#BookReview for The Bus Ride: A Zany Busnapping Adventure by Joanie Chevalier

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My review for The Bus Ride: A Zany Busnapping Adventure by Joanie Chevalier, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

What a wonderfully funny, quirky, sometimes sad, often laugh-out-loud novella. Just the idea of someone carrying out a busnapping is enough to make you pick it up, and the promise is fulfilled with the characters the author has created. People from all walks of life, easily relatable, immediately endearing, they add a rich depth to the story.

Each character is given a nickname, and his or her background is slowly revealed as the story develops. What could have been a macabre tale is instead full of emotion, wit, heartache and joy, as the reader is pulled into the characters’ lives, travelling alongside them on their journey of self-discovery.

A well-written novella whose characters will remain with you long after you finish reading it. Highly recommend!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview for The Watson Letters: Murder on Mystery Island by Colin Garrow

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My review for The Watson Letters Volume 5: Murder on Mystery Island, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

This is the second book in the series I’ve read, and I loved it! The author does a fantastic job of taking the original characters and weaving a completely new layer onto them, with incredible results. Full of wit, dry British humour, and a smattering of innuendo, plus quite a few bodies for Holmes and Watson to deal with, this is a story everyone will enjoy.

Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade all make an appearance, along with the Queen of crime, Agatha Christie. But my favourite has to be Mary Watson, with her inimitable way of reviving someone who’s fainted, and her not-so-innocent comments that will make you laugh out loud.

This is a great read that I highly recommend to everyone!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview for The Haunting of Hattie Hastings by Audrey Davis

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My review for The Haunting of Hattie Hastings by Audrey Davis, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

I love these stories, full of dry British humour, awkward situations, and some poignant moments too. The ghostly part of it is done just right – not too much, and not so little you wish there was more. Each one ends on a cliffhanger, so it’s lovely to have all three books in one, so you can carry on reading right away!

You can instantly relate to the characters, and feel like you’ve known them for years. There are some you’ll love, like Hattie and Cat, and others you’ll dislike intensely! There’s a certain ex-husband I’d like to slap!

This is a story of overcoming grief, of finding one’s way in the world, of friendship, of love, of abuse, of the impossible becoming possible. Beautifully written, it keeps you turning the pages, eager to find out how it finishes for everyone. Highly recommend!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#Freebook: Adventure in Malasorte Castle by Julia E. Clements

Today and tomorrow you can download Adventure in Malasorte Castle for free! With an abandoned castle, a disgusting demon, and a group of kids who have to break a centuries-old curse, this fun adventure story for children age 8-12 is perfect for Halloween.

You can get your free copy here: getbook.at/MalasorteCastle

Please leave a review if you enjoy it, so other readers can discover the book too!

Blurb:

An abandoned castle, a valley infested by evil spirits, and a cursed family … an exciting new adventure for the River Hawks!

Twelve-year-old Izzy is excited to be spending the summer holidays with her Italian grandmother. She eagerly listens to spine-tingling tales of the evil spirits that once infested Val De Monio, in awe of the Guardians who did battle with them. But when Gran tells her about a Mazzapeghoul, a wicked demon, still inhabiting Malasorte Castle, Izzy starts to doubt whether her stories are true.

When her new-found Italian friends suggest spending a night in Malasorte Castle to prove it isn’t haunted, she jumps at the chance to join them. But things start going bump in the night, and they begin to wonder if the Mazzapeghoul is more than just a local myth.

Why did the last members of the family flee the castle in 1932, leaving it empty and desolate? Can Izzy and her friends solve the puzzle and break the curse on the castle before it’s too late?

Readers’ Favorite 5-star review:

What did you do on your summer vacation? Izzy visited her grandmother in Italy and what an adventure she had. Adventure in Malasorte Castle by Julia E. Clements shares the escapades of Izzy and her new friends as they learn of Izzy’s grandmother’s stories of evil spirits and haunted castles.

Izzy and her friends decide to spend the night in the local supposedly haunted castle to prove it really isn’t haunted. Izzy takes her grandmother’s spell book just in case they need to cast out any evil demons. Deciphering her grandmother’s spell book and putting the spell into action help the group become friends forever.

Adventure in Malasorte Castle is a fun read and will keep the young reader turning the pages. The prologue set the mood of the book and provided a great hook. The theme of making friends is one that readers this age will connect with. I also loved the building of relationships between a grandmother and her grandchild. With a touch of demons and magic spells, Julia E. Clements stirs up a story that the young reader will enjoy.

Izzy’s parents are going through a hard time and she worries about whether they will divorce. This issue is one that many young readers face today and the hope provided for them in the story – that things will be okay in the end – is a great bond for them. I recommend Adventure in Malasorte Castle for middle grade readers and, as an adult, even I enjoyed it!

getbook.at/MalasorteCastle

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#BookReview for Wonky Inn Series, books 1-8 by Jeannie Wycherley

I picked up the first book in the series when the author gave it away for free on Amazon, and was immediately hooked by this charming series. So when I got Kindle Unlimited for 3 months, I made it my mission to read all 8 books!

Alf is such a lovable character, and as the series progresses she overcomes her lack of self confidence, becoming feistier and stronger with each book. Unlucky in love, she has the added benefit of being able to turn annoying exes into toads if she wishes!

Each story has a murder mystery to solve, with the wonky inn and Alf right in the middle of things. There are ghosts, resident and non, vampires, a mysterious association that is trying to drive Alf away, dead bodies turning up, and even an episode of The Great Witchy Cake Off!

Full of dry British humour, great characters (good and bad), love and sadness, each book just gets better and better. I hope there are more to come, after Alf’s Mission Impossible antics in book 8!

These books are great fun to read, reminiscent of Midsomer Murders (with not quite as many deaths!) in their charm and gentle narrative. I highly recommend you pick up the whole series and let yourself be transported to the wonky inn for some well-deserved rest and relaxation!

Link to book 1, Amazon US
Link to book 1, Amazon UK

#BookReview for Helene (Lost Tales of Solace Book 1) by Karl Drinkwater

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My review for Helene (Lost Tales of Solace Book 1) by Karl Drinkwater, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information.)

Having read the two full-length novels, I was looking forward to this novella from the series. And it didn’t disappoint!

It takes us back to the beginning, when Clarissa was an emergent AI who still had to learn much about life – especially how to tell a joke! The interaction between Helene and the AI is just as amusing, descriptive, and wonderful as it is in the other two books, this is Drinkwater at his best!

I love the universe that has been created here, and how each book reveals a little more. I can’t wait for the next instalment! I highly recommend the whole series.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview for The Wonkiest Witch by Jeannie Wycherley

My review for The Wonkiest Witch: Wonky Inn Book 1 by Jeannie Wycherley, 5/5 stars.

I loved this book right from the beginning. The writing style is fun and relaxed, and the story draws you in. After reading a lot of dark psychological thrillers lately, this was just what I needed!

The protagonist, Alfhild Daemonne, has denied her witch powers for years. But after inheriting a wonky inn and most of a village in the middle of the countryside, she decides to leave London and start a new, quieter life.

Like most plans, nothing goes as expected and she finds herself in the middle of a battle between good and evil, with her inn at the centre.

This is a wonderful cozy mystery, with great characters, a beautiful setting, and a couple of twists along the way. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series and seeing what Alf gets up to next! Highly recommend.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#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.

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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:

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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

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