#BookReview for Kids Who Kill: Joshua Phillips by Kathryn McMaster

My review for Kids Who Kill: Joshua Phillips by Kathryn McMaster, 5/5 stars.

Despite the subject matter, I found this a very interesting read. The author has taken the facts and laid them out in this book so that the reader can make up their own mind. She takes on the role of neutral spectator and presents the events in the present tense, as if they were happening now.

As well as talking about the murder and the murderer, she also gives both mothers’ stories after the awful events, and shows how their lives have changed since. The story is told from all points of view, in a way that makes you feel compassionate for everyone who suffered from this terrible crime.

The book isn’t about whether Joshua is guilty or innocent – he committed murder. He killed an 8-year-old girl and hid her body under his bed for a week, until his mother found it. Instead, it concentrates on how the police and courts carried out their investigations and trials, and whether his sentence was justified or not. The reader is left to decide for themselves, and I’m sure the book will evoke different reactions in every reader.

There are more books in the series, which I look forward to reading! I’ve just finished an ARC of the next book, and it’s even better!

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#BookReview for Time Shifters: A Long Way From Home by Kate Frost

My review for Time Shifters: A Long Way From Home (Book 2) by Kate Frost, 5/5 stars.

Having read the first book, I was delighted to get an ARC of book 2 in the Time Shifters series. I was intrigued to see where the story was going, and what would happen next to Danny, Maisie and Lizzie.

I wasn’t disappointed. I was hooked within the first few pages, as Danny and Maisie discover that Lizzie has gone missing and decide to travel in time to find her. Their first adventure begins in ancient Rome, and the author describes the setting so well that you can believe they’re actually there!

A crazy adventure of travelling backwards and forwards in time ensues, taking Danny and Maisie from ancient Rome to the future, while meeting some old friends along the way. There’s a bit of a twist towards the end, when they find out that one of them is not what they seem!

Without giving away any spoilers, this a fun, exciting adventure story for older children and young adults that will take them on a journey through history and ignite their imagination! I highly recommend both books.

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This is my review for Time Shifters: Into the Past (Book 1), again 5/5 stars!

A great book for children and adults alike! I loved the relationship between Maisie and Lizzie – sworn enemies at school, they have no option but to try and get along when they are thrown back in time to the 1400s and have to find Danny.

They find themselves in an unknown world, being chased by time shifters who are determined to catch them. The story keeps you turning the pages as they travel to different time periods, fighting to survive and find their way home.

The book doesn’t end on a cliff hanger, and I’m interested to see where they will go on their next adventure!

Newsletters!

Newsletters are a great way for authors and their readers to get to know each other better. We, the authors, can write about little snippets of our lives, or about our writing process, or even about our life failures, that we wouldn’t necessarily write about anywhere else, and you, the readers, can ask questions about our books, lifestyles, or anything really (within reason!).

I’ve now created two newsletters for my different author names, Helen Pryke and Julia E. Clements, where I’ll tell you what it’s really like to live in Italy, give you some behind the scenes info about my books and writing, and let you know if there are any great offers on books I’ve read and enjoyed in the same genre.

As you can see from the photo, if you sign up to the newsletter for Helen Pryke within the 31st October, you’ll be entered in a prize draw for paperback copies of both The Healer’s Secret and The Dragonfly Grove! But don’t worry, if you miss the deadline or don’t win, there’ll be more giveaways in the future.

If you sign up to the newsletter for Julia E. Clements, you’ll get a free ebook of Dreamland, which you can download after subscribing. Again, I’ll give some fun facts about my children’s books, what inspires me to write, and promos on other children’s books.

You won’t get inundated with newsletters – I’ll only send them out about once a month or so, unless I have some really exciting news to share! This is a) because I’m lazy, and b) because I have so many books I still need to write!!

You can sign up for Helen Pryke here.

And for Julia E. Clements here.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Helen

The Dragonfly Grove by Helen Pryke

A wonderful review for The Dragonfly Grove!

A Chat with Annette

dragonfly-grove_ebook-cover_larger-title1Not too long ago I reviewed ‘The Healer’s Secret‘, a stunning family saga revolving around the Innocenti family. ‘The Dragonfly Grove’ is the sequel, and if you ask me, it tops the author’s already excellent performance in the previous book.

Taking the story up where it left off in ‘The Healer’s Secret’, Helen Pryke creates once again an atmosphere of mystic expectation, drawing the reader in with carefully placed hints and likeable, deep characters.

Jennifer keeps falling into trances, experiencing odd dream sequences in the body of a pregnant woman, which leave her disturbed and wondering who that woman is. Together with her boyfriend and cousin she decides to go on a trip to the past to find out the truth behind her trances.

The story then jumps from today’s Italy into 14th century England, a country suffering from a devastating wave of the Black Death. A touching…

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#BookReview for The Trouble With Liam by Joy Mutter

My review for The Trouble With Liam by Joy Mutter, 5/5 stars.

This is a dark, shocking story that will keep you thinking long after you’ve finished reading it. The story follows Liam, right from a young age. He endures severe abuse at the hands of his mother, coupled with a traumatic childhood, and ends up in a children’s home. Here his problems go from bad to worse.

At the beginning, my heart ached for Liam. Abused by his mother, and later in the children’s home, you can understand the thoughts going through his head and make allowances for them. But as he reaches adulthood, the book takes an even darker turn, and your feelings go from pity to shock, and then horror.

There is a lot of violence, and the abuse is graphic at times, so I appreciate this isn’t a book for everyone. But if you can get past that, it is well worth the read.

This story is a fascinating look into the psyche of a person, and how their past can turn them into unforgiving monsters. Even though it is very dark, and quite graphic at times, it draws you in and keeps you turning the pages to the end. A recommended read.

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Two books in one month!

Last month, I decided to do something a bit reckless – I released two books about 10 days apart! I didn’t actually write them both in September, that would have been impossible, but seeing as they were both ready I thought it would be a good idea to publish them.

Why? I finished writing The Dragonfly Grove in July, but my editor couldn’t start work on it until the beginning of August. So, rather than sit back and rest, I dug out a children’s book I wrote about 10 years ago to see if it was any good.

To my surprise, Adventure in Malasorte Castle wasn’t too bad! It needed a bit of work, and a completely new ending, but the main story was there and it was good. I spent a pleasant couple of weeks going over the manuscript, rewriting certain parts, tweaking others, and by the end I had a book that was almost ready. I printed it out, got my red pen, and went over it again. One final read-through on my Kindle, and at long last it was finished.

In the meantime, the editor had gone over The Dragonfly Grove and sent me back the (fortunately) few corrections/alterations. So while my children’s book was with the ARC readers, I worked on sorting out this manuscript. This time I only sent it to two beta readers who I knew would point out anything that wasn’t right, in order to cut down times, and to not have too much conflicting advice that would drive me crazy!

By the beginning of September, Adventure in Malasorte Castle was ready and up for pre-order on all the retailers. The paperback followed soon after, and started selling immediately. Some of the ARC readers got back to me with their reviews – luckily they loved it! On the 29th September, my author friend Sarah Northwood and I held a Facebook event for the launch of our books, which were both released on the 30th. It was a great success, with lots of other authors joining in and chatting about their books, but it was a long, tiring day!

I spent the first two weeks of September preparing The Dragonfly Grove, and both the ebook and paperback were ready to publish on the 21st September. I didn’t hold a Facebook event (two in one month would have been too much!) but I may do something this month to celebrate its launch.

I also set up two newsletters, one for Helen Pryke and one for Julia E. Clements, where I’d love to get in touch with readers, chat about my books and books in general, and pass on any great offers on amazing books I’ve read. There’s also an exclusive short story you can download if you sign up for the Julia E. Clements one!
You can find details in the books, or you can sign up for my Helen Pryke one from this blog or my Facebook author page.

Do I regret it? No, not at all. It was hard work but very satisfying to finish both books together. Will I do it again? Probably not!

Now, I really am taking a couple of weeks off to recover from last month, but I already have a few ideas for new stories…

Adventure in Malasorte Castle by Julia E. Clements
#CoverReveal for The Dragonfly Grove

#BookReview for The Birdsong Promise by Kate Frost

Pink quill books pick_jpeg

My review for The Birdsong Promise by Kate Frost, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I read The Butterfly Storm a few months ago and loved it, so couldn’t wait to read The Birdsong Promise. (You can read my review here on Goodreads.) What can I say? It was even better than the first book!

Sophie and Alekos have created a new life in Greece, far away from his interfering mother, with their adorable 3-year-old daughter, Thea. Then Sophie goes back to the UK for her mum’s hen do, and finds herself thrown back into her turbulent past.

The author draws you in with her descriptions of Greece, the food, the people, the culture, so that you feel as though you are there, alongside the characters. I live in Italy, and can certain similarities between the two cultures. When Sophie mentions the mother-in-law forcing them to eat enormous quantities of food, I burst out laughing. That happens here in Italy too!

I loved the laid-back atmosphere of their creative retreat far away from noisy towns, with only birds singing to wake them up in the morning. It’s the kind of lifestyle most of us dream of having, but at least we can get a taste of it through this story and the author’s wonderful writing.

All of the people from the first book are here, together with a couple of new characters -it’s like seeing old friends after a long absence. Ben is back, creating waves of unease throughout the story, and he…well, I’ll let you find out for yourselves!

I love the style of writing, the descriptions, and the easy-flowing narrative, and hope the author writes more of these stories so we can follow Sophie and Alekos’ life in Greece. And the cover is absolutely gorgeous!

I highly recommend both the books in this series.

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October 2018 {New Releases}

Some great books here!

Read, Write, Inspire

Hey Everyone,

It’s that time again. Time to bring you the new releases for October. This is a small list compiled from some of the lesser known but brilliant authors out there.

Malasorte Castle by Julia. E Clements

Release Date: 30th September

Twelve-year-old Izzy is excited to be spending the summer holidays with her Italian grandmother. She eagerly listens to spine-tingling tales of the evil spirits that once infested Val De Monio, in awe of the Guardians who did battle with them. But when Gran tells her about a Mazzapeghoul, a wicked demon, still inhabiting Malasorte Castle, Izzy starts to doubt whether her stories are true.

When her new-found Italian friends suggest spending a night in Malasorte Castle to prove it isn’t haunted, she jumps at the chance to join them. But things start going bump in the night, and they begin to wonder if the Mazzapeghoul is more than…

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How a cover was made! Behind the scenes of The Dragonfly Grove

When I was close to finishing The Dragonfly Grove, the sequel to The Healer’s Secret, my son and I started thinking about the cover. My son has created all my book covers so far, and he wanted to do something different this time. Instead of using public domain images, as he usually does, he wanted to take his own photos and use them.

First of all, I needed a book that looked exactly the same as I imagined the healers’ recipe book! We searched Amazon, and finally found what I was looking for.

recipe book

Then we turned our attention to the background. The Innocenti Saga (as the two books are now known) is set in Tuscany. We went there last year on holiday, but couldn’t make it this year. So we decided to take a few day trips a bit closer to home and see what we could find. My son took many, many photos, which we then had to go through and decide which ones we liked best.

We also have a river not far from our house, and one morning we went for a walk and took a few more photos. The book came along with us, too!

The last element, the dragonfly, was a bit more difficult. The river is home to hundreds of damselflies, but not a single dragonfly. They are slightly different in shape, and I didn’t want people commenting that the dragonfly on the cover was, in fact, a damselfly! Then I remembered a pretty necklace with a silver and blue dragonfly pendant that I have. And that became the purple dragonfly on the front!

Here are the photos my son used to create the cover. They are low-quality screenshots, and have a watermark, to avoid copyright problems.

photo 3

As you can see, the colours are much brighter on the cover. This photograph was taken in the mountains of Brescia, and the book came along for the day too!

photo 2

This is the river near our house. It was early in the morning, towards the end of August, and it was perfect for the stream that runs through the Dragonfly Grove.

photo 1

This is original photograph of the book, with my dragonfly pendant added. We thought it wasn’t strong enough for the final version. Again, this photograph was taken at the river near our house, where we found a moss-covered stone in a shady spot. We also got bitten to death by mosquitoes!

photo 4

This is my dragonfly pendant – it looks a bit different here! My son changed the hue, and added the sparkly pink jewels. I chose purple, to tie in with the dress of the woman on the cover of The Healer’s Secret.

These are the basic layers of the cover, one placed over the other, to create the final version. My son added the mystical glow underneath the dragonfly, and various shading and other touches that aren’t apparent, but add to the overall effect.

It was incredible watching my son turn these photos into the stunning cover of The Dragonfly Grove, and I’m very pleased with the result!

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