#BookReview for Letters to the Pianist by S.D. Mayes

My review for Letters to the Pianist by S.D. Mayes, 5/5 stars.

I’ve read many books set in WWII, and the most powerful ones take the reader on an emotional journey of suffering, despair, and courage. Letters to the Pianist is one of these powerful books.

The reader is drawn into Ruth, Gabi and Hannah’s story right from the start, each character tugging on your heartstrings as their world is turned upside down when their home is bombed. Split up and sent away to two different relatives, you feel their pain as they struggle to cope with this new reality.

But little do they know that their father is still alive, although he has amnesia and can’t remember anything from his life before the bombing. Now a famous pianist, and married to the daughter of one of the richest men in the country, he is at first oblivious to what is happening around him. When he discovers what his father-in-law really is, he realises that his life might be in danger.

Full of drama and intrigue, and an ending that keeps you turning the pages, this is an emotional read that I highly recommend.

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Indie Authors and why i support them. — CookingTheBooks

I’m delighted to have contributed to this article by Kayleigh Louise Brown​, a wonderful supporter of all authors!

 

The past year has been a big learning curve for me when it comes to all things books. I have become so much more appreciative of authors and everything that goes into writing a book. Its a tough gig. If like me you thought it was easy then let me tell you the nature of […]

via Indie Authors and why i support them. — CookingTheBooks

#BookReview for Dear Jane: The Final Book in the Highbury Trilogy by Allie Cresswell

My review for Dear Jane: The Final Book in the Highbury Trilogy by Allie Cresswell, 5/5 stars.

NOTE: The book is free to download on Amazon from today for the next few days!

In this third book we follow the story of Jane Fairfax, which leads us to the events in Jane Austen’s Emma. I’ve read and enjoyed the first two books in the series, and this third one is, in my opinion, the best.

All the characters we have come to know and love in the previous books return, including the wonderful Miss Bates, who adds a tragic-comic touch to the story, along with a new generation and all their trials and tribulations.

Wonderfully written, it takes you back to those times when gossip and intrigue were the main ingredient of daily lives, and misunderstandings and broken hearts were all too common. Jane Fairfax is kind, genteel, unassuming, but also has a surprising strength of character, thanks to her upbringing, surrounded by people who love her.

I loved the characters, the style of writing, the way the book took me back to those times, it was like visiting old friends in a place I used to know.

This is a wonderful story that you could imagine Jane Austen herself would have written, so faithful is it to the original book. Highly recommend!

(I’d like to thank Allie Cresswell for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.)

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#BookReview for More About Archie: The Post Puppy Years by Helen Edwards

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My review for More About Archie: The Post Puppy Years by Helen Edwards, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

I loved this book about Archie. Not only is it informative, with lots of useful tips on how to cope with a new puppy in your life, but there are lots of witty quips by Archie himself that make you smile. There are also other puppy owners giving their own experiences on how their lives changed, both the good and the bad.

I love the positive tones in this book. Yes, getting a puppy is hard work, but it can also be so rewarding, and the author goes into great detail as to how to cope with those early months. The most encouraging thing is that all of the people in the book have come out the other side of puppyhood with their sanity (mostly) intact, and with their lives enriched by the experience.

The last part about a trip the author took with her husband and Archie, written from Archie’s point of view, is very entertaining and fun to read.

Highly recommend for dog lovers and anyone considering getting a dog.

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#BookReview for Zoo by Phil Price

My review for Zoo by Phil Price, 4/5 stars.

I read an ARC of this book and really enjoyed it. A group of villagers is suddenly abducted by aliens, only to find out they’re to be an exhibit in an intergalactic zoo. But the villagers also find themselves in the middle of a war, with terrible consequences for everyone.

The story is told from both the aliens’ and the humans’ points of view – and no matter how much you want to dislike the aliens, you end up sympathising with them. I found myself liking them more than some of the humans!

The author has given a lot of thought to both the aliens and their worlds, and how the humans react to their abduction. The story keeps you hooked all the way through, right to the end. A great read for lovers of sci-fi!

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#BookReview for Couples Who Kill: Elytte & Miranda Barbour by Kathryn McMaster

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My review for Couples Who Kill: Elytte & Miranda Barbour by Kathryn McMaster, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

Another great book from Kathryn McMaster! The facts are concisely laid out, leading up to the crime and its aftermath. The author is good at extrapolating as much detail as possible and creating a story that keeps the reader intrigued.

As with the Kids Who Kill series, it’s hard to comprehend how these people can commit such brutal crimes. The case is complicated by Miranda claiming to have killed many more people, as part of a Satanic cult, but McMaster presents the details in her unique way, giving you plenty to think about.

Having read all the books in the Kids Who Kill series, I look forward to continuing with this series too. Highly recommend!

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#BookReview for My Africa my Home by Jennifer Peacock-Smith

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My review for My Africa my Home by Jennifer Peacock-Smith, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

As a proofreader/editor, I consider myself very lucky to read so many books by indie authors. My Africa my Home by Jennifer Peacock-Smith is another gem I’ve had the privilege to work on.

I met Jennifer and her husband last year, when they stopped at my house on their way through Italy, heading back to their home in Malta. We spent a pleasant afternoon eating, drinking and chatting, as you do, and got on brilliantly. Jennifer and I have a lot in common, not least a debilitating auto-immune disease.

helen pryke_jennifer peacock-smith

Apart from that one meeting, we only know each other through various Facebook groups. So when Jennifer asked me to edit her memoir, I knew it would be a good read. What I didn’t realise is that it would be a great read! From the first pages, Jennifer had me hooked – if I hadn’t had to read it slowly due to editing, I’d have devoured it in a day!

This book, the first in the series, takes us through Jennifer’s childhood in South Africa, and all the contradictions both in the country and her own family. The country was home to top doctors, surgeons, and state of the art hospitals, but there was no TV until the early seventies. Her parents, in particular her mother, championed women’s rights, but brought up their daughters in a rigid regime with little warmth and love.

But the way Jennifer describes her childhood – her loneliness, the way she felt an outsider in her own family, her very different relationships with her brother and sister – doesn’t really come across as negative. On the contrary, you feel that her dysfunctional childhood has given this woman an incredible strength and compassionate character that has helped her deal with many things through her life.

This memoir leaves you with a deep sense of sympathy (and empathy, in my case) for this young girl who only wanted to fit in, and to have a family where she could love and be loved. Interspersed with various incidents and childhood scrapes, there are also many humorous moments! And she describes her childhood home and country so perfectly that you can almost imagine you’re there with her.

The opening scene in the prologue is one that wouldn’t be out of place in a thriller, and leaves you wondering as you are taken back in time to the beginning of Jennifer’s story. The gradual build up through the years take you to this pivotal moment in Jennifer’s life, which will have implications in the distant future too, as we find out at the end of the book.

My Africa my Home is available to preorder now for only 99c until the 12th April, and I highly recommend you take advantage of this great price! I can’t wait for the other instalments to see where Jennifer’s life will take her next.

Preorder here:

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A Rescue Cat’s Tail…ahem, Tale

Back in February, we decided to adopt a rescue cat – after all, every writer needs a cat to help them procrastinate. Two months down the line, I thought I’d tell you about our experience!

We went to the cattery one Sunday afternoon, excited about the possibility of finding a cat. We originally wanted a kitten, but none of the catteries we phoned had any. This one said they had cats about ten months old, if we were interested, so we decided to take a look.

I know there are a lot of abandoned cats (and dogs) but it broke my heart to see all those cats there. There were about five to six per room, and about ten rooms, and some of them were truly wild. I couldn’t see any hope for them finding new homes. Even the one they suggested to us was scared of us and wouldn’t let us touch it, it wouldn’t even come near us.

We’ve had a cat before, quite a few years ago, but she lived outside in the garden and was very independent, only coming home when it was time to eat or sleep. This time, we needed a cat that would stay indoors, as we now live in an apartment on the second floor.

A bit disappointed, we discussed whether we could cope with a cat that would probably take ages to trust us, if ever. Then the woman asked if we’d consider a female (we’d told her we wanted a male). At this point, we agreed to take a look, and she introduced us to a cute little blue tabby who immediately settled in my son’s arms like she’d been there forever.

She was about a year old, and had been found a couple of weeks earlier abandoned on the streets of Milan, before coming to the cattery. She had a problem with her eye – she has a third eyelid that doesn’t retract, so she can’t see properly from her right eye and it only remains half open. But looking at her purring in my son’s arms, we knew she was the one!

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She didn’t have a name, so we could choose one for her! My son decided on Pan, which is short for Pannekoek, a Dutch scientist, apparently. (I’ve never heard of him either!) I say it’s short for Pandora, or Panakin Skywalker as she’s now known!!

We spent the Monday and Tuesday cat shopping, buying everything we would need for the new family member (and spent a fortune!). On Wednesday morning, we went to pick Pan up in her new carrier. She didn’t like going in it, but eventually we were in the car and on our way home.

We took her to a quiet corner, opened the carrier, and let her come out in her own time. We thought it would take ages, but after a couple of minutes she was already sniffing around our feet! She wasn’t interested in food at all, but was happy to explore her new home and sit on our laps.

The first three days were tough, I’ll admit. Getting used to a new routine, making sure we kept things out of her way so she couldn’t get hurt or eat something she shouldn’t, and having a new pet to take care of after so many years without one was hard work and tiring. And she had an awful habit of trying to bolt out of the front door whenever anyone opened it, which was quite stressing. But she fitted in right away, as if she was meant to be with us!

She was very skinny to begin with, and had an infection in her eyes and a urinary infection. So the next week we went back to the cattery to see the vet and get some medicines. She hated going back to the cattery, and when we got back home I noticed she didn’t try to escape any more! She obviously realised where she was well off!

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Pan on her first day with us!

Two months later, it’s as if Pan’s been here forever! She’s put on weight, and her urinary infection has cleared up, although she still has problems with her eyes. I think she’s allergic, as she tends to sneeze if she sniffs around too much. I didn’t know cats had such big bogies, or that they could sneeze out so much snot! We’ll never forget the day she sneezed near the TV…

She loves her cuddles, and if she can’t sit on our laps, she’ll sit as close as possible to us with her head or a paw touching us. She usually sleeps with my son at night, but she gets up as soon as she hears me in the morning, and likes to greet everyone as they make an appearance.

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Cuddly cat!

She also loves her food! We’re convinced she’s part dog, as she wolfs down every meal like she hasn’t eaten in a week. I thought cats were meant to be refined, delicate creatures, who eat slowly and leave most of it so they can snack during the day. Not our Pan!

Sometimes I look at her and wonder what her life was like before. She’s terrified of loud noises, but is house trained and toilet trained, so she must have had a home before living on the streets. In those moments when she’s on my lap, snoring softly in a deep sleep (yes, she snores!), I think how lucky she’s been to find us. And how lucky we are too. She’s enriched our lives in a way I never thought possible – she makes us laugh, she gets up to all sorts of mischief, she trips us up, she gets very demanding when it’s her dinner time, but we can’t imagine life without her now.

You can read more about Pan’s antics on my Facebook page or Instagram!

Pan

#BookReview for Self Love: A British Tale of Woe and Wit by TL Clark

My review for Self Love by TL Clark, 5/5 stars.

What a brilliantly funny story, interspersed with some darker moments that make you stop and think. I think a lot of British women will see themselves in Molly – those feelings of insecurity, always apologising for everything, beating yourself up for those silly little mistakes… I could go on!

Molly is bright, funny, witty, with everything going for her, but thoughtless comments from her mother over the years and cruel bullying when she was little have destroyed her self-confidence. But despite that, she still craves what everyone wants – love, happiness, and a better life.

The scene where she receives nasty replies from an online dating site made me sad, and then angry – it may be only fiction, but these things really happen to people. And the guy who thought he was getting lucky because he chose the fat, ugly one – well, I was really hoping Molly would give him a punch in the face.

I loved the way Molly speaks to the reader all the way through, it gives the story a fresh appeal that works really well. An interesting story full of humour and witty remarks, and well written too, I highly recommend it to anyone who loved Eleanor Oliphant!

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