I have been writing since I was about 8 years old. The evidence is a small booklet found in my mother’s box of treasures, written in a very childish hand, entitled The Little Stream. I've been creating articles and event reports for newsletters and magazines ever since, often with a slightly fictional theme, but early attempts at novels failed for want of suitable inspiration: characters and plot were sadly missing! I had a career in business and in environmental research that kept me gainfully employed but chained to a desk for many years. But I kept writing: manuals, reports, science papers, blogs, journals, anything and everything that kept the words flowing. Finally the characters jumped into my head with stories that needed to be told.
I now live in a village in Norfolk with my guinea pigs, the first of whom, Fred, George, Victor and Hugo, provided the inspiration for the stories. Sadly Fred (pictured) followed George and Hugo across the Rainbow Bridge in 2011, but he knew that publication was on its way. And he knew he was a star anyway.
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After a smuggler visits Victor, he seeks help from King Fred of Castle Marsh. He is sent with the mysterious Sundance and his beautiful accomplice to unmask a criminal, and investigate why George has not returned after his visit to a flying festival. He narrates his amazing adventure in the Rhinelands, and his quandary when he meets a friend from his past - or is it his future?
Dylan's Yuletide Journey
(4.00 from 1 review)
On the north west tip of the Isle of Mull, Castle Haunn faces a bleak Yuletide. Their strawberry juice has run out and the extra delivery to keep their power cells running was lost at sea. It's going to be a cold, hungry holiday.
Dylan takes a message to the mainland calling for help, but fails to return.
Dylan's Yuletide Journey is a short chapter ebook for Middle Grade readers over 8 years.
The Talent Seekers
Humphrey is on the run. He has no friends, no past, no purpose, and no future. The king of White Horse Castle is battling against the avaricious intentions of his neighbour, the lord of Castle Deeping. But White Horse has a secret. He knows that there are special people out there, people who need a purpose, people with strange skills and talents. The trouble is, how to find them?
The Traveler in Black and White
(5.00 from 1 review)
A strange tunnel appears in the wall of Castle Hattan. Of course it must be investigated. What lies at the other end is a strangely backward land where things are not quite as they seem. Lord Mariusz adopts the pseudonym Hugo to explore the business opportunities he sees, only to be accused of murder; witness a vampire slaying; rub shoulders with ghouls, and have a close encounter with a werewolf.
The Princelings and the Lost City
The Princelings and the Lost City is the final part of the Princelings trilogy. Fred, now Crown Prince, decides to introduce Princess Kira to their home castle. A simple journey ends in kidnap, mistaken identity, heartache, and the discovery of a totalitarian society hidden in the forest. Our guinea pig heroes, Princelings Fred and George, at their very best!
The Princelings and the Pirates
The second Princelings book, The Princelings and the Pirates, starts with Fred and George at Castle Buckmore. The non-delivery of wine makes Prince Lupin despatch them to Dimerie to discover what has gone wrong. Captured by pirates, shipwrecked, and in danger for their lives, the heroes are drawn into the Battle of Dimerie, where Fred meets his true love and George gets more than he bargained for.
The Princelings of the East
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
The Princelings of the East (2nd Ed.) is an adventure trilogy in a fantasy world. In the first book our heroes Fred and George leave their isolated castle to solve the problem of the Great Energy Drain, meeting dubious businessman Hugo, irrepressible barkeeper Victor and other engaging movers and shakers. Time is the essence of this tale and competition between castles drives the action.
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Smashwords book reviews by Jemima Pett
- The Whalesong Trilogy: All Three Books
on Jan. 15, 2012
We are afloat and diving deep into the oceans, following Hruna and his pod around the world. Whalesong follows the humpback whale from his birth through his coming of age and the birth of his first calf. We see the world from his point of view, and from the legends and experiences handed down through the pod, by song and by narrative. There is happiness, sorrow, danger and mystery, with some light interludes often provided by other sea creatures.
When I was a young teen I loved animal books and read most I could find. The Silver Brumby series was my favourite (and still is), I read White Fang and Call of the Wild, Dark Fury, and The Stonor Eagles as an adult. Robert Siegel's exceptional descriptive powers make this a delightful read. If you know anything about whales you will not be disappointed with the treatment, and if you don't you will probably find yourself with new views on whaling.
I've read more exciting books, but it has got me interested enough to have started the second book in the trilogy already. That must mean it's good. And did I say how wonderfully the author paints a picture with his words?
on Feb. 13, 2012
This is not a children’s book but is clean, family oriented and intriguing. Dr Russell suddenly decides to solve his family troubles by taking indefinite, unplanned leave from his job, and takes his wife and two kids on the holiday of a lifetime.
What a holiday! Just imagine the most enjoyable tour of the West Coast of North America, staying in the best hotels, doing all the outdoor sports and sight-seeing trips (they missed out Mount Rainier but maybe it’s changed since I went there). Every now and then danger strikes but Dad handles it all. What is he? Ex Special Forces or something? What is the secret? When he asks what they should do next, the son says “Grand Canyon”. So they drop everything and go off on the spur of the moment via Las Vegas… and of course it doesn’t stop there. By now I’m thinking, has he embezzled his workplace? Is it all a fraud? Stolen some credit cards?
Despite the travelogue becoming almost relentless with its impeccably researched hotels, restaurants, cafes and rest stops, not to mention the tourist attractions (I’ve been on a lot of those trips – over a 25 year period!) the slick writing compels you to continue. A most enjoyable read with a persistent twitch in the telling to remind you that somewhere, sometime, reality will bite.
And it does, in a beautifully constructed solution.
- Flash Gold
on March 13, 2012
I got this book as the first in the series when I saw the third during the Read an E-Book Week. Proof that these promotions work for some people!
Flash Gold is a short book, but a full story that introduces Kali, her inventions and her world in vivid and glorious technicolour! Kali is set on competing in a sled competition with her new steam powered sled, much to the derision of the locals, and not a little jealousy and fear from those that suspect she’s a witch. A mysterious, but handsome, stranger turns up to suggest she hires him ‘for security’ during the sled race. The price? 10% of her winnings. Suspicious, Kali thinks. And of course she’s right. Nevertheless he proves his usefulness, with an antiquated sword as well as the latest in rifles, as Kali is beset by assailants over and over again. The hidden prize? Flash Gold, her late father’s invention, rapidly become the Holy Grail to unscrupulous and murderous entrepreneurs who see it as the solution to… what? I suspect they don’t actually know, and maybe Kali only suspects the half of it. From the sample of the third book I read online, I think we have plenty of the story to unfold yet!
It’s well written, vividly conjuring up the Yukon icefields and the characters sparsely populating them. Action scenes are smartly described, with diabolically imaginative inventions. The adventure looks set to continue. Looking forward to it!
- Red Hot and Dead
on March 16, 2012
Dr Chris Connery, Director of the Division of Fine Arts at Midstate University, is no stranger to police investigations. But when her Ceramics teacher comes to her in distress, having found the remains of a body in the firing kiln, she realises that a murder case is about to turn her life upside down. I read the sample, enjoyed the easy style of an author who clearly knows her subject, and continued reading avidly. This tale leapfrogged others waiting on my kindle to be read, and was only interrupted by dire necessities.
The characters are well formed and enjoyable. I thought we were going to have an irritating interfering mother but she turned out to be a realistic and likeable supporting character. I thought we were going to have a case of mistaken identity but the truth was harder to unravel. Suspicions planted led this whodunnit reader to make most of the right conclusions, but not spot on, which is always nice!
I will look out the first of Nora Barker's tales to catch up with the mostly offstage romantic interest in this one, and look forward to more tales in what I hope will be a fruitful series. Most enjoyable!
- Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria
on March 22, 2012
Marco is a cat. And one day Marco discovers he can read. After a devastating change to his home circumstances he leaves, finding his way to the Angel Springs library and meeting Cicero and the rest of the Dead Cats Society. The world Cicero introduces him to leads him to his destiny, but not until after he experiences ancient history through the wonder of time portals and learns enough magic to fight off an evil villain.
There are stories within stories in this book, and I got a wee bit confused about where an early snapshot fitted into the otherwise excellent narrative. Then the whole tale came together into a rocketing roller-coaster of a read that I could no longer put down. I loved the images of Alexandria, so vivid I could almost smell the gardens. An excellent concept and one that I'm sure will be enjoyed by kids of all ages who love books. Liking cats is entirely optional, but you need to be open to sentience in animals.
Looking forward to the next book.
- The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success
on April 07, 2012
As others have said, this book is invaluable. What I found most useful were the descriptions of slow burners and break-outs with the accompanying sales graphs. It gave me the data behind the indie author's motto "It's a marathon not a sprint". In short, it gave me both confidence I was doing things mainly right and doing mostly the right things. Now to do them better, and spend more time doing what I should be doing, which is writing. Thanks Mark.
- Nashoga: Book 1 of the Redstone Series
on June 11, 2012
It's a testament to good story telling that even though the whole story led up to what happened in the prologue, I still didn't see it coming! Nashoga is the leader (alpha wolf) of his pack but there is trouble on the loose and he has many trials and tribulations to overcome until he succeeds in getting rid of it. That is a trite summary, but it is a gorgeous book, with wonderful mental pictures painted of the countryside he inhabits, the creatures he interacts with, and the friendships and alliances made with the unlikeliest of 'people'. Vivid tales of fighting and hardship and living in the backwoods engage avid readers.
I saw one review which said there is nothing like it, which I think is untrue. Jack London's Call of the Wild and White Fang are classics probably still in print, but Joseph E Chipperfield's children's stories, especially Great Heart, are of this specific genre and, frankly, I love them! I still have Great Heart, and Dark Fury, and the paperbacks are probably fifty years old now. I'd also recommend Elyne Mitchell's The Silver Brumby series from the same era. We can add Nashoga to these classics.
Any young person who loves animals will love these stories of wolves in their own element. I highly recommend Nashoga: Book 1 of the Redstone Series and eagerly await book 2!
- Hunted (The Flash Gold Chronicles, #2)
on Oct. 04, 2012
Such a joy to read a well constructed, funny, beautifully described, imaginative tale.
In the second of the Flash Gold stories, Kali McAlister has now found a larger city in the Yukon, a new workshop where she is constructing numerous steam-powered projects, and now with a business partner. But her old foe and ex-husband shows up. She’s not going to fall for his lies, but it’s a cover for what her partner needs to do... Danger and excitement follow, with Kali extracting herself with her customary ingenuity and a lot of useful muscle from a darned gorgeous helper.
I love the setting and the engineering, and the twists and intrigue. Looking forward to the next!
- Matt Archer: Monster Hunter
on Nov. 09, 2012
I loved this book! It has a great 14-15 year old hero with fantastic friends and monstrous enemies! It was so well written I found myself getting very nervous for him every time he went monster hunting, except for the last few episodes when he had more back-up. Strangely so, as at this stage it was more dangerous for him but maybe I was just reading the book too fast, to find out what happened next, to be worried for him! I actually read it in one day, being unable to put it down (whatever it says on my Goodreads list).
Kendra Highley paints a wonderful picture with lovely language choices; some of the words I didn't know but then I'm not a teenage boy in Montana. I got the gist though. The idea that Matt Archer is 'found' by a monster hunting knife is nice (although not entirely new since we all know that the wand chooses the wizard etc.) but the extent of the knife's powers are gradually revealed, both by our own reading of the interactions it has with Matt and others, and with the tales of the legend that are brought in near the end. The monsters are beautifully described and paint a terrifying picture in the reader's imagination. But I did sleep well after reading it; no nightmares!
Matt's own nightmares are intriguing additions to the plot, since the reader interprets some correctly as belonging to the story, but others foresee a future which I look forward to reading about. I recommend this book to MG/YA and up who like a fast paced fantasy thriller!
- Murder in Half Moon Bay, Book 1
on Jan. 23, 2013
Jillian and her three collaborators in the Garden Club head off for a conference in a swanky hotel. Even though I’ve been to conferences in swanky hotels, it felt very alien to my lifestyle, but I suspect some of my friends would be far more at home with the setting. It gave me the impression of a Californian version of Dallas. There were a lot of people introduced to me very fast, and who was with whom didn’t really settle in my brain till quite late into the book, after one or two had been murdered! I think this may have been my post-Christmas disorientation, but sometimes I felt Jillian’s conversations, especially with suspects, to be very short. Would these people really give her intimate details with clues so that she could solve the crime in such a short exchange?
Jillian and her friends sort of irritated me with their pushy involvement in the crime-solving. Why would the Police Chief welcome their involvement? How about them trampling over all the evidence? And she kept putting herself at risk in very naive ways. I think she was extremely lucky not to have been bumped off herself.
But from these comments you can tell a number of things (I hope). Jillian gets you involved in her world. The author does a great job in drawing you in to the plot and to some of the people. The setting is described beautifully and the plot itself hangs together extremely well. From something that seemed very light to start with, it gets very deep, and I liked the science link, which was very realistic. It’s always good when you can’t put a book down after you’ve passed the halfway point!
I’m not sure whether I want to join Jillian in some of her other adventures, I’m not the Miss Marple kind, but I may well give them a go. Partly because Teddy the dog is adorable!
on July 26, 2013
Charmeine is the first in the Lightbearer series. Emily Guido introduces us first to the origins of the Light-Bearers and Blood-Hunters, with some mythology in their original world, then we find Tabbruis on his own, trying to make sense of the earth. Blood-Hunters live here, encouraged by their Elder Council to make the most of the blood provided by the population of humans that spawns everywhere. Tabbruis and some friends decide that humans are, for them, off-limits, which is a slight relief if the reader's stomach is not up to the bloodthirstiness of their usual lifestyle.
Charleen (who we discover is really Charmeine) and her friend Shane are woven into the story deftly. Two lost souls who ended up caring for each other as they grew up in an orphanage, Shane gets a job to drive Tabbruis around New York City while he's visiting. It's fortunate that Tab has felt the need to be there, as Char has been singled out for an attack by other Blood-Hunters, who envisage a very nasty end for her indeed. Tab fights them off, with Char discovering her own amazing powers that assist in very special ways. And then Tab and Char realise their mutual attraction, against all Tab's instincts as a Blood-Hunter - since he realises that Char is a Light-Bearer.
The rest of the story covers a few more attacks and how they grow to understand each other better. There are plenty of loose ends to be followed up in the rest of series.
On the whole I felt the story was well written, fast-moving and full of excellent imagery. I cared what was happening to the characters; I wanted to know how it would be resolved. I found the typesetting confusing since sometimes italics was used for thoughts, and other times it may have been used for intensity or emphasis, but there was no clear distinction. I wondered if they thought-read at one stage, and thought that would be a nice power, but I think I was wrong.
I felt it was an excellent introduction to a story and a world with new rules. If it's your sort of thing, I think you'll be driven very quickly to the second in the series. It's exciting, pacy and thought-provoking, with delightful characterisation.
- Peacemaker (The Flash Gold Chronicles, #3)
on Aug. 09, 2013
The third and final book in the Flash Gold Chronicles (so far, at any rate) sees Kali intent on making an airship so she can escape from Dawson City and the cold of the oncoming winter. The gold rush is in full flow, and the forests around are being denuded - there's not much around to see them through to the spring. Kali is an engineer - but in a steampunk world, engineering is a little different from what you might expect of the historical gold rush era.
Kali takes her bounty hunter beau on a search through the forest on her SAB - a self-automated bicycle, running on steam power - on the trail of a human monster killing native women in a horrible manner. She's diverted by a pirate attack from an airship, and thinks what a great idea it would be to get rid of the pirates and salvage their airship - thus saving herself months of work.
Well, it's not quite as easy as that, and between meetings with differtent people who each want the other one taken out of the way for various reasons, Kali eventually finds herself back on that airship, in a life or death situation for more than herself.
Peacemaker follows the first two books, Flash Gold and Hunted, rounding off the story reasonably well, but with plenty of scope for further adventures. I was just thinking there was too much near-romance and it had got a little slow, when WHAM the pace changed and it was a non-stop switchback of story telling all the way home.
I did stop to admire some beautiful phrasing:
A breeze scuttled down Main Street, swatting at a newspaper page too mired in the mud to escape, though it rattled and whipped in a valiant effort to do so.
“Are you sure you want to be that insulting,” Kali asked, fishing in a pocket, “considering I’m standing right behind you with—” she grabbed the first tool that she felt and pulled it out, “—pliers in my hand?”
I don't know if Ms Buroker has any plans for more in this series, but I know she's been hard at work on the Emperor's Edge series and other works. I've got a few of those nestling on my kindle app waiting to be brought out and read some time. We'll just have to wait and see if Kali ever makes it out of Dawson. I hope so. I want more Flash Gold!
- The Girl Who Dreamt of Dolphins
on April 05, 2014
Lucy dreams of dolphins. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t. Her father wouldn’t understand, and since her mother ‘disappeared’ he doesn’t pay much attention to her anyway – often forgetting to collect her from school, among other things. Despite this, he doesn’t want help from her aunt, who would be only too pleased to help out, and give them a holiday in Cornwall. Dad wants to keep Lucy away from Cornwall at all costs – in case she suffers the same problem as her mother.
In fact, Lucy doesn’t need to live in Cornwall to have a very close relationship with a dolphin named Spirit. She finds herself more and more involved in his adventures. Then danger befalls him, and he sees her helping to direct him to safety. What is this connection, and how dangerous can it be – for Lucy and for Spirit?
This is a beautifully told tale suitable for older middle grades and possibly to be read to younger children ready for natural history lessons. Lucy’s story is interspersed with chapters focusing on life in the sea with Spirit and his friends, until it all comes together in an exciting climax. It’s a good story even if you’ve read a lot of dolphin tales, and the idea of communing with other animals, especially dolphins, is attractive to many youngsters – and oldsters like me!
- Death By Ice Cream
on April 08, 2014
One of the things I dislike about cosy mysteries is the way well-meaning civilians trample over police evidence and butt in when they should leave it to the pros. Rebecca Douglass has solved both those problems by providing a law officer in desperate need of help, and the evidence right in front of everyone’s noses with little need for trampling.
This is a well constructed mystery with plenty of pressure points – the divorce, the deadline for the school yearbook, necessarily abandoned by the deceased, who appears to have done nothing about it despite meddling in everybody else’s business. The kids are engaged to help sort it out which gives the adults suitable assistance when it comes to all matters computerised. I loved the way whole families got involved – a story not just of the protagonist but of a beautifully drawn community.
The reader is carried along with JJ MacGregor’s investigation, and is engrossed in the tour of the island and the tensions emerging as the story unfolds. There are delightful character sketches, believable teenagers, realistic confrontations – and a hot cop! The tension builds as still more problems are thrown at JJ, and this reader empathised with her all the way. The author cleverly reveals whodunnit to the canny reader just as JJ gets drawn into the trap, heightening the nerve-jangling finish!
It’s an excellent story, beautifully told. Full marks to Ms Douglass – more please!
I won a copy of this book in a giveaway.