place

One of the less positive aspects of blogging is FOMO – the fear of missing out. When I agreed to host an extract from This Little Dark Place by A. S. Hatch for today’s blog tour stop because I didn’t have time to review, I had no idea what a fabulous book I was missing out on. Now I have that piece from This Little Dark Place to share with you today I really wish I’d managed to fit in a review too. When you read it you’ll know what I mean! My enormous thanks to Rachel Nobilo for inviting me to participate in theis blog tour.

Published by Serpent’s Tail on 10th October, This Little Dark Place is available for pre-order in all the usual places, including directly from the publisher here.

This Little Dark Place

This Little Dark Place

How well do you know your girlfriend?

How well do you know your lover?

How well do you know yourself?

Daniel and Victoria are together. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.

But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires.

And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust.

An Extract from This Little Dark Place

6 June 2016

Dear Dan

I’ve been lying to you.

The version of me that you’ve been reading in these letters hasn’t been entirely true. When we started writing six months ago, I was in a terrible place. I don’t cope with life in here as well as I make out. Friendship doesn’t exist here, love doesn’t exist. No one makes eye contact. Everyone is so guarded. I hoped every morning that I would wake to some calamity, a riot, a suicide, a fire, anything that would break the pattern of petty cruelties, of loneliness. New Year’s Eve was particularly hard on me. Jade was meant to visit but couldn’t come because of some delay on the motorway. I woke up on the first of January feeling nothing of the renewal of a new year. I felt only a renewed hopelessness. So when I got your angry little letter it jolted me, made me realise that there was still a world out there. Made me realise how I’d slid into despair. So I engaged. I told you stories about my past, about the reason I’m in here. They weren’t lies. Where I have been less honest is in my feelings. I feel we’ve become so close over these past months. You’ve told me your darkest secrets. I have told you mine. Without your letters I don’t know how I would have survived. In my head we are the only two people in this world who are awake, just like Winston and Julia! I feel I can call you my true friend.

I have been surprised though, to find myself thinking of you even when I’m not looking at your letters or writing to you. Though I have only your description of yourself to go on, still I find myself thinking of you. When I’m walking in the yard, I think of you and how nice it would be to walk beside you. When I’m eating in the canteen, I think of you and I picture us talking and laughing over a meal. When I’m lying in my bunk and looking at my painting of you, I think of how I want to touch you, and be touched by you.

I never used to think of the future. It only made things harder. But since we found each other I think of the future now with excitement. I know now that happiness is as simple as loving someone and being loved back for no other reason than that you deserve. That is the future I envisage for myself. I’m sorry if this comes as a shock to you. And I’m sorry if I have misjudged the situation, but I don’t think I have. I know how hard it has been for you too, out there, alone. We both deserve so much better. I won’t be in here forever, Dan. Do you think, one day, I could come to visit you? I would ask no more than friendship from you. If I love you without receiving anything in return it would be a better life than to have never known you at all.

You must think I’m crazy. I nearly deleted this whole thing just now, my finger was hovering over the key. But I have denied my feelings for too long. And I feel you’re about to make a terrible mistake. If I don’t tell you how I feel now, it will be too late. Please don’t hate me.


(See what I mean? And now I feel as if I’ve missed out even more! This is going straight to the top of my TBR!)

About A. S. Hatch

A S Hatch

A. S. Hatch grew up in Lancashire in the 90s and has lived in Taipei and Melbourne. Now he lives in London and writes fiction in the early hours of the morning before going to work in political communications.

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