#BookReview Kids Who Kill: Cristian Fernandez by Kathryn McMaster

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My review for Kids Who Kill: Cristian Fernandez by Kathryn McMaster, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I’ve read all 3 books in the series, and each one has left me with different emotions. The author manages to present all the facts in a neutral manner, leaving the reader to make up their own mind. Not as to whether the crime has been committed, but if these children have been given a fair trial and the possibility to build a future for themselves. The author also shows how both the victim’s and the perpetrator’s families are affected in these terrible situations.

This book is slightly different, and kept me gripped right from the beginning. McMaster describes the family, the abuse Cristian’s mother grew up with, and the abuse Cristian himself suffered at the hands of his stepfather. But it is the part with the police interrogation that affected me the most – I could feel for Cristian, being questioned late into the night, with no lawyer present, unaware of his rights, having to answer questions that no child should have to answer. At this point, I almost forgot the crime he had committed, I was so angry for the way he was being treated!

This book also proves that there are a lot of good people out there who, regardless of the crime someone has committed, go above and beyond to ensure their right to a fair trial. Whereas the two children in the previous books were treated unfairly, Cristian eventually (after a long battle) gets the correct treatment.

I was so engrossed in the book that the ending came as a complete surprise to me, it actually shocked me. So, well done, Kathryn McMaster, for a truly interesting story presented in such a well-written, engaging way. Highly recommend!

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#BookReview for Brimstone and Ashes: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Good Witch Anais Blue Volume 3 by P. J. Whittlesea

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My review for Brimstone and Ashes: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Good Witch Anais Blue Volume 3 by P. J. Whittlesea, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I’m so glad Anais Blue is back! I love her quirky outlook on life, which gets quirkier in every book. In this one, we travel from Malta to Sicily and back again, following Anais on her quest to outwit the Inquisitor and save Nan.

The informative chapters about life, witches and the witching community are cleverly written, and give a completely unique perspective on this subject. I like how they intertwine with whatever is going to happen to Anais next.

The book gives us new details about Anais, her family, and witches in general, while still keeping you guessing where the story is going to go next. A page turner from beginning to end, and a book that older children and adults will enjoy. Highly recommend, and can’t wait for the next one!

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#BookReview for Souls Collide by Kristina Beck

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My review for Souls Collide by Kristina Beck, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I’ve read all the books in the Collide series, and each one just gets better and better! Each book is a stand-alone story, so it’s not necessary to have read the others in order to enjoy this one.

In Souls Collide, the author has brought the story to life with well-developed characters who each have their own weaknesses and strengths, who battle on despite the odds, and who work their way into your heart.

We meet characters from the other books again, but this time the story focuses on Kent and Alexa. He’s a surly cop who has had to deal with more tragedy in his life than most, she’s a feisty, strong-willed woman who is determined to reach inside his soul.

The author also touches on the topic of cancer, but she does it in such a sensitive way that makes you appreciate the courage and strength of the families hit by this terrible disease. Abby is a wonderful character, whose optimism and bravery shine out of the pages of the book, and you follow her journey while feeling like you’ve made a new friend.

These books always have a gritty story line, and this one keeps you turning the pages to the end. A great read that I highly recommend. And that cover is absolutely stunning!

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#BookReview for Life According to Poetry by Sarah Northwood

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My review for Life According to Poetry by Sarah Northwood, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I’ve read all of Sarah Northwood’s poetry books, and each one just gets better and better. The author has a way of touching your emotions with her poems, and the reader will find they can relate to each and every one.

She writes from the heart, whether it is about the joy of love or the struggles of day-to-day life. She manages to put into words feelings and thoughts we all have, and we can all relate to, bringing a smile to your face or tears to your eyes as you empathise with her words.

Whether you love poetry or are new to the genre, I highly recommend Sarah’s books as each and every one is a treasure to be discovered.

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Guest post by Kae Denino, narrator of the Dreamland audiobook

Today we have a guest post by Kae Denino, the wonderful narrator who did such a fantastic job with my audiobook. I’ve learned some things I didn’t know about her either! Thank you, Kae!

You can read my posts about my audiobook journey here:

My audiobook journey, part one
My audiobook journey, part two

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So, I’m a voice actor. I came to this life after many other jobs, because this is the simplest thing I can do—just talk, just be a voice for someone else. I’ve been a cook, a farmer, a teacher, a probation officer and in my heart and my life I have fought for freedom for many years, including starting a business for survivors of sex trafficking, so they can learn to be in the legal workforce.

But the talking is the thing I do now, because I am a single mama raising twins in middle America, and that takes my whole soul to do well.  It’s probably not wise to get wildly political here, but America is in a hefty spot of trouble, there’s hate and fear buzzing around, so people who propagate love and kindness have our work laid out for us. So I am raising two shining lights of compassion, humor and acceptance.

Every day I audition for work, and do work on commercials, e-learning videos, video games, voice mail systems and of course audiobooks. I’m just starting to narrate a book called The Loudest Meow that features a dozen cats! I stop working when the children come home or I’m too tired to press correct buttons in my studio.

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This is a selfie in my studio.

Dreamland is the best book I ever got to narrate, thus far. I am grateful for my silly romance novels and really love my sweet children’s stories, especially the Pack-n-Go Girls series, which is about little girls having international adventures, the kind of book I loved as a child.

But Dreamland is a different kind of dragon, one that refuses to be funneled into the realm of simplified morality tales or excesses of drama. The characters are smart, thoughtful and focused. They stick to their goals and show great vulnerability, which may be the only real way to stick to one’s goals. When struck or scared they scream. Nobody keeps it in, develops resentments, talks out of both sides of their mouths. They leave their comfort zones, rely on kindness and refuse to give up.

Dreamland audiobook cover

Narrating this book was like having a ticket to Dreamland. I got lost in the carnival, on the dragon’s back, swooping over the villages. I wanted the cavemen to show up at the end—it would have been great to see them vs. Stregona, vs. Fear and Death.

On a very basic level, I had all manner of technical worries when I was narrating it, and in some awful way I found myself working on it with three other books simultaneously and a cat who almost died of cancer and ate up our entire savings account. She is fine, thank you. But I could not concentrate on this book the way I wanted to. I hope I did well by it, and I certainly learned a lot.

Here are a few links to some media about my work. If you want to learn about voiceover work or fighting slavery, please just holler! I sure love both.

https://www.kaemarievop.com/

https://americandreamers.biz/kae-denino-kae-marie-vop

http://www.thisweeknews.com/news/20171030/sweet-talk-voice-pays-bills

https://sunny95.com/outstanding-women/kae-denino/

https://packngogirls.com/discover-kae-denino-narrator-extraordinaire

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My audiobook journey, part two

Back in July, I wrote part one of my journey into creating an audiobook version of my children’s book, Dreamland, written under the pen name, Julia E. Clements. It’s taken a while, but here’s part two!

Kae Denino, my narrator, worked hard on the audiobook over the summer. We spoke a couple of times on Skype, and she told me how hot her recording studio gets – obviously there’s no air con or even a fan in there, and it’s very tiny!

She uploaded each chapter to Findaway as she finished it, so I could listen and point out any errors, missing words, etc. And here’s where the problems started. Without going into too much detail, there were some technical problems which meant the files had a lot of errors that needed correcting. I had to listen to each file several times, write a note with the times the errors occurred, then listen to the updated file again to make sure the errors had been corrected.

We spent a lot of time going backwards and forwards over the files – I listened to each one so many times that I knew them off by heart! One chapter had so many problems it had to be re-recorded. I’d like to point out that none of this was Kae’s fault, and she was as upset about it as I was.

Eventually, Kae managed to sort everything out. I had one last listen to all the files, just to make sure, then I could finally click the ‘approve’ button. By then it was the end of September! The audiobook started uploading to all the online retailers and libraries, and now it’s available everywhere. The links are below.

Dreamland audiobook cover

Even though it was a long, frustrating journey, I’m really pleased with the end product. Kae is a fantastic narrator, and came up with lots of different voices for all the different characters. She throws herself into each part and narrates with energy, which comes across in the recording.

Tomorrow there’ll be a guest post from Kae Denino, the narrator of Dreamland, where she talks about her work and her experiences narrating my book. Don’t miss it!

Links for the audiobook version of Dreamland:

 

If your library uses Bibliotheca, Odilo, Overdrive, or hoopla you can
now borrow Dreamland and listen to the audiobook completely free.
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#BookReview for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch

My review for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch, 5/5 stars.

I loved this book so much! Mavis and Dot are complete opposites, but so alike in their quirky ways and outspoken points of view. Mavis is wonderful, open to trying out new things (and men!) but always ending up in hilarious situations. Dot is more reserved, but as we find out more about her past, she worms her way into your heart.

The author has also created some fantastic secondary characters, who are a colourful accompaniment to Mavis and Dot. From a family of immigrants to Mal the dog, they will work their way into your heart and become good friends.

The story makes you laugh out loud at the characters’ antics and feel their pain as they reveal past events, carrying you along to the end and leaving you wanting more. I highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait for more adventures with Mavis and Dot!

The book is also set near to where I used to live in the UK, which made it extra special for me, and Mavis and Dot also take a trip to Tuscany, with hilarious results. I live in Italy, and Angela is spot on with her observations of Italian life!

Angela wrote Mavis and Dot in memory of a dear friend who passed away from cancer recently, and all proceeds will go to cancer research. So, not only do you get to read a wonderful book, but your money also goes towards this worthy cause. 

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#BookReview for The Roland Sink Hour by Brian O’Gorman

My review for The Roland Sink Hour by Brian O’Gorman, 5/5 stars.

I’ve read several of Brian O’Gorman’s books, and he’s an expert at creating in-depth characters and intriguing stories. This book is no different!

When Matty and his wife start having problems, he thinks it would be a great idea to go on the Roland Sink show and try to solve their problems on air. Obviously, things don’t go as he planned, and the reader gets to witness Matty’s spectacular downfall into the depths of misery.

We also find out about Roland Sink, and how he got to become a national TV star with his daytime show (think of a Jeremy Kyle-type program!). Again, the reader becomes embroiled in his rise from nerdy teenager to TV star.

A great read, with a solid ending, that delves into the fragility of human relationships and makes you aware of how easily this could happen to anyone.

I gave it 5/5 stars for the great story, even though there are a few typos – but I’ve seen that the author is sorting those out. They definitely don’t detract from your enjoyment of the story, so it’s still a top read for me!

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#BookReview for Kids Who Kill: Eric Smith, Book 2, by Kathryn McMaster

My review for Kids Who Kill: Eric Smith by Kathryn McMaster, 5/5 stars.

This is the second book in Kathryn McMaster’s series (you can see my review for the first book here). Although the subject matter is unpleasant, the stories are so well written that they draw you in and keep you turning the pages.

While the first book concentrated more on the aftermath and the effect on both the victim’s and the murderer’s families, this book goes into more detail on the actual crime and sets the scene beforehand.

As usual, McMaster gives a completely neutral point of view, relaying the facts in a way that is easy to read and understand, while leaving the reader to make up their mind. Although it is not a question of whether Eric Smith murdered his victim but whether the court was right to try and convict him as an adult, rather than a juvenile.

This is a well-written series that keeps you glued to the pages right from the start, and I look forward to reading the next one.

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