#BookReview of Chasing Solace by Karl Drinkwater

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

I’ve been dying to read this book ever since I knew Karl Drinkwater was writing the sequel to Lost Solace, so when he asked if I’d like a review copy, I jumped at the chance! You can read my review for Lost Solace here.

This book surpassed all my expectations – Opal is back, feistier than ever, the AI has evolved into a sentient being called Athene, and it’s non-stop action for two-thirds of the book as Opal continues her search for her sister.

The tension begins on the first page, and carries on all the way through almost to the end. There’s a new lost ship, and it’s even scarier than the first one, with a nightmarish layout of an abandoned abattoir inhabited by creatures only Drinkwater’s mind could come up with! I couldn’t put the book down, I had to find out what happened next as Opal makes her way through the spaceship, trailed by…well, you’ll have to read it to find out!

I love how the author gives his AI personality and characteristics that you can relate to – even the AI in Opal’s spacesuit grows on you, leading to a heart-wrenching scene at the end. While Athene fights her own battle with another AI, where the author gives free rein to his imagination.

There are some incredible scenes in this book, some that will keep you on the edge of your seat, others that will take your breath away with the intricate detail and beauty of the narrative. Another great read from Karl Drinkwater that I highly recommend!

Amazon US
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#BookReview for A Time for Challenges by Mette Barfelt

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My review for A Time for Challenges (the Solvik Series, book 6) by Mette Barfelt, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

After the last book in the series, I was interested to see what subject the author would tackle this time. I never thought it would be an unplanned pregnancy! Set in the beautiful fictional town of Solvik, this story follows the trials and tribulations of Tony, Divya and Annabel. Other characters pop in from previous books, adding a touch of familiarity, and new ones are introduced.

Once again Barfelt has created a touching story, taking the reader on an emotional journey as Tony, Annabel and Divya try to work through their problems and find a solution. There are highs and lows, and a bitter-sweet ending that will tug at your heartstrings.

I love this series and can’t wait for the next one, even though it will be the last. I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to all the characters I’ve come to know over time! Highly recommend.

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#BookReview for Random Bullets by Joy Mutter

My review for Random Bullets by Joy Mutter, 5/5 stars.

I’ve read a couple of Joy Mutter’s books, and I have to say, she is the master at creating complex, disturbed characters who you’re not sure if you should feel sorry for or hate!

I love how this story takes off at a running pace, introducing you to the various characters and building up to the inevitable climax. Set in a calm park on a hot summer’s day, everyone taking advantage of the beautiful weather during their lunch breaks, their tranquillity about to be shattered by the sound of a bullet. We are introduced to the secondary characters and left wondering what their fates will be while the author tells us Edward’s story.

Edward is filled with a rage that has been burning for many years, ever since finding out his narcissistic mother disinherited him in her will. The story takes us back to his childhood and adolescence, revealing events that slowly make Edward more and more unhinged, and urging him forward to the fateful day in the park.

Mutter is so good at ‘excusing’ her characters’ behaviour, that it is difficult to decide whether you should hate them or feel sorry for what life has thrown at them. As you read Edward’s back story, you find yourself agreeing with his innermost thoughts, even while being disturbed by them. Not many authors manage to do this, and I commend Mutter for her particular skill at bringing this off!

A great read I highly recommend.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview for The Westwood Witches by Sarah Northwood

Pink quill books pick_jpegThis is my review for The Westwood Witches by Sarah Northwood, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I’ve read all of Sarah Northwood’s books, so when I got the chance to work with Sarah on her latest novel, I was really excited! I’ve seen this book transform from its first draft to the final, polished version it is today, and it has been a privilege to be a part of the whole process. Sarah has worked hard at developing the story into something she should be extremely proud of.

Right from the start, I loved this book! Aero, the protagonist, lacks self-confidence, finds it hard to make friends, and is fed up with being bullied at school. But underneath her timid exterior is a feisty young girl just waiting to come out. And when she inherits something special from her grandmother, her life completely changes.

This story is different from your usual YA. There’s no eye-rolling, or flouncing out of rooms in a huff, or stroppy teenage fights with the parents. And there’s no soppy love story with blatant misunderstandings and teenage angst. Instead, Aero is portrayed as a ‘real’ teenager – one who is trying to find her place in life while dealing with school, studying, and all the usual problems 17-year-olds have to face, which are exacerbated when a tragic event occurs. And of course, Aero is no ordinary 17-year-old girl.

The book is a mix of fun, sadness, hope, terror, new beginnings and sad endings. The reader goes through every emotion with Aero as events unfold and mysteries are revealed. The author has also created a whole new world called the Shadow Realm, filled with mystical creatures, which I look forward to learning more about in the next book.

This is a wonderful, unique YA story that I highly recommend!

You can pre-order it now at the special price of 99c/99p. The book releases on 30 September 2018.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview for Coffee Break Companion by S.L. Grigg

I’m pleased to be part of Sharon Griggs’ blog tour this week. I read her book, Coffee Break Companion, in a couple of days, and thoroughly enjoyed it! Before my review, though, here’s some information about the book and the author.

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Blurb:

Grab that cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer), maybe add a splash of something stronger, settle down and enjoy your break with this gripping collection of flash fiction and poetry that will send shivers down your spine. With an added bonus of a longer story at the end that will fill your lunch break. What are you waiting for? Dive in! Everything from a discovery in an Ice Cavern, to a tornado. Mermaids, and Dragons. Mystery and Horror. This collection of flash fiction and poetry has something to capture anyone’s imagination, with a final chilling thriller that will leave you gasping for air.

About the author:

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This is the first published book by S.L. Grigg having previously written a popular blog on mental health, and having articles published by Mind, the mental health charity, and NHS England. Working for NHS England from a home in Bromsgrove, England, S.L Grigg lives with a partner and two adult children. S.L Grigg has studied everything from Science and Law, to Journalism and Pilates but writing has always been the greatest passion in S.L.Grigg’s life.

www.facebook.com/SLGRIGG76

www.slgrigg76.wordpress.com

Wherever you are in the #World this link will take you to your local #Amazon site so you can pick up a copy of my #firstbook #selfpub #newauthor #indieauthors #free on #Kindleunlimited

https://t.co/3AYfZ79zLl

Here’s my review for Coffee Break Companion, 5/5 stars!

It’s not easy to create credible, interesting characters in a short story, but S.L. Grigg does just that – not once, but over and over again in each story in her book. Be warned, though, and don’t get too attached to the characters – she also has a knack of turning an ordinary, run-of-the-mill situation into terror-filled moments with a twist you won’t see coming.

Right from the start, I understood these stories would be something special, and the author didn’t disappoint. Some are long, some are short, and throughout, the book is interspersed with some wonderful poems that will touch your heart.

A lovely read that I highly recommend.

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Fifty Years of Fear by Ross Greenwood

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My review of Fifty Years of Fear by Ross Greenwood, 5/5 stars.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, and I have to say he creates brilliant characters with incredible depth to them. This is the story of Vincent, told from his point of view, starting from his childhood. The reader is drawn along as events unfold and Vincent’s life goes out of control, apparently through no fault of his own. His mother and his brother appear willing to do anything to keep him out of trouble, but this doesn’t stop him from being arrested and ending up in jail.

Vincent is a complex character, and as you read you find yourself wondering if his version of events is the real one or not. He makes mistakes that cost him dearly; you can see him heading towards disaster, unable to prevent his future from unfolding. The story draws you in, keeping you turning the pages as you follow events spanning fifty years of his life. You’ll also briefly meet characters from his other book, The Boy Inside.

Everything that’s hinted at throughout the book is revealed at the end, leaving you with mixed feelings; is Vincent a nice guy who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or did he bring everything on himself?

This isn’t your usual crime novel, but it gives a great insight on the British prison system, and on the prisoners themselves. A great read, well written and well edited, that I highly recommend. Fifty Years of Fear earns a well-deserved Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

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

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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.” – www.dragonfly-site.com

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

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