Monthly Archives: October 2016

So, Bloggers, How Do You Do It?

img_1862It’s coming up to three months since I started my new, improved approach to blogging. I came out, admitted I had a few problems that had badly affected my focus on writing/blogging and declared my determination to do better.

Before that time I had gone through a period of reading many of the blogs I enjoy for entertainment or for the fantastic and informative posts, especially on writing and marketing, but I was a lurker, in the background, never taking part. That is not good , I know. It’s was not helpful to anyone but myself, but it was just the way it had to be at that time.

img_1863Now I feel I am on a roll. It’s small (for small read minute) by comparison to many, but I’ve posted reviews and a bit about myself and my books and the ideas are coming. But I watch with awe as the posts roll into my Reader or inbox and wonder, seriously, how do you do it?

Many of you have thousands of followers. I know many have full-time jobs and young children at home; I have neither and yet it seem so hard to keep up, make the comments I would like to make, not let people down who deserve comment on their marvellous posts, put together my own posts and write books and market them!

I know hard work and dedication are required and I am up for that but I also think that maybe you lovely people have some tricks of the trade that you might be willing to share?

This morning, just as I was about to sit down and write I received an email from Jenny at Jennyinneverland with a link to her lovely blog and her post on blogging. You can read it here. She is much further down the blogging line than I and has some interesting things to say after successfully completing a huge blogging challenge. It seems, though, that there are still questions to be answered. Maybe it’s  just our continual desire to improve wherever we happen to be in the game at a given time?

I want to thank everyone who has followed me so far and say that I hope to give back some of the really great and insightful things I have learned via blogging and some of the fun too. And if you do have any pearls of wisdom for this newbie I would be so grateful if you would share!


Introducing Kellie Culpepper

img_0078I would like to tell you all about some of the characters in my Come-alive Cottage series and, as she is the heroine of the stories, first up is the adorable Kellie Culpepper.
Kellie is ten years old, she is bright and fun loving and also quite a clever girl. Kellie’s parents are explorers and Kellie was born in Africa in a small village by the banks of the great Okiepokie River

Now she is growing up in England, Kellie sometimes goes to stay with her wonderful Aunts while her mum and dad are off exploring. Aunt Kitty and Aunt Sillime are very unusual Aunts. You’ll get to meet them another day!

5 Things You May Not Know About Kellie Cullpepper.

  1. She once pulled a Royal Python out of a tree.
  2. Her favourite food is Cherry Jam Tart
  3. She has a hat with six Pom-poms on it.
  4. Her pet is called Slowly and he is a Giant African Snail.
  5. Kellie knows a real, live dragon (and it’s spotty)


All four Kelllie titles are available on Amazon and I am planning some promotions and giveaways in the run up to Christmas.

These are, short, fun, chapter books for children. If anyone would like to receive a free ecopy of any of these titles, to sample what they are like, please just let me know and I will forward an Amazon gift voucher.

A review, of course, would be massively appreciated 😊

Available in Paperback and for Kindle

Kellie at Come-alive Cottage

Danger at Come-alive Cottage

Catastrophe at Come -alive Cottage

Christmas at Come-alive Cottage

When I’m Not Writing

Browsing through the posts received from blogs that I follow, each morning, is a pleasure. It’s a mix that ranges from book reviews, author interviews writing tips, how to’s, and publishing information to funny pictures, hilarious captions and recipes for cheesecake. It’s great, it’s a learning curve and it’s fun too.

Thank you all!

My biggest focus on a daily basis is my writing but, of course, like so many other bloggers and authors out there, there are other things in my life that are important to me.

img_1857It seems to me, from what I have observed, that a many writers and readers really enjoy the Great Outdoors and I am no exception. It’s funny because I would suppose that the stereotypical image would be of someone closeted away, only occasionally drawing back the curtain for a glimpse of the light of day. I do spend a lot of hours at my computer, but when I’m done, or in need of a break, it’s fresh air I seek. I like to walk with my camera, tend my plants and this year, at the ripe old age of something not in my forties or fifties, I ran my first half marathon. (That took a lot of ‘fresh air’ training, some of it accompanied by darkness and freezing rain).

Travel has also been a big factor in my life. Unlike the rest of my family who have all remained in our home town on the sunny Lincolnshire coast in England, I have moved about, lived in several countries and loved that nomadic way of being. At present I live in Scotland and Portugal, dividing my time to be close to my children.


In the evenings I also like to sew and knit for relaxation. I’m not saying that I don’t  enjoy socialing or the odd wee dram or two but the (frequent) evenings I refer to here are the ones when I’m not partying until dawn. 😄I love some of the modern TV series like Game of Thrones, Black Sails, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead but I never watch the tv without ‘doing something with my hands’ – if you know what I mean!img_1858

Did I mention my kitten, or my kids, or my grandkids? These also take up portions of my time and I know how lucky I am to have them all.

When I finally get a breather from all this activity I sometimes sleep!

How about you?

Review Wednesday

img_1853Though this blog is still a pretty simple affair at the moment, the way I would like it to eventually look and feel is coming together in my mind. And so I am taking a first step towards some kind of ‘shape’  to it by making a commitment to post reviews on Wednesdays. I’m not the world’s fastest reader, mainly because, like many people, I have to shoehorn my reading into any nook and cranny of the day that I can find, and that often means time when I should be asleep, but, what the hell, reading is worth it!

I am going to try to read as many Indie authors as possible because, as all writers know, reviews are like gold dust and if we ever expect someone to take the time to read and review our own, the least we can do is seek out terrific books ourselves and let others know. My reviews are always totally honest but you won’t find any really bad ones here. If I don’t like a book to a point where I wouldn’t have anything good to say at all, I tend to just not review it. Full stop. There’s already enough negativity in the world! I know not everyone will agree,  but I prefer to think of the reviews I post here as recommendations and I can only recommend what I like or what seems to me to have the potential to be liked by others, even if it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea!

img_1854My Goodreads Challenge is so woefully behind schedule that I may also post extra reviews in the lead up to Christmas. I may not make that challenge this year but, damn it, if I fail this year to make the numbers, I’ll do it next year!

Anyway, without more ado, here are couple of reviews of children’s books I have read recently. My grandchildren give both of these a definite thumbs up!


If You Have a Hat by Gerald Hawksley

‘A silly rhyming picture book’

img_1855I’m always on the lookout for good children’s books to add to my Kindle library. Some books don’t translate well to Kindle and that, in my experience, goes particularly for children’s  books, but this one works perfectly. The simple, clearly defined illustrations are well suited to ebook format and even though I read it on my Kindle Paperwhite, therefore no colour, it still worked well ( and my little grandson agreed!)

The little rhymes are indeed very silly.

‘If you have a hat, put it on your head

if you have a bed bug tuck him up in bed’

Just  the sort of funny rhymes very young children love. A Real Delight to share with little ones.

Merry Christmas Woozler by Rhonda Paglia

img_1856This book for young children also stood out for me with regard to the illustrations which are bright and beautiful but still hold up well on Kindle Paperwhite with plenty of different shades to make the pictures clear and attractive.

The Woozler lives at the bottom of the garden and can be a rather stand-offish character but Sofie and her mirror image, Meeda are determined that he will have a warm and merry Christmas. My five year old grandson loved the story! (Already, he can’t wait for Christmas)

The author has added some nice extras at the end of the book, some drawings to complete and a couple of little puzzles to enjoy, finding items from the story so, for those little extras, or to give as a gift it would be nice to own the paperback of this book.


Review – Do Not Wash Hands In Plates by Barb Taub

img_1852The ebook revolution has really transformed my reading habits. With more reasonably priced books available and a wealth of online book sites it’s so much easier to find little gems like ‘Do Not wash Hands In Plates.’

This book has some small illustrations but it’s the text that is the attraction; the author has a funny, endearing style that really makes you want to get to know her and her friends much more.

Barb Taub relates the real -life story of a trip to India with two life-long friend. The trio had apparently done this many years before when they met up to tour Europe but this time, with one of the group already living in India they meet again for the grand tour.

This is not an informational travelogue, there are no guides, facts or figures, but rather a very funny account of the ladies as they see some of the sights and very frequently sample the delights of Indian food. It’s light, it’s fun and a perfect short read in-between other more hefty tomes.

A real delight!

Review – Thin Air by Michelle Paver

img_1851Ooooh! I am so disappointed!

After reading the most excellent, Dark Matter, by the same author I came to this book with delicious anticipation. Also subtitled ‘a ghost story’ , Thin Air tells the tale of a 1930’s expedition to conquer the Himalayan mountain Kangchenjunga.

Steven Pearce, the expedition medic is the narrator and we learn very early on in the book that this group are following an earlier and celebrated, though ill fated, attempt to climb the mountain.

The story is told in Paver’s wonderful, brooding style, perfectly fitted to a ghost story and the descriptions of the place, its beauty and unrelenting harshness are very evocative. I listened to this book on audible and as a footnote Michelle Paver speaks about some of her preparation and research for the book which included going to see the great Kangchenjunga for herself. It shows in her writing that she has seen this place.

So why am I disappointed? Great title, great cover, great writing, what’s not to like? Nothing actually but the story, for me, was just too close to Dark Matter. It wasn’t just the fact that, obviously, there is a ghost! The author again explored the social snobbery of the era, the appalling handicap of not quite being ‘one of the chaps’. The main character, once again, has become  an expedition member as a ‘last resort’. I won’t say too much about the actual ghost but the slow realisation is again there as in Dark Matter.

Having said all that, if I hadn’t read Dark Matter recently I would have probably given this book a four star rating or even five but it’s just an honest opinion to say that, even though the descriptions of place (which are beautiful) are very different , the first book spoiled the second for me.

Review – All Fall Down by Tom Bale

img_1850It’s a nice day, great for a family barbecue and, on the face of it, all seems right for Rob and Wendy Turner and their family. They are out in the garden, enjoying the good-old British sunshine. This cosy scene is suddenly interrupted by at noise at the fence and when Rob opens the gate a greviously injured man staggers through, begging for help. An ambulance is called but, sadly, too late for the stranger.

So begins a nightmare for the Turner’s who, like many, have their issues and problems that, under these stressful circumstances begin to surface. What begins as an unfortunate and random incident for the Turner’s progresses to look like something more deliberate to Rob, whose business has suffered setbacks and the involvement of characters that are more than a little shady. There are other elements in play too, including their adopted daughter’s traumatic past and a son who has gone AWOL.

The already planned family holiday in Norfolk seems like a chance to be together and regroup but that is actuallly when the full horror begins.

The author throws a lot at this family, more than I expected, especially as there are a few well placed red herrings that led me to the wrong conclusion a couple of times. I certainly didn’t expect the reason for the Turner’s plight.

The situation in Norfolk was tense though, for me, a little fuddled and possibly over-complicated when it came to the outcome. Overall though, an exciting read and I did like the final twist. I would definitely go back to this author again.




Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book of the Week – The Body in the Snow – A Bebe Bollinger Murder Mystery by Christoph Fischer

The latest book from Christoph Fischer and it sounds like a real gem! Just the sort of read to accompany a glass of red wine on an autumn evening.

Review – Sea Witch by Helen Hollick

img_1849I have to confess that lately I have developed a little soft spot for pirates. It actually started a few years ago when I spent some time in the Caribbean and Central America. That area of the world abounds with stories about pirates. Then came the absolutely wonderful TV series Black Sails and its references to the great novel, Treasure Island…

So when I came across this series of pirate tales, I had to give it a try.

Sea Witch is the first book about the adventures of Captain Jesemiah Acorne and adventures they are. Reading this book took me back to my early love of swashbuckling films and of stories such as he prisoner of Zenda and Man in the Iron Mask. It’s an exhilarating tale of love, off and on the high seas.

In the author’s notes she states that she has taken some small liberties with details and dates but the narrative feels very well researched with nautical terms and references freely being used. Very cleverly, these terms enhance the story and never feel forced or clumsy.

This first in the series shows the reader how Jesemiah became a pirate and gives a real flavour of what dangers were faced by such a lifestyle. It also illustrates the hardships for everyone living in the far outposts of the world as it was in the 1700’s.

There is a ‘mystical’ element to the story which, just through personal preference, would usually put me off but actually in this case the magic is woven well into the main story and didn’t distract.

Sea Witch is good tale, well told and a thoroughly enjoyable read.