#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!


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!


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.


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!


#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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#BookReview for The Innocents (Book 1) by C. A. Asbrey

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My review for The Innocents (Book 1) by C. A. Asbrey, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

Although this book is set in the Old West in the 1800s, this is no ordinary western and Abigail MacKay is no ordinary woman! She is in fact a Pinkerton Detective and is one feisty lady!

I loved this story from the beginning. Abigail is on the trail of Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy, the leaders of The Innocents, a gang that robs from the rich and not from the poor. She bumps into them right away, and a roller-coaster ride of sparring quips, subtle innuendo and humorous one-liners begins!

The story keeps you hooked right from the start, with fake Innocents, the buxom Pearl who runs the local high-class brothel, and various other quirky characters who all fit into the story by the end.

Well written, with lighthearted touches and more serious moments, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about forensics of the time and the steps they were making in catching criminals by using clues from their victims. Abigail is a wonderful character with a mysterious past, which I hope we’ll find out more about in the next books, while Nat and Jake are more complex than they seem.

I highly recommend this book, and can’t wait to read the next two in the series!

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#BookReview for Revenge of the Hooded Claw by Colin Garrow

My review for Revenge of the Hooded Claw (The Watson Letters, Volume 4) by Colin Garrow, 5/5 stars.

This is a fun, tongue-in-cheek read! I’ve never read any of the books in this series before, now I want to read the others! Very cleverly done, in keeping with the spirit of the original books but with a modern touch that adds a saucy tone without going over the top.

Watson is his usual staid self, trying to keep Holmes in check and failing every time, but his wife, Mary, joins them on their adventures, adding a touch of hilarity. She flirts with every male (and female!) they meet, has no problem taking off her clothes in front of strangers, and saves the day more than once!

A fun twist to the original Sherlock Holmes stories, I highly recommend this book if you want to read a book with a good, old-fashioned British sense of humour!

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#BookReview for Brimstone and Ashes: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Good Witch Anais Blue Volume 3 by P. J. Whittlesea


My review for Brimstone and Ashes: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Good Witch Anais Blue Volume 3 by P. J. Whittlesea, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I’m so glad Anais Blue is back! I love her quirky outlook on life, which gets quirkier in every book. In this one, we travel from Malta to Sicily and back again, following Anais on her quest to outwit the Inquisitor and save Nan.

The informative chapters about life, witches and the witching community are cleverly written, and give a completely unique perspective on this subject. I like how they intertwine with whatever is going to happen to Anais next.

The book gives us new details about Anais, her family, and witches in general, while still keeping you guessing where the story is going to go next. A page turner from beginning to end, and a book that older children and adults will enjoy. Highly recommend, and can’t wait for the next one!

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#BookReview for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch

My review for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch, 5/5 stars.

I loved this book so much! Mavis and Dot are complete opposites, but so alike in their quirky ways and outspoken points of view. Mavis is wonderful, open to trying out new things (and men!) but always ending up in hilarious situations. Dot is more reserved, but as we find out more about her past, she worms her way into your heart.

The author has also created some fantastic secondary characters, who are a colourful accompaniment to Mavis and Dot. From a family of immigrants to Mal the dog, they will work their way into your heart and become good friends.

The story makes you laugh out loud at the characters’ antics and feel their pain as they reveal past events, carrying you along to the end and leaving you wanting more. I highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait for more adventures with Mavis and Dot!

The book is also set near to where I used to live in the UK, which made it extra special for me, and Mavis and Dot also take a trip to Tuscany, with hilarious results. I live in Italy, and Angela is spot on with her observations of Italian life!

Angela wrote Mavis and Dot in memory of a dear friend who passed away from cancer recently, and all proceeds will go to cancer research. So, not only do you get to read a wonderful book, but your money also goes towards this worthy cause. 

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#BookReview The Haunting of Hattie Hastings, Part One by Audrey Davis

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

This is a fun, lighthearted book with some laugh out loud moments that’s easy to get into. The characters’ personalities come through immediately, and the bitter-sweet story draws you in. There are also a couple of side stories with Hattie’s mum, brother, and her best friend, which add depth to the book without distracting you from the main story.

Hattie gets annoyed by her husband, Gary, but she loves him really. A tragic event makes her realise just how much she loves him, and she has problems coming to terms with his death. But then Gary comes back – the trouble is, only Hattie can see or hear him. Worried friends and family try to help her, thinking grief has overcome her, until…

That cliffhanger definitely leaves you wanting more! I can’t wait to read part two and see what happens next. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun read with some poignant moments.

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