Books On Tour – book review

This is the first of my Books On Tour book reviews, I enjoyed it, especially the moving Australian War Memorial scenes.Follow after Me Cover final (1)

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 friends 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. Allison Marlow Paterson bio pic

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I read this book quickly and was swept along with the historical references and story of the Windridge family.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.

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Accepting the Challenge…

March begins with another Challenge thanks to Michelle Worthington

Day 2 Breakfast – 30day Instagram Social Media Challenge






30 day instagram challenge March 19





My other Challenge is writing stories for submissions to The School Magazine – My stories for January and February have not been accepted but are good little stories I may be able to use for The Ten Penners should we decide to produce another anthology of stories for children. Yes, I’ve written another story for the March submission. I hope that, as the story is a little more quirky, it will be accepted. Wish me luck!

A couple more challenges that will keep me busy are:-

Penguin WriteIt Fellowship competition



Spooktacular Stories: Thrilling Tales for Brave Kids

Share Your Story Writing Competition 2019

Share Your Story anthology comp

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Feedback on my books…

Dual Visions and Vashla’s World have a ringing endorsement and great feedback from a recent recipient of signed copies. His wife gave them to him for a birthday present. 

Dual Visions front 29.06.17 (2)Having read Dual Visions and Vashla’s World I would thoroughly recommend them to anyone interested in an in-depth sci-fi tale, interesting characters and a story that sets your imagination racing … Barry Lunnie

The feedback on the books may include spoilers or just tempt new readers, here it is:-

Firstly I must commend you on your books Dual Visions and Vashla’s World, some of the most original and in-depth writings I’ve enjoyed for some time.

I must admit, the first few pages I was KEEN to see where you were coming from with the dual sex aliens and male to male relationships…but…and this may sound strange to you, being a scuba diver and being extremely interested in all things wild, I likened it to numerous aquatic species that change gender in order to survive, hence Orthama.Vashla's World cover July17

Favourite characters are Aunt Nance a lovely character, Rakal … more-so in Dual Visions although an interesting story with Vashla and Zorn all by itself… Vashla, my God your description of her, I fell for her straight away… and your narratives on the darker warrior side of these three I found a riveting read. The murder of Bon, what can I say… POWERFUL stuff… so much more I’d like to say but just wanted to let you know how much I truly enjoyed your novels and can’t wait for the 3rd instalment…

I’m truly thrilled with this feedback as it goes to the essence of both books. Now I’m about to re-release Dual Visions and Vashla’s World through Ingram Spark to be available to a broader market.

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Book Review Sweet Adversity by Sheryl Gwyther reviewed by Jill Smith

Sweet Adversity Cover

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 Matron 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 has to 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.Sheryl Gwyther bio pick

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.

cockatiels imageI 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 adults 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.

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The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh reviewed by Jill Smith

The Pearl Theif CoverThe 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 freedom to fall in love.fiona mcintosh

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.

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Happy Australia Day


Day 26 – 30-day social media challenge – The best advice I can give for someone just starting out as a writer is to never give up and believe in yourself.

Write every day, even if it’s only a blog post or in my case book review on Goodreads. Read every day – every book you read improves your brain, so Jackie French espouses. I’m certainly not one to contradict such a sentiment.

Have a go at entering writing competitions no matter how daunting writing to a guideline appears to be, it’s good practice.

jill profile pic

This is a solitary task but shared with like-minded people makes it exciting. Join one or more writing groups where you can go to meetings and make friends of inspirational people. Using social media, let people know what you’re doing.

I’ve certainly learnt quite a bit from doing this challenge. Stretch yourself, by that I mean, if you’ve never written an article or play or short story for children – try writing one. Writing is a skill that needs to be practised.

Enjoy learning and share your joy with family and friends. Tell people you write. Say you want people to enjoy reading what you write. This affirms your self-belief. Put it on your email signature so every time you email the recipient knows who you are.

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YA Sci-fi my favourite genre…

I’ve started 2019 by reading lots and some from author friends who’ve I’ve wanted to read for a long time.

starchild book 1 cover

Book Review by Jill Smith ©Jan19

Title: Starchild 

Author: Vacen Taylor

Publisher: Odyssey Books

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.

vacen taylor

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 faces 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 used by the Dementra underworld being.

Vacen is a writer 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.

Another read in this genre begins with this first book in the series by Sally Odgers. I read this book and the next two one each day. The characters are so real, flawed likeable and the turn of events so dramatic. 

elysian dawn cover

Book Review by Jill Smith©Jan19

Title: Elysian Dawn – Elydian Dawn Book 1

Author: Sally Odgers

Publisher: eXtasy Books Inc or Devine Books

Seventeen-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.

sally odgers

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 Balm 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 silvering cover
new dreams cover

Once you’ve read this you immediately need to read the next two books in the series –

The Silvering is book 2 and New Dreams book 3. I went from a Goodreads 4 star rating to 5 stars at the end as the three books together have added layers that create a satisfying conclusion. This, of course, could lead to more.

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