Pink Quill Book Picks

On this blog, I only post reviews for books by indie authors that I’ve really enjoyed reading, and my ratings are always 4 or 5 stars. I’m honest in my reviews and point out the positive things about the books and what I liked. If I don’t finish a book, or I can’t give it at least 4 stars, then I don’t post a review here.

However, the one thing I see over and over again are books that haven’t been through a proofreader or an editor, and are full of spelling mistakes, incorrect words, and punctuation that’s either missing or used wrongly. Some of the most common are it’s instead of its, or vice-versa, reign instead of rein, ‘s for plurals, misplaced capital letters…the list goes on.

I know that no book is perfect (even traditionally-published books have typos!), and I find errors in my own books that I correct as soon as I notice them. But if I can give one word of advice to indie authors, it would be to get your books proofread, as a minimum, before publishing. If you shop around, you’ll find someone who will fit your budget – although always ask for recommendations, as cheap doesn’t mean good. I’m also a translator, as well as a writer, and I’ve had clients come to me with ‘translated’ documents I ‘just need to check over’ that would make you cry.

As you can see from the footer, I am also a proofreader – that isn’t why I’m writing this article. I also know a fantastic editor, Joanie Chevalier, who, like me, offers good-quality services at affordable prices for indie authors. (OK, plug over.) I’m writing this article to try and convince authors that getting their work proofread is an essential part of the publishing process, both for their reputation as a writer and for readers.

This year, I’ve decided to award a Pink Quill Book Pick badge to those books I read that are well-written and well-edited, with a minimal amount of typos and errors. I’ve awarded two so far, and I hope to be giving many more during the year!

Whether you’re an author or a reader, what do you think?



Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles by J.M. Sullivan

My review of Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles by J.M. Sullivan, 5/5 stars.

This is a well-written, fresh take on the post-apocalyptic zombie novel with lots of Alice in Wonderland references that will amuse you as you read. The Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Red Queen and many more are all in there, under various disguises.

Alice must set off on a quest to save her sister, Dinah, from turning into a momerath, and her journey is just as surreal as the original Alice’s.

Even though there are zombies, there is very little gore, and the book is based more on its characters and their interaction – which makes it a fun, interesting read. It’s definitely a post-apocalyptic novel with a difference!

A page-turner to the end, which is a cliffhanger, this is a great debut YA novel. I look forward to seeing how the story develops.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

A Light in the Dark by Kelly Bedford

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My review for A Light in the Dark by Kelly Bedford, 5/5 stars.
For more information about the Pink Quill Book Pick badge, click here.

This is a great post-apocalyptic story, without a zombie in sight! Gracie has a special gift that allows her to hear voices from dead people and pass on messages to their loved ones. Once a year, she goes to stay in a camp with other people who have similar powers, which helps her cope with this unwanted gift.

When the power suddenly goes off all over the planet, she finds herself all alone in a frightening new world where all the rules have changed. She embarks on a long journey to reach the camp, where the only people she knows can help her, and meets Andy, a young boy who is just like her.

This is a well-written story that keeps you turning the pages, eager to find out what happens next. Gracie and Andy are great characters who develop a fantastic brother/sister relationship that helps add lighthearted moments all the way through.

I really enjoyed this book, the ending didn’t disappoint, and even though it is a standalone novel, I hope that the author will be continuing this story. Note: the author informs me that a second novel is on the way!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

The Healer’s Secret on Kindle Countdown!


The Healer’s Secret is set in Gallicano, a small village in Tuscany. The protagonist, Jennifer, is a 35-year-old English woman who is going through a rough period in her life – her husband is about to divorce her and she loses her job due to her drinking problem. Taking her mum’s advice, she goes to Tuscany to stay in her great-grandmother’s cottage and meet the Italian side of her family. But events don’t go exactly as she planned, and instead of a relaxing holiday in the sun she finds herself in the middle of a family mystery. With her overwhelming Italian relatives, a half-crazy uncle, and an attractive Englishman to complicate matters, will Jennifer ever manage to sort her life out?

The Healer’s Secret


Here’s an excerpt from the book:

I couldn’t hold back any more. I ran to the cupboard, unlocked it and took out the bottle of fruits of the forest wine. I placed it on the kitchen table and took a corkscrew out of the cutlery drawer, anticipating the ritual uncorking with growing excitement. The pop of the cork, the delightful smell as I inhaled its rich, fruit scent with musky undertones… then an image of Mum standing before me with folded arms leapt into my head, a disappointed expression on her face.

“I’m sorry, Mum,” I whispered. “I can’t, not right now. Please understand.” The image disappeared and all I could see was the open bottle on the table, the empty glass next to it. That glug glug sound as I poured the wine, the glass filling with the deep red liquid, not a drop spilt as I gave the bottle a final twist and put it back down with a flourish.

“One glass,” I murmured, “just one.” I squeezed the cork back into the bottle and replaced it in the cupboard in the hallway, locking it away. I removed the key and put it in a kitchen drawer, out of temptation’s way. The glass was still on the table, majestically waiting for me. I wanted to drain it in one gulp; my body was crying out for its sweet nectar, but there was a small, masochistic part of me that wanted to make me suffer for this prize.

I carefully carried the glass outside to the sun lounger, picked up my book, and sat down. “You’re going to enjoy this drink,” I told myself sternly, “just like anyone else would. A nice, relaxing glass of wine after a hard day’s work in the garden.” I put the glass close to my nose and breathed in. My head was filled with the scent of alcoholic fumes with a hint of raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, such a wonderful aroma that made my mouth water. I took a sip, closed my eyes, and waited. The flavour was an intense fruity mix that hit the back of my throat, followed by an instant warmth spreading through my stomach. It felt so good, so right, so… natural.

By the time I finished the glass, the sun had disappeared behind the nearby hills and the air was growing chilly. The last birds swooped crazily in the sky, their final moments of freedom before it was time to roost. A dragonfly flitted in front of my face, startling me.

“Oh, shoo,” I said, watching as it flew away. I was feeling relaxed, happy, more at peace with the world than I’d felt in a long time. The dragonfly came back, perched on the arm of the sun lounger, then flitted away again as I moved my hand. I smiled. When it came back a third time, I stayed completely still. It hovered in front of my nose, flew a few metres to my right, returned, then flew away again in the same direction. Curious, I watched it. It repeated the same movement several times.

“It’s almost as if it wants me to follow it,” I whispered. Then I laughed out loud. “Good grief, get a grip. You’ve only had one glass!”

But something was happening. My senses felt sharper than usual, I could hear insects moving in the grass at my feet, the leaves above me sucking nutriment from the tree, birds’ feathers rustling in the wind as they flew high in the sky. Strange, sweet perfumes floated through the air that I’d never smelt before, unrecognisable but somehow familiar. I could feel the vibrations coming from the dragonfly’s wings as it beat them at an impossible speed to hover before me.

As if in a dream, I stood up and followed the dragonfly. It led me down towards the end of the garden where I hadn’t yet had the chance to explore, through a small gate in an overgrown hedge to a wild, unkempt area. Here there were fruit bushes strangled by weeds, and brambles grew over everything, catching on my clothes as I made my way through the tangled undergrowth. It was strangely alluring, this patch of unexpected wilderness. The dragonfly stopped a few metres ahead of me, hovered for a few seconds, then flew straight up in the sky and disappeared out of sight. I went over to where it had been a moment before and saw that there was a huge mass of ivy growing up from the ground. The sky was getting darker now, but I could see a shape underneath the ivy. I pulled a few strands, and suddenly the whole thing came away in my hands. I looked closely at what I had uncovered and screamed.


Dragonflies are a recurrent theme throughout the story, appearing whenever there is something momentous about to happen in someone’s life.

“The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self-realisation; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.” –

I found this information on the above website – I’d never heard that dragonflies symbolise this, and I’d already written the book by the time I found out! When you read it, you’ll see why this is so incredible.


The Healer’s Secret was published on the 15th January. Since then, it’s had almost 10,000 page reads and some glowing reviews! So I’ve decided to put it on a Kindle Countdown promo for the next seven days in the UK and US.

Buy on Amazon UK
Buy on Amazon US

If you do download my book, I’d love to hear what you think of it. You can contact me on all the social media links at the bottom of the page.

And please consider leaving a review, it would be very much appreciated!


Walls of Silence

My first book I ever published, Walls of Silence, is free for the next 5 days. This will probably be the last time I’ll be giving it away for free as in the future I’ll be doing Kindle Countdown deals.

Download for free on Amazon

Here’s the blurb:

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.

This isn’t an easy book to read as it deals with sensitive issues such as child abuse, domestic violence, and prostitution, but on the whole feedback has been very positive. I wrote this book when I was coming out of a psychologically abusive marriage, and while it’s not my own story, there are elements of me in it, in particular the emotions Maria feels.

Here are a couple of the reviews Walls of Silence has received:

“Walls of Silence is one of those books that I will remember. I had no idea what to expect as knew nothing about the author or the subject matter beforehand. I felt emotionally drained by the end of it, as it’s a tale of a woman who is sexually and emotionally abused and disbelieved from childhood. I was livid with so many characters in the book, both the vile perpetrators and those who turned a blind eye to the torrent of endless abuse that came Sicilian Maria’s way. Her father was such a spineless creature, I still feel angry when I think of him. My hackles rose so often during reading this powerful book because the author breathed life into the characters so well. If the reader has been abused and disbelieved in any way, this book will reignite those feelings. It was hard to credit that so much relentless abuse and injustice could fall on one poor woman’s head, but it can happen and does. Although there was much sexual abuse in the book, it was not gratuitously sexual, because this difficult subject was handled with great sensitivity. Maria is not the only woman to come to harm in the book, but it is mostly her hard-hitting story. The author painted such a vivid picture of life in Sicily and Milan, places I’ve never visited, she gave me a strong sense of the place, time, and people due to her beautifully crafted, well-edited text. I look forward to reading more of Helen Pryke’s books and thoroughly recommend Walls of Silence.”

“There’s times when you read a book an it captures a little piece of you and won’t let go. This is a story of hopelessness, of fear, of pain, of desperation, and coversly, of courage, strength and hope. The story follows Maria’s life from a sexually abused child, to a battered wife and then a woman forced into prostitution. It is harrowing and upsetting, but written very sympathetically by this very talented author. I wouldn’t have been brave enough to write about such taboo subjects, but Walls of Silence is a wonderful example of sensitive story telling written extremely well. I highly recommend this book, but get your tissues ready, you’re going to need them!”

“Wow. This book was so beautifully written. Superbly edited too, which is a plus.
Based in Italy in the 60s, it approaches the taboo subject of sexual abuse. The story of Maria broke my heart and because it triggered some unwanted feelings, I almost tossed it away. But I’m glad I kept reading, as it showed me how Maria persevered and how the human spirit can conquer fear, and succeed, despite being beaten down to a low that many only hear about. I loved how author Pryke pulled everything together at the end sharing that we need to keep talking about this subject, be a supportive network, and most importantly, help change women’s attitudes towards themselves.”

If you do read my book, please let me know what you think of it, either in the comments below or via my Facebook author page. And please leave a review! x

Isolation Junction

Free on Kindle from the 8th-12th January

I have read this incredibly emotional book, and am pleased to let you know that the author is giving it away for free for 5 days. You can read my review here. I always support authors, like Jennifer, who have written books about abuse. Yes, they are difficult to read, but I think we owe it to these people (mostly women, but men, go through it as well) to listen to their stories so that we can learn, and help ensure that future generations don’t suffer in this way. I have also worked with Jennifer on her second book, Clipped Wings, where I tell my own story of abuse.

Below, Jennifer explains why she has decided to let people download her book for free for the first time ever.

Jennifer Gilmour speaks about why she is giving her novel away for FREE

My name is Jennifer Gilmour and I am a survivor of domestic abuse, I have published two books both with a focus on raising awareness about domestic abuse at their core. Whilst both aim to raise this awareness one is written as a work of  fiction whilst the other is a compilation of survivor stories and therefore non-fiction. Both work in different ways to educate and raise awareness of this insidious and unacceptable behaviour.

Over Christmas, incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police rise. Assault and domestic murders increase 25% during the festive period with a third of them been on Christmas Day itself. Bombarded with images of the perfect nuclear family gathered around the gold baubles of a Christmas tree, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is a time of coercion, punishment and violence for many women* and men.

Now I know it isn’t Christmas anymore but January can be just as bad because all those credit card bills come in alongside your usual direct debits. There is even a day in January called Blue Monday and this year its on the 15th. The date is generally reported as falling on the third Monday in January, but also on the second or fourth Monday, or the Monday of the last full week of January.

The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.

Can you imagine this formula and applying it to an abusive relationship?

For 5 days my debut novel Isolation Junction is going to be FREE on Amazon Kindle, this is the first time ever to happen. It’s the week before Blue Monday, I wonder if those reading will be inspired to take action?

I ask you all to share the link and break the silence surrounding domestic abuse.

UK link:
US link:

kindle only mock up

Here is some more information about Jennifer and her novels.

Information about Isolation Junction:

Isolation Junction was fully funded by a Kickstarter Campaign which over funded at 110%.

Over eighteen months within 2015-2016 I wrote my first novel with the aim of not only raising awareness of an insidious behaviour which brings hidden misery to so many but of bringing about changes at a national level.  A ‘survivor’ myself, I am well aware that changes to national policies and working practices are still needed so that situations in which women (and men) present in emotionally abusive situations are recognised and dealt with appropriately and with compassion.

I believe that particular training needs to be focused on recognising the perpetrators of this behaviour, as often they are very persuasive people who are able to manipulate the services themselves.

Kickstarter link:


Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

About the author:

Born in the north-east, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recover programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.


 What was your original inspiration to start to write?

 I was on an awareness course about Domestic Abuse. Alongside me were about 8 other women who had been in abusive relationships. As the day progressed, I found that I simply couldn’t believe that some of what the other women were saying was exactly what I had gone through but just in a different format. Domestic Abuse tends to go in a cycle and whichever way it begins, the behaviour spirals again and again. At first it could be months between incidents but for me, as time went on there were many instances within one day. It is quite normal to try to prevent the cycle from starting again by changing your behaviour as much as possible. By the end of the course I had come to understand that we were all subjected to the same behaviour and that no one knew before that this could even happen to someone i.e. that a relationship can be so unhealthy and soul destroying. I realised that others simply needed to know more about this unacceptable behaviour; they needed to see the warning signs before the relationship goes further or the behaviour gets even more serious.  On the other hand I needed others to see the behaviour for what it is. If people are in a relationship and the behaviour within it is not acceptable and is not their fault, it can’t simply be changed by changing yourself.

How do you focus and not let your work with domestic abuse affect you emotionally?I knew I had a story to tell and with my previous unfinished written work I realised my first novel had to be more than a book but a message – a way for others to be able to pass a book on to help victims and to get the penny to drop and bring about realisation of what is happening sooner. This means that when the relationship ends victims and survivors realise they are not the only ones out there and its ok to talk about the abuse.

 Originally I didn’t look after myself and worked on Isolation Junction, blog posts and research even if I wasn’t in a good place. I couldn’t switch off to what I felt needed to be exposed and couldn’t understand why something so common was hidden so well. It did take its toll on me and I am happy to admit and address this. The solution was simple and that was to train myself to channel my thoughts and focus on my current happenings and not letting my mind wander. It can be still a challenge but I feel like I manage myself better and take a healthier approach.

How do you direct people who may need support after reading your books?

 At the end of my books there is a message from me which include the UK 24-hour free-phone National Domestic Violence helpline, which is 0808 2000 247. There is also a support page on my website;

I do receive a lot of messages and I have personally referred to local centres, once I directed someone in Africa to her local support service. I have been a listening ear to many as well, the first step is telling someone about whats happened to you and so I urge anyone to speak to a ‘safe’ person or service. ‘safe’ meaning someone who isn’t involved with the perpetrator or who you most certainly can be trusted and will help you.

 What do you do aside from writing?

I am a mum of three which keeps me pretty busy when I am not writing; I have a 5, 7 and almost 2 year old. As a family we enjoy the hobby Geocaching which gets us out and about, learning about the local area as well as having some fun. It can get rather competitive, if you haven’t heard of it Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

I am also a Jamberry Nail Wraps Consultant which brings in most of my income to support my work in the domestic abuse sector including my writing. You can find out more about that on my other website:



 Ice cold rain splattered her face; her toes and fingers were numb and yet she sat there huddled up and gently rocking herself. It was a black night with no stars, like someone had just switched off the sky. The only light shining on her face was the orange glow of a single street light. Rose couldn’t cope anymore, she was crying into her hands so hard it hurt her heart; it was a deep spike of a pain rushing through her body and this wasn’t the first time she had felt it.

Within the book;

Rose woke up at lunch time the next morning with a pounding headache and dry mouth; she had never slept this long since before Millie-Rose was born. Next to her on the bedside table she saw a glass of fresh orange, a glass of water, a cup of tea and a cup of coffee that Tim had made for her. Rose could hear some pottering about going on downstairs and she put on Tim’s robe that was hung up behind the door and went to investigate. Tim was cleaning up and had breakfast ready to cook.

“I didn’t know what you would like so I got everything. Cooked breakfast? Croissants? Cereal?”

Rose blushed and smiled as she looked and saw the selection; she felt so cared for instantly.

 Within the book;

 It was past midnight and we were still playing and I was starting to get really tired, the tired that you just need to drag yourself to bed or you will be asleep on the sofa, floor, toilet wherever you may be.

“OK, I’m really tired now so let’s call it a day.” I had suggested this as one of us always called it whenever it was just too tiring to carry on.

I didn’t expect his snappy response, “Look, we’re not going to bed until I beat you…and don’t think about just letting me win.”

I laughed as I thought he was joking and tired but he wasn’t. “I’m being serious you know, it’s pissing me off, it’s a fucking stupid game anyway.”

I didn’t really know how to take Darren at times and this was one of them. I didn’t know if he was going to turn around and generally laugh at the fact he was getting frustrated or if he was going to turn around and an awkward atmosphere would come.

I sat for half an hour because I knew that I couldn’t let him win.



Clipped Wings on Amazon UK;
Clipped Wings on Amazon USA;
Goodreads author profile;
Clipped Wings on Goodreads;
Huffington post blogger profile;

Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater

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My review for Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater, 5/5 stars.
For more information about the Pink Quill Book Pick badge, click here.

This is another horror writer who has branched out into different genre, and yet again I was bowled over by this book. I’m a self-confessed Star Trek/Doctor Who geek, with a bit of Alien thrown in as well, which is probably why I loved it so much!

Lost Solace has an action-packed story line that doesn’t let you pause for breath, a flawed, female protagonist who you can’t help liking, and a ship AI that seems almost human. For most of the book, these two are the only characters as the story plays out in real time, but their interactions and dialogue are so cleverly written that you don’t even notice.

Even though we don’t know anything about Opal at the beginning, her strong character, sense of humour, and moral judgement shine through immediately. We join the story as Opal, having hacked the onboard AI and given it the name and voice of Clarissa, an unknown person who we learn about at the end, is about to go aboard the Lost Ship in search of…something. But things don’t seem right on the ship, and Opal has the feeling she is not alone.

The tension throughout the book is unrelenting, and keeps you turning the pages. I have read several of Karl’s horror stories, and he is definitely the master of keeping you on the edge of  your seat! The ending leaves a few unresolved questions, which I hope will be answered in the next book! Well written and well edited, with a beautiful cover as well, I highly recommend this book.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

2018 Best Life Workbook

A great workbook for the new year!

Hello my lovelies,

If you’ve followed my blog over the years, you’ll know I’m a big fan of yearly workbooks.  I’ve done the Leonie Dawson workbooks for the past 3 years running and loved them.  They’ve really helped me to get in touch with what I really want in life and I’ve actually achieved quite a few goals including getting my drivers licence!  And yet, there were other resources I have found on my online travels that I thought would have been fantastic added to such a workbook.  I craved something that was all encompassing and a bit… well… more.

So I created the workbook I’d been dreaming about and I’ve called it the Well Being Workbook.

2018 best life workbook

It is based on the types of questions and prompts that inspire deep thoughts and stir long yearned for dreams.  It’s the kind of place where you can get in touch with the…

View original post 124 more words

The Final Wish of Maggie Bosworth

My review for The Final Wish of Maggie Bosworth by Brian O’Gorman, 5/5 stars.

I’ve read a few horror books by Brian O’Gorman, so I was interested to see what this one would be like, having heard it was completely different. I’m pleased to say there wasn’t a single spider in this book, man-eating or otherwise! This book was a pleasant surprise, showing another side to Brian’s talents. He has written a moving story that shows how betrayal affects a woman emotionally, but can also make her stronger, and keeps you turning the pages.

Just when Maggie Bosworth thinks her life is all sorted, her husband springs a nasty surprise on her and she has to start all over again. Her two children’s lives are also affected by their father’s actions, as they evaluate their own relationships.

This bittersweet story is sometimes sad and sometimes funny, as the reader follows Maggie on her journey of self-discovery.

But as with any book by this author, I waited to see where the story was going to go and wasn’t disappointed with its magical twist and surprising ending!

I’d like to thank Brian for giving me a pdf copy of his book.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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