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Don’t Let Go: Michel Bussi

A book destined for the Big Screen



Picture the scene – an idyllic resort on the island of Réunion. Martial and Liane Bellion are enjoying the perfect moment with their six-year-old daughter. Turquoise skies, clear water, palm trees, a warm breeze…

Then Liane Bellion disappears. She went up to her hotel room between 3 and 4pm and never came back. When the room is opened, it is empty, but there is blood everywhere. An employee of the hotel claims to have seen Martial in the corridor during that crucial hour.

Then Martial also disappears, along with his daughter. An all-out manhunt is declared across the island. But is Martial really his wife’s killer? And if he isn’t, why does he appear to be so guilty?

My Review

Black Water Lilies was my fav read of 2016, no question and I did read over 300 books…

So when I saw that MB was about to release another through Orion I hopped over the NetGalley for an early read just because I could. I was heading to France for Easter and what better place to read a book by one of France’s most popular writer?

I was at page five and I didn’t like it. I have this rule that I live by. If I don’t get past page five I give up. There are just too many other books. But that day sitting on a beach in St Cast I learnt a lesson, a huge lesson because this is just one of  those books. Trying to analyse my initial reaction I think I got confused. Black Water Lilies is set in Normandy and, as I’d never heard of Renunion I assumed I was in French France and not the Indian Ocean. It took me a while to wrap my head around the cultural and indeed writing differences but when ‘I finally got it’ the pages flew by.

The recent influx of psychological kitchen sink thrillers isn’t my bag. I usually guess and, after I’ve guessed I get bored. This is well plotted, highly unusual and the ending is sublime, more than sublime. I loved the ending so much that I can already see it translated over to the big screen. If ever there was a book that would make a fantastic movie this is it. It has everything. Great writing. A cracking plot. Romance. Murder. Relationships. A French African Miss Marple…


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Book blogging: why and how

IMG_2071I’ve recently set up a book club called the Bailiwick Book Bunch, or the BBB for short. It’s a no rules club apart from the focus being books, whether they are read, reviewed or written by people either living in, or expats of The Bailiwick (and Jersey, our honour nearest neighbours unless sport is involved of course 😘) If you fit the bill please consider joining in 😆

But it also got me thinking about my own writing journey and why I went down the hybrid route of both writer and reviewer, sometimes a hard path to follow.

I’ve been blogging for years, about twenty in all but only latterly in relation to books. I love reading, I always have and I have literally thousands of books. There’s 400 on my Kindle in addition to about 500 paperbacks by my bed and that doesn’t include the built in bookshelves I got for one of my milestone birthdays. Writing is a more recent pursuit but nearly ten years of scribbling all the same and now, with book 7 well under way I find again I’ve downloaded a whole pile of books that will need to be reviewed in the near future. There honestly aren’t enough hours in the day for us writers.

Here’s a link to a very frank post from one of my favourite book reviewers, Jo Robertson from My Chestnut Reading Tree where she discusses a day in the life of… it’s not all fun and unexpected book packages believe me! Read it here.

So what do you need to become a book blogger?

  • Time to read
  • The enthusiasm to write about what you’ve read. It doesn’t have to be long, or indeed Shakespeare. You don’t need to be able to spell or even understand the role of the comma or full stop. Enthusiasm is key.
  • Somewhere to share your thoughts. This can be on Amazon (writers do love reviews on Amazon, preferably 5 or 4 ⭐ but an honest book will have a smattering across the spectrum because simply put not all readers will like all books.
  • You can also set up a blog, the ones I’ve used are WordPress and Blogspot. This has the additional advantage of providing somewhere where writers can offer their books for you – review policies are a whole post in their own right!
  • NetGalley is another option. A writer, publisher driven vehicle for pre book launch promotions of their, their clients books

What the publishers want from you as  reviewer

Ah, the million dollar question. You’ve done all the above but you don’t have any books to read.

  • Start reviewing the books that you’ve read and copy them on to your blog
  • Cross promote on both Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook you can also post on book review sites.
  • Publishing houses like bloggers with some experience under their belts. They also like them to have a few followers. This takes time, so better start now…


Free books, but when books are cheap anyway? Having your review quoted in the inside of a book? Walking past WH Smith on Guernsey’s High Street and find you’ve read all the 6 books in their window, books chosen by you before they became best sellers? True and very satisfying! Creeping up that top reviewing slot to become an Amazon top reviewer? Being invited to book launches? I’ve recently been invited to one in the States but don’t tell anyone…

Give it a go, it’s fun




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Englishwoman in Manhattan (EIM): a daughter’s tribute


Today, the 3rd March is always a difficult day in our household as it’s the anniversary of the day we lost my dad. To be exact today is the 25th Anniversary. But it’s a double edged sword. Today is also my sister’s birthday. Today is a difficult day.

The 6th March, the day we said our final goodbyes is no better as it just so happens to be my birthday. My Dad made sure his daughters remember him and, do you know what, now the distance of time is between us I’m glad that we get to share our special days with him and his memory; not that I really celebrate. At one point my sister and I had a pact that we’d celebrate on a different day but it never worked out like that. It is what it is. A Dad is, in many cases the first male role model a girl comes across and can have a huge impact on any future relationships. I count my sister and I amongst the lucky ones.

Englishwoman in Manhattan was inspired by my dad’s own musical journey as he was a very talented pianist who studied at The Royal College of Music in London. I didn’t have to research the piano concertos I’ve included; I was brought up to the sound of Chopin and Bach tinkling away in the background.

You might think it strange I chose to publish today and in a way I agree. It wasn’t intentional but, as with other things in my life coincidences happen. When I put EIM up for pre-order Amazon pinged back with the date and I thought about delaying it and then I thought

Why not have some happy memories associated with such a difficult day. 

So there it is; my book baby is on its own journey and, as only the writer my part is finished  but as a tribute to my Dad’s love of music this one will always hold a special place. Funnily enough it starts with a funeral, not intential. There’s also a competition, my nod to doing something to help it on its way, which you can enter here

EIM is available for 99p on Amazon and is free via KU x







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Lanzarote: book by book




I returned from a fab 1/2 term break to Lanzarote yesterday where a great time was had by all. Now, like all writers I know I’m meant to write each day for after all writing isn’t so much a job or indeed a hobby as much as a way of life. I packed a couple of notebooks but I also ensured my Kindle, both of them was stocked to the brim with reads. As you may have guessed I didn’t write a word but I did read an array of delightful books that I’d like to share with you.

Reading like writing can’t be viewed in isolation but in the context of where and what the reader is up to at the time. What’s the mood of today? Am I on a road trip or having a beach day? Do I want romance, murder or both? Above are the books I read, not bad for seven days…

Have you ever been to Lanzarote? It perhaps gets a bad press most days when it doesnt deserve it. What with The Canaries being shown as the Mecca of Stag parties and high rise developments Lanzarote is surely the jewel in the crown with the influence of César Manrique. It’s only a four and 1/2 hour flight from Gatwick, so just time for a couple of reads.



I flew through the second in this series by best selling short story and now novel writing Sheila Norton and eagerly await book number three. Sam, pregnant and now single escapes to Hope Green only to find herself in hot water when she accepts a job with grumpy local vet. There’s romance, animals and a bit of intrigue all wrapped up with strong plotting and effortless writing.


I spent a summer in this part of the world and have a soft spot for all things French. Rosie decides to hang up her yachting gear and set up Cafe Fleur with the help of her best friend but all is not plain sailing with handsome hotelier next door and ex boyfriend turning up to interfere. Escapism at its best with enough plot to keep my mind off the ‘cabin crew ready for landing.’

We dropped off the bags in our apartment and raced across the road to the beach on that first day. It was 26 degrees in the shade and a dip was just the thing after all that travelling. That’s the thing with Kindles. Lying on the sand with nothing to do really isn’t my thing but I don’t have to be bored. I wanted something a little meatier so picked up The Breakdown, the follow-up to BA Paris’s recent runaway success.



So this kind of book isn’t normally my thing. I haven’t read Behind closed doors and in a way I raised an eyebrow at even downloading it but, nevertheless it was on my Kindle and I did say I wanted something meatier. Well I was dragged kicking and screaming, well not quite but the tale of a girl driving down a lonely stretch of wood had me nearly gnawing at the side of the towel. Good story, strong plot reminiscent of those thrillers in the early Sixties where everything isn’t quite as it first seems.

Ranchero Texas is Lanzarote’s zoo but a zoo with a difference. Have you ever had a vulture with a six foot wing span fly so near overhead as to nearly scrape along the top of your forehead? What about talking to the dolphins or being hugged by a sealion? I didn’t take my Kindle. I didn’t need my Kindle.

We did hire a car this time and followed Cezar’s trail stopping off at Costa Teguise for a swim with the tamer than tame fish. This is where I turned the first page of Relativity and found myself stepping into another universe.



There are some books, not many that long outlive the last page turned and this was one of them. I’m a sucker for happy Ever After’s and I knew instinctively that this was a book I’d find an uncomfortable read. But sometimes those are the best books to read. Set in Australia it tells the tale of a 12 year old boy, a genius, a bullied genius and his relationship with his parents. Clever, uncomfortable. Unforgettable.

Playa Chica is a little beach tucked away from the Old Port where we spent a lot of time. It’s an idyllic setting with the volcanic mountains stretching out from the horizon for as far as the eye can see. I devoured 3 books under their shadow.


If The Breakdown was a difficult read for me Rattle was impossible. I have to admit, of the books I chose it was the one I most regretted as it was outside my comfort zone being at it dealt with child abduction, a topic I normally wouldn’t read out of choice. That aside I can see that I’m sure to be in the minority as it was cleverly put together with very good characterisations. The people inhabiting the story just fizzed out of the pages.


The problem with reading a book like The Rosie Project is that, once the benchmark has been set as one of my top ten personal favourite books of all time it’s always going to pale in comparison. This is a well written book telling Adam’s tale of a life full of regret, a life he didn’t even realise wasn’t living up to his expectations until an old flame got in touch.  A good enjoyable read but not The Rosie Project.



I have to admit this was a bit of a winger for me as books written in an epistolary style aren’t really my thing. This added to the fact it’s set in the Forties and therefore immediately was going to remind me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, bearing in mind I just happen to live there… I think you’ll see where I’m going with this. So I was prepared not to like it. I didn’t like it – I loved it! A cross between Dad’s Army and the aforesaid Guernsey T&PPS this was beach reading at its best with lots going on and the letters, diary entries true to their writers both in style and content. There’s lots of plot and, after chapter two only a hurricane would have made me put the book down.

Evenings in Lanzarote are a mixed bag. There’s bars aplenty with cheap booze (not that we could drink it being as we are well behaved parents), just as there are restaurants all over the place. I have a family of card sharks when I don’t really play so, to while away a few spare minutes I always have my Kindle and am known to sneakily read from time to time.


This isn’t a book I really wanted to read. It’s been lingering for a while but the watch that I never wear suddenly ticked to a place where I couldn’t let it linger any longer. It tells the account of happily married Antoine and Helene and their little 17 month old boy, that is until the terrorise attack in Paris. It’s a true account written by Antoine over the few days following Helene’s tragic murder and is heart wrenching in the extreme. I’m glad I didn’t let it linger any longer…

My holiday was over yesterday, or it would have been if I hadn’t started another book on the journey back, a book I’ve only just finished.


I don’t know about you but when I’m travelling I need something good to get me past all the rubbish that goes on all around me. Passengers arguing about having to pay double when they asked for a second teabag. Someone opposite arguing with the air hostess for touching their bag. Some people! I started A man with one of those faces and the plane fell away. Written by Irish comedian and set in my home town (Dublin) it’s an hilarious read. Set in a hospice it starts with one of the nurses getting one of the ‘professional visitors ‘ or ‘granny whisperers’ to visit one last patient, a patient who subsequently tries to kill him before dying himself. I’ve had the book glued to my side ever since – have you heard me laughing?

Well that’s the end of my hols but not my memories, both of a lovely holiday and some great words…



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Book Number Seven

img_1610What with book number six now at a well known publisher along with book number five ( Englishwoman in… Trilogy) I’m back in the hot seat with book number 7.

Why do I say this?

Well book number 7 is actually Book number 5! Confused? I don’t blame you as no one’s more confused than I am.

I started this Irish set stand alone romance /tragedy in May last year when I was off sick for the first time ever. I was on drugs up to my eyeballs for sciatica and the words on the page were very dark, too dark for me to cope with. I don’t mind my readers having tears streaming down their faces but when typing, damp eyes do tend to obscure the keys somewhat. So instead of struggling on I put it aside and wrote something lighter, or lighter for me – Englishwoman in Paris, inspired by next door’s scaffolder who just happened to be in my field of vision 😉. I’m trying not to obsess too much about having a book under consideration, because each successive book in my mind is better than the last so one day…

So while I wait with bated breath for news of my book babies I’m ignoring the  follow up to Englishwoman in Manhattan for now. Instead I’ve a whole pile of TBR’s to catch up on not to mention book reviews and of course book number 7. I’m worried it may have been the pain killers typing now I’m booting up my laptop with a clear head but only time will tell. I’m only 10,000 words in so still lots to do.

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Createspace page numbers

Okay so many of you will find this boring but, if like me you’ve spent hours on trying to get this to work you’ll appreciate why it’s important to me at least.  So this isn’t so much a blog post as an aide de memoire.

Every print book needs page numbers and the industry standard is for the numbering to begin on the start of the first chapter, which is all very well if you’re a typist but for the rest of society it’s a puzzle worthy of Mensa.

This is Ideal Girl, my second book and probably my second favourite. I probably wouldn’t have bothered with Createspace to be honest except that in December it was best-selling for a while so off I went all geared up and wham bam I came across the page number problem. I’ve searched Google, YouTube and other bloggers posts on this issue in addition to Createspace forum and pooling the information and through trial and error I’ve come up with this set of instructions. But thanks first to all those sites I’ve visited. I can’t list them all as there were hundreds but Jo Robinson’s post was perhaps the most helpful, so thank you Jo.

  • Write your book in Word
  • Include all the usual preambles and chapter headings
  • Save and use for Kindle
  • Clean up doc by going to view and then outline. You need to remove any page breaks or section breaks. Save as new doc
  • Open blank word doc. This will be your Createspace version that you’ll need to populate with your clean book, but not yet! First…
  • Pop into Createspace and check the size of your book. Then go into Page Layout, and size drilling down to more paper sizes and enter. You can do this after if you like but it proved to be a real pain with the breaks I’d populated my doc with.

Now we have a blank doc of the right size but with no words or the important sections. You need to accommodate the waffle pages that won’t have numbers like title page, contents etc. Count them up, in my case 5. These first 5 pages

  • These each need a section break = page layout, break, next page

Chapter 1 (or prologue if you have one)

  1. On the first page of what will be the first chapter insert page break ( insert, page break)
  2. Click the header, footers tab as ‘Same as Previous’ must be unchecked for each of the previous pages in your doc

You’re now ready for page numbering – yippee. Go to the page you want the numbers to start, on mine it’s page 7. Double click and insert page numbers starting with 1 ( number formatting)

You now have a completely formatted document to copy and paste first your preamble and then, from the first numbered pages your story.

That’s it, hope you find it useful.

Ideal Girl is awaiting Createspace’s final tick before appearing on Amazon. In the meantime just for today it’s free



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Facebook for writers 

Last post I talked about Twitter for writers, so now it’s the turn of Facebook. I’m sure I’m in the minority but as a writer I prefer Twitter probably because I have difficulty in sharing personal stuff with people who in fact I’ve never met. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve a lot of good friends on Facebook but the truth is I haven’t met any of them face to face so to speak. 

What does FB offer writers ?

A platform to display a dedicated Facebook page where you can exclusively post about your writing exploits. 

Access to thousands of writing platforms, which makes networking with like minded souls easy. 

The ability to link your blog so that when you update, the content automatically appears on your page

My tips

The same goes with Twitter as it does for Facebook in that I’m no expert. If you do a search you’ll find lots of people more knowledgable on the benefits but below is my take.

  • First one should go without saying. Be polite. Manners matter and there’s nothing worse than someone shouting off. Before you post take a deep breath and read back through your words. I’m always replying to posts and then deleting them before pressing that little button because I write from the heart but post with my head – remember what you write can’t be unwritten. 
  • I mentioned that there’s lots of public writing groups to join. On the other side of the coin there are lots of private writing sites that don’t appear on FB searches; these are by invitation only. These are the groups you want to be invited on to and the only way is by being nice. 
  • All groups have rules, and they are there for a reason. Break them at your peril because you will be barred. 
  • Professional cover photos with decent images do attract attention and are all part of the writer’s advertising package. 
  • Did you know posts with images have (so I’ve heard) a 70% increase in reach, so it’s a no brainier really.
  • As I mentioned in the introduction it’s also a no brainier not to link your blog to your Facebook account. For 2 minutes work you save yourself a lot of bother and time with having to post across all social media accounts. 
  • Just posting about books, book sales is boring and that unfollow button is so easy to press. On your Facebook profile page most posts should be non-promotional. I said about the 80:20 rule for Twitter. For Facebook it should be 99:1. This is networking in its truest form. These people are your friends even if you may have never met them. They deserve a safe place to chat that is primarily away from book advertising. One of my friends posts a good morning message each day, taking the time to add photos – it’s the first thing I look for now and I’d miss it if it wasn’t there. 

I haven’t mentioned advertising because I’ve yet to pay for any book publicity and that includes Facebook. I hope you’ve found this useful and not too preachy. I’d like to hear your comments and any tips you can add…


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Twitter is the bar, Facebook the restaurant. Twitter for writers

Jenny O’Brien, writer

Okay I’m not putting myself up as a Twitter expert, far from it but I do get disgruntled when I hear writers bashing this very useful Social Media platform.

For me Twitter is like the bar of a large hotel, whilst Facebook is the restaurant. The bar is where you hook up with strangers, pass the time of day and swap stories and other nuggets of wisdom. The restaurant, or Facebook is where you forge these new links into online friendships. Let’s begin…

The basics

Your name, or handle: use your writer’s name or a near variation so that people can actually find you. I didn’t and now with 7,000 + followers it’s a huge regret.

Use keywords in your bio as these will help other like minded people find you. Writer, blogger, country of origin etc

Ditch the Twitter egg motif with something more personal – a photo etc, same goes for the header. I never follow anyone that hasn’t at least made an effort.

Don’t buy followers. A, it doesn’t work. B, they won’t be interested in what you have to say and will ditch you as soon as they discover it.

Add your website, or blog to your profile and make sure it links to an interesting page.

Let’s get to it

What are you trying to do? Promote your book? Find more followers? Some tips.

Search for like minded writers (similar genres) and rather than just following them start to retweet their posts. Who do they follow? Who follows them?

Twitter etiquette is important. Mindless tweets about ‘buy my book’ etc do not work. Yes, of course it’s okay to tweet your book news and if you’ve got specials and even the odd (up to 3 a day promotional tweets) but after that people will just get bored and will unfollow you. I read once about the 80:20 rule. So only 20% of posts should be self promos.

Don’t follow everyone back that follows you. As a writer you have a platform you want to cultivate. For example If you’re writing for children do you really want to follow someone with x rated posts? What would this say to your followers? There’s no and fast rules on this but all I’m saying is be careful of your image and what you want to see on your feed.

If someone says ‘no dm’s’ (direct messages) then respect that.

Auto messages: lots of people use them and they really don’t work. I’m not going to click on an external link in a DM, that would be foolhardy. Just because I follow you doesn’t mean I want your full works including the 230 essays you’ve written in how to flush the toilet. I think you’ve got the message!

Pinned posts: many writers have a post pinned to the top of their feed and this is what new followers tend to retweet so make it useful to you. Your latest book with links. A new blog post etc.

Photos: use them, lots of them. It’s proven that people retweet more posts that have photos included.

Hashtags, you know the funny # before words that streams them together? Cultivate a list that works for you and use them. People do use them to find tweets of interest

Finally I’m Scribblerjb and here’s my favourite tweet x

That’s it, hope you find this brief intro useful.

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Things I’d like to tell my former self

As I hurtle into 2017 I’ve been thinking about the last few years slogging away on my laptop trying to actually write something worth reading. Here’s a few things I wish I’d known in 2009, when I first put pen to paper to anything other than my checque book.

1, Buy a decent coffee machine, it will become your new best friend.

2, Always save your work to somewhere else other than your drive. Been there, done that, lost the book…

3, Writers, alongside coffee machines are nice people. Be nice back.

4, Don’t believe everything you hear about the humble adverb. It has its place.

5, Show not tell means very little to the new writer – it comes with experience.

6, The writer without a cat is a rare thing and someone to be very wary of 😉

7, Social Media will sap your strength and fill your mind with other people’s junk;  treat it like medicine – necessary in small doses.

8, Writing is a solitary occupation but hygiene and actually getting dressed are a given.

9, Although it’s hard to believe cake and chocolate aren’t actually super foods…

10, Drooling over notebooks and pens is perfectably acceptable. Trips to Paperchase will become a real treat.

11, When your laptop goes in to be serviced it is necessary to tell the repair person that searching for the best ten ways to kills someone with a toothpick is perfectably acceptable as is how to land a flying horse on the tube 😳.

12, When your other half catches you checking out that good looking bloke it is all in the name of research – honest!

13, It is perfectably acceptable to write about people you know, and even kill them off if they annoy you that much. But remember to change their name, their looks, their personality and character traits and any other identifying marks or details.

14, The delete button. You know; that thing on the top right covered with dust? Use it liberally.

15, Same goes for  Roget’s Thesaurus.

16, If you don’t enjoy reading, writing and spending long periods with only your cat and coffee maker for company writing may not be for you.

17, Discussing plot ideas with your cat is sensible and not the first, second or indeed the last sign of madness. It only gets freaky when they answer you back.

18, You don’t need to cause physical harm to make someone cry, a pen works just as well with the right words.

19, Never be scared to write – just do it.

20, Good writers know there are no rules when it comes to writing. The best books break all the rules…

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5 ⭐ The Christmas Promise: Maxine Morrey 

Book Blurb

Professional organiser Kate Stone has never – NEVER – been tempted to hit a client over the head with a snow shovel, but Michael O’Farrell is the most obnoxious – and heart-stoppingly gorgeous – man she has ever met. If he weren’t her best friend’s brother, she would not have waited on his doorstep in the freezing cold for five minutes, let alone an hour. Kate knows, however, that her job isn’t just about tidying up, sometimes she needs to be part therapist too, and Michael clearly needs her help to declutter his heart as well as his home.

My review

I bought this because of the cover, I didn’t put it down because of the sterling writing and laugh out loud plot. The Christmas Project is to help handsome but stubborn, set In his ways even Irish architect sort out his pig-sty of a house into a welcoming home to host his family’s Christmas party. Michael is the archetypical Alpha male with all the personality and physical characteristics needed to curl up with on a cold night, figuratively speaking or course. Kate is the organiser put upon by her best friend, and Michael’s sister to help him turn both his life and his house around.

I adore Christmas books at this time of year, well at any time of year really. This is about the twelfth I’ve read and it’s right up there as a good solid read that ticks all the boxes for a few hours out of reality and into another person’s life where a Happy Ever After is a given. To purchase click here

About the author

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens – perfect for a bookworm!

As years went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way. She has written articles on a variety of subjects, aswell as a book on Brighton for a Local History publisher. However, novels are what she loves writing the most. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through, thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities. In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her romantic comedy, ‘Winter’s Fairytale’. Her next book, ‘The Christmas Project’ is out in November 2016, and available for pre-order now. Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words, can be found tackling her To Be Read pile, sewing, listening to podcasts, and walking.

About Jenny O’Brien

To find out more about me and my books, click here