Back to reading now, just love it …

After our whirlwind trip overseas we are now just about over the jet lag and I’ve been catching up on my reading.

when the lyrebird calls coverWithin four days I’d read two books, the first ‘When the Lyrebird Calls’ by Kim Kane.

I’d put this book on Goodreads before going on holiday kim kane bio picand read it in two days on our return. That means it grabbed me from the start and was a real page turner.

After seeing Kim Kane at Somerset Literature Festival earlier this year, I was intrigued to see how her detailed research would help the book evolve. I was delighted to see how the history of pre-Federation Australia wound its way into this time slip story.

carole wilkinson bio picTwo days later I’d read ‘Dragonkeeper’ by Carole Dragonkeeper coverWilkinson.

This is an amazing book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

A slave girl without a name learns how to look after a dragon and discovers her own inner strength and abilities. Ancient China, Han Dynasty comes alive within these pages.

This is a series I will need to complete, and soon.

Liverpool magical musical tour…

Waking up to a Liverpool morning on the 22nd June

imageWe began a walk to the docks and took a ride on the Liverpool Eye. Then strolled on to the Liverpool Museum and saw and eight-minute surround sound film on the Beatles show and the stage John and Paul met.

Left there to take the obligatory snap with The Fab Four statue on the imageEsplanade.

outside the Cavern Club

The highlight of the day though, The Cavern Club! Truly magical with a live singer stirring the Beatles songs and we sang till we had no voices left.

 

 

 

 

(this draft post got caught in an internet wormhole)

 

 

 

Book Review – Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky by Robert Newton reviewed by Jill Smith

 

Mr Romanov's Garden in the sky coverLexie felt her whole world was grey. The Commission building, she lived in sucked the life out of her. Her mother was a junkie and mostly not around, and when she was, she wasn’t with her.  It was Lexie’s thirteenth birthday and she planned to celebrate. She raced to the shop, dodging Gordo, the tough bully who was squeezing money out of everyone in the complex. That’s when she spied a lonely figure on the roof. The Creeper was an old guy and Lexie couldn’t just watch him jump from the roof. A couple of days before the Creepers’ dog had been thrown off the roof. She raced up to the top of the building to talk. From then on everything changed for Lexie.

She discovered Mr Romanov was just a lonely old man living in squalor. She decided that she would get his place cleaned up. The managed to get her friend Davey to come and help. They talked to Mr Romanov and discovered he was harmless and had a secret plan to build a roof garden. It was a crazy idea and before they knew it the three of them were putting the boxes together and shovelling in the soil Mr Romanov had been bringing up, bit by bit, over the previous few years. He was called the Creeper because he always Robet Newton Somerset 2017wore a trench coat went out in the early evenings, now they knew why he’d been doing this.

Lexie had a dream to go to Surfer’s Paradise. When her dad was alive they camped in her room and he would lay out maps and ask where she wanted to go. She always said the same destination. It was her dream to get away from a grey world and find one filled with colour. Davey had his own dream destination and now their new friend Mr Romanov had a car and could take them away. The three set off on a road trip after a run in with Gordo, when Mr Romanov got the upper hand he made an enemy that would have repercussions.

The journey takes them to unexpected places. Lexie and Davy discover Mr Romanov is unwell, the old car is unregistered, and the old man doesn’t even have a licence. They learn about friendship and what their real goals are. Lexie keeps going even when she finds out her mother has had an overdose and is in the hospital.

I loved how these three misfits discovered their respective goals were not what they imagined. That returning to the Commission wasn’t so bad. I’m sure that kids of all ages will relate to the feeling of not belonging and trying to find a place to be yourself.

robert newton book reading firefighterI had the pleasure of seeing Robert speak at Somerset Literary Festival earlier this year and to get a signed copy of this book. He is an engaging speaker, as a fellow writer, I loved that he told the kids; ‘I can see me stop being a firefighter but not stop being a writer.’ It is an all-encompassing obsession we share.

This is my Goodreads review: In brief, this is a YA’s coming of age story. Fitzroy Commission units couldn’t be greyer and the friendship forged by simply being able to share the worst cards life can deal out, brilliantly woven into the story. Would Lexie ever get to Surfer’s Paradise? Would Davey get his wish? And why did Mr Romanov have a dream about building a garden in the sky?

 

 

Jack of Spades by Sophie Masson reviewed by Jill Smith©May17

jack-of-spades-final-front-cover-pubLinda is not your normal sixteen-year-old. She is feisty and adventurous in a genteel age when girls are expected to be polite, chaperoned and groomed to marry.

It is May 1910 and her father is in Paris on a research trip. Linda is worried about him. Even more so when she receives a Jack of Spades playing card in the mail. The envelope was not in her father’s hand, or was there anything with it to give her a clue, but, she knows it’s a sign from him, a code they both know. The Jack of Spades is a sign of danger.

Without alerting anyone Linda decides to leave for Paris immediately. She has been there with her father and has friends she hopes to stay with while she searches for her father. She knows his favourite places and where he usually works. Feeling confident in her own competence she leaves Britain.sophie masson bio pic

On arriving in Paris, she is accosted but the thief is thwarted when she is assisted by a gallant young man, who offers to help her.

The illustrations throughout the book are delightful. The Victorian railway station illustration with Linda gathering up her belongings and meeting her new friend is a clue to where the story leads.

What she finds in Paris is intrigue and mystery filled with danger. What was her father really doing? Where is he now? Who can she trust? Her friends are not at home and she has nowhere to stay. A single unchaperoned girl alone in a city. Her new friend offers to refer her to acceptable accommodation and there she meets interesting characters and a scoundrel.

While searching for her father Linda finds a trail of murders and shady characters. Her investigations put herself and her new friends in peril.

This book is a delight with mystery, a budding romance, and a tenacious and inquisitive teenage girl as the lead character. I loved it!

Cover reveal…

Dual Visions new (3)I’ve been working on putting my re-edited edition of Dual Visions with it’s follow up book Vashla’s World together for impending release. Having fun and super excited with the results. Thanks immensely for Kate Russell for the cover compilation and assist from Luka! Doing a happy dance!VW Cover

 

 

 

 

I think the revised Dual Visions cover is great and the Vashla’s World cover is amazing!

What do you think?

Once I’ve pressed the button to say go on these I can get back to editing the great stories for The Ten Penners adventure anthology ‘Mystery, Mayhem & Magic’ which is shaping up to be a brilliant group of stories.

It’s all happening folks!

Books I bought at Somerset 2017…

Here are the reviews I did of a couple of books I bought at Somerset Literary Festival this year. I’ll post a couple more tomorrow. Yes, they are Young Adults books.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar17

Starlight Stables – Pony detectives by Soraya Nicholas

Soraya NicholasThis is the first book I bought at Somerset Celebration of Literature 2017! My granddaughters are mad on horses. Not having had anything to do with horses myself, I have to say it appears to me that horses are a lot of work, and each one has a different personality just as their riders do.

I loved this story about Poppy the twelve-year-old who was visiting her Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark, who run Starlight Stables. Having had a very difficult year with her mum and brother having to move away with the tragedy of losing her father, her trip is to help her be a kid and just go riding.Starlight Stables Pony Detectives Soraya N

Poppy gets the best present she could wish for, her own horse Crystal a Welsh/Arab. The surprises don’t stop there, they introduce her to two new girls who will be working and riding with her helping clean the stables. Millie and Katie quickly become best friends and like Poppy, they have been given the opportunity to have their own horses at the stables to trail ride whenever they want to, in exchange for work and help around the stables. Milly gets to ride Joe who is three-quarters Arab with a mischievous nature, which Poppy discovers suits his rider. Then Katie gets Cody a palomino. The riding lessons commence immediately and the girls learn a lot from dressage riding champion Sophie.

When the girls hear about horses being stolen in the area they decide to find them. That’s when the trouble begins. If they go to investigate they may lose all their privileges and be sent back home. They may even have their horses taken away. The three headstrong girls set out to find the missing horses.

I enjoyed the easy flowing style of Soraya’s writing showing the details of riding, sitting in the saddle and different types of events to train for while pushing the story forward.

Book Review By Jill Smith©April17

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

ophelia-and-the-marvellous-boy coverI love the cover of this book, that’s why I bought it.

The story is as surprising as The Marvelous Boy and the heroine Ophelia. She is small for her age, constantly asking questions and looking at everything from a scientific viewpoint. That hardly works when she makes friends with the boy sent by Wizards to save the world. Everything he tells her about the Snow Queen and magic is unbelievable. She confronts her fears and collects the keys while searching for the boy’s magical sword.

I particularly loved that she didn’t believe in ghosts and is still grieving the loss of her mother when her mother is there, at her shoulder and in her ear, helping her along the way. In a modern world of machines and facts, this is a delightful step into a possible other-world, all very cold and miserable that could be overcome by The Snow Queen. The museum her father works in has very strange exhibits, many who were in fact, the Snow Queens army.

The ending is fitting and a true love conquers all scenario!

I hadn’t been to see Karen Foxlee during sessions at Somerset, however, I did get her to sign the book. (That’s another perk of going to see talented writers at a writing festival.) 

Petal and the Easter Bunny … part two

PetalFor those who read the first half of Jill Ford’s PETAL AND THE EASTER BUNNY STORY, that appeared in The Ten Penners book ‘Fan-tas-tic-al Tales’,  here is the second half.

continued…

‘I’m trying to,’ snapped Petal. ‘But you are making it very difficult Hannah Elizabeth. Now, where was I?’

‘You had just eaten all the eggs.’

‘So I had. Well, I had to do something and fast, before Mrs Bunny found out. I was a very sorry little dragon let me tell you, and I had a nasty tummy ache.’

‘It was all those Easter eggs,’ said Hannah.

‘I suppose. What I did then, was a bit naughty, but I was very young and I was terrified of Mrs Bunny. She gets so hopping mad over the littlest things. I collected up all the egg wrappers and flattened them out, nice and smooth again. Then I went down to the river. There are always a lot of nice round stones along the riverbank. We have stone skipping competitions there. It’s lots of fun. If you are very nice to me, Hannah Elizabeth, I might take you one day.’

‘Get on with the story, Petal. I want to know what happened!’

‘When I got to the river, Prince Velvet was skipping stones. Only back then, he was just a grubby little boy who hadn’t learnt to blow his nose properly. He hadn’t been taught how to be a Prince. He only wore a toy wooden sword around his waist. We were best friends until we were put into the book.’

‘I suppose it was hard to stay friends, once you had to start fighting,’ said Hannah sympathetically.

‘We are still friends, but it isn’t easy. And it isn’t fair that I get to be killed at the end of the story all the time. I don’t see why we can’t take turns.’

Hannah giggled and leant over and patted Petal’s knee. ‘You die so beautifully Petal,’ she said, ‘I’m sure Prince Velvet could never die as well.’

‘It takes talent,’ Petal boasted. ‘Anyway, I told Snotty, that’s what I call Prince Velvet, what I had done and he agreed to help me. He’d been spanked by Mrs Bunny a few times himself and he was frightened of her too.’

Snotty. Oh gross.’ Hannah wrinkled up her nose in disgust.

‘I told you, Prince Velvet didn’t know how to wipe his nose properly and you promised to be quiet, remember? Mrs Bunny had made herself responsible for bringing up all us kids in Storybook Land properly.’

‘She didn’t do a very good job with you, did she?’ Hannah said. Petal threw an egg at her. He snorted and flames shot out of his nostrils. Hannah’s teddy bear burst into flames. Hannah smothered the flames with her pillow. She knew there was not any real danger because Petal’s flames did not burn. ‘I think I’ll be a firefighter when I grow up. I’m getting a lot of practice putting out fires,’ she said.

Petal ignored her. ‘Snotty and I collected a lot of pebbles and wrapped them up and put them back in the basket.’easter bunny and eggs

‘That was very naughty.’

‘I know, but you would understand if you knew Mrs Bunny. Snotty and I made such a good job of wrapping the pebbles, that no one noticed the difference. The next morning Carrots and I started out to deliver the Easter Eggs. We left earlier than usual because poor old Carrots was on crutches. Mrs Bunny waved us goodbye. She had packed us a huge picnic basket full of yummy things to eat. We put the hamper in Carrots’ hand-wagon, with the basket of eggs. By then, I was feeling really bad about what I’d done, but I didn’t know what to do about it.’

‘Petal, what you did was really mean,’ said Hannah.

‘I know, I know. I knew dear old Carrots would get the blame and he would probably lose his job as the Easter Bunny. I wanted to confess, but if I did Mrs Bunny would have spanked me. I got a headache in my tummy.’

‘That was your conscience getting to you,’ said Hannah wisely.

‘Don’t I know it? It’s always there waiting to spoil a dragon’s fun. Carrots noticed something was wrong. Then, like the big baby, I really was, I broke down and confessed. I cried all over him.’

‘Goodness Petal, you could have drowned him,’ Hannah joked.

Petal ignored that.

‘Carrots never said a word, he just looked at me sadly. I would have felt better if he smacked me hard. “Are you truly sorry Petal?” he asked me.

‘Oh yes,’ I cried. ‘I never meant to be so naughty.’

“That’s all right then,” he said smiling at me. “Do you see that Green Easter Egg, sitting on the top of the pile? That’s yours. Why don’t you eat it now Petal?”

Oh no! He wanted you to swallow a stone,’ Hannah gasped.

‘That’s what I thought. “Open your egg Petal,” he insisted. So I did, and do you know something, Hannah? It was chocolate. Thick creamy milk chocolate.

Hannah clapped her hands and cheered.

‘Carrots knew what I had done almost right away.’

basket of easter eggs“I’m glad you confessed Petal,” he said to me. “If you hadn’t, Easter magic wouldn’t have been able to work and there would have been a lot of disappointed girls and boys, unwrapping river pebbles.”

‘It pays to own up when you do something naughty,’ said Hannah.

‘Anyway, we delivered all the eggs. It was amazing. Every time we got down to the last egg in the basket, abracadabra, the basket would fill itself up again, and that’s how I saved Easter.’

‘But Petal, if you hadn’t been a piggy, Easter wouldn’t have had to be saved.’

Petal glared at her. ‘That’s the very last time I’ll tell you a story, Hannah Elizabeth.’

‘I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. Do you want this last egg?’

‘Let’s have half each,’ said Petal licking his lips.