Camp NaNoWriMo – I’m a Winner!

Jill profile picTalk about leaving it till the last minute – 50223 / 50000 total words. I made the target! Yay and Phew!
Jul 31, 2020Camp-2020-Writer-Web-Badge1
1200 words
Jul 30, 2020
1000 words
Jul 30, 2020
1000 words
Now onto the next tasks!
The Ten Penners have a monthly meeting tomorrow. Whether we are Zooming or meeting up to social distance get together, it’ll be another opportunity to share our writing passion.
A Facebook group I belong to called The Duck Pond have a member Sally Odgers who posted a list of 52 first-line prompts. I’ll be sharing these with them.
Who knows what stories will come up with these great beginnings?
1. The roses were velvety and thorny in equal parts.
2. “It’s a castle!” said Beatrice in astonishment.
3. “Daisies? It eats daisies?” said Zac.
4. Ruby had been missing for two days now.
5. “Gotcha!” gloated Gareth.
6. The apple was covered in ants.
7. When Dad said we were going into space we all stared.
8. “You can have one, that’s all,” said Jack.
9. Skating was a lot more difficult than Josh expected.
10. Miss Perry’s garden was overgrown with thistles.
11. The wasps poured from their nest.
12. The egg didn’t look like the others.
13. Did we have to have jam sandwiches again?
14. Christie said the toy was a squid.
15. Ash and Mica said they would make the biscuits.
16. The green coat had woolly bobbles on the belt.
17. On the second day of our holiday, it started to rain.
18. Dear Clara, why did you steal my kayak?
19. Stonemasons’ sons did not go to school. Stephen knew that.
20. Robert lived in the attic of a tall grey house in London.
21. More than anything, Ellie wanted an earring with a skull on it.
22. “It’s no good,” said Lindsay, looking at the smashed boat.
23. “Go back!” yelled Ming, waving wildly.
24. Grapes were usually green, weren’t they?
25. Happy New Year! screamed the banner, but it wasn’t happy for Bella.
26. How many trees were in this forest anyway?
27. “Do you like caterpillars?” asked Davie.
28. The desert stretched on and on.
29. No one ever saw my friend Kit, but I knew he was there.
30. “For the last time, I did not kidnap you!”
31. Ponies are hard work.
32. I looked up at the dinosaur.
33. “He was here just a moment ago,” said Imogen.
34. “Help! He’s getting away!”
36. It was so quiet I thought I heard the stars fizzing softly.
37. “Wait for me!” Jillie hopped along on one foot as she tried to get her shoe on.
38. Dragons don’t live in suburban gardens.
39. “No more ghosts,” said the mayor, thumping his fist on the desk.
40. If I could just kick that goal I might make the team.
41. These days, everyone lived in tree houses.
42. Elliot had taken a wrong turn at soft furnishings and now he was lost in the biggest shop he had ever seen.
43. The last car ever produced on Earth is now in a museum.
44. Is it possible to lose a teddy bear for three whole years?
45. The monster had feet shaped like shoeboxes.
46. I never expected to meet my great-great-great-grandad.
47. Flora set down the handcart and rubbed her blistered hands.
48. The streamers stretched and tore as the ship pulled away from the quay.
49. Mr Hanson plonked his fingers down on the keys and began to play.
50. My uncle is a vampire, wrote Tom in careful black letters.
51. “If you think I’m going into that cave, you’re nuts,” said Grace.
52. The new house looked worse than our old one.
Have a great weekend everyone, stay safe! – Jill
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Camp NaNoWriMo and next project

Jills AvatarHere we are on the 30th July and I’ve added another little bit to my running total –

47023 / 50000 total words
Jul 30, 2020
1400 words
Jul 29, 2020
1000 words
Jul 28, 2020
2000 words
Jul 27, 2020
1000 words
I hope to finish the word count later today, crossing my fingers on that!
My next project is to read and review this lovely book, ‘Patrick White by Toni Brisland Patrick White by Toni Brisland coverand illustrated by Anastasia Popp, for Books on Tour blog tour, coming up in August. 
This is the book blurb
Patrick White wanted to be a writer when no one thought he should! This remarkable man, remembered for his poetic descriptions of the Australian landscape and people in his many novels and plays, is the only Australian Nobel Prize for Literature winner. Learn all about one of Australia’s greatest novelists in this fully illustrated biography.
And an excerpt from the synopsis –
It’s a beautiful book and a non-fiction account of the life and works of Patrick White told in simple terms to introduce Australian upper primary school children to Australia’s most celebrated and famous author – the only Australian author to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The editing will continue as the compilation of my books is an ongoing process. – Jill
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Camp NaNoWriMo update …countdown

The final few days of Camp NaNoWriMo are here and I’m still just on the target line, but having done 2 hours or using my equation 1000 words = 1 hour, I’ve added 2000 words tonight.
The running total isCamp-2020-Writer-Facebook-Cover1-768x284
44623 / 50000

total words

Will I manage a bit over 5 more hours over the last three days. It’s going to be a close-run thing. – Jill

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Camp NaNoWriMo update 27th July

Since my last post, I’ve had some good days and some bad days, but never mind the end is in sight. Total words to the end of last night, but I’ve yet to start tonight. I’m under the timeline to reach my target but I’ve high hopes that I’ll complete the 50,000 words or in the case of editing 50 hours. 
41623 / 50000

total words

Jill profile picJul 26, 2020
2250 words
Jul 25, 2020
1000 words
Jul 24, 2020
2000 words
Thinking positive thoughts. Wish me luck! – Jill
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Camp NaNoWriMo keeps plugging along

Camp NaNoWriMo keeps plugging along, it’s cold today and we’re waiting for a tradesman (surprise, surprise – we’re still waiting two hours after he said he’d be here), a great time for editing.
Jul 22, 2020
1800 words
Jul 22, 2020 – This was really the 21st but I finished up just after midnight
1800 words
Jul 20, 2020
1500 words
Jul 19, 2020
1000 words
Jul 18, 2020
800 words
Keep safe everyone and enjoy your Wednesday. – Jill
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Camp NaNoWriMo update and book review

 

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 18, sort of on track, I’m on the line with 29073 words tracking towards the 50000 words total.

Since day 14 the last post of NaNo challenge:

Jul 18, 2020, Not editing today, just writing.
800 words  Today I was writing my book review. I have read this book before and loved it so much I had to read it again.
Jul 17, 2020
1000 words  Finished the Vashla’s World and fixing up the template – it’s looking like a book. Now to do the same for Dual Visions. Then onto Travellers! Getting very excited
Jul 17, 2020       Jul 16, 2020       Jul 15, 2020
1000 words       1500 words         2000 words
Book Review by Jill Smith©July20

Title: Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy

Author: Karen Foxlee

Publisher: Hot Key Books

The story within a story begins with a boy. He’d been chosen by the protectorate of wizards of east, west, and middle to go on a journey to save the world by finding his magical sword, the One Other and defeat the Snow Queen.

Ophelia wasn’t brave. She was a member of the Children’s Science Society of Greater London. She didn’t believe in magic, ghosts, or monsters. Those were the things her mother wrote about in her stories. It was more than three months since her mother had died. Her father had taken her and her older sister Alice to a museum, far from their home, as he was an expert in swords and the curator of the museum was putting on a sword exhibition in three days. He had hoped it would be a holiday for his daughters, but he would be busy preparing for the display.

Alice found the museum boring. Ophelia set off to explore all the levels of the huge building. She was a curious person and was surprised to find behind a room with paintings of a boy in old fashioned clothes, holding an odd-looking sword with an eye on it, behind a small stage, a room with a golden keyhole. When she put her eye to the keyhole, she was stunned to find an eye looking back.

Ophelia met ‘The Marvellous Boy’ and discovered he was locked in. He asked her to help him. He told her about the Wintertide Clock and asked her to find some keys. She didn’t know whether she should help him, but when he explained the wizards had taken his name, and that he only ate porridge and he only had his jailer to talk to, she thought about it. The trouble with magic is that it’s messy, not orderly, or scientific.

The boy told her about his journey, about the wizards and the Herald Tree, and that she would find the first key on level 7. Of course, she couldn’t save the world. She was only eleven and small for her age. After seeing the Misery Birds, she started to believe in monsters. Then the boy asked her to get another key on level 6, and he warned her about the ghosts. One of the ghosts wanted to help her. Her mother started whispering in her ear, be brave.

I love the way Karen has woven the story of loss and family learning how to cope, expressing sorrow to move forward, into the tale. The boy is Ophelia’s friend, and even when The Snow Queen is at the point of turning all the world to ice, snow, and winter, she never gives up. She finds the boy again, uses the sword, her father fights to save his family. The boy fades, he returns to his kingdom.

This is the most Marvellous book. I love it and will treasure it to read again and again. I’ve already read it twice.

If you’ve not read any of Karen Foxlee’s books, please, look her up and enjoy. I’ve read and reviewed ‘Lenny’s Book of Everything’, and the equally magical and wonderful book ‘A Most Magical Girl.’

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Camp NaNoWriMo update Day 14

The magic is still happening from my last update on 8th July through to today the 14th of July. My running total is 22,773 words moving towards the 50,000 words total.
spooktacular book launch good witch jill casting spell

Jul 14, 2020
1750 words
Jul 13, 2020
1000 words
Jul 12, 2020
1250 words
Jul 11, 2020
1500 words
Jul 10, 2020
2500 words
Jul 10, 2020
500 words
As mentioned in the previous post, I’m editing and using the 1 hour equals 1000 words equation. I’ve still a long way to go but nearly finished this book and put it into the template.
Almost halfway through the month and halfway through the challenge.
Happy Camp NaNoWriMo to all those who dived into this month’s activities, whether writing, editing and recreating your work. _ Jill
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Camp NaNoWriMo update & writing goals

Camp-2020-Writer-Web-Badge1Jul 8, 2020
  ( This was 7th July at Midnight so I’ve still to start today )
1500 words
Jul 6, 2020
1500 words
Jul 5, 2020
1500 words
Jul 4, 2020
2500 words
Jul 3, 2020
2225 words
Jul 3, 2020
2027 words
Jul 1, 2020
1271 words
Jul 1, 2020
500 words
So far so good, I’m not writing, I’m editing and the total is 13023 words on target to reach the 50,000 words by the 31st July 2020. I’m using the 1 hour equals 1000 word equation. Will I reach my target?
The grand plan is to get my series The Ancient Aliens Series into correct book templates to upload on Ingram Spark and send out to the world. I’m hoping this will put me more in control of where I am and what is happening.
I’m not happy with my old Amazon listing as they needed updating. I’ve had people from overseas tell me they’ve purchased my book but I’ve had nothing from Amazon.
This year has been one to survive and learn from. I don’t think anyone will look back on 2020 with fond memories. It’s been so difficult with this Coronavirus pandemic raging.
This is my Tickbox for jobs to be completed (on the writing front)
1 – Completing my re-edits and getting this series in shape.
2 – The next is to rework the blog as I’ve now a domain, this will remove unwanted adds, and I believe it will give me more scope to use this website as a platform to sell more of my books.
3 – I’ve been paid to review my books and my Tax Accountant says I’m undercharging, she suggests $20 AUD, so I need to update this. What would you pay? I’ve been asking $5 Australian which is minuscule, but I will read the books if people pay me. 
It’s not all been bad news this year. Jills Avatar
I’m privileged to be one of Michelle Worthingtons Share Your Story Angels in the new Anthology “Tell Em Their Dreaming: Bedtime Ballads and Tall Tales from the Australian Bush” with my story Larrikin Lyle. This book release in October/November will raise money for the NSW Rural Fire Service.

I’ll let you know more soon, but right now I can share with you the list of talent Australian authors who will compile wonderful poems and short stories in this new anthology.
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Camp NaNoWriMo progress

Camp-2020-Writer-Web-Badge1I’ve made a good start to my editing plan for NaNoWriMo.

Again, using the 1 hour equals 1000 words, this is what I’m up to.

July 1 – Day 1 – 1771 words

July 2 – Day 2 – 2027 words

July 3 – Day 3 – 2225 words

July 4 – Day 4 – 2500 words

So far the running total is 8523 words. The target is 50,000 words.

Best of all, today is The Ten Penners monthly meeting. It’s a Zoom meeting because the Library we usually meet at is still not open. They are taking people picking up online orders, but the meeting rooms aren’t open yet. Let’s hope they will be next month.

It’s a magnificent day, so after the meeting, we’ll be going out for a long walk. _Jill

 

 

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Camp NaNoWriMo is back on

1st July was the start of Camp NaNoWriMo. I’m still editing so its a great incentive to get in there and do more each day.

Yesterday I managed 2224 words or using the 1 hour equals 1000 words equation 2 1/4 hours. As I’ve just started part-time work, it will be a challenge to reach my 50,000 word target.

Wish me luck!

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Tribute to Jessica Blackadder

Jesse Blackadder bio picAustralian author Jesse Blackadder, whose award-winning work ranged from historical fiction to books for children, has died aged 56 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

  • Robert Moran, Sydney Morning Herald June 12, 2020

I met Jesse at a Gold Coast Writers Literary Luncheon several years ago. She was a warm and engaging person with generous advice for authors and writing admirers.

At the time she presented her book, The Raven’s Heart, to a Gold Coast Writers meeting. 

I had seen her posts about being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was shocked to see the world had lost this talented individual. This year has been a year of hurdles for us all.

I’ll share a few reviews of the books she wrote that I’ve read and reviewed. As you can see she was able to give the world a variety of styles of books, from her own quest to find her origins of the Blackadder family, adult alternative lifestyle dramas and young adults.

The Raven’s Heart: A Story of a Quest, a Castle and Mary Queen of Scots

Jesse Blackadder (Goodreads Author)

This is Jesse Blackadder going to the source of her own family heritage and weaving a delightful tale.

Alison Blackadder is the strong main character. She is a driven young girl doing whatever she can to win the favour of a young Mary Queen of Scots so that she could win back the Blackadder castle her birthright. With her flair for disguise, she becomes the Queens valued confidante and spy. There is danger at every turn, going to town to find out what the real folk think of the Queen’s return from exile she gains knowledge of plots while befriending some who become untrustworthy. Life in the Royal court is dangerous, but, her need to will back the Blackadder castle that was cruelly stolen from their family by a murderous clan a generation before is all-encompassing.

Ravens Heart coverAn embellished historic epic tale of the turbulent times of the young Queen of Scots the suspicion and plots to undermine her rule very close. Would Queen Mary really have disguised herself as a man and gone to town with her maidservants attired the same way to hear the local gossip? It’s an intriguing what if.

When Alison finds love and has her heartbroken, her trust tried and misplaced, her journey offering a hope that she would indeed regain the Blackadder castle, then the opportunity slipping away.

This is a great book that is certainly an enjoyable read worth keeping on the bookshelf for a second or third reading.

 

After the party coverAfter The Party

Jesse Blackadder (Goodreads Author)

‘Black Dragon’ is a feng shui consultant and hosting a party for her group of eccentric friends, it’s early December in Byron Bay. This would be a night that changed lives.
Zac the successful photographer is there. He nearly chokes but Black Dragon thumps the obstruction out. He has been to see Kate, but she has other ideas. They had been together for a while. Madeline was there with Kate. The hospital is crowded and they see an overdosed girl on a trolley. When Zac gets back to Black Dragons house, he takes her car for a drive down to Broken Heart Beach. He gets out and runs into the water thinking of Kate.

Dominique escapes the hospital next morning to escape questions about her overdose, it was just bad luck. Her boyfriend Sean had disappeared. Dom has been running all her life, she can keep going.

Madeline goes back to Black Dragon’s. She is shaken up seeing Zac at Kate’s, so Black Dragon takes her to see Byron Bay on a pushbike. Madeline wonders about her own life. ‘Leap of Faith’ the window cleaning business she and Rob had set up in Sydney is a world away.

After the party, Black Dragon gets a call from her dad; she goes away for three days to help him clean out his rubbish and his life. When she returns her car is still missing with Zac.

Zac’s townhouse in Balmain is empty. People are starting to look for him. Zac’s father hires a private detective because he’s getting nowhere with the police.

Black Dragon likes to be alone at Christmas. She doesn’t want to bring back memories of her past. Then she meets Dom and the past starts catching up with her.

I won’t say more about where the investigation goes. Jesse Blackadder has inter-twined the Byron Bay culture into the story and the ending is a perfect culmination of the lives she’s created. You will have to read it to get the answers to the many questions raised ‘after the party.’

Book Review by Jill Smith©Jun20Storm Dream Riders 2 cover

Title: Storm (Dream Riders #2)

Author: Jesse Blackadder & Laura Bloom

Publisher: Walker Books Australia

Storm lives with her hippy alternate living parents and siblings. She is competing in an archery contest at the local show as part of their Medieval Fair. A distraction comes in the form of a magnificent dappled horse who charges across from the jousting event in the next paddock. The horse is the one she dreamed about the night before.

This thirteen-year-old has an overwhelming urge to see the horse again, to own it. Thou art mine, is her one thought. This thought drives Storm to want to ride, although she’s never been on a horse. She joins the Dream Riders pony club so she can prove to Morning Mists owner that she can ride the horse. This group becomes a diversion from the chores at home where they live a barter existence, washing is done by hand and takes days to complete.

Storm new friends from Dream Riders help her learn more about a world outside her sheltered life. Can she ever raise the money to by Mist? Will the horse of her dreams really want her to be part of her life? Will Storm be able to prove her capability at the next Show competition?

The confrontation of the two lifestyles ends in a compromise. Storm’s grandfather offers to help her by letting her live part-time with him so she can earn money filling shelves in the local supermarket. Her family don’t go into supermarkets, so that is also a culture shock for Storm. Her friends come together and help with a crowdfunding project. The internet is another mystery to her, she can’t understand how people can offer to help her buy her dream horse.

Just before the show competition Storm plans to display how well she can ride, the owner of Morning Mist tells her she’s sold the horse. Storm is devastated, her dreams are dashed.

The conclusion is a wonderful coming together of her family and friends and fusing of lifestyles.

This is a delightful read about self-discovery and coming of age. I’m looking forward to giving this to my granddaughter.

Jessica Blackadder will be sadly missed by all her writing friends and followers.

 _ Jill

 
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Book Review ‘Earth Angel’ by Chris H Stevenson reviewed by Jill Smith

Book Review by Jill Smith©Jun20

Title: Earth Angel

Author: Chris H Stevenson

Publisher: Winged Publications

Daryl is a beautiful woman, with an elfin face, in love with a cop. Detective Dean Fowler is a good man who becomes obsessed with his cases. Daryl has been wanting to get married, but it’s been delayed by Dean’s cases.

The current case was driving Dean to the edge of a mental break down. Daryl is having a hard time bringing him back. The Tooth Fairy cases in Riverside County are gruesome and growing in number. There seems to be no connection to the teenage girls’ slaughter other than their deaths. The mystery of how the perpetrator gains access to the girls’ rooms and kills them mercilessly, taking a tooth as a trophy, has stumped the Riverside Police department.

When an attempt to bring some levity to their lives turns into an assault on them both, Daryl and Dean are gravely injured and left to recover from physical and mental scars. Daryl must have an eye transplant which leads to a change in her outlook on life.

There is much more going on, and Daryl and her best friend Abby Fry, share a secret and explore the ramifications of Daryl’s second sight. Will this be a help or a hindrance? Will anyone believe Daryl is seeing spirits? It also changes the way Dean and Daryl view the crimes.

This romantic suspense thriller is a great page-turner. I thought of it as a crime/murder mystery with a supernatural twist.

I’ve added this review to The Book Review Directory page also. _Jill

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More Book review updates

Here’s another quick update of books I’ve recently read, including a classic.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Jun20

Title: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

I re-read this book that was one I had read to me as a youngster. I doubt I really understood the era of the Indian Raj and British army occupation, at that time.

Now, looking back on it, I can see the boy who grew up with wolves and the characters that have been recreated in animation as great characters. I still think Rikki-tiki-tavi is my favourite story. The last story of a soldier who can understand the animals speak, who eves-dropped having been forced out of his tent by a dream disturbed donkey. This is much more enjoyable now as I can see the conversation between the infantry horse, the mule, the camels and the elephants as a social commentary on war and why white men told them all what to do.

It’s great to catch up with classic books.

And here’s a couple of books I bought for my granddaughter.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Jun20

Tashi and the Demons by Anna and Barbara Fienberg

Illustrated by Kim Gamble

Tashi starts telling Jack a story as they are walking home from school. They get so engrossed in the stories they walk right past Jacks creepy neighbours house and then ran inside.

The story about Tashi and the Demons is another one showing how Jacks friend was kind as he untied the Princess Sarashina who’d been captured by the red-eyed demons. The Demons knew all the things people were afraid of and could hypnotise little boys who looked into their eyes. Luckily Tashi was clever enough to keep his eyes shut and to trick the Demons into throwing him into the Dragons Blood Tree. He knew a way out of the tree because Wise-as-an-told him, but the Demons remained trapped. The Princess returned to her home. She sent the whole village food as a reward.

This leads onto the next story nicely, The Magic Bell is a warning bell for the village Tashi lives in. Again, in this, the fifth book in the Tashi series, full of delightful stories related by a boy with an amazing ability to tell imaginative stories. I love these books.

This is another in the books that will be my granddaughters’ collection of Tashi books.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Jun20

Tashi and the Baba Yaga

I love this book, as I did the first four Tashi books. Jacks dad was sick in bed and ready to listen to the latest story Tashi had told Jack.

It was like this, a strange house was blown into the village outskirts of the village Tashi lived in. Dad had called Mum to listen too. They both loved to hear the stories. Tashi wondered how the house arrived and began to investigate, that’s when he met Baba Yaga. The big old woman was bossing her daughter Alenka around. Baba Yaga asked Tashi in to have tea, but she was really wanting to eat him. Tashi had to escape. He used his wit to get away and warn the villagers.

This story led onto another and these simply written beautiful stories spring from the enchanting imagination Anna and Barbara Fienberg, being retold from the boys’ point of view.

Again, this book will add to the collection I’m happy to pass onto my granddaughter to enjoy.

Now back to editing. Happy reading and writing friends. _ Jill

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Book Reviews update

Here are a few of my recent Goodreads reviews.

I’m reading lots this year and enjoying every page. 

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak review by Jill Smith

Bridge of Clay cover by Markus ZuackThis is a brilliant book.

I feel like Markus Zusak carefully considered and placed every word. The story about the Dunbar boys and their ways of living, enduring their mothers dying, and creating ways to move forward is giving readers and emotional wave to ride. Interspersed with cameo phrases such as – an arsonists sunrise – that will stick with me, and many more image provoking scenes.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Book Thief’ and can only say that this is a remarkable follow-up, the wait for it was worthwhile, its a wonderful example of superb writing. I gave it 5 stars.

 

Canterwood Crest – Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart Canterwood Crescent Take the Reins cover
review by Jill Smith

This is a lovely young adults book I bought to give to my granddaughter. She has read the whole of the Starlight Stables series by Soraya Nicholas, and is mad about horses so this combination fits well.

I think in comparison, the Starlight Stables covers are very similar although the glamour model version of the heroine in Canterwood Crest is a little less natural than the Starlight versions.

The story is set in a very upmarket school Canterwood Crest Academy, with strict rules and training regime. Sasha Silver and her horse Charm are coming from a small town riding school to the big league where getting selected in the Advanced Team means being able to compete for competitions that could lead to Olympic selection.

The life at the boarding school is very high brow too. The dorm rooms sound like hotel suites and the fact that they had to bring their basic needs with them to make it more liveable. I’ve never been to a boarding school, so I’m not sure if this is odd. Sasha and Paige, her roommate, have the option to move beds and stack desks and side tables. Their moms even work out a floor plan to make the room more comfortable. Paiges parents run a restaurant and she is as star chef in the making. While Sasha concentrates on her horse Charm and getting through the elite school courses to get the required A grades to be in the running for selection in the Advanced-grade, Paige bakes up great treats to get them through the school semester.

The horse riding training and competitions were well written and described. The stables and tack rooms are grand in comparison to the small town set up Sasha has come from. Her first three weeks drag until she can go home. Her parents visit the school and comment on Charms generous spot in the stables.

The story also touches on Sasha as a grade seven girl meeting a boy and the awkwardness of a school dance is easy to feel.

If my granddaughter likes this book I’ll be getting her more of the series.

Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

This is a delightful book.

I loved the interwoven lives oMinding Frankie cover Mauve Binchleyf a community in St Jarlaths St Ireland.

The families in each house become friends to the reader.

Noel is a closet alcoholic and his parents don’t even know. The minute he meets his cousin Emily who’d come from America, she knew. Emily is quick to discover secrets. She gets to know everyone in the street within a day. She also discovers that her family has many secrets and that she can help them put right their muddled world.

The whole street community become involved in minding baby Frankie, who changes many lives. Stella her mother died the moment baby Frankie came into the world. Stella asked Noel, he was the father, to raise the child.

I love the way Maeve Binchy makes you feel as though you are sitting with her having a cup of tea as she relates the story. I loved it.

Spirits of the Ghan by Judy Nunn reviewed by Jill Smith

Spirits of the Ghan by Judy Nunn coverThis is a thoroughly absorbing read. Judy Nunn is a masterful storyteller.

I loved getting to know the character’s and enjoyed the construction of the story. The Irishman who fell in love with his Rose, a damaged aboriginal woman, and who became proud parents to Jess. Matt Withers who has his own journey to becoming a surveyor like his father Dave. His amazingly quirky mother Lillian Birch a famous Australian artist. The building of the Ghan railroad to link up across the continent. The land of the desert and Alice Springs drawing them both into a spiritual connection that caused them both to question their ancestry.

Judy Nunn has written many award-winning books. Her description of Australia is vivid. I’ll write a longer review shortly, and simply say that anyone who wants to immerse themselves in a good yarn, this is a great book to get into.

I hope you are staying safe and not being overwhelmed with this weird 2020 reality. Coronavirus and now lawlessness instead of responsible protests. Horrible things have happened to so many people this year, we all need to pull together. – Jill

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T C Bartlett picture books are amazing…

MusicTimeTCBARTLETT2018 COVERBook Review by Jill Smith©May2020Tom-Bench-TC Bartlett About web page

Title: It’s Music Time

Author/Illustrator: T.C. Bartlett

This story is told through the intricately crafted illustrations and minimal words.

‘Now don’t dillydally in the woods, young man, or you’ll be late for your music lesson.’

The boy is laden with a drum that is as big as he is. The illustrations are monotone grey he’s walking away from Cooke Home along a path. He looks up at the signpost. To Music Lessons one way and the Woods the other. He stands and ponders which way to go. You guessed it! Climbing and swinging in the trees is fun until something dramatic changes. There are sounds coming towards him and the grey colours are infused with colours. He catches the sounds and the colours. Animals are singing! He gets his drum to join in. Then a lion comes along, and his loud note carries the boy away. The lion saves the boy from falling over a cliff. They all dance and sing until they reach the edge of the forest where the world goes grey again. Mr Sticks is not happy the boy arrives at his music lesson late.

I loved these illustrations and the delightful tale of a boy letting his imagination take flight.

We’d all live in a grey world without the joy of music and imagination.

 

ZeroDogTCBARTLETT202019 Cover

Book Review by Jill Smith©May20

Title: A Dog named Zero and the Apple with no name

Author/Illustrator: T.C. Bartlett

This is a delightful counting book with a twist.

Zero has friends he can count on.

Zero slowly gets closer and closer to the apple with no name.

Once they finally reach it, a Bee named Charlie,

(who was cross with the Scottish Bear named Nine)

for taking honey without permission, arrives.

The bear gets stung on the bee-hind and calamity follows.

The illustrations are as joyous as the story.

I’m sure adults reading this book to their children will laugh at the antics of Zero and his friends.

Tikcle Me-TCBARTLETT202020 COVER

Book Review by Jill Smith©May20

Title: You Can’t Tickle Me

Author/Illustrator: T.C. Bartlett

There is a Tickle Monster in my house.

My mother doesn’t believe it. My father doesn’t, either.

The boy is searching the house for the tickle monster. He can’t find him anywhere. He hunts high and low. He knows he’s there. When he turns off the light the Tickle Monster taps on the window. He’s not afraid.

Each page is a scene of a room, the lounge, the boy’s bedroom, the dining room, complete with parts of the Tickle Monster peeking out. The boy is not impressed by the monster showing off. I loved that the boy introduces the monster to his parents at the end of the book.

This is a delightful story with detailed illustrations. T.C. Bartlett draws on memories of his childhood toys and he gives a rundown of the toys on each page that he played with.

I can see parents reading the story asking the child ‘where’s the…’ to search the drawings to find that toy. It’s a magical journey for children and fun for the adults sharing the story.

For more about this amazing artist, author and child educator go to his website. http://tcbartlett.com/

Over The Edge Studios

Picture Book Properties by T. C. Bartlett

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Sam’s Theory by Sarah Mendivel reviewed by Jill Smith

Sam's Theory COVERSam is running for her life. Crashing through trees and at the point of exhaustion, she comes across a treehouse. Once inside her host, an older woman called Theory allows her to recuperate. Sam is a shattered person inside and out, barely coping with the abusive situation she’s come from. The treehouse becomes her sanctuary. She recovers slowly physically as Theory encourages her to open up emotionally to face her trauma and find a way to face the horror of her upbringing.

The journey is a difficult one. Sam is constantly worried about her abuser finding her to finish the job. She’s also terrified for her sister Nova, she left behind. She’d made a friend in Doger, in her past life. He was as close as a friend could be, and he’s is coming to the mountains where they have arranged to meet. The questions Theory asks start Sam on a journey of self-discovery to find a strength that she didn’t realise she had. Not only does Sam recover but she goes on to be a leader and a healer.

This is an amazing book, full of thought-provoking optimism and life-changing ideas. At first, I couldn’t see how anyone living in such frightening circumstances would be able to survive. I know people do although I couldn’t imagine how. This book takes the reader through the counselling sessions Sam has with Theory. This book shows ways to recover and move forward. Such powerful stuff.Mendivel profile pic

Sarah Mendivel’s background with a master’s level behavioural health interventionist and researcher provides the knowledge of real-life lessons given to abused children. She has devoted her life’s work to advocate for children and teens with trauma backgrounds. Sarah was the founder of the child life publication, Light Spinner Quarterly. She enjoys hiking and motivational speaking and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest. Sam’s Theory is her debut novel.

Sarah has waited patiently for me to do this review. I certainly feel this book is one that leaves a message with the reader. People can recover from trauma’s inflicted by others.

In this Coronavirus world, we all need to focus on the positives. We live on an amazing planet, the place we’re in is unique and precious. We can get through this. – Jill

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Happy 35th birthday

This time thirty five years ago I’d had a terribly uncomfortable night. When my husband left for work, I called my mother and she came around. Yes, I was a balloon ready to burst. The day started with my waters breaking and an overwhelming sense of “this is really happening now”. The result culminated at 6.18 pm, out beloved son arrived.

I would never have believed that all these years later I would be praying for the QueenslandThis time thirty five years ago I’d had a terribly uncomfortable night. When my husband left for work, I called my mother and she came around. Yes, I was a balloon ready to burst. The day started with my waters breaking and an overwhelming sense of “this is really happening now”. The result culminated at 6.18 pm, out beloved son arrived.

I would never have believed that all these years later I would be praying for the Queensland Government to allow us to see him on his birthday. Miracles do happen. With the distance increase to 150 kilometres, and employing social distancing, we will be going to see him. He and his lovely wife Cassie will be awaiting our arrival. We are beyond excited to spend a day with him. Simon David Smith have a wonderful 35th Birthday.

Government to allow us to see him on his birthday. Miracles do happen. With the distance increase to 150 kilometres, and employing social distancing, we will be going to see him. He and his lovely wife Cassie will be awaiting our arrival. We are beyond excited to spend a day with him.

Simon David Smith have a wonderful 35th Birthday. All our love Mum and Dad

 

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Camp NaNoWriMo Winner,

I won on Camp NaNoWriMo today.

After 1 1/4 hours my total is 50,635 words.

I cut it fine with only one day to go but the equation works.

1 hour equals 1000 words.

After a lovely walk and then time on my book.

I’m feeling happy.

-Jill

 

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Camp NaNoWriMo update – Day 27 – nearly there!

Camp NaNoWriMo update – 2 1/2 hours this morning bringing my running total to 46985 and that includes dropping my chapters into a template – it’s looking like a book!
Another glorious day everyone.
Please continue to practice social distancing, stay home and stay safe. We don’t want to get too complacent and have a second wave of this deadly coronavirus. We all want to get back to normal – or whatever the new normal will be, but not too quickly as it could set us all back.
– Jill
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Camp NaNoWriMo update – Day 20

Anzac Day 2020 our balconyCamp NaNoWriMo Update, started later in the day after preparing for Anzac Day tomorrow, doing a compare edit and 1 3/4 hours equals 1750 words – pleased to say my running total is now 40,985 words. I’m on the homeward run.

We’ll be on our balcony with a candle at dawn and watching the dawn services online.

Stay Safe everyone. Enjoy your Anzac Day at home. – Jill

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Camp NaNoWriMo update – Day 18

Camp NaNoWriMo update – day 18 – slightly under today’s target but still managed 1250 words bringing my running total to 29,700 words. I’m enjoying the edit. The second book in The Ancient Aliens series re-edit is almost complete. Then onto the third.
The plan is to get this series completed and published through Ingram Spark, the first Dual Visions is done but still needs format corrections. My learning curve in templates is just beginning.
Today is the monthly meeting for Gold Coast Writers, as is a sign of the times, it’s an online meeting. Have a great weekend everyone. Stay home, stay safe. Happy reading/writing/editing.
– Jill
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Camp NaNoWriMo update

After a lovely walk at the beach this morning, I didn’t get up early enough to do my usual 2 hours editing from 6 am to 8 am (I slept in). Starting in the afternoon I find it harder not to find other things to do but did manage 1 hour.

This brings my running total on the editing equation of 1 hour = 1000 words to 21,200!

So far so good. Happy Easter Sunday everyone! Stay safe. – Jill

 

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Camp NaNoWriMo update – day 3

I’ve started with slow and steady progress, Day 1 – 1st April 2 hours = 2000,

Day 2 – 2nd April 1 1/2 hours 1500 words,

and today 3rd April 1 1/2 hours so far adding 1500 words to the overall total – 5000 words.

I’ve downloaded the logo and am enjoying my book re-edit.

Happy writing or editing everyone.

Stay safe. – Jill

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Camp NaNoWriMo and how to survive coronavirus

Camp NaNoWriMo has provided a Self Care checklist daily leading up to starting the month of April with your project. I’m editing again as I’ve several manuscripts that need shaping up. I’ll be updating as I go.

It appears that every day we are being bombarded with bad news, however, the curve is flattening and abiding by the Government measures we can see that we are helping save lives.

It’s wonderful to see the good news stories, singers on balconies in Italy with the housebound neighbours singing. Hands clapping in praise of health workers.

Locally, our Aussie creatives have some wonderful offerings for us, both on the craft and drawing front with tutorials on books and writing.

George Ivanoff – Videos and Virtual Visits – I’m a big fan of his books

Book promotions are still happening such as ‘Scribbly Gum Secrets’

On the funny side – check out Jenny Wynter, Comedian on Facebook video – it’s hilarious!  

What a Great Teacher Mummy Can Be!

We had a catch up with our friends with a Zoom meeting. We played games and laughed a lot. You can still virtually hug those wonderful people who make your life such fun.

Stay safe everyone! We’re home and keeping busy, we’ll get through this thing together.  – Jill

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League of Llamas – The Golden Llama and Llama Impossible

Available from all good bookstores: visit www.penguin.com.au for more information. @AleesahDarlison @PenguinKidsAustralia @PuffinBooksAus

 

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar20

Title: League of Llamas – The Golden Llama

Author: Aleesah Darlison Award-Winning Author, Guest Speaker and Owner of Greenleaf Press www.aleesahdarlison.com

Illustrator: Simon Greiner

Publisher: Puffin Books / Penguin Random House Australia

Phillipe Llamar is LOL (League of Llamas) agent 0011. He’s handsome and has a magnificent head of beautiful hair and a fringe he constantly combs to dazzle everyone around. He also has a terrible memory. He’s at General Bottomburps’ party to steal some secrets. The General along with his Badger buddies are renowned for their potent very smelly bottom burps. He’s up to no good and Phillipe intends to find the evidence. With the aid of his sidekick Lloyd Llamanator, aka agent 0013, (who has a good memory), Phillipe breaks the General’s computer code and gets hold of the incriminating evidence. He burns this to a USB and swallows it to escape. Fortunately, they have a hidden Llamaborghini to drive away in.

They leave with more questions than answers. Such as: Who is the lovely lady llama in red? How are they going to get the USB out of Phillipe? The answer to this comes with the Turbo Llama Lax Incident (which needs to be read to understand the sheer hilarity). Mama Llama explains the USB shows that General Bottomburp has committed the utterly unthinkable crime of stealing The Golden Llama, (a symbol of the nation and the freedom for Llamas to spit.) Phillipe and Lloyd set out to recover the statue to avoid a spitting war by returning the statue to the Musee du Llama.

This Bond parody has all the elements kids love, such as farting and spitting together with lots of cleaver gadgets (that almost work) and dramatic twists and turns.

The illustrations by Simon Greiner of Phillipe in disguise, the lovely Lady Llama in red, the Llamaborghini and General Bottomburp, and the all-important League of Llamas logo to name a few, enhance the book. Particularly the very James Bond, (I’m a handsome Phillipe with gorgeous fringe on the front cover image), together with the Llama play on words which makes the whole book one ready to capture the imagination of youngsters worldwide.

I chortled through this book from the first sentence to the last. I look forward to reading the whole series including League of Llamas – Llama impossible, League of Llamas – Undercover Llamas and League of Llamas – Rogue Llama. Then I’ll be happy to pass these books onto my granddaughters to enjoy.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar2

Title: League of Llamas – Llama Impossible

Author: Aleesah Darlison

Illustrator: Simon Greiner

Publisher: Puffin Books / Penguin Random House Australia

Action-packed from the first sentence. A runaway train, an unconscious train driver, and speed building as the train hurtles through one station after another. Luckily Phillipe Llamar LOL (League of Llamas) agent 0011 is cruising overhead in his Llamaborghini and he decides to jump on board to stop the train. He jumps out landing on the roof of the train and is met by a gecko in singlet and jeans who has a resemblance to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Geckoson with freaky eyeball licking action. After a near-death experience, Phillipe gets to the front of the train to save the day.

When he gets back to Mama Llama’s office eleven floors underneath Mount Killamanjaro he discovers there’s more trouble in New Llama City. The train brakes had been cut at the same time as a massive robbery. Mama Llama sends her top agents Phillipe and Lloyd to investigate. She’s also sending Agent 0077 with them, Elloise is the Llama in red. They all go to the bank to see what happened. Phillipe and Lloyd cause a mess while investigating, (this is another laugh out loud moment among many in the book). Mama Llama gets an emergency call from the New Llama City Fire Chief. A fire had been deliberately lit. Were all these things coincidences?

All the evidence from the speeding train, bank robbery and dazzling diamond heist points to General Bottomburp. Is this a setup? At the bank, they meet Mr Itchee Kneebone, a property developer and fine art collector. This plump guinea pig was making sure his money was safe. He also invites them to his home to give them information. Bottomburp had gone into hiding, Kneebone tells Phillipe they might find him in Papua New Guinea Pig. On the island, they are captured and put in a pot by guinea pigs. Captain Archie the leader told them they weren’t vegetarians. Itchee Kneebone arrives and scolds his brother Archie and they are released. Phillipe finds Bottomburp and he goes to talk to the villain. He says he’s innocent and that he has bodyguards coming. They must rethink what’s been happening. Could a cuddly, kindly guinea pig with money and a mansion, be the real culprit? When all three agents work together, they discover the truth.

This is the second book in Aleesah Darlison’s League of Llamas series. And equally hilarious as the first with her play on words and crazy Llama antics. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and then deliver them to my granddaughters to enjoy. – Jill

 

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Somerset StoryFest has been cancelled

Usually, at this time of year I post the exciting list of authors sessions I intend to see. That was what was going to happen tomorrow.

I was to see Ursula Dubosarsky, TC  Shelly, Jess Hill, Bruce Whatley (I was taking my copy of Ruben for him to sign), and Gabrielle Tozer.

Ursula Dubosarky Award-winning Australian children’s author Ursula Dubosarsky has won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award a record five times as well as the Victorian, Queensland and South Australian state awards for literature. She is the twelve times CBCA shortlisted author of 50 books for children and young adults. Internationally she has been nominated for both the Hans Christian Andersen and Astrid Lindgren awards. She has a PhD in English literature and lives in Sydney.

T.C. Shelley studied Creative Writing and Literature at university. She has been teaching English for over twenty years and her first school was classified as the most remote in Australia. She began writing novels to entertain her daughter, who wisely suggested that she try to get them published. The Monster Who Wasn’t is her first published novel. Her next book, The Werewolves Who Weren’t, will publish in August. Shelley lives with her husband, her daughter and two dogs in Perth.

Jess Hill is an investigative journalist who has been writing about domestic violence since 2014. Prior to this, she was a producer for ABC Radio, a Middle East correspondent for The Global Mail, and an investigative journalist for Background Briefing. She was listed in Foreign Policy’s top 100 women to follow on Twitter, and her reporting on domestic violence has won two Walkley awards, an Amnesty International award and three Our Watch awards.

Bruce Whatley – Bruce jumped into the unknown world of picture books after a career in advertising as an illustrator and art director working in London then Sydney. Since 1992 Bruce has written and/or illustrated over 80 children’s picture books. Though based in Australia his work is published internationally and in 2014 was included in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Exhibition.

Gabrielle Tozer is an award-winning and internationally published author and freelance writer based in regional New South Wales, Australia. She has published six books, including the young adult novels, Remind Me How This Ends, which was on the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2018 Notable list and longlisted for the State Library of Victoria’s 2018 Gold Inky Award, Faking It and The Intern, which won the 2015 Gold Inky Award.

As you can see this would have been a great day, inspirational, motivational and exciting for me. However, due to this Coronavirus, I received an email saying the event has been cancelled.

I’m not going to say more about this other than to wish everyone well, wash your hands, don’t shake hands, stay away from crowds, but continue to live.

Writing continues, this is a joy that will abide. We can get through this health crisis as a country, and member of the worldwide population.

Here is my Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar20

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks

Rosamund Tomkins enters the world smiling. The midwives believe she will have a charmed life. Her early life living with her strict but caring grandmother Lady Ellinor Tomkins, at Bearwood Manor, are happy days. She laughed a lot then.

The story opens nine years after her grandmother dies and her mother Tilly, who had deserted her at birth, came back to reclaim her. Tilly and her husband run an Inn, Rosamund is put to work cleaning, running and serving at the Inn. Her step brothers Fear God and Glory, brutish men who take after their father Paul who often administers his own kind of punishment to Rosamund for any mistake she might make, real or invented.

 
Rosamund now Ballister, finds her circumstances dramatically change when running away from her stepbrothers she is knocked down by a rich man’s carriage. Sir Everard is travelling with his manservant Jacopo when they pick her up from the dirt and return her to her family. A deal is struck and she leaves the Inn and her past miseries to become ‘The Chocolate Makers Wife’.

Unbeknown to her, she bears a remarkable resemblance to Sir Everard’s deceased daughter, her benefactor has plans of his own for her. Plans to strike down his mortal enemy.

I could almost hear Rosamund’s peal of chiming laughter resonate from the pages when for a second time she becomes ‘The Chocolate Makers Wife’.

The research of the period detailing the life of a woman who was downcast and abused who becomes a woman of substance, with the history of London being the backdrop, is a credit to Karen. During turbulent times of the war with the Hollanders and fearing Civil War again while their lacklustre King reigns over the Protestant country. The discrimination of women, and intolerance of Quakers and Catholics being the setting for Rosamund and her journey.

I loved this book. I knew I would, having read ‘The Book of Night’ among others of Karen’s work.

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League of Llamas Book Reviews

Available from all good bookstores: visit www.penguin.com.au for more information. @AleesahDarlison @PenguinKidsAustralia @PuffinBooksAus

 

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar20

Title: League of Llamas – The Golden Llama

Author: Aleesah Darlison Award-Winning Author, Guest Speaker and Owner of Greenleaf Press www.aleesahdarlison.com

Illustrator: Simon Greiner

Publisher: Puffin Books / Penguin Random House Australia

Phillipe Llamar is LOL (League of Llamas) agent 0011. He’s handsome and has a magnificent head of beautiful hair and a fringe he constantly combs to dazzle everyone around. He also has a terrible memory. He’s at General Bottomburps’ party to steal some secrets. The General along with his Badger buddies are renowned for their potent very smelly bottom burps. He’s up to no good and Phillipe intends to find the evidence. With the aid of his sidekick Lloyd Llamanator, aka agent 0013, (who has a good memory), Phillipe breaks the General’s computer code and gets hold of the incriminating evidence. He burns this to a USB and swallows it to escape. Fortunately, they have a hidden Llamaborghini to drive away in.

They leave with more questions than answers. Such as: Who is the lovely lady llama in red? How are they going to get the USB out of Phillipe? The answer to this comes with the Turbo Llama Lax Incident (which needs to be read to understand the sheer hilarity). Mama Llama explains the USB shows that General Bottomburp has committed the utterly unthinkable crime of stealing The Golden Llama, (a symbol of the nation and the freedom for Llamas to spit.) Phillipe and Lloyd set out to recover the statue to avoid a spitting war by returning the statue to the Musee du Llama.

This Bond parody has all the elements kids love, such as farting and spitting together with lots of cleaver gadgets (that almost work) and dramatic twists and turns.

The illustrations by Simon Greiner of Phillipe in disguise, the lovely Lady Llama in red, the Llamaborghini and General Bottomburp, and the all-important League of Llamas logo to name a few, enhance the book. Particularly the very James Bond, (I’m a handsome Phillipe with gorgeous fringe on the front cover image), together with the Llama play on words which makes the whole book one ready to capture the imagination of youngsters worldwide.

I chortled through this book from the first sentence to the last. I look forward to reading the whole series including League of Llamas – Llama impossible, League of Llamas – Undercover Llamas and League of Llamas – Rogue Llama. Then I’ll be happy to pass these books onto my granddaughters to enjoy.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Mar2

Title: League of Llamas – Llama Impossible

Author: Aleesah Darlison

Illustrator: Simon Greiner

Publisher: Puffin Books / Penguin Random House Australia

Action-packed from the first sentence. A runaway train, an unconscious train driver, and speed building as the train hurtles through one station after another. Luckily Phillipe Llamar LOL (League of Llamas) agent 0011 is cruising overhead in his Llamaborghini and he decides to jump on board to stop the train. He jumps out landing on the roof of the train and is met by a gecko in singlet and jeans who has a resemblance to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Geckoson with freaky eyeball licking action. After a near-death experience, Phillipe gets to the front of the train to save the day.

When he gets back to Mama Llama’s office eleven floors underneath Mount Killamanjaro he discovers there’s more trouble in New Llama City. The train brakes had been cut at the same time as a massive robbery. Mama Llama sends her top agents Phillipe and Lloyd to investigate. She’s also sending Agent 0077 with them, Elloise is the Llama in red. They all go to the bank to see what happened. Phillipe and Lloyd cause a mess while investigating, (this is another laugh out loud moment among many in the book). Mama Llama gets an emergency call from the New Llama City Fire Chief. A fire had been deliberately lit. Were all these things coincidences?

All the evidence from the speeding train, bank robbery and dazzling diamond heist points to General Bottomburp. Is this a setup? At the bank, they meet Mr Itchee Kneebone, a property developer and fine art collector. This plump guinea pig was making sure his money was safe. He also invites them to his home to give them information. Bottomburp had gone into hiding, Kneebone tells Phillipe they might find him in Papua New Guinea Pig. On the island, they are captured and put in a pot by guinea pigs. Captain Archie the leader told them they weren’t vegetarians. Itchee Kneebone arrives and scolds his brother Archie and they are released. Phillipe finds Bottomburp and he goes to talk to the villain. He says he’s innocent and that he has bodyguards coming. They must rethink what’s been happening. Could a cuddly, kindly guinea pig with money and a mansion, be the real culprit? When all three agents work together, they discover the truth.

This is the second book in Aleesah Darlison’s League of Llamas series. And equally hilarious as the first with her play on words and crazy Llama antics. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and then deliver them to my granddaughters to enjoy. – Jill

 

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League of Llama’s Prize

League of Llama’s Prize

I didn’t get a pair of socks, but I did get book one and two of the series and a poster.

 

I’m about to read them and will post my review shortly.

Thanks, Aleesah Darlison and Penguin Books for the opportunity.

Stay tuned for the review. -Jill

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Book Reviews so far in 2020

I’ve been a little remiss in updating my book reviews so I thought it high time to remedy this. These are my Goodreads reviews, some are short for this reason.

Betty White If you ask me cover

If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)

by Betty White

This is a chatty and entertaining read. Betty White is a remarkable woman with a very positive outlook on life. She is an animal lover and devoted campaigner against animal cruelty.
This was certainly worth picking up like a Christmas Secret Santa from Gold Coast Writers piles of ex-library books. Thanks for the smiles.

 

In Pieces by Sally Field

This is a sad book. Sally Field bares her soul and works through the traumatic events that Sally Field In Pieces covershaped her childhood and made her a fragmented soul. It wasn’t until her mother was terminally ill that she reconciled her internal agony with her relationship with her mother. The horror of her relationships with her uncaring natural father and her sexually abusive stepfather. The knowledge that acting for Sally was her saving grace, her source of income and her greatest trial. She wrote this exploration of her life in her early 70’s. I believe she’s overcome her demons and is proud and delighted with her three sons and their families, careers and lives.

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks (Goodreads Author)

The Chocolate Makers Wife coverI loved this book. I knew I would, having read ‘The Book of Night’, among others of Karen’s work.

This detailed the life of a woman who was downcast and abused who became a woman of substance. The history of London during the war with the Hollanders and fearing Civil War again with the lacklustre King at the helm of the Protestant country. The discrimination of women, and intolerance of Quakers and Catholics being the setting for Rosamund in her journey. I could almost hear her peal of chiming laughter resonate from the pages when she finally took her place as ‘The Chocolate Makers Wife’.

David Jason: My Life by David Jason

This is a great book and finished with the style of a great storyteller.

David Jason comes from humble beginnings. He didn’t take much seriously in his early David Jason My Life coverlife. When a teacher suggests he and a mate join the local amateur theatre group because they only have girls and are needing boys. Both boys thought, girls – (sounds like a chance), so they joined.

Thanks to his gymnastics teacher who encouraged him and made him feel good about his ability to throw himself about. This led David to partake in slapstick comedy.

He didn’t really plan on being an actor. His brother Arthur had become one, much to his parent’s displeasure, another son going that way wouldn’t make them happy. Instead, he studied to be an electrician and went on to set up a business run from his parents home. Fodder for future comic material would be gleaned from his door-knocking to get jobs. He’d be going past the markets watching the patter of salesmen who scarpered as soon as the bill arrived, their patter lodged in his mind for another time.

When he decided to follow his dream and become an actor he went after it immersing himself in anything he could get. His brother Arthur helped him get his first break. The early days were difficult. His big break came and went, missing out on getting a part in a big tv sitcom more than once.

Then we come to the heady days of his acting in theatre and building his reputation as a comic actor. Taking over from Michael Crawford in one play after watching this exceptional slapstick comedian and following his lead. After that during the years of theatre work, adverts and animation voices his reputation grew. Getting a break in a tv series as a gardener in Hark at Barker with Ronnie Barker, who became his friend and inspiration he knew as the Guvnor. This led to a small part in ‘Porridge’ showing David’s ability to create a character again much older than his physical age.

His BAFTA award-winning portrayal of ‘Del Boy’ in ‘Only Fools and Horses’. Along with his mother’s favourite series ‘The Darling Buds of May’ and then ‘A touch of Frost’. He was instrumental in getting this series made because he chose the book to become his next challenge, quite different from his comedic roles.

The heartbreak of losing his partner Myfanwy after eighteen years was not eased through work. In the past, the acting had seen him through. This time it was meeting Gill a floor assistant at Yorkshire Television in Leeds. They moved in together and had a daughter, Sophie. He married Gill the night before his in investiture as a Knight Batchelor, being knighted by the Queen.

The pictures throughout the book show some touching images of his life from childhood to fatherhood. As my husband is an avid ‘Only Fools and Horses’ fan, I bought this book for him to read. Naturally, I couldn’t let him have all the fun.

Hope you enjoy these as there will be many more to come. – Jill

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League of Llamas by Aleesah Darlison – I’m a winner!!

Thank you so much for offering to review the first instalment in Aleesah’s brand new laugh-out-loud series, League of Llamas Book 1: The Golden Llama.

You’re one of the lucky prize winners – CONGRATULATIONS!

The series is published by Penguin Random House Australia, with books 1 and 2 set for release on 3 March 2020.

We will shortly be posting the review copy out to you, along with your llama socks. We hope you enjoy both!

Eagerly awaiting the arrival of my book. Watch out of my review. – Jill

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Writing Prompts courtesy of Melissa Gijsbers – Author

Although Christmas is over I’m still celebrating being alive. Catching up with friends and enjoying the laughter.

You may have noticed I haven’t finished this challenge yet. The prompts below are the ones I’ve yet to tackle. I’m planning on using the prompts to create new stories.

Will you join me?

Day 2 -12 days of Christmas challenge 

The writing prompt is: Choose an unlikely food. Explain why this is a traditional part of your Christmas Dinner.

Day 7 – 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is: It’s New Year’s Eve and you head down to see the local fireworks. Instead of the traditional fireworks show something else is shown. Tell the story about the unusual New Year’s Eve Show.

Day 8 – 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is; Your brand-new year. You’ve resolved to attend a local boot camp. But it isn’t quite what you expected… what happened?

Day 9 – 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is: Today is the 2nd of January. Write a story that features the number two.

Day 10 – 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is: Pick a random book from your bookshelf or the pile of books you’re reading this holiday. Use the first line of that book to start a story.

The Michelle Worthington’s Share Your Story, Facebook Bootcamp was challenging and I did most of her tasks too.

I’ve also been recording the Ingram Spark 30 day writing challenge prompts and will share those with you soon.

Happy writing for those who take up this challenge.

Feel free to post your stories and I’ll share them, if you wish me to, with Melissa Gijsbers and her 12 days of Christmas Challenge Facebook page.

  • Jill
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12 Days of Christmas Writing Challenge continued…

Day 4 12 Days of Christmas writing challenge

The prompt is:

Write a love story that is no romance that somehow involves a Christmas decoration.

Day 4 12 Days of Christmas writing challenge

The prompt is:

Write a love story that is no romance that somehow involves a Christmas decoration.

The Christmas Star Short Story by Jill Smith©Jan20

 ‘What are we going to do today,’ five-year-old Shelly squealed as she ran out of the bedroom with her six-year-old sister Emily.

‘Mum told us yesterday,’ Emily jibed. ‘We’re going to decorate the Christmas tree.’

Shelly grinned.

‘I know where mum keeps the decorations,’ Emily nudged her sister. ‘Let’s get them.’

They were soon rummaging around in the spare room wardrobe. There were boxes at the bottom marked Christmas decorations. They pulled them out.

‘Help me carry the big box into the lounge,’ Emily lifted the box and they both struggled to carry it before deciding to push it along the floor.

‘Quiet,’ Shelly pointed down the hall to their parents’ bedroom.

A few minutes later with the first box between them, they tore open the top. Pulling out everything from inside. Soon they were surrounded by tinsel and ornaments.

‘Can we start to hang them on the tree?’ Shelly asked.

‘We can’t reach the top, silly,’ Emily grunted. ‘I can’t find the Star.’

‘It must be here,’ Shelly was tangled up in tinsel as she tried to turn the box upside down.

‘It’s not in this box,’ Emily announced as she pushed the contents of the box aside. She stood up and stepped over the mess on the floor and snuck out the door. ‘I’ll get the other box.’

Shelly put her finger to her lips. ‘Shush, don’t wake them up.’

The smaller box arrived moments later beside Shelly. Emily grinned as she tore open the top of the box. More delicate ornaments were brought out, one by one.

‘Put them together in a pile. When mum wakes up, she can put them up the top. We can start at the bottom of the tree. I’m bigger now I’m six.’

‘Shelly, it’s still not here,’ Shelly wailed as her chin wobbled.

‘I know. It must be somewhere else,’ Emily turned to Shelly and hugged her.

‘I love that star, it’s so beautiful,’ Shelly started to sob.

‘We’ll find it, Shelly. Please don’t cry.’

They looked at the mess around them. The lounge door opened, and mum came in.

‘What on Earth are you doing? Look at this mess.’

‘Mum, we wanted to start decorating the Christmas tree,’ Emily explained.

‘I can see that.’

Mum came in carefully stepping towards them.

‘What’s wrong Shelly?’

‘We can’t find the star,’ Shelly blubbered.

‘The Star,’ mum lifted Shelly up and hugged her.

‘The Star mum,’ Emily chipped in, ‘we both love it. It’s not Christmas without it.’

‘Oh my,’ mum moved to the chair beside the Christmas tree. ‘We’ll find it. I’m pretty sure there were three boxes of ornaments packed away. One had the most delicate ornaments and the star was in there.’

‘We only found two boxes,’ Emily sighed.

Mum kissed Shelly and sat her in the chair.

‘I’ll get the other box. It’s at the top of the other cupboard. First, I want you both to sort out this mess. Put the tinsel together here, those ornaments here, make a space for us to work in. There are some baubles with our names on that go higher up the tree, find them please and put them aside. I’ll be back in a moment.’

Mum left them and Shelly sat down beside her sister.

They were busy sorting out the decorations when mum returned with another box.

‘Let’s look through this one,’ mum smiled at the girls.

A while later they all stood back to admire the decorated tree. On top was a beautiful golden star.

‘One more thing I want you both to do to prepare for Christmas day is to decorate your own Christmas boxes,’ mum instructed. ‘Here are the cardboard boxes and some old cards to decorate them. We’ll do it in the kitchen where you can put your name and cards on the boxes. Santa needs to know where to put your presents.’

The girls giggled and rushed towards the kitchen. At the door, Emily turned to her mother.

‘Mum, I want to do a Christmas card for Shelly.’

‘That’s a great idea,’ mum grinned and hugged her daughter.

‘I want to tell her that even though she annoys me, I love her heaps.’

‘We’ll all make cards after you’ve done your boxes,’ mum agreed.

In the kitchen, cards were glued, and names written on the boxes.

‘This’ll be the best Christmas,’ Emily grinned at Shelly.

‘Thanks, Emily,’ Shelly smiled at her sister, ‘you’re the best.’

Day 5 12 days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is:

The last line of your story ‘And that’s why we never eat leftovers of Anything Aunty Joan brings for Christmas dinner.’

This is a short-short story

Doggy Diner by Jill Smith©18Jan20

Aunty Joan loves her dog. She takes it everywhere with her. We’ve seen her baking in her kitchen. Dog hair gets mixed in with her ingredients. And that’s why we never eat leftovers of ANYTHING Aunty Joan brings to Christmas dinner.

Day 6 12 Days of Christmas challenge

The prompt is:

You are in the process of putting away all your Christmas decorations and pack them away for next year. You hear something crying from the decoration box. One of your decorations doesn’t want to be put away. Tell the story about the decoration and why it doesn’t want to be put away for another year.

The Good Luck Charm short story by Jill Smith©Jan20

 A few days after Christmas I started packing away the Christmas tree. I’m always sad when I do this because the house looks so empty after it’s back to normal.

I open the empty box and start taking down the baubles and tinsel. The lights would be last because they were the first put on the tree. Smiling as I pulled down the named baubles and put them on the side-table, I read the names of my children, Brenda, Kay and Ashley, and one with my husband’s name Steve, and myself, Joy. Then the lovely shaped decorations were next, bells, Santa’s, Nutcrackers, horses, stars, and a very pretty unicorn. My youngest loves unicorns. Then the other ornaments some handmade by my sister before she died. And some given to me by my mother. They were crafty people. All are treasured and loved. Lastly, I pull down the star before I unwind the tinsel. The tinsel goes at the bottom of the box. The children were out visiting their cousins. My husband was at work and the house was silent, even the radio was off. I hummed while continuing my task.

‘Please don’t put me in the box!’

I shook my head and looked around.

‘What the heck.’

‘Please don’t put me in the box. It’s dark and cold.’

Scrunching up the tinsel I put it in the bottom of the box.

‘I must be imagining that,’ I mumbled as I started transferring the decorations from the side-table to the box.

‘Please stop, don’t put me in the box.’

‘Who said that?’

‘I did, please, I don’t want to go in the box and into the garage till next year.’

I kept lifting the decorations from the pile and transferring them to the box.

‘Please, I don’t want to be locked away. I need to be with Ashley.’

‘Ashley?’ I looked around. ‘Who are you? Why, do you want to stay with my youngest daughter?’ I looked down at the few decorations I had in my hand. ‘I can’t believe I’m talking to baubles.’

‘I’m not a bauble, and you have me in your hand. Please don’t put me in the box!’ the little voice squealed.

Looking around me I could see I was still alone.

‘I’m the unicorn. Please,’ the little voice began to sob.

‘The unicorn.’ I look at the beautiful sparkling white unicorn ornament with multi-coloured mane and tail and shiny horn. ‘I can’t believe you’re talking to me.’

I put the unicorn on the coffee table.

‘Okay, humour me. Why is it so important that I keep you out and Ashley keep you in her room?’

‘She’s going to get sick. If I stay with her, she’ll get better.’

‘And if I don’t?’

‘This Christmas will be her last.’

I gasped and sat down. I took a deep breath.

‘Ashley is fit and loving her gymnastics. You’re just saying that to frighten me.’

‘I know it will happen. Please let me stay in Ashley’s room and she will recover.’

‘I’ll think about it,’ I said as I cleared up the rest of the decorations and started pulling apart the tree. It was a good tall artificial tree we’d bought when the girls were little.

The back door banged.

‘Hi Mum, we’re home,’ my eldest Brenda called out. ‘Dad picked us up on his way home from work.’

‘That’s great, you can help me finish putting the tree away.’

‘You’re nearly finished,’ Brenda gave me a hug. She picked up the unicorn and was about to put it in the box.

‘Don’t put me in the box!’

Brenda looked up at me.

‘I didn’t say that the unicorn did.’

‘Don’t put me in the box,’ the little white unicorn repeated.

‘We need to leave it in Ashley’s room until next year. It’ll be her good luck charm.’

The other girls came into the lounge.

‘Here, take this box into the garage. I’m almost done with the tree and we’ll put it out there too.’

‘What about this one?’ Kay said.

‘That’s my favourite,’ Ashley grinned.

‘Yes, love, it’s going to stay on your bookcase all year. It’s one beautiful and very special unicorn.’

‘Why?’ Kay asked.

‘It asked me not to put it away.’

Kay giggled. Brenda nodded. Ashley grinned and took it into her room.

When their father came into the room, they told him what I’d said. He looked at me and winked.

As the new year moved through the seasons, I pledged to watch over all my girls. I could swear when Ashley got a cold that lingered and turned into meningitis, I talked to her about her unicorn. Her good luck charm and sighed with relief when she pulled through.

The end.

These are great prompts by Melissa Gijsbers

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Writing Challenges

This New Year is the start of an exciting new decade. I’ve begun with two writing challenges.

The first is Michelle Worthington’s Share Your Story Boot Camp. As I have in previous challenges with this inspirational lady, discovered amazing new things about how to use social media to my advantage. I’ll do a full rundown of this once I’ve completed this other writing prompts challenge.

The second challenge is by a friend who is also in the Share Your Story group, Melissa Gijsbers – Author.

Kickstart your creativity for the New Year with 12 writing prompts. Held from 25 Dec – 5 Jan
Member since January, 2020.
Melissa Gijsbers – Author

I diligently wrote down the prompts each day and intended to write the stories then, however, being Christmas time escaped me and I’m now doing the challenge.

Here are the first few days:

Day 1 – 12 days of Christmas challenge

I’m not a comic so this one had me scratching my head. It might also show my age.

Here goes – Create a joke or riddle for the bonbon.

Q. Who goes Rockin all over the world trying not to Rock the Boat?

A. Status Quo

Day 2 -12 days of Christmas challenge 

This one is a bit tricky for me because we really don’t have a traditional Christmas dinner.

The writing prompt is: Choose an unlikely food. Explain why this is a traditional part of your Christmas Dinner.

I can only say that my fondest memories of my childhood Christmas foods would have to be my Grandmothers well-soaked Trifle. I’m not going to write a story about this one as I’ve been engrossed with the next couple of writing prompts.

Day 3 -12 days of Christmas challenge

The writing prompt is:

A Christmas card arrives in the mail addressed to you. The handwriting is a beautiful cursive that belongs to another era, and the postmark is from December 191? Who sent it to you and why?

The Warning short story by Jill Smith ©Jan2020

The back door banged shut. Emily came through the door with several envelopes and she sat at the kitchen table to open them.

‘This is a lovely card,’ Emily handed it to Bob who was sitting beside her having his morning cup of tea. ‘It came in a motley old envelope. Look, it’s addressed to you. The stamp is a very old one, it looks like King George, but it can’t be, can it?’

‘Wow,’ Bob stammered. ‘It looks like my mothers’ writing. She’s been gone eighteen years, so it can’t be.’

Emily shook her head. ‘It’s not her writing, I’ll show you.’ She rose from the table and walked over to the bookshelf to inspect the spines of the albums on the shelf. After a few minutes, she pulled one out and returned to the table with it. ‘This one’s full old postcards your mother sent us.’ She opened the album and put it in front of her husband.

‘I’ve been looking at this envelope. It’s the old stiff buff paper. The postmark is 1910 or something, it’s a bit smudged. The writing is like my mother’s, but not the same.’

‘What’s the message inside?’ Emily asked. ‘I was so taken with the decoupage layered image of a cottage in the snow that I didn’t read it.’

‘May the new decade in your millennium be filled with love and joyous family reunions. Bob, look after your health. Grace.’

‘How could this card be written last century?’ Emily was going back through the album. ‘The postmark must be wrong.’

‘It’s addressed to me Em, and we only moved here four months ago. How could someone from almost a hundred years ago write to me?’

‘It’s more than a hundred years, Bob dear. Look.’ Emily pointed to a letter written to Bob’s mother Jane from her Grandmother Grace.

‘Incredible, the writing is the same.’

‘Listen to this, the letter is telling your mother she will marry a hard-working man and have five children. Grace is telling Jane that she is clairvoyant and not to worry, all will be well.’

‘I can’t see how my Great Grandmother could write me a letter to warn me about my health. I wasn’t even born when she wrote it.’ Bob tapped the card against his chest. He looked out the wide front window at the seaside view.

‘They lived in the country, didn’t they?’ Emily continued to flip the pages of the old album.

‘Yes, they lived on a farm in the bush. It was hot and dusty, and they were a pioneering family.’ He replied, shaking his arm to relieve the ache. Bob felt like his jaw was stiffening.

‘Here’s a picture, it’s small and black and white, well, now its sepia. Here, this is your mothers writing saying this was your Great-great Grandmother Grace with her seven children. Your Grandmother Joyce is the babe in her arms.’

‘I remember seeing pictures of that old cottage, Gran and Pa took us out to the district when I was a lad.’

‘Bob, you’ve gone white as a sheet.’

‘I’m not feeling too good Em,’ Bob tried to stand up, but his legs were jelly.

‘I’ll call the doctor,’ Emily picked up her mobile and rang. The dial tone went to a recorded message. ‘Bob, just sit still and rest your head on the table. It’s out of hours, still too early.’ Bob couldn’t hear her, and he was too heavy to move. ‘Oh my, what am I going to do?’

She looked at the old photograph and into the knowing eyes of the woman in the picture.

‘I’ll call the ambulance.’ Emily was soon explaining what had happened to a kindly calm voice at the other end of the phone. The woman asked for their address and her mind awhirl she couldn’t remember their new address. Once she took a few breaths she could relate it.

After a while with the woman on the ambulance emergency line assuring Emily, they would be there soon the siren announced the arrival of the paramedics. Before she knew it, with her own heart pounding wildly, Emily watched her husband being put on a stretcher and being bundled into the ambulance. She managed to grab her handbag and Bob’s medications and was assisted into the front seat beside the ambulance driver. With the siren wailing, they travelled to the hospital at speed.

‘Here,’ the paramedic who’d been treating Bob on the way to hospital handed Emily the card. ‘He was holding onto that tight.’

‘I’m so glad to see him conscious,’ Emily said as she accepted the card.

‘He’s a tough bloke, he’ll be fine,’ the young man assured her.

‘We’ve a full-on Christmas family reunion planned for next week. I’ll be glad if Bob is able to sit up and enjoy some visitors.’

‘He’s in the right hands,’ the paramedic left her at the emergency reception. The paperwork needed to be done. Bobs’ medicines recorded. Tests would be done.
Emily couldn’t help but be grateful for the warning from the past. Who would believe Bob’s Great-great Grandmother had sent it?

_ Jill

 

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Happy Boxing Day!

Hi everyone! Happy Boxing Day!

We had a fantastic Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our family in Brisbane.

For an overview of My Year in Books 2019 here’s the Goodreads link.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2019?int=yyib_sa

This little elf wishes you fun everyone, enjoy yourselves. – Jill

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My year in books 2019 – part three

Seasons Greetings everyone, we’re getting closer to us enjoying wonderful family fun with our son, his wife and our darling granddaughters.

This is part three of my year in books – Goodreads brief reviews or book blurbs. Fifty books is a lot to cover and I hope you are enjoying my round-up. – Jill

The Apostrophe Posse by Teena Raffa-Mulligan review©JillSmithDec19
It all starts innocently enough. Cam and Ellie go shopping for school shoes with their mother. Jimmy Leeds is painting a sign on Baker’s shop. Mrs Terry, their mum, points out that Jimmy has missed putting an apostrophe on the sign. Jimmy The Apostrophe Posse by Teena Raffa-Mulligancan’t see it.Cam forms a group they call ‘The Apostrophe Posse,’ just like in wild west movies. He and Ellie, with their friends Billy and Louisa, will go out to fix the signs in Tea Tree Bend. School starts again in a few weeks and it must be done before then. The Apostrophe Posse head out after dark when no one can see them. That’s the plan. What could go wrong? Well, it turns out, lots.Louisa’s little sister Lindy wants to help. They don’t want her to mess up their plans. When she wakes and follows her sister, what can they do but let her tag along? That’s a big mistake. While working to fix the signs, accidents happen. Before they know it, they are in big trouble. The local newspaper headlines say businesses are calling on the authorities to apprehend the vandals and have them prosecuted.This is a slim volume of seventy pages that invites young readers on a humorous adventure. Teena writes a story that will engage children in an entertaining way. It leaves them with a simple message – be honest, to ask for help when you need it, and, apostrophe’s matter!
Follow after me by Allison Marlow Paterson review©JillSmithDec19
Lizzie Windridge is a typical teenager living on a farm in a rural community. Self-obsessed and vulnerable to manipulation, Lizzie pretends everything is going well with her new friend Ashleigh who prompts her to follow the drop-dead gorgeous football player Brandon. Her grades are slipping and ignoring her former friendFollow After Me by Allison Marlow Patersons is getting easier. Her older brother Mark is always getting in the way. His friend Nick is on the football team too. She spends more time watching Brandon play than visiting her ailing Grandmother. When she is asked by her mother, then her grandmother, to read letters left at the old house on the farm, Lizzie is reluctant to act. The old house is creepy with its musty smells and original furniture still there like a time capsule.One hundred years earlier Evie is in love with Tom who is the youngest of five brothers who live on a neighbouring farm. Her father is a staunch Irishman and does not approve of the blossoming romance. When the World War breaks out young men in the district are signing up to join the campaign battle. Evie knows that Tom has enlisted to be with his brothers, and she gives him a small key to carry with him as a token of her devotion.When Lizzie is rescued by her brother Mark and his friend Nick from a devastating situation, she starts to turn her life around. She knows now that Brandon is the son of the Bank Manager threatening to foreclose on the family farm. She also realises how reading the letters from the past can help her find her own place in the world. The expensive school excursion to Canberra is a welcome escape. Mark helps her parents pay for the trip as he wants to help his sister. Nick is on the school trip too. Can she face him as he knows the horrible truth? Lizzie learns a lot about her family history, the battles and the tragedy that her great grandparents endured while exploring the War Museum with Nick.Evie lives through the tragedy that her neighbour’s family suffers, losing young men who never return from the battlefront. She faces her challenges in finding her own way in the world with meddling from her father causing her anguish. Will she find love again once the survivors of the War return home?I read this book quickly and was swept along with the historical references and story of the Windridge family. Allison has written compelling accounts of the battles in horrendous conditions of World War One. Only at the conclusion of the book in Author Acknowledgements did I discover the research is based on her own Marlow family history. The vivid battle conditions and terrible loss of life suffered by rural Australian families. I will now need to read Anzac Sons: The Story of Five Brothers in the War to End All Wars.

Sweet Adversity by Sheryl Gwyther review©JillSmithDec19

Adversity McAllister is strong-willed and she wants to keep the other children at the orphanage happy. Matron Maddock made them all miserable. As the daughter of two wonderful actors who travel the land as ‘The Famous Shakespearean Theatrical Troupe’, she knows how to she put on a show. Her cockatiel Macbeth is part of her act. He recites Shakespearean quotes. Addie loves him and watches out in case Matron should get clerk Algernon Parris to lock him away. Putting on a show for the other children also helps her forget being left by her parents. Matron had told her that her parents had died in a flooded creek and that she was now her legal guardian.

Addie knows Sweet Adversity by Sheryl GwytherMatron is mean but it’s only when she sneaks into her office to find a key to rescuing Macbeth, does she learn the whole truth. Macbeth was in danger of being killed but she was also in danger. She discovers a child trader is on his way to the Orphanage to collect her as she’s being sold. She must leave before Scrimshaw could get his hands on her. With the help of Mary, the cook, and Thomas, the gardener, who gives her his gypsy caravan, she runs away to Emu Creek. There she hopes to find a camp and a new family with lost boys who live in hiding. When she meets Sam, she thinks she might be in luck, but things don’t turn out that way.

Matron Maddock’s black Buick has followed, and her new friends send her away as she might put them in danger. Worse still, Scrimsaw, the devious man, has discovered her escape from the orphanage. He wants his money, so he chases after her.The historical context of the Great Depression and the underlying expectation that children could be bought and sold, and no one would bother about it. What’s the life of one feisty red-haired girl who can sing and act worth? And, would anyone miss her? Her steadfast friendships help her through, especially the little yellow cockatiel Macbeth and her friend from the orphanage Jack.

I loved this book, I bought it off Sheryl on Wednesday at an SCWBI meeting in Burleigh, started it on Thursday, finished it on Friday. Young adult’s books are my favourite genre.

I will treasure the signed copy and Sheryl’s note. I did enjoy Addie and Macbeth’s adventures, and believe ‘All the world’s a stage’. Thanks so much, Sheryl Gwyther. Now to share this adventure with my granddaughters will be a joy.

Summerfeste (Garlands of Thorn and May, #2) by Sally Odgers (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

Ash has led a boring kind of life. He always worked hard for his father at the charburn, but, since the thornfair, much had changed.
His father has remarried and having a stepmother is a new experience. His friend Rowan was having a baby. He might be the father, but he can’t remember. He has brief yet thrilling dalliances with Genista the hillfayre girl. He believes himself to be ugly. Why is she showing herself to him? Hazel, Rowan’s cousin is likely to be his bride. Life is way too complicated with three women on his mind. When he finds Rowan on the path, having had her baby, Genista appears and helps to care for Rowan. She sends Ash away to find the healer. When he returns, he has been given a magic potion by the healer, to see as a the hillfayre do. Rowan and Genista are well ahead and heading for the hill. He follows them to stop Rowan leaving.
The twist at the end is a surprise that only Rowan and the Healer see.
This book left me feeling the confusion of an adolescent boy. Ash is trying to make sense of the world he lives in. His emotions are all askew but he continues to be devoted to friends. The depth of feeling is palpable.
There must be more books in the series, or has Sally left it dangling for the reader to continue the thread in their own imagination?

Thornfair (Garlands of Thorn and May Book 1) Sally Odgers (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

Rowan is growing up and her determination to follow the old traditions is grating with her family and friends. She doesn’t care, the ‘Thornfair’ gown may look odd but she feels beautiful in it and drawn to see if any of the Fairy folk remain. She is desperate to meet them and, if possible, go over the hill to escape the drudgery of her current life.

Once she meets Flynt dan Apfel she thinks of nothing else. All the while the magic that remains weaves around Rowan to draw her in, to reject her at the last moment. She believes he won’t harm her, but she is lured into his trap, to escape, she must climb through the thorns.

This is an exploration of the stubbornness of youth. Of making poor choices and committing to them. Rowan feels distant from her mother who lets her have her headstrong head. Her cousin Hazel, who was once a close friend, now doesn’t understand her. And Ash, although he adores her, can’t understand her changes but accepts her anyway. The village healer is the last remaining link with the past and she offers Rowan advice relating to the hillfayre folk, that she ignores.

This whole book was an experience of emotions from Rowan’s point of view. As soon as I finished, I was compelled to read ‘Summerfest’ the next book in the series, which I also read quickly. The cover design is a hint to the unique slant of the book, a perfect Barbie doll in the world of magic. Sally is a friend of mine on Facebook and I thank her for the opportunity to read books that tantalize and delight.

Ciao! We’re in Africa by Marisa Parker (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

This is a follow on from ‘Goodbye to Italia’ a memoir of Marisa’s mothers’ life. These are the memories of the period from 1955 to 1969. Maria ‘Iucci’ and her husband Eugenio married in Italy and not long after said goodbye to all their family and friends to set sail for Africa and a new life. This period covers a period of change in the world that is reflected in their lives.

The family were a very loving group who were sad to see them leave. She begins with the Family tree showing her mother and fathers lineage. The agreement the two most important women in ‘Iucci’s’ life, had made with her new husband, without her knowledge, was remarkable. They wanted to keep their daughter and granddaughter with them as long as they could. After the wedding, her husband dutifully returned ‘Iucci’ to her mothers home each night, until they boarded the ship. When they leave, they have no way of knowing if they’ll see these women again or not.

The journey from Italy to Durban, South Africa in 1955 is a long one and Iucci becomes homesick. Her husband is a clever businessman. He intends for them to make a go of their lives in Africa. A country he fell in love with during the war. He had made friends there and was determined to make his wife happy. They meet new friends on board the ship, who are also Italian immigrants. These friends would play an important part in their lives over the following years. The sights and sounds of Africa are astounding to Icci as they call into several ports. She is learning more about her husband as they travel, even though they have worked closely together for many years, she is newly married and life is an evolving adventure.

They arrive in Durban, South Africa, but papers are not forthcoming. Their dream of starting a business is being thwarted. Their shipboard friends invite them to visit Rhodesia. There they find a more relaxed bureaucratic system and they start the business there.

Marisa has researched the facts and made sure the events match the circumstances. I loved the way the book is put together with pictures and events outlined all from her mothers’ point of view. Another beautifully delivered memoir and one I’m sure makes Marisa and her mother proud.

The Pearl Thief

Fiona McIntosh (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

The journey begins when Severine Kassel, who is on loan from the Louvre in 1963 to The British Museum, is asked to identify some antique jewellery, her speciality. Not only can she identify this unique string of high-quality pearls, but, seeing them brings back into her life the horrors she endured during the war in Nazi Germany. These are traumas she has locked away, never letting anyone past her guard, always looking over her shoulder for the Nazi Ruda Mayek. Now with the pearls on offer to the museum, she sets out to hunt down her persecutor and take revenge on him.

With Mossad on the trail of the same man and an agent comes out of retirement to ask Severine to tell her story. When she learns his true identity and begrudgingly accepts his help, they set out to find her former persecutor. Her best plan to reach the Nazi is through a solicitor handling the pearls. However, they discover he is bound by client confidentiality so can’t help. Both Daniel the Mossad spy, and Edward, the Solicitor fall under Severine’s spell. She finally gives her heart the freedom to fall in love.

This book is wonderfully written drama that would lend itself to a movie adaption. So vivid are the images of time and place. Fiona McIntosh weaves an intriguing tale from beginning to end. I will continue to read and enjoy her work.

Elysian Dawn (Elydian Dawn#1) by Sally Odgers
The Silvering (Elydian Dawn Series #2) by Sally Odgers
New Dreams (Elydian Dawn Series #3) by Sally Odgers – review©JillSmithDec19

Elysian Dawn by Sally OdgersSeventeen-year-old Marianne Arcadia is planning to marry Jeremiah. The Elysian Dawn is a space ship and the only home she’s ever known. She has never experienced pain other than scratches and never seen death. The Healer Moon has matched her to Jeremiah, she loves him, but she’s still growing and can’t marry till she stops. Then they’ll have children who will be the next generation and the generation after that might reach their destination and settle on the new world.

Jeremiah is handsome and older than Marianne. He was born on Terra the old world they left behind he was very young when they left so his memories are sketchy. He is devoted to Marianne. Esden B adores Marianne but realises he will never be with her. They are eighteen years into a journey.

They know nothing of the advancements in space propulsion that means the journey of a century can now be completed in years. Cornelia Conti was one of the Faceless Four of Outward-Bound who instigated the First Launch of Elysian Dawn to beat Ganes and Zulu Queen. The changes this causes means other planets are populated long before Elysian Dawn has reached its destination. Meera Singh is a first-born citizen on the new world Shiva. Her brother Jameel Sing intends to travel to Terra to meet his fiancée’s parents.

Everything changes when the Elysian Dawn crashes into a planet eighteen years after launch.

The Age of Akra (Starchild #1) by Vacen Taylor review©JillSmithDec19
The Powers of the Seven Nations of Saha’s will be tested as the prophecy of the Star Child becomes reality. Mai is chosen to go on a pilgrimage, her brother Long goes with her as her chaperone. Their journey is to the Valley of a Thousand thoughts as they are both Thoughtbankers, with the ability to read people’s minds. They start their journey across the deserts towards their destination when they come across a crater. They investigate and meet a strange boy called Akra, who is still recovering his memory and his skills. Akra is the Starchild, the three travel on to battle with the elements. The trio The Age of Akra by Vacen Taylorfaces many dark challenges, desert serpents, being chased by Beings from the Underworld. Having to milk Spiderflax to create a waking potion for a sleeping oracle whose powers are being channelled by the Dementra underworld being.
Vacen is a writing friend of mine, she told me that she writes horror.
To me, this is a science fiction fantasy along the lines of my favourite author Anne McCaffrey and her Dragon series. The characters are instantly likeable as sister and brother face a common foe. The end of this first book alludes to more twists in their relationship as they continue their journey. I can’t wait to continue the journey in the next Starchild book.
Charlie the Cheeky Spider by Brian Dale, Illustrated by Jennifer Scicluna review©JillSmithDec19

Charlie was born with his many brothers and sisters on a quiet, still night, in the light of a full moon. His mother noticed he was different right away. He kept asking questions and was never still. He grinned a cheeky grin. So that’s why she called him Charlie. He was impish and liked to play tricks on his family. He was growing bigger and he realised it was time to leave home, so he wove threads into a parachute and jumped into the air. He was blown a long way from his country home to the suburbs and he landed on a window sill.

He was ready for more adventures, so he crawled inside. There he found a family to live with and he happily introduced himself, to Mr and Mrs Pan and Junior Pan. He was a talking spider and loved to hear Mrs Pan scream, and he was especially fond of her chocolate cake mix that was left all over the bench and floor when she’d run in fright. This is just the first of many adventures.

I can imagine Brian or any teacher reading this book to a group of school children and having them enjoy it when Charlie went – Creepy crawly, creepy, crawley, creepy, crawley … boing!

This is a charming chapter book for young readers about a very cheeky spider. The illustrations by Jennifer Scicluna are carefully matched to the story and I must say Charlie is a cute cheeky spider. I’m giving my signed copy to my granddaughters and I’m sure they’ll love it.

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2)

by Jessica Townsend (Goodreads Author) review©JillSmithDec19

Morrigan Crow lives in the Deucalion Hotel in Nevermore, and her patron Jupiter North has taken her out for a surprise excursion for her twelfth birthday. She’s been in Nevermore a whole year but still is never sure what to expect. This outing was totally strange with her being led down an alley, to walk up the wall to enter a theatre – Old Delphian Music Hall with the star The Angel Israfel. But, of course, Morrigan couldn’t hear star sing or her life would forever be impossible to live without the perfection of hearing the Angel sing.

That’s where they hear about the first of several disappearances which take Jupiter North away often over the next few months. Leaving Morrigan to navigate her way through her first several months at school. This should have been marvellous, she had passed her trials and was now accepted into the Wundrous Society! She would go to the school where she would, at last, have friends who were her brothers and sisters, a bond that made Morrigan feel complete. The old fears returned when her unique knack became a curse again.

When Jupiter does return, their reunion is one where Morrigan tells him lots of things about his life at school. Things like how she only has one class and the teacher Professor Onstald has written a book about how all Wundersmiths are evil Wundersmith by Jessica Townsendand no good, and that that is all she studies. Her teacher never has a kind word for her or her kind. She tells him about her Homeroom decorated by their conductor Miss Cheery and how wonderful she is. She doesn’t tell him about how class 919 are being blackmailed to keep silent about her knack, and how this is making her very unpopular.

There are so many strange things that happen in Nevermore that the reader feels dragged along by the strong current of an exciting imagination. Thanks, Jessica Townsend, I was unable to go to sleep until I’d finished turning the last page. I rated this and the first book Nevermore, Five Stars on Goodreads. I loved every twist and turn. I loved the feeling of comfort and homeliness of the Deucalion Hotel, Morrigan’s ever-changing bedroom and Jupiter’s cosy nook. I eagerly await the next instalment in Morrigan Crow’s journey.

Amazingly good, l read this in three days finishing in the wee hours.

Dear Santa by Samuel Johnson review©JillSmithDec19

I liked it – the concept of a fundraising book for cancer research which gives it extra points. Adults writing to Santa, and these are mostly high profile Australians so that’s great too.

What I didn’t like – was the few who made it a platform for bashing, or simply saying Santa is an anagram for Satan and couldn’t be believed.

What I loved – was those who wrote their letters with humour and the goodwill that Christmas should bring to us all. My particular favourites were written by Peter FitzSimons – being proud of his mother. Missy Higgins for asking for ‘sleep’. ‘Molly’ Meldrum for asking for a St Kilda Grand Final win. (This was a fun-filled and excellent letter) The stand out for me in this quirky collection was written by Rob Carlton – his letter was touching, heartfelt, and very much a concept we all need ‘IMAGINATION’.

Thanks to my younger sister for giving me this book for Christmas. I’ll always be a believer in Santa Claus!

That completes my year in books 2019.
Now we turn our minds to family and looking forward to seeing them. Christmas is a magical time. I hope everyone who’s come across my blog and read my posts, find something to read and enjoy. My love of books, reading, writing and learning writing-related skills is my catalyst to continuing to write here.
I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas, safe travels, many hugs and cuddles from those most precious in your lives (including grown-up sons) and a fantastic start to 2020 and the first year of the new decade. – Jill 
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My Year in Books 2019 – Part 2

Merry Christmas Everyone, five sleeps to go till Santa arrives.

I’m continuing my year in books – Goodreads brief reviews or book blurbs. Fifty books will require two more posts. Here’s part two, as they are long reviews, part three will need to finish off my year in books, 2019. 

Rosie Bird aka Song Bird, Superhero has nightmares about how the Great Barrier Reef is dying. Green Turtle Island is closing down and the marine creatures are disappearing. The family holiday is turning sour, the natural life they came to see is no longer in the oceans surrounding the island. What’s happening? Is her arch-enemy Destructo behind the devastation? Can she rescue the Great Barrier Reef before its too late?

Luckily for Song Bird, her best friends are with her on the investigation. Amy her super-smart nerd friend with a wheelchair full of gadgets, and Ben her other BFF. How does Destructo always manage to stay a step ahead? They would have to find out.
Through a time portal, Song Bird and Ben go back to the past. Amy was meant to go with them but she disappeared before they left. Things go badly as soon as they arrive in the pristine past. The King of the Island thinks Song Bird is trouble and locks her up. Ben is captured too. How can she find a way to convince the King she’s there to help save the future reef? Her friends come to the rescue. Then Song Bird takes a dangerous journey to collect a piece of the coral reef to take back to the future to rejuvenate it. Amy gains super mermaid powers and they work together. But what happened to Ben? Once they find out Destructo’s evil plan, they return to the future. Destructo is still ruining the marine environment and must be stopped. Will their trip into the past save the Great Barrier Reef? As with all Song Bird books, the story is a world not quite our own, but very nearly. At the end of the book, Karen has added information for young curious minds to learn about the Great Barrier Reef. The facts are given in a clear concise way. Options to help our environment are given and website addresses to find out more listed. I find the message of learning about problems, solving them with self-empowerment, and the strength of sticking together with friends, a powerful one underpinning all Karen’s books.

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Peony wants to be a Bee more than anything in the world. She and her sister Mags are very good Pests. It takes a lot to make it through the test to become a Bee and if she did, they would have more food. Peony tries even though she’s too young. Her friend Applejoy has an excellent smile and he does make it through the test the Boz or Forman sets. This time she is tripped up by a mean girl Pomz, so she fails the test. Pomz and AJ are the new Bees.

Gramps makes them good food and gives good hugs. When Ma comes home from the city, all worn out and crying, Gramps feeds her and gets her to sleep. His love rejuvenates his daughter Rosie enough for her to go back to the city. Peony and Mags want Ma to stay. They don’t need the money she brings home with her. They live in a shed on the farm. AJ and his mum and MJ live in a shed nearby. What could be better than the learning over the radio and working on the farm?

Peony is dragged away to the city and her world is turned upside down. She sees her Ma being bossed around and she doesn’t like the Ape Man who pulls her into the car. She must work and be polite, even though she doesn’t know what that means. She meets Esmeralda and finds out that people can be frightened of going outside. Peony makes a promise, and so does her new friend Ez.

This book is wonderfully written and a world without bees becomes a possible near-future reality. It’s no wonder this book won and was shortlisted in so many awards. I’m sure to re-read it many times.

Jake in Space Mercury Rising by Candice Lemon Scott
The excitement was building the planets would align and it would be an awesome show if only Jakes parents could agree on how to set up the megascope to see it. Luckily for Jake, his cyborg friend Henry, comes to take him to Mercury for a great planet side view. His other friends Skye, Milly, and Rory were already aboard the best Space 4045 jet car. They soon discover that Henry is on assignment for the Central Intergalactic Agency (CIA) and that they must defuse bombs set to go off on Mercury to save Earth and they have to complete this mission before the planets align.

They are amazed to find two of their old enemies Gradlock and Valerie, have united to put the dreadful plan into action. Will they be able to find the bombs and stop them from causing both Mercury and Earth to be destroyed?

Candice has written another fast-paced action-filled book for young readers who are sure to love this page-turning adventure.

Jake in Space Volcanoes of Venus by Candice Lemon Scott

Jake thought he’d won the best prize ever. He was in the Floating Hotel of Venus with his mum and dad. His friends Rory, Skye and Milly arrived not long after they did with their parents. Henry the cyborg arrived last. He wasn’t on assignment from the CIA (Central Intergalactic Agency) this time and he was upset about it. They’d told him to take a holiday. Anyone else would love that but not Henry.

Everything at the hotel was amazing starting with the lava fountain in the foyer. They start to enjoy being pampered with a ride to their rooms and non-stop food. When Henry knocks on Jakes room door his parents think he’s a bit weird when he goes to smell the garbage chute. He leaves quickly and Jake must find out what he’s up too, it’s too strange, even for Henry.

Next day four friends are booked to go on the Volcanoes of Venus tour. Jake, Skye, Rory and Milly are surprised to see Henry in the pilot chair having disabled the robot pilot. What’s going on with the garbage? Why is Henry sniffing out a problem? Why is the rubbish from the hotel being dumped in the volcano, it smells disgusting! It’s dangerous too as it’s creating a cap that could blow off and destroy the hotel. Who would want to do that?

Would they solve the mystery without getting captured or thrown into the volcano where the rubbish is being tipped?

This is an exciting romp and one that will sure to please young readers.

The Ivory Rose by Belinda Murrell

Jemma just started her first babysitting job in one of Sydney’s iconic homes known as the Witches’ Houses. The house is old and run down and Sammy is a fun-loving energetic girl. Her mum Maggie, is an artist and single mum, needing Sammy to be occupied for a few hours each afternoon so she can finish her work for an exhibition.

The rambling house is a bit creepy and Sammy’s cat screeches and spits when the air in her room gets cold. Mater of factly Sammy tells Jemma that her friend Georgie is in the room. The chair in the corner of the room begins to rock. At first, Jemma thinks the little girl has an overactive imagination then other strange things happen.

At home her parents are always busy and hardly there for Jemma, so she spends a lot of time at her best friend Ruby’s place. It’s untidy and chaotic but filled with love and laughter. Jemma’s home is a show home of neatness and she feels detached. It’s nearly her birthday and she’s longing to just hang out, having a sleepover, painting their nails and chatting. Her mum has other ideas.

Jemma looks up the history of the Witches Houses of Annandale on her laptop. She finds out a lot about the area and about Rosethorn house. She read that a little girl Georgiana Rose Thornton had been murdered in the house. Was it a coincidence that Sammy called her invisible friend Georgie? The next Monday Jemma rushed to Sammy’s after school. She found more things had been unpacked. Jemma suggested she and Sammy read then they play hide and seek. She looked for Sammy and found her frightened and hiding in a secret cupboard. Jemma saw a flash of the past when a pin stuck in her hand. Once they were back in Sammy’s room Jemma calmed the little girl down, she put the dainty pendant carved from creamy ivory in the shape of a perfect rose on the dressing table, ivory rose. But who was Aggie? Why did Sammy think someone was trying to hurt Georgie?

Sammy left to go downstairs and Jemma couldn’t resist putting on the pendant. Shadow the cat spat again and the room was cold. Jemma felt that someone was with her in the room. Someone wanting to hurt her. The history of the Witches’ Houses in Johnston Street linking Rosethorne house from the century before Jemma’s time to her own suddenly became very real.

This is an intriguing time-slip story and one with a very satisfying end.

Chicken Little Investigates by 

Lois Wickstrom (Goodreads Author)
Sir Isaac Newton and Chicken Little did the same thing. Chicken Little would have figured it out if she had investigated. In this version, she does, and in the process saves herself and her friends from Foxy Woxy.
A twist on a tale, this book using the same characters in Chicken Little. This time the little chicken investigates and comes up with a name for the discovery of something falling down to the ground. Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey came up with different names. They all outsmarted Foxy Woxy, who’d lured them into his den. Then they all went to the King to name their discovery. He was wise and did his own experiment and came up with his own name. This is a cute book with lovely illustrations by Francie Mion. I think this is a great modern take on ‘the sky is falling’ original classic and one, I believe, young children are sure to enjoy.

Carrie’s Flight by Lois Wickstrom illustrated by Francie Mion

Being a Grandmother, I could relate to this book, that I truly love. If I downsized and moved, I would love to leave behind boxes of treasures for my granddaughter to touch, so she could feel close to me. It would be magical to be able to leave feathers that she could put on and fly to me. These are the dreams we all share that make this book emotive and its beautiful illustrations by Francie Mion so delightful. I also enjoyed the educational aspect at the end of the book about Starlings. I’m certain that many youngsters are taken to the sky, wearing imagination wings, when they read this book.

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee
Annabel Grey has been bought up in a privileged home, with an elegant mother and Miss Finch’s Little Blue Book (1855) to guide her. Such advice as – ‘A young lady does not yawn or sigh but listens attentively to any lesson a wise anecdote an elder may offer.’ This may not be helpful when meeting Miss Henrietta Vine, her Great Aunt, for the first time. Especially when her Aunt tells her that she is a witch and must learn magic.

When Mr Angel arrives at the magic shop he gives Annabel a message to pass on to her Great Aunts. Then she meets Aunt Estella and is told that she is – ‘A most magical girl’. Annabel must travel to Under London to save the good magic in the world. Miss Henrietta is not as sure as her sister that Annabel is ‘A most magical girl.’ The threat is close as Mr Angel has already bought a dark fog down over the city and is raising shadowlings to do his bidding.

Annabel is given a broomstick, a wand and a reluctant travelling companion. Kitty is also magical and not many are like her in the world. She can talk to fairies. She can run errands from Henrietta and Estella Vine’s magic shop to the Wizards and all those ageing members of The Great & Benevolent Magical Society. Kitty is wild and sleeps where she will at night. She knows all of London and listens to the trees speak. One day she’ll cough up her heart light and the body she is in will vanish.

Annabel is a plain Mayfair girl when she arrives at her Aunts. She misses her mother, who left her to go abroad. Her mother told her that her father had been in the navy and died at sea. How could she take on such a dangerous journey when she doesn’t know if there is any magic in her at all. She listens to her Aunt’s advice, be brave, be good. She learns about true friendship. She learns about her father The Great Geraldo Grey and that her elegant mother is very magical and told her lies about her father.

I loved the way the ending tied up loose ends and left a smile in your mind and heart. I think this book gives children hope, when they have self-doubts, when they don’t think themselves strong enough to fight for what they must, the message here is – Be good. Be Brave.

This whole book is delightfully written. Every word conjures up images of conflict and insecurities. I love this book. It’s a keeper, I gave it Five Stars on Goodreads, make you happy in your heart keeper.

I thought at first the dark side of the book might be too much for young adults, knowing some start very young and others may not be emotionally ready, however, I changed my mind. Be good. Be brave. Treasure it.

This is another cute book by Lois Wickstrom who is also a talented artist.
I can see children enjoying a book about a dinosaur coming to school. The images of the children simply accepting a big red Dinopoamus coming through their schoolroom window and joining in their lessons. The teacher and the other students showing him how to adapt because he couldn’t speak charming. They didn’t want him to be upset when he couldn’t join in. This is a reflection on how youngsters act when meeting something or someone different, they adapt. I liked it

Pocket Guide to Publishing: 100 Things Authors Should Know

John L. Koehler, Joe Coccaro

Publisher John Koehler and executive editor Joe Coccaro share 100 golden nuggets of wisdom that help answer the many reoccurring questions that authors have.

How collaborative should the process be with a publisher? What is a decent royalty percentage? How is the price of your book determined? Do you need to have an attorney look at a contract before you sign? What’s the difference between line and copy editing? How much and what kind of marketing should an author expect to do?

These questions and many more are answered in this pocket guide to publishing.

Jake in Space Robot Games by Candice Lemon Scott

Jake and his friends Skye, Rory and Milly are excited about going to the Robot Games. It’s the best reward for winning the Rocket Battles space car race. Their cyborg friend Henry joined them and he was acting even stranger than usual popping Gob Pop in his mouth. He’d just had an upgrade and when he ate too much Gob Pop his cheeks puffed out like balloons then he shut down. Henry was spoiling their day but Jake needed to help his friend. They had to take him to the mediRobot Games by Candice Lemon-Scottcal centre but he was too heavy to lift. The cleaner helped with his flying robotic cleaning machine.

Things started to get weird and the kids decided to find out what was going on after being shut out of the medical centre. The doctor and nurse at the medical centre acted weird too. What were they doing to Henry? Was it his upgrade? How could they rescue their friend and save the people being locked in the arena? Would the Robots take over?

Action-packed from the first sentence, Candice has written another page-turning thriller for young readers.

I read this quickly, this tale had some dramatic revelations, but it left a ‘life sucks – be competitive and get on with it’ message. As a result, it ended on a downer. Having not long ago read Jane Fonda’s memoir, which was a difficult read but left an upbeat message, ‘you can change and become who you should be’ message. I preferred her take on life, however, Sidney Poitier did have some pertinent and candid reflections on his life and how his parent’s advice made him relate what made him who he is. The measure of a man ended with his grief at losing a close friend to prostate cancer. Many of his observations of current societies rang true.
The Voyage Series – Voyage To The Bottom Of The Bathtub by Peter Boey

Erik is a wild boy who is always getting into trouble. He can hold his breath underwater for a very long time. His sister Stephanie is very protective of him, although, she gets sick of having to rescue him when he does stupid things.

They hate living in the Australian outback away from the sea. Erik is drawn to the ocean and hates that his father’s disability is the reason they live there. Erik finds an old diving suit hidden in their attic. Why was it there? Stephanie wears a pendant that has some significant background in their lives. They just don’t know what it is. The mysteries stack up. Why do they live where they do? How did their father suffer the injuries that cause him to be unable to work? They are always short of cash. Why they don’t they move to the coast to be near the hospital he has to visit?

Everything changes for the whole family when they are offered a house to live in on the coast rent-free. They move to the seaside. Then they discover many revelations about their father and his sea diving past. Entwined with a sunken treasure, mysterious maps, and a bathtub at the bottom of a river, Erik becomes obsessed with finding out more. Stephanie worries about him while she investigates the strange dress shop their mother has started working in. It’s old and full of antique furniture and relics. It’s next door to a dive shop on a hill away from the Main Street in town. Both the home and the job come courtesy of an anonymous benefactor.

What they discover takes them on a dangerous path.

Peter is a fellow Ten Penner who writes beautiful quirky stories and this book is clearly the start of an intriguing series. As a former teacher with an inquisitive mind, he has created a page-turner young adults will fly through with relish. I’m looking forward to the next instalment in the journey.

Jane Fonda has written this book in Acts. Like everything in her life, she sees as segments divided as a play or theatre. She writes articulately and the very first scene brings you into the moment of solitude and desperation she felt as a child. Peeking out from a cardboard box she was hiding in to snatch glimpses of her mother further along on the verandah of their home. Her mother was pinning butterflies and Jane was in her box rubbing saddle soap into her half sister’s Pan’s saddle.
My Life So Far by Jane Fonda
Her father was her idol and he loved him dearly. The photos of him are scattered throughout the book. His influence on her life from the start was powerful. Jane looked up to him, he looked anywhere else. Her mother was a troubled woman who was sent away. Then she committed suicide and Jane blamed her for all the wrongs in her world. Her father called her fat and Jane spent much of her youth trying to please him. If she could please him, she would make it better.
Henry Fonda remarried and Susan went from being her father’s mistress to her stepmother. She was loving and kind and good to Jane. Her father would replace Susan when she left him. Jane was very confused and hurt. She ran free as a child, pretending to be a cowboy to be courageous, not feminine. Her life was a series of run wild and free moments. In her teens, she went to Paris to live. The acting was something she didn’t really want to do, but it gave her some direction. She started to live independently with an income.

In her mind, her mother had failed her father. She would always put her own thoughts and feelings aside to make it better. To be a complete person she needed to be with a man. Much of the book delves in her marriages and her inadequate role as wife and mother. Of the times she didn’t take control and allowed men to control her.

The first marriage to Vadim, who was like a rock star in his own right in France. She bowed to his every whim. The birth of their daughter Vanessa was not what she’d expected. Vadim was a gambler and a womaniser. It didn’t last. Then she became an activist and her second husband Tom was already a campaigner. She learned a great deal about others during this marriage. Her career was on a high with movies like ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Coming Home.’ He was going into politics. They worked together but mentally went separate ways over the years. Then Ted Turner burst into her world after she separated from Tom. He wanted to date her. It was far too early to think about dating another man. She said so. Ted Turner was patient and gave her time. Just the time she gave him. Then he steamrolled into her life. Jane fell in love with the maverick. This time it was Jane realising she had changed and wanted a complete relationship. She made demands of her husband, ones he wasn’t able to meet.

This was a challenging read. Jane Fonda is remarkably frank about her dysfunctional childhood family and how the death of her mother shaped her feelings towards men. Her father was her idol but even as she reached out to him when filming ‘On Golden Pond’ their fellow co-star Audrey Hepburn described Hank Fonda as ‘a cold fish’.

Her writing of this memoir was clearly cathartic. It helped her to explain the reasons she needed to be with a man to be complete. Satisfyingly, she discovered in her sixties that this was no longer true. Now we know there have been a couple more Acts lived in Jane Fonda’s life since the writing of this book when she was in her early sixties. She has continued to forge a life in movies suiting her age and attacking stereotypes of older women. What a wonderful career she continues to have.

There are some books you read that you know will take a place in your mind and heart and you’ll look back on as a reference for your own feelings and exploration of the world. This is one such book.

 

I’ll end this post on this review of Jane Fonda’s memoir as it compares well with Sidney Poitier’s. I’ve fifteen more books to finish off my year in books, that’s the next post (hopefully before Christmas).

Enjoy the silly season, stay safe. – Jill

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My Year in Books 2019 wrap up

This is my Goodreads year in books. I aimed to read 45 books having struggled to read 40 last year and I’m happy to say I managed to read 50 books and still have a couple more to go. These are the 50 books with my reviews or Goodreads blurb.

You have read 50 of 45 books in 2019.
YOUR 2019 BOOKS

The Rainbow Slide

by Roslyn Wiegand

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published
Laura is spending her school holidays at Ebony House Orphanage where her aunt takes care of orphaned girls. On a previous holiday, Laura had met Vicki, an orphan, who is always getting into trouble.
This is a lovely story of Laura and her best friend Vicki who have some amazing adventures in a magical world that exists underneath the Orphanage. The rainbow slide wasn’t easy to find and only those who are chosen could discover the entrance to the world of the Caveland People. Ebony House Orphanage is the backdrop and springboard for their adventure. The girls agree to help Yazmarin, the leader of the Caveland people, to fight against an enemy who enlists the help of someone working in the Orphanage. The girls learn to be self-reliant and strong while discovering where the dangers are and where the lost key to the Magical Vault is. I enjoyed this story and believe it has a market for young chapter book readers.
AnChook Shed Snake by Phil Cummingsother Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns book with an insight into two kids and their dad making a chook house, all the while a creepy snake messes up their plans. Dad knows when to do as he’s told, but plans don’t always work out.
What a fun book. Ollie is being left at home with his Grandmother looking after him for two whole weeks. His mum is a ‘Health and Safety’ Award winner and she is very protective of him. He can’t do much and neither can most of the people in town. Grandma Dangerous is hilarious and the adventures are sure to delight youngsters. I’m hoping my granddaughter reads a chapter each night.
What a delightful book. I love the story, Jack has a new friend called Tashi who tells him wonderful stories. Dad always asks the wrong questions. The illustrations are brilliant. I’m giving this book to my granddaughter for Christmas and I’m sure she’ll love it.
Jack continues hearing Tashi tell him all about his adventures, making ghost pie and it’s a very angry Baron. Tashi helps everyone in the village. These books are delightful, beautifully illustrated and are a great start to chapter book reading for youngsters. I’m thrilled to be able to give this book to our granddaughter.
It’s so wonderful to relive the joy of reading this classic book. It’s no wonder it’s become so popular in other mediums. The book is always best though.
It is wonderful to re-read classic books. What can I add to the praise for this wonderfully crafted story, without saying that I simply have to re-read and enjoy – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, today!
Another great Aussie yarn this time from Sally Morgan and Illustrated by Beth Norling. Again another fantastic Australian themed story for kids. Gran was on cyclone alert and insisted Danny help her put blankets at the window and batten down the hatches. He thought she was overreacting. Even Dad didn’t think a Type 1 Cyclone was anything to worry about. But Gran insisted they tie down the caravan and made sure everything in the yard was locked away. She packed an Esky full of sandwiches and water and made them all go into the bathroom when the alert hit the TV. It had gone from Type 1 to Type 3. This is a great book to show kids that it’s best to be prepared and to help out when others lose everything they have. Congratulations to Big W for making these brilliantly written stories available for free. That’s a give away that’s worth its salt, great promotion!

 

Bern and Cody live in a little outback town where they have lizard races every year. Uncle Mo comes to visit to eat mums great tucker and to bet on the lizard races. Who knew Cody and Bern’s pet Frill-neck Lizard called Tarantula could run so fast? Cody had a secret way of talking to Tarantula and that’s how he got him to run. This is a great little Aussie yarn. James Moloney is a wonderful writer. Thanks to Big W for providing real Australian stories for children free. Wonderful giveaways that give back to us and our children and grandchildren.

Howling on a Concrete Moon by Simone BaileyTess is a clever girl who loves English and writing. She’s shy around boys and her little sister, Julianne, is athletic and outgoing. This story is set in 1982 when she’s seventeen. As a twelve-year-old, the town hierarchy imposed a ridiculous curfew on teenagers in the town. Tess produced a pamphlet that became a rallying of the youngsters in town to protest. The ‘Resistance’ wasn’t flash but, it was her creation.

The town smart alec, Sebastian Keddie, was her pen pal for several years while he was away at boarding school. She liked that he was smart, and they could have a conversation, but she didn’t like him. When he became even more unpopular in town, the local cleric asked her to visit him in hospital. This could spell the end of her friendship with her best friend, Megan, whose older brother Greg, is good looking. She can’t fall for her best friend’s brother though, can she? Her other friends Tony Wilson and Barry Rizzo don’t mind so much her visiting Sebastian, even though he’s hated by almost everyone else in town.

Tess has a secret that she hasn’t told anyone about. The only way she’s been able to manage to live with the nightmare is to write it down. She begins her memoir, bans her dad from his office and his ball-type electric typewriter, and starts to figure out her own feelings. Sebastian twigs that she has a problem, he doesn’t know what it is, but he makes Tess talk to Megan about it.

Tess wants to protect Julianne. She blames herself for letting things get so bad. Why didn’t she speak up? How could this situation have gone on for so long? Why didn’t her parents realise what was happening? Why was it her sister, and not her, that suffered the indignity?

This is a cleverly constructed coming of age story, with scenes of awkward teenage embarrassing moments that everyone can relate to. It will make you laugh, cringe, and cry as you share Tess’s emotional journey.

For the young adult readers in your life, get a copy of this book and put it under the Christmas tree. It’s a great read.

Joe lives on a farm in an isolated rural community. He’s sad because the teacher wants all the children to bring an animal to school to meet Davina Dabchick who’s on the telly but is making a special trip to their school.

He couCrikey! by Jane Carrollldn’t take a cow! It had to be better than Patsy’s dog Esmerelda who was a dog show champion. He puttered home on his motorbike when he found a little galah chick that had dropped out of a tree. He took the chick home and called it Crikey. He taught Crikey lots of tricks and was sure Davina Dabchick would award him best animal on the day. But things don’t always go as planned.

Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns are brilliant reads. Thanks to Big W for giving this book away as part of a promotion. Much better than useless points. Here the point is kids read and learn something too.

This is a lovely anthology of heartwarming Christmas stories. A Share Your Story collaboration with Michelle Worthington being both contributor and organiser. Well done, I giggled and smiled, and my heart was touched, shedding the odd tear of joy.
This is a great collection of Halloween themed scary – but not too scary stories. Michelle Worthington has brought together an array of talented and creative writers. These stories are a little bit creepy, thought-provoking and many leave you withSpooktacular Stories by Michelle Worthington a smile. The stories will entertain children in hospitals throughout Australia and has already become an Amazon Award winner. I’m proud to be a part of the troupe of authors who created these tales.

Lois is so good a putting a twist on old fairy tales. This one is a feel-good version of Goldilocks and the three bears. The emphasis is on Goldilocks found the door to the bears home had been left unlocked and that she went inside because she could smell the porridge. This Goldilocks was very clever and fixed things in the house. The bears were glad she came and invited her back anytime. Children can learn that things can be repaired not discarded. In this consumer age – six simple machines – is a valuable lesson. The artwork by Nicole Hehn is childlike in simplicity enhancing the overall effect of the book.

Candice has written a wonderful read for kids with friendship, and a crazy Pelican taking centre stage and saving the intrepid Eco Rangers. I look forward to reading this whole series and passing them on to my granddaughters to enjoy.

This is an amazing book, full of thought-provoking optimism and life-changing ideas. At first, I couldn’t see how anyone living in such frightening circumstances would be able to survive. I know people do but reading this book shows ways to recover and move forward. Such powerful stuff. I’ll post a full review shortly.

Saving Saturn by Candice Lemon-Scott

Another fast and action-packed boys-own thriller. Full review shortly.

 

Three-year-old Lenny is a new big sister to her baby brother Davey. Her mother, Cynthia Spink, is good at knowing when something is not right. She had a bad feeling about Davey. He was born ‘Perfectly Normal’. Six days after Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon Davey turned five and he had a Lenny's Book of Everything by Karen Foxleetantrum, and, his mother knew the bad thing had arrived.

Davey was a beautiful baby who enjoyed hearing his mother tell him about the story of his birth. Each chapter is headed with age and height – 5 1/2 years old 4ft 3inches December 74. He had grown too big already. Lenny loved her brother, but she didn’t like that he was different, that other kids loved his happy smile and charming ways, he stood out. She had to look after him.

Peter Leonard Spink was their father who came and went. He worked away. He was home until baby Davey said, Dada. Then he saw a job advert and he went again. Although Cynthia said he’d come back, this time when he left, he didn’t return. She raised Lenny and Davey on her own, leaving them with Mrs Gaspar from next door when she went to work.

The Encyclopedia arrived from Burrell’s Publishing Company Limited – ‘Our gift to you is the gift of knowledge.’ Lenny and Davey loved learning all the wonderous things in each volume delivered. Lenny loved insects and Davey loved Falcons and birds of prey.

Davey grew and grew. Their world changed.

This book is about growing up and making mistakes along the way. Of grief and moving on. It is a wonderful book.

Karen Foxlee is rapidly becoming a favourite author of mine. I loved ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ and ‘A Most Magical Girl’. This is quite different but equally enchanting. If you’ve never read YA’s books before, this book is a great place to start.

The Magical Secret of The Crystal Kingdom – this is an enchanting story. Full review shortly.

10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2010 by Maggie AldersonTen Short Stories You Must Read in 2010

by Maggie Alderson (Goodreads Author), Georgia Blain,  Mark Dapin, Nick Earls, Alex Miller, Judy Nunn, Malla Nunn, Craig Silvey (Goodreads Author), Rachael TreasureChristos Tsiolkas No Review on Goodreads yet.

Two Wolves by Tristan BancksTwo Wolves by Tristan Bancks

Ben Silver is a kid that likes making up video stories. He’s always wanted to be a Policeman but doesn’t know if they’ll take overweight people. His sister Olive is seven and annoying. They are home alone because their parents are at work in the wreckers yard. When the police come to the door he doesn’t know what they mean when they say, ‘we’ll catch up with them.’ They want to talk to their parents. What’s going on? They’ve never had a holiday and now in a rush, they are driven off in the bush to a cabin that was Ben’s grandfathers’ place. It’s in the middle of nowhere. Everything feels wrong. Ben’s dad always calls him Cop, because he asks so many questions. When they argue Ben’s dad wrestles him to the ground. He’s humiliated and defeated. His parents are acting weirdly. The food is running low. They didn’t come prepared for a long stay in a cabin. They were city kids. Ben felt he had to be there to keep Olive’s spirits up. They were scared. Especially when the food ran out and their parents took off. Being on their own wasn’t unusual, but being where they were was.

Left to their own devices Ben and Olive explored the surrounding area and fell in love with the wild and rugged river and bush. What had happened? Why were they on the run from the law? None of it made sense, but, Ben was determined to find out.

The twists and turns in this story are artfully woven into the story of a teenage kid finding out who he is and what place in the world he exists in.

Read this book in two days. It gripped from the first page. Needless to say, I’ll be reading more of Tristan Bancks work.

The above is the first half of the 50 books I’ll post part two shortly, hopefully before Christmas (less than a week to go, folks). – Happy reading – Jill

 

 

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NaNoWriMo Wrap up – I’m a Winner!!

A few days after the end of November – so I’m a bit late in announcing this to the world – but, I’m a NaNoWriMo Winner again!! This time I edited and as I’m now only working one day a week, I had an advantage. I’m also learning from various Scrivener tutorials that I’ve got a long way to go before I press compile. I need to sort out my Front and Back matter and then I’m almost there. I’m determined to finally get it done.

Facebook post 24/11/2019

Hi everyone, NaNoWriMo I’ve just reached 50,550 words! I’m a winner! But I’m not finished my compare edit so will continue over the six days. Once it’s all done, and I’ve stopped tweaking, I’ll finally get Scrivener to compile it so that I can upload into IS. That’s the aim.

And feedback on the new NaNoWriMo Website, I liked after learning where the time and update buttons were. I liked the graph and the daily tally giving you what you achieved daily. I like the overall, where I write, when I write bits. I’d like the link to this webpage to show the tally daily as it did in previous years.

On the whole, I thank my friends in The Ten Penners, five of which also set to the task of working away on their novels during NaNoWriMo 2019. It’s a great experience and sets up good writing habits. Bye for now – Jill

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NaNoWriMo Update and Book Review

Day 21 and I’m going cross-eyed doing my compare edit so I took time out to do another book review. If you add this in I’ll call it half an hour as taking my total to 44,050 words. I’ll be back to editing after a good nights sleep.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Nov19

Title: Howling on a Concrete Moon

Author: Simone Bailey

Publisher: Zeus Publications

Tess is a clever girl who loves English and writing. She’s shy around boys and her little sister, Julianne, is athletic and outgoing. This story is set in 1982 when she’s seventeen. As a twelve-year-old, the town hierarchy imposed a ridiculous curfew on teenagers in the town. Tess produced a pamphlet that became a rallying of the youngsters in town to protest. The ‘Resistance’ wasn’t flash but, it was her creation.

The town smart alec, Sebastian Keddie, was her pen pal for several years while he was away at boarding school. She liked that he was smart, and they could have a conversation, but she didn’t like him. When he became even more unpopular in town, the local cleric asked her to visit him in hospital. This could spell the end of her friendship with her best friend, Megan, whose older brother Greg, is good looking. She can’t fall for her best friend’s brother though, can she? Her other friends Tony Wilson and Barry Rizzo don’t mind so much her visiting Sebastian, even though he’s hated by almost everyone else in town.

Tess has a secret that she hasn’t told anyone about. The only way she’s been able to manage to live with the nightmare is to write it down. She begins her memoir, bans her dad from his office and his ball-type electric typewriter, and starts to figure out her own feelings. Sebastian twigs that she has a problem, he doesn’t know what it is, but he makes Tess talk to Megan about it.

Tess wants to protect Julianne. She blames herself for letting things get so bad. Why didn’t she speak up? How could this situation have gone on for so long? Why didn’t her parents realise what was happening? Why was it her sister, and not her, that suffered the indignity?

This is a cleverly constructed coming of age story, with scenes of awkward teenage embarrassing moments that everyone can relate to. It will make you laugh, cringe, and cry as you share Tess’s emotional journey.

For the young adult readers in your life, get a copy of this book and put it under the Christmas tree. It’s a great read.

 

 

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NaNoWriMo Update – Day 20

I haven’t been updating daily but I’ve been going well. I’m editing and with the 1 hour for 1000 words equation I’m now up to 43,550 words. I’m on a final compare edit to fine-tune anything else I might have missed.

I’ve been reading and will post a full review of this book, ‘Howling on a Concrete Moon’ by Simone Bailey, shortly. This book is published through Zeus Publications and I work there one day a week.

My brief Goodreads review is:

This is a very interesting take on a coming of age story. What would drive a shy and intelligent girl who has an athletic and gregarious younger sister, to start writing her memoirs? I’ll post a full review shortly.

I’ve also read some great little Aussie novella’s by accomplished authors that were free giveaways from Big W. Thankfully, one store chain has the sense to offer something other than useless points to their customers and the youth of Australia.

Goodreads review: How to Talk to a Frill-Neck Lizard by James Moloney, Illustrated by Simone Linehan (such action in images, loved them) –

Bern and Cody live in a little outback town where they have lizard races every year. Uncle Mo comes to visit to eat mums great tucker and to bet on the lizard races. Who knew Cody and Bern’s pet Frill-neck Lizard called Tarantula could run so fast? Cody had a secret way of talking to Tarantula and that’s how he got him to run. This is a great little Aussie yarn. James Moloney is a wonderful writer. Thanks to Big W for providing real Australian stories for children free. Wonderful giveaways that give back to us and our children and grandchildren.

Goodreads review – Cyclone Fever: by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Beth Norling

Another great Aussie yarn this time from Sally Morgan and Illustrated by Beth Norling. Again another fantastic Australian themed story for kids. Gran was on cyclone alert and insisted Danny help her put blankets at the window and batten down the hatches. He thought she was overreacting. Even Dad didn’t think a Type 1 Cyclone was anything to worry about. But Gran insisted they tie down the caravan and made sure everything in the yard was locked away. She packed an Esky full of sandwiches and water and made them all go into the bathroom when the alert hit the TV. It had gone from Type 1 to Type 3. This is a great book to show kids that it’s best to be prepared and to help out when others lose everything they have. Congratulations to Big W for making these brilliantly written stories available for free. That’s a giveaway that’s worth it’s salt in the promotion!

And lastly: Crikey! by Jane & Zannah Carrol, illustrated by Chris Edser

Joe lives on a farm in an isolated rural community. He’s sad because the teacher wants all the children to bring an animal to school to meet Davina Dabchick who’s on the telly but is making a special trip to their school.

He couldn’t take a cow! It had to be better than Patsy’s dog Esmerelda who was a dog show champion. He puttered home on his motorbike when he found a little galah chick that had dropped out of a tree. He took the chick home and called it Crikey. He taught Crikey lots of tricks and was sure Davina Dabchick would award him best animal on the day. But things don’t always go as planned.

Scholastic – Mates – Great Australian Yarns are brilliant reads. Thanks to Big W for giving this book away as part of a promotion. Much better than useless points. Here the point is kids read and learn something too.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping going on my editing and have worked out some of the formatting issues, fixed the Contents page with the corrected order. I’d added some chapters and not changed the index. Happy NaNoWriMo everyone! – Jill

 

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NaNoWriMo Update – Day 10

I’m going great guns and finding lots of things to change in a manuscript I thought was thoroughly edited. So worthwhile exercise all round. I’m up to 25,250 words edited using the 1 hour equals 1000 words formula. Well ahead of target, but the formatting was messy and I’m fixing it too. Maybe Scrivener will auto fix it but I’m taking no chances.

We had a great Melbourne Cup Day at Twin Towns with friends. Laughs and even a small win! We only bet once a year and that’s a good thing. We spent $24 to win $15.50!!

Also, started to think about Christmas. With our change of address, the Christmas cards will go out with our new address. I have contacted everyone on Facebook and phone lists but feel sure someone will be missed.

It’s less than SEVEN weeks to Christmas! Yikes! How did that happen? Happy NaNoWriMo writing or editing everyone! – Jill

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Book Review and NaNoWriMo update – Day 6

My NaNoWriMo total to the end of Day 5 is 13,750 words (13 3/4 hours) as I’m editing. Day 6 and I’ve nearly done another hour, now, as a diversion from the editing I typed up my handwritten book review. Here it is. Now on with the editing.

Book Review by Jill Smith©Nov19

Title: Lenny’s Book of Everything

Author: Karen Foxlee

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Three-year-old Lenny is a new big sister to her baby brother Davey. Her mother, Cynthia Spink, is good at knowing when something is not right. She had a bad feeling about Davey. He was born ‘Perfectly Normal’. Six days after Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon Davey turned five and he had a tantrum, and, his mother knew the bad thing had arrived.

Davey was a beautiful baby who enjoyed hearing his mother tell him about the story of his birth. Each chapter is headed with age and height – 5 1/2 years old 4ft 3inches December 74. He had grown too big already. Lenny loved her brother, but she didn’t like that he was different, that other kids loved his happy smile and charming ways, he stood out. She had to look after him.

Peter Leonard Spink was their father who came and went. He worked away. He was home until baby Davey said, Dada. Then he saw a job advert and he went again. Although Cynthia said he’d come back, this time when he left, he didn’t return. She raised Lenny and Davey on her own, leaving them with Mrs Gaspar from next door when she went to work.

The Encyclopedia arrived from Burrell’s Publishing Company Limited – ‘Our gift to you is the gift of knowledge.’ Lenny and Davey loved learning all the wonderous things in each volume delivered. Lenny loved insects and Davey loved Falcons and birds of prey.

Davey grew and grew. Their world changed.

This book is about growing up and making mistakes along the way. Of grief and moving on. It is a wonderful book.

Karen Foxlee is rapidly becoming a favourite author of mine. I loved ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ and ‘A Most Magical Girl’. This is quite different but equally enchanting. If you’ve never read YA’s books before, this book is a great place to start.

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NaNoWriMo update

It’s The Ten Penners monthly meeting today and I’m pleased to say I’ve made a great start on my NaNoWriMo. Being a rebel and working on One-hour editing equates to One Thousand words. Yesterday, I rose early and did three hours, and after our normal walks, housework and going out for lunch, then in the evening, I managed another hour.

I’m hoping by doing as much as I can each day when I strike a day I can’t get anything done I’ll have it covered.

Looking forward to seeing all my inspirational writing friends and getting a kick out of learning more about Scrivener.

Happy Writing fellow NaNoWriMo’s!! – Jill

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NaNoWriMo Prep – I’m a rebel and will be editing

NaNoWriMo Prep – I’m a rebel and will be editing so I’m figuring out where I can write. It’s a card table in the lounge/dining area of our new unit. Space is at a premium, I will manage though.

I’ve done another book review today and sorted out a bit more of my manuscript to be reprinted through Scrivener thanks to a brilliant tutorial I recently watched, I now imported my word document and can sort it out much more thoroughly.

Of course, I’m still deciding whether I’ll put the two previous NaNoWriMo manuscripts – Microworld and Microworld Undersea together, or if I’ll just rework my old manuscript to get it republished.

Now for the book review:

Book Review by Jill Smith©Oc19

Title: 10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2010

Authors: Authors: Maggie Alderson, Georgia Blain, Mark Dapin, Nick Earls, Alex Miller, Judy Nunn, Malla Nunn, Craig Silvey, Rachel Treasure, Christos Tsiolkas

Produced by: Produced by the Australian Council for the Arts

I won this book as part of a package from the Library ‘Get Reading’ program. The Foreword by Sandra Yates, Chair of Get Reading. I’ve never needed to be encouraged to read but I know others struggle to read books as they prefer newspapers or magazines. This is 2019 so it’s one of those books I put off for someday having many others to read.

Some of these stories left a mark. I particularly enjoyed Maggie Anderson’s ‘Dress Medium’. Felicity is a psychic shopper whose talent could lose her everything, Anya is an antique shop owner desperate to sell ‘deadstock’, she discovers they are a perfect match. ‘Confession’ by Malla Nunn is an intriguing tale of a Priest who helped turn around the fortunes of McAlister’s orphanage. Well written with immersive descriptions of the horse-riding Priest and the children’s carer. I particularly loved ‘The Amber Amulet’ by Craig Silvey in which a solitary boy sets out to save the world in his street, one house at a time, after dark he becomes ‘The Masked Avenger’. It is a disarmingly charming story of self-discovery. ‘The Evolution of Sadie Smith’ was a great story very much in keeping with getting a reader interested in where it would go. I was surprised and delighted by this story. A young widow changed her own life with the help of mail she hadn’t ordered being delivered. The other authors all contribute in their own style, Nick Earls has his straightforward deadpan style with Steve when going for coffee with Jeremy, an almost tolerated, almost friend when they go to buy coffee at Merlo girls.

If you happen across this book it is worth picking up and taking to read. This copy is likely to make it into a second-hand bookstore for someone else to devour.

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Book Review – Goldilocks and the Six Simple Machines – Lois Wickstrom

I’ve been asked to review many books over the years and these twist on a Fairy Tale books by Lois Wickstrom are delightful.

Lois is so good a putting a twist on old fairytales. This one is a feel-good version of Goldilocks and the three bears. The emphasis is on Goldilocks found the door to the bears home had been left unlocked and that she went inside because she could smell the porridge. This Goldilocks was very clever and fixed things in the house. The bears were glad she came and invited her back anytime. Children can learn that things can be repaired not discarded. In this consumer age – six simple machines – is a valuable lesson. The artwork by Nicole Hehn is childlike in simplicity enhancing the overall effect of the book.

I’m wanting to have all my book reviews up to date in the next week so I can concentrate on NaNoWriMo. This will be an interesting exercise this year as I plan to edit, which is not my strength. I have no desk or printer connected at the moment so will be working on my laptop. This would be lovely if I had a table, but alas, the joys of moving our dining table delivery having been delayed, I am currently working off the kitchen bench. Let’s see how it goes? – Jill

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Spooktacular Stories launched…

spooktacular book launch good witch jill casting spellThe Spooktacular book launch yesterday 12th October 2019 was great fun. Lots of book signing, kids activities, face painting and best of all l met many talented creative people who inspire me. Here are some pictures courtesy of Maria of SCBWI and the proud aunt of the youngest author in the book. All the authors who attended read snippets of their stories to the engrossed audience.

My own copy of this great book is signed by-

Michelle Worthington – Share My Story host Sandra Bennett, Trish Donald, John Drake, M J Gibbs, Karen Hendricks, Jennifer Horn, Alison McLennan, and June Perkins. I think I missed a couple of creatives who were there but hope to catch up with them another time.

Here are some pictures courtesy of Maria of SCBWI and the proud aunt of the youngest author in the book.

I’m delighted to say the books flew off the shelves and the hosts at The Mad Hatters Bookshop provided a wonderfully enchanting venue.

To cap it all off my fellow Ten Penners, Marion Martineer and Kate Russell were able to travel up to Manly from the Gold Coast. No mean feat on a day with heavy rain that was truly wonderful to see but terrible to drive in. It was an amazing day! – Jill

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Spooktacular Stories Book launch is today!

Looking forward to an exciting day today. Meeting the most wonderful creatives who contributed to this great book. Will update later today! – Jill

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Spooktacular Stories book launch tomorrow!

thrilling tales for brave kids Spooktacular Stories anthology coverTomorrow at The Mad Hatters Bookshop in Manly I’ll be joining a bunch of talented creatives who contributed to this great book. Thanks, Michelle Worthington for getting it all together. The books will be distributed to hospitals throughout Australia.

Michelle Worthington’s Facebook post – Congratulations to our Share Your StoryAnthology Angels, in this case witches for a Not-So-Scary Storytelling at the Queensland Childrens Hospital, donating copies of the book to our bravest little readers. Some of them flew on their brooms all the way from Adelaide and Canberra! Can’t wait to get for the official launch this Saturday at The Mad Hatters Bookshop. It’s going to be Spooktacular!

We’ve already won an Amazon award for the book and it’s available in libraries. So if you can go ask for a copy that would be great.

More tomorrow from the good witch. – Jill

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NaNoWriMo prep October 2019

November is NaNoWriMo month and October is the preparation month. I have three manuscripts written during previous NaNoWriMo challenges and have decided to be a rebel this year and edit. I’ll try to whip my ‘Microworld’ and ‘Microworld Undersea’ into shape, the shape of one book.

img_0281We’ve moved and still unpacking boxes. We don’t have a dining table or curtains yet so it’s all a bit primitive. Our second bedroom once free of boxes will be the room with a sofa bed on one wall and a desk and bookcase on the other. That’s a little way away yet.

The best part about living where we do now is that we’re a six-minute walk to the beach. The family arrived during school holidays and we enjoyed a dip in the pool at the units and paddling in the ocean. It was lovely.

On Saturday at the Ten Penners meeting, we all chatted happily about our current projects. Marion is having her Steampunk manuscript assessed at the SCWBI conference in November. I’d love to go but doubt I will be able to. Kate has just returned from an overseas adventure. Louisa is going great guns with her editing and development of her Utopia series and working on an adults book as well. Michelle shared notes of the CYA conference. Julie wrote a lovely story she’s planning to put into a competition. Lindy and I keep plotting along with our little stories. I do have five books to review and must get into gear with them. We don’t even have a dining table yet, so it’s been a while between posts for that reason.

img_0612Today is a glorious Monday Public holiday and we’ll be visiting our friends in Pimpama and sharing our moving house news with them. Have a wonderful day everyone! – Jill

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The final countdown has begun…

Yes, we are nearing the end of our temporary living arrangements. It’s been a busy month. We now have packed up and moved out of our old home in Robina. Lived with laughs and fun times with our friends in Pimpama for two weeks and two days, and enjoyed their hospitality, dogs and fun with friends. If you’ve never played ‘Chicken Foot’ you’ll have to try it! Buy a set of Double 12 Domino’s to begin the hilarity.

Our settlement is now going to be a little earlier so we’re planning our next stage. The count down to the move-in has begun.

I’ve read a couple of books but not written the reviews yet. Watch out for my reviews of ‘The Magical Secret of the Crystal Kingdom’ by P S Nicholls, and ‘Lenny’s Book of Everything’ by Karen Foxlee, who is rapidly becoming my favourite author of the moment.

Stay tuned to resume normal service (or as normal as can be expected when being surrounded by boxes).

  • Jill

 

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