#book review: Time for True Love by Mette Barfelt

My review for Time for True Love by Mette Barfelt, 5/5 stars.

Having read the first Solvik book, I was looking forward to reading the sequel, and I wasn’t disappointed. These cozy romances, set in a fictional town in Norway, are a great read, with characters you can relate to. It’s also lovely to read about a different culture, a way of living that many of us are no longer used to, where the shops are closed on Sundays!

Sara wants to follow her ambition of setting up a bakery in Solvik, but doesn’t want to ruin the livelihood of the town’s only other bakery. Add in an interfering health freak, a possible future boyfriend, and an Italian ex-boyfriend, and the story gets very interesting! The characters all have their own personality, most likable, some less so, and you find yourself drawn into their lives.

This is a lovely story that will have you reaching for the cinnamon buns while you read, with mouth-watering recipes at the end of some of the cakes mentioned in the book. Who cares about the calories?!

Amazon US
Amazon UK


Happy Publication Day! The Secret by Katharine Johnson

June 1st is Publication Day for The Secret by Katharine Johnson

I recently read The Silence by Katharine Johnson, and pre-ordered The Secret as soon as it was available. Today I finally get to read it! I’m really pleased to present Katharine’s second novel, and highly recommend you read the first one as well! I love the Ape on the cover (pronounced Ah-pay) – an iconic Italian car that has been causing tailbacks on the roads for decades!

Secret cover

This is the second book set at Villa Leonida, the house at the centre of The Silence which was published last year but it’s a standalone story.

In The Silence some bodies were discovered at Villa Leonida, an idyllic holiday home, during a children’s game of hide-and-seek during a family holiday. They’re found to relate back to the summer of 1992.

A year on, in The Secret, the villa has been put up for sale. Which for elderly resident Sonia can only mean one thing – that the renewed interest and gossip will lead to the discovery of her own secret which relates to that same evening at the villa in 1992.

But while she’s desperate to keep the past hidden another resident, Carlo, can’t leave it alone. He’s determined to discover the truth about a wartime atrocity in which Sonia’s mother and his own played a part.

Here’s the blurb:

Love, lies and betrayal in wartime Italy. Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences. Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War friendship is tested and loyalties divided. But a chance encounter changes everything. The girls’ lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house I their Tuscan village while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher.

But neither marriage, nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.

Decades later a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds. While Irena’s son is determined to get to the truth, Martina’s daughter is desperate to keep the past hidden.

The Secret is published by Crooked Cat Books and is available in paperback £6.99 and kindle £1.99 here: http://thesecretjohnson

Find out more at the Online launch on 1-2  June  https://www.facebook.com/events/111942169663863/

About the author

Katharine Johnson likes writing about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. She’s passionate about old houses and the stories they have to tell. She grew up in Bristol and has lived in Italy. She currently lives in Berkshire but spends as much time as she can in the Lucca area of Tuscany. When not writing you’ll find her exploring cities, drinking coffee, playing netball badly and walking her madcap spaniel


Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Katharinejohnsonauthor/

Twitter https://twitter.com/@kjohnsonwrites

Website/blog https://katyjohnsonblog.wordpress.com


#AbuseTalk Forum is NOW OPEN!!!

Today I’m hosting a special post about a brand new forum that will help anyone who has been or is still in an abusive situation. Jennifer Gilmour, author of Isolation Junction and Clipped Wings, has been working hard on setting this forum up, and today is launch day!

I’m also pleased to announce that I’m one of the sponsors for the forum. I believe in the work Jennifer is doing, and that it will help many people in abusive situations find a secure environment where they can talk, let off steam, and interact with others who know what it’s like. I wish this forum had been around when I was going through my separation – knowing you’re not alone is so important.

Abuse Talk Sponsor Website Badge

#AbuseTalk Forum is NOW OPEN!!!

Up to date information on the day on virtual opening event: https://www.facebook.com/events/227612351343912/

Jennifer Gilmour

Hi, I am Jennifer Gilmour and I am an advocate for women in abusive relationships, I am an author and a mum of three. I have personally experienced domestic abuse and wanted to bring awareness to what happens behind closed doors.

A bit about my journey:

My debut novel, ‘Isolation Junction’ was published in 2016 which follows the story of Rose who is trying to flee her abusive partner. The book is based on true events of my own and has been fictionalised.

Since this publication I have continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through my blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed.

My second publication was released in October 2017; I put together stories told to me by survivors of domestic abuse. In this way, I hope to give a voice to their experiences and to raise awareness of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse. Thankfully the law has changed to incorporate this kind of insidious behaviour but still far too many people are trapped, isolated and afraid or unaware of how to escape. I hope that this anthology will give them the courage to take that first step and will raise awareness for those who can help them.

I opened #AbuseTalk in October in 2017 and haven’t looked back, its opened many doors, its connected many people, its supported lots of individuals and it has created an community.

I was a finalist for Inspirational Mum Award in the BizMums Awards 2017.

I started writing for Coercive Control Chat Magazine (CCChat Magazine) in October 2017, I have my own column for #AbuseTalk and an Online Book Club with a difference.

In May 2018 I won Most Informative Blog 2018 in the Blogger Bash Awards, something I am most thrilled about.

FORUM final

Why have I opened a forum?

I have always felt a forum was needed but couldn’t find its place and so I decided a Twitter Chat was the direction to go. After a few months of hosting #AbuseTalk I realised that tweeting was great but it wasn’t for those who don’t want to publicly discuss domestic abuse. It is also restrictive with the character limitations. Thats when I realised that a forum can work alongside the Twitter Chat and offering a register only forum.

I am also delighted to have the forum sponsored by a solicitor which will be announced in the grand opening, our solicitor has agreed to answer questions within the forum on their own thread ‘Ask a solicitor’. This is priceless, to have the opportunity to ask a solicitor when perhaps someone may not have had the ability to do so.

How do I access the new forum?

You can head there right now… www.jennifergilmour.com/community

PLEASE NOTE: You will only see the news and updates forum until you are registered, once you are registered you will see the main Abuse Talk Forum appear with all the topics and discussions.

Who is the forum for?

Anyone! Anyone with an interest or passion surrounding domestic abuse.

It can also be for those in the sector like charities, organisations, advocates, bloggers, businesses and more.

Or it can be individuals that want to help, offer guidance, who have gone through abuse or are going through it now.

How much does it cost to be a member?

Its FREE! All you have to do is register at: https://jennifergilmour.com/AbuseTalkForum/?wpforo=signup

There will be a VIP Membership area but that is opening later on, updates will be given and this will be just £10 a year with a bag full of offers, discounts and more. This is you really need that extra security and community.

Sign up for notification of this service here: http://eepurl.com/dor93f

I would like to sponsor the forum, how do I do this?

The forum is open for sponsorship to cover the maintenance and time it takes to moderate the posts.

Anyone can be a silent sponsor for £1 or £3, scroll to the bottom of this page: https://jennifergilmour.com/abuse-talk-twitter/

For businesses/charities/organisations/advocates etc please contact me for availability – contact@jennifergilmour.com

Sponsors will receive a unique badge to place on their website and social media to show that they support the forum.

 Tell me more about #AbuseTalk…

#AbuseTalk is a Twitter Chat that runs every Wednesday evening 8-9pm GMT. It is open to anyone who wants to discuss domestic abuse.

quote 2

Each week we have a theme which is there to help the conversation flow through the one hour. You can at any point ask your own questions, reply to others and join in.

Not in the UK? Thats not a problem either, we have people joining in around the world and have adapted the cover photo to display the times in the timezones most used.

Find out more here:


Need to know more?

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or are interested in becoming a sponsor at contact@jennifergilmour.com

Thank you for your time and if the forum isn’t for you – it may be for one of your friends. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

Video on how to register and see how the visibility of the forum is altered with the registration- https://youtu.be/YtImyAHffDE

Jennifer Gilmour


My little moment of calm

The last few weeks have been pretty stressing for me, pushing me to the limits and making me wonder when the bad times would stop. Pressure from other people to make things happen in an impossible situation led to me breaking down in front of my GP in pure desperation.

But sometimes our blackest moments are a turning point, it would seem. On Monday, just when I was despairing of being able to resolve the situation, things turned around and, as if by a miracle, there was a glimmer of hope.

I apologise for being so vague, but I can’t go into details for various reasons. I’m sharing this with you to show that, no matter how impossible it can seem at times, solutions can be found or simply happen, and it’s important to never give up.

During this stressing time, a book I’d ordered arrived. Little Moments of Calm. Never has a book delivery been so timely! With beautiful pictures and mindfulness prose on every page, it is a book you can dip into when the mood takes you, and you’ll always find something to take away from it.

As a break from all the madness around me, I decided to make a short video, using my own photos and some images from the book, which the author kindly allowed me to do. I couldn’t do any writing, so this seemed as good a way as any to put all the stress behind me for a couple of hours and create my own moment of calm.

The video is on my Facebook author page, you can click here to see it. While it’s true that a book can’t solve your problems, it can help you put things into perspective, realise that others have been through what you’re going through, and fill you with positive thoughts that give you the strength to carry on.

You can find Sarah’s book on Amazon:

Amazon US
Amazon UK

What do you do when you need to take a break from everything and find your own moments of calm? Let me know in the comments.


positive meme

Abel’s Revenge by Ross Greenwood

Pink quill books pick_jpeg

My review for Abel’s Revenge by Ross Greenwood, 4/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I have read a couple of books by this author, and he is very good at taking the reader into the minds of his protagonists and showing them the dark side of human nature. This book is no different – he introduces us to Abel, a man with a difficult childhood, who now wants to bring a city to its knees through terrible acts of crime.

We then follow the story of Dan and Olivia, whose marriage is breaking down, and see things from each character’s point of view. Add a strange postman, an over-friendly milkman, and an obsessed next door neighbour, and there are enough twists to keep you on your toes.

The story is well written and well edited. Dan and Olivia have their flaws and their endearing points, the thoughts in Abel’s head are enough to make your blood run cold, and the twist at the end is very clever.

I gave it 4 stars, however, as I expected more from the ‘thriller’ side of things, based on the beautiful cover and the tag lines. Apart from that, I highly recommend this book. Greenwood has created a masterpiece that delves into the human psyche and shows how easy it is to cross the line that divides us from good and evil.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Interview with Jennifer (The Healer’s Secret)

Thank you for this wonderful interview with Jennifer from The Healer’s Secret, Annette!

A Chat with Annette

The Healer's Secret_kindle coverI’m very happy to welcome a guest from Italy today to chat with me on my sofa. I met Jennifer in a book called “The Healer’s Secret” written by Helen Pryke and her story is filled with loss and heartache. Nevertheless, the lady sitting next to me is looking quite happy. Welcome Jennifer!

Hi Annette, thanks for having me.

Would you like some coffee?

She laughs.
Do you really need to ask that?

No, not really.
Jennifer, you have been incredibly honest when you told your story and I can only marvel at the things you have gone through. For those who know nothing about it, you were born in the UK and then moved over to Italy to spend some time with your mother’s relatives. Tell me, when you first met your Italian relations, were they family to you immediately or rather strangers who grew into family…

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Book review: The Healer’s Secret by Helen Pryke

It was lovely to find this review for The Healer’s Secret from Shuffle Bookbox!

Shuffle Bookbox

Published: 15/11/2017
Publisher: Pink Quill Books
207 pages
Format: Kindle

Jennifer’s life isn’t going as she planned. Fired from her job and on the brink of divorce at thirty-one, her only salvation lies at the bottom of a wine bottle. When her mother insists she get away from everything, she reluctantly agrees to explore her Italian roots in Tuscany.

Staying in her family’s centuries-old cottage, she becomes embroiled in a mysterious tragedy involving her great-grandmother no-one wants to talk about. As she delves further into her ancestors’ history, she discovers there is more to her heritage than meets the eye.

Ghosts from the past could give Jennifer something she thought she’d never have: a future. But that depends on whether she can resist temptation and avoid slipping back into her old ways.

Will she be able to conquer her inner demons and discover the healer’s secret?

51iR7em1KnL.jpg The Healer’s Secret, the book…

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7 Minutes in Heaven by Tracey Ward

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My review for 7 Minutes in Heaven by Tracey Ward, 5/5 stars.

It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).


I’m falling.
I’ve done that a lot this year. I’ve fallen for lies. Fallen in love. Now I’m falling through the water in the lake like I’ve done so often before, but this time is different. This time is going to be my last time.
For everything.
My last breath is rising in a rush of bubbles that hurry to the surface like champagne escaping a bottle. My last sight is the sun watching watery overhead. My last touch is the liquid running through my fingers like silk. Like time. Like every ethereal and untouchable thing in the world. Like laughter. 
And my last thought… my last thought is of him. Of Kyle. I’ll miss him. I hope he’ll miss me. 
It’s a strange hope to have for the guy who just murdered me.
They say that when you die, your brain stays active for seven minutes.
Well, my name is Grace Murray, and these are my minutes…

I loved the idea of this book when I read the blurb, and bought it straight away. I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed!

It starts with Grace Murray who is drowning, and has 7 minutes to relive her life. The story then goes back to the day she met Kyle, a new boy in town. There is an instant attraction and they are soon inseparable. This is not your usual YA, boy meets girl, unrequited love, however. The author has created great characters (I particularly loved Ashley, Grace’s autistic sister) and a great story line.

I did begin to wonder where the ‘7 minutes’ came in – when I found out, the book really took off for me. Grace relives the same moments with a strange feeling of déjà vu, until she works out what’s happening to her. The story could have become bogged down here, but instead the author cleverly twists each repeat so you find out something new every time. Even when Grace finally discovers what really happened to her, that’s not the end of the story.

This book is a real page-turner, and has a satisfying ending. I’ve never read anything by this author before, but I’ll definitely be looking out for more of her books!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Walls of Silence

I love this review for Walls of Silence, it’s lovely to hear when someone is pleasantly surprised by your book. If you’re interested in reading them, both Walls of Silence and The Healer’s Secret are on a Kindle Countdown deal this week!

Karen's Book Buzz Blog

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 15.10.18Genre: Women’s Fiction


Living in the mountains of Sicily, Maria has the perfect childhood until the tragic accident that changes her life forever. The events that follow will take her away from her home town to the streets of Milan, in an ever-increasing spiral of abuse and deception. Will she ever be able to trust anyone ever again? Set in turbulent 1960s Italy, Walls of Silence is the story of a girl who must find the courage and strength to survive her family’s betrayal and the prejudices of her country.

Karen’s Book Buzz Review

I was gifted this book by the author some time ago as part of a prize I won through the Readers Review Room.

I was never sure I wanted to read a story of abuse, so it was put to the back of the shelf, so to speak. I kept seeing the cover each time…

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