#NewBook The Healer’s Secret – pre-order now!

I first published The Healer’s Secret in 2017. Bloodhound Books offered me a contract for all three books in the series late last year, and now it’s going to be republished on the 7th September. I just love the new cover!

You can pre-order it here:

While you’re waiting to read it, here’s some background info about the writing of the book.

Three years ago, my husband, youngest son, and I went to Gallicano in Tuscany to do some research for The Healer’s Secret, which I had just finished writing. We had four days to explore the area and taste the local food, so we made the most of it!

We also found some hidden treasures which I then added to the story, such as the angel in the graveyard by St. Jacopo’s church. More about that later!

I took these photos during our journey to Gallicano – we live in a flat, industrial area near Milan, so it’s lovely to see mountains! (Apologies for the quality of the photos, they were taken with an old phone!)

Those steep, narrow streets Jennifer had to walk up to get to her aunt’s house really do exist, and make your legs ache if you’re not used to them!

Gallicano is a beautiful town, with hidden treasures around every corner and breathtaking views!

The church of San Jacopo is mentioned in The Healer’s Secret. We found it during a walk around Gallicano, at the top of a very steep hill, overlooking the town.

The overgrown graveyard was closed, so we couldn’t go in, but I saw a statue of an angel hiding among the grass and had to include it in the book. (It was also after the ‘Weeping Angels’ episode of Doctor Who, so it was pretty creepy!)

We didn’t go inside the church, but took lots of photos of it then went to a nearby bar for a coffee and a rest. Just like Mark and Jennifer in the book.

The trip I was looking most forward to during our long weekend in Gallicano was the guided tour around La Grotta del Vento (the Wind Cave).

These photos were taken on our way up to the caves, along a narrow road that wound around the mountain, with rocks overhanging the road occasionally! Just like Jennifer and Mark, we went up early to avoid the crowds, but unlike Jennifer, we didn’t get lost inside the caves!

When I was doing research for The Healer’s Secret, I came across La Grotta del Vento – The Wind Cave. With help from the website, I wrote the scene where Mark takes Jennifer there for a guided tour. But there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself, so when we spent some days in Gallicano, the caves were the first thing I wanted to see! It was as amazing as I’d hoped it would be, as you can see from the photos. And I even found some creepy steps leading down to who knows where, which I had to add to the scene! If you ever go to Gallicano, I highly recommend you visit the caves – but take a jumper, it was freezing inside, even at the height of summer!

After our guided tour around the caves, we stopped at a village on the way down to stretch our legs and take some photos. I found a stone-walled cottage that looked very similar to how I imagined Great-grandmother Luisa’s cottage to be.We walked around a curve in the road to take some more photos of the back of the cottage, and were amazed to see something in the back garden! If you look closely at the photo, you might be able to make it out.I’m not going to say what it is, but the spooky thing is, I’d already written the book, and the cottage has something similar in its back garden! If you’ve already read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not – read the book!

While driving around, we found this beautiful spot near the river (which according to Google Maps is Torrente Turrite di Gallicano, but I’m not 100% sure!).We spent a pleasant few hours soaking up the peace and quiet, it was lovely. I didn’t want to leave! These photos give you some idea of how beautiful Tuscany is.

On our last day in Gallicano, we went to a town high up in the mountains (I can’t remember the name, sorry!). We walked all the way to the church at the very top, and were rewarded with an incredible view. We even found an old British telephone box, used as a free library! It was an amazing end to an amazing holiday, one that I will treasure forever.

When we got home I used many of those experiences in my book. I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to Tuscany and this look into the writing of The Healer’s Secret!

#BookReview #NetGalley #ATuscanMemory by Angela Petch

My review for A Tuscan Memory by Angela Petch, 5/5 stars.

I love the Tuscan series by Angela Petch, every page evokes the tastes, sights, and scents of Tuscany. I loved learning about the transumanza, something I’d never heard of before, and the hardship of life at the beginning of the 20th century.

This is the story of Giuseppe and Marisa, intertwined with the present-day life of Francesco, Anna, and their children. I enjoyed reading about both the present and the past; each part was equally fascinating, and I wanted to know more.

This is a well-written story, with a descriptive narrative that takes you to the heart of the Tuscan countryside, to the old mill and the river, and makes you fall in love with the Italian people and their ways. Highly recommend.

#BookReview for Stickychuck by Brian O’Gorman

My review for Stickychuck by Brian O’Gorman, 5/5 stars.

I love this author’s books, from Dawn of the Spiders to The Roland Sink Hour (a definite must-read), and couldn’t wait to read this collection of short stories.

I wasn’t disappointed. I have no idea what goes on in this man’s head, but whatever it is, it’s scary! It’s not only the stories themselves, it’s the way he creates such realistic characters. Brian O’Gorman has a talent similar to Stephen King’s for creating people you feel like you’ve known all your life. You invest time and emotions into getting to know these people, which makes their fates even more painful to read!

There’s a great selection of short stories, some mere pages, others much longer, some downright creepy, others that will make you think. My favourite is Diabolus Vanitas, it has a completely unexpected ending! Stickychuck, the story that gives the book its title, is one of those twisted tales that make you wonder how the author came up with it!

There are 14 short stories to freak you out, scare you, or show you the dark side of humanity, from a spider that won’t die to a wall that won’t let you leave town, and a chocolate-flavoured salad that’s too good to be true! A great collection that I highly recommend!



#BookReview #NetGalley #FlowersfortheDead by Barbara Copperthwaite

My review for Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite, 5/5 stars.

It’s not often you feel sorry for the bad guy, but the author has written his story so well that you feel sympathy for him! The chapters go from past to present, and as his story is slowly revealed, you can understand how he ends up the way he is.

I loved that we see into Adam’s mind, and how he feels that the girls he’s stalking should already know him, as he knows them so well. It’s creepy, scary, and completely believable, and sends shivers down your spine. The symbolic connection with flowers is cleverly done, and adds an emotional touch as it was learned from his grandmother, the only woman to ever show Adam some love.

Laura and Mike are great characters too. Laura is struggling to overcome a devastating tragedy, and her transformation from wanting to die to wanting to live at all costs has you rooting for her. Mike is also trying to overcome a tragic loss, while battling personal demons at the same time.

I was on tenterhooks towards the end, as Adam spirals out of control and Laura is unaware of the danger she’s in. The book is a roller coaster of emotions that keeps you turning the pages, and has an ending that doesn’t disappoint! Highly recommend.

#NetGalley #BookReview for #ShadowSands by Robert Bryndza

My review for Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza, 5/5 stars.

The action is fast paced right from the start, and the book kept me hooked all the way through. Tense and claustrophobic, with a few twists to keep you guessing, it’s a fast, gripping read.

The two protagonists, Kate and Tristan, are great characters, well written and relatable. Even though each has their problems, they are there for each other and offer invaluable support at crucial moments. I haven’t read the first book in the series, but I felt as though I already knew the characters, and there was enough detail about their past to easily follow the story.

Full of mysterious local legends and missing people, each revelation keeps you turning the pages until the end. Highly recommend!



#BookReview #NetGalley #WhatSheSaw by Diane Saxon

My review for What She Saw by Diane Saxon, 4/5 stars.

I loved the opening, it sets the pace for the rest of the book! The author brings you right into the story, and you can feel the girl’s terror as her family’s fate is revealed.

The characters are well developed, believable, and relatable, and the author has created a wonderful protagonist in DS Jenna Morgan. I loved the chapters with the girl’s story, and would have liked to see more interwoven with Jenna’s chapters.

The timeline in each chapter heading creates a sense of urgency, the clock ticking as events unroll. With another case coming along at the same time as the original one, there’s non-stop action as Jenna and her team deal with both.

Well written with lots of detail and excellent character development, this is a great read that I’d recommend to anyone who likes this genre.

#NetGalley #BookReview for #TheHouseofStyx by Derek Kunsken

My review for House of Styx by Derek Kunsken, 5/5 stars.

The idea of humans colonizing Venus is an intriguing one, and the author has done a fantastic job in imagining just how arduous it would be.

The story follows the D’Aquillon family, relegated to living below the clouds, eking out a living by using trawlers to harvest materials from the atmosphere, which they sell on the black market. The family lives in a harsh environment, and has suffered tragic losses, and each has a burden to bear.

There are some incredible scenes that are wonderfully described – you can feel the claustrophobia of the bathyscaphe as it descends to the planet’s surface amid the rising temperatures and increasing pressure; the exhilaration of flying in a winged suit high above the clouds, when Pascal sees the sun for the first time; the pain and fear as acid rain drips through a torn suit, where every second counts.

The story builds up, layer by layer, and you soon find yourself invested in the characters and their fates. Broken and flawed, struggling to find their way however they can, I loved the character development throughout the book.

A great start to a the series, I look forward to reading the next book. Highly recommend.

Book review: The Lost Girls by Helen Pryke

A great review for The Lost Girls!

Katys Writing Coffee Shop

I very much enjoyed Helen Pryke’s Tuscany-based Innocenti series and admire the way she writes. The Lost Girls was obviously going to be a very different type of story but as a huge fan of psychological thrillers I was excited about reading it.

It’s accurately described as “a gripping mystery thriller” and also has a strong psychological thread.

Four years ago, two teenage girls went missing. Desperate to find their missing siblings, Michael and Chloe approach investigative journalist Maggie Turner for help. Maggie, whose nephew was murdered the same year that the girls disappeared, is determined to solve this mystery for her family and that of the girls but it turns into a race against time.

The Lost Girls certainly fulfilled its promise of being a much darker, grittier read than the author’s Tuscan series and I devoured it in one hit. As well as the present timeline, we’re shown…

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#NetGalley #BookReview for #100ThingstodoinaForest by Jennifer Davis

My review for 100 Things to do in a Forest by Jennifer Davis, 5/5 stars.

I absolutely loved this book! It’s perfect for anyone with young children, who would like to relive their own childhood and have fun learning about nature at the same time.

With beautiful drawings, fun activities, lots of great advice (even about how to cope when you’re caught short while out on a walk!), there’s something for everyone.

I loved the author’s relaxed writing style, and tips on respecting the natural environment while making the most of nature’s gifts. Highly recommend!

#BookReview for Colors and Curves by Kristina Beck

Pink quill books pick_2020

My review for Colors and Curves: Summer (Fours Seasons #3) by Kristina Beck, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

The perfect read for summer! I loved the story, the setting, the characters, and the instant love story between Skylar and Julius. This is Kristina Beck at her best – smouldering looks, sensuous scenes, lovable characters with messed-up lives, and a storyline that has you rooting for the protagonists.

Although this is a standalone, it features Skylar, a character we met in the previous book. She’s one of my favourite characters in the series – fun, quirky, full of life, but with some problems that prevent her living life to the full. Julius is more serious, his difficult past having sucked the joy for life out of him, but when he meets Skylar, he realises there could be so much more, if he will open up to her.

The author deals with some tough subjects, as she often does, and there’s a scene that will have you in tears. But the hope and joy that abounds through the book more than makes up for it, and will leave you wanting to read more about this couple’s life! Highly recommend.

Preorder on Amazon

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