“A Message of Courage, Kindness and Friendship.”

They say a picture paints a thousand words and with this in mind I’m overjoyed to share some photos of a young lady enjoying my children’s book “Oskar’s Quest”.

However, words still play a huge role and I’m very happy to include the following five-star review of the book by Erica, the girl’s grandmother and best friend!

“Oskar’s Quest” is a beautifully illustrated book sharing a message of courage, kindness and friendship. Annika Perry has a gift for writing up, not down to children. Even very young children are attentive, curious and observant. My four year old Granddaughter and I love reading “Oskar’s Quest!” My Granddaughter has already memorized parts of this book, especially the sound effects. She loves following “Oskar,” the blue bird, and “Maya,” the golden bird, throughout the story. Often a key to an engaging children’s book is how the adult also enjoys reading the book over and over and over again. I highly recommend “Oskar’s Quest!”

Many thanks to Erica not only for this wonderful review, but also for the permission to use the photographs of Abby. The copyright of these is held by Erica.

I have only known Erica a few months here on WP and already value her as a kind and thoughtful friend. Although not a reviewer before she quickly understood how important and key reviews are to a writer.

An inspirational person, her posts are always a joy to read, touching on adventures, travels, family and nature! She is also humble and almost by accident I learnt of her travel writing, love of running, taking part in Half Corked Marathon and Great Walk of 63.5 km. Do take a look at her blog Behind The Scenery.

Finally, I am elated to announce the first foreign language version of “Oskar’s Quest”. The translator, Marion Roberts, worked tirelessly to translate my children’s book … working wonders with text and especially the popular albeit tricky sound effect/onomatopoeic words!

Heartfelt thanks to David Cronin for formatting the latest version of my book and I appreciate all his work – without his help it would not be here! As simple as that!

Below is a picture of my favourite teddy, Minky, as he’s enjoying “Oskar’s Abenteuer”. Luckily he’s fluent in German having accompanied me on my studies at the Karl-Marx University in Leipzig and University of Tübingen. (btw. ‘Abenteuer’ means ‘Adventure’)

Purchase Links for “Oskar’s Quest“:

Paperback Amazon UK Kindle Amazon UK Paperback Amazon CA

Paperback Amazon US Kindle Amazon US Kindle Amazon CA

Purchase Links for “Oskar’s Abenteuer“:

Amazon UK Amazon US Amazon DE

From a Modern Romance to the Jazz Age: Two Book Reviews

These days I read a far wider variety of genres and it’s my joy to share the reviews of these two contrasting books – I hope you enjoy the eclectic mix!

“A Mother for His Twins” by Jill Weatherholt

The past and present collide to create the perfect scenario for this superb and engrossing romantic novel. Schoolteacher Joy Kelliher, who is single and has no children, one day welcomes two new students into her class, two boys who are the twin sons of her high school sweetheart Nick Capello.

Fourteen years earlier he disappeared without warning on the evening of one of their dates. An evening that led to a catastrophic experience for Joy. Nick has returned to his hometown following the death of his wife and he is not just suffering from grief. His life is lived under a veil of guilt.

As the boys are introduced into her class, it turns out that Nick will be a fellow teacher at the school and is also seeking the position of the school principal, a job Joy has coveted for many years, particularly as her father was principal at the same school.

Finally, the next morning Joy wakens to see Nick and his sons moving in next door.

Her world has suddenly and dramatically been turned upside down. Where before there was certainty and security there is now questions, regret, renewed heartbreak. However, the past attraction and closeness between Nick and Joy emerges time and again, her flustered flirtation in contrast to her professional self. Nick likewise is torn between his affection for Joy, wanting to repair a wrong, with his ambition to become school principal, a position he needs not only for his career but as a form of redemption.

Jill Weatherholt weaves with skill the links of the past and present, gently unravelling past events as they are revealed to Joy and Nick in turn. Both have secrets that they have held onto and which are difficult to share, particularly as Joy still does not trust Nick.

The narrative unfolds through the close third person of the two main protagonists, ensuring the reader feels empathy with each, knowing their secrets, inner turmoil and thoughts.

Throughout, the book explores profound themes such as forgiveness, trust, jealousy, faith, acceptance of one’s life, guilt and regret. Only when there has been reconciliation in all these areas is a life of love possible.

I was hooked from the very first page and Joy’s and Nick’s story won an instant place in my heart!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Available: Amazon US Amazon UK

Publisher: Mills & Boon Love Inspired (1 Sept. 2019)

Read more about Jill on her blog Jill Weatherholt

“Speak Flapper: Slang of the 1920s” by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Who knew a dictionary could be so much fun?! ‘Speak Flapper’ is no ordinary dictionary however, rather a delightful and informative collection of slang from the 1920s.

The author was inspired to collate her specialist knowledge of words from the era following her novels set in the infamous Jazz Age. I’m so glad she took this leap of faith!

I enjoyed immensely not only reading the meaning behind the words and phrases but also the insight the book offered into life at the time. It gives a brief commentary on the social history of the era including about the people, films, inventions, relationships, alcohol, literature, clothes and crime … and so much more.

As each new letter of the alphabet is introduced Teagan reveals a snippet of history and wow, I was in awe of the creativity of the time. From automobiles to Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, from hats to phonographs, from washing machines to G-men!

I was surprised how many words were familiar to me and that I had no idea they stemmed from one hundred years ago. For instance ‘heebie-jeebies’, ‘Real McCoy’ and ‘Oops’ comes from then.

Some phrases surprised me by being similar to Cockney Rhyme, ‘Adam and Eve’ is ‘believe’ for instance. The language was wonderfully colourful and vibrant. ‘Lemon Squeezer’, ‘Caterpillar’s Kimono’, ‘Giggle Water’ give just a hint of some unusual words. When I meet a bore in future I will (mentally) refer to them as a ‘Gimlet’ … a terrific word! Some words were amusingly incongruous to their actual meaning, ‘peanut’ referring to a bomb!

Reflecting on our present-day language I wonder if it isn’t rather dull and bland in comparison to a century ago, whether a sense of daring and imagination is absent?

I can highly recommend this whimsical look at the Roaring Twenties and although I can’t yet speak fluent flapper, I’m a lot closer to it! ‘Speak Flapper’ really is the ‘cat’s pajamas’!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Available: Amazon UK Amazon US

Publisher: Independently published (5 Jan. 2020)

Read more about Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene at Teagan’s Books

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the reviews! Have you read any of these books or are you perhaps tempted to look at one or even both of them? As always, I look forward to your comments & discussion!

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – Elisabeth’s Lists: A Book Review by Annika Perry

Many will know how much I enjoy writing book reviews on my blog and it’s a delight to share ‘Elisabeth’s Lists’ as featured today on Sally’s blog as part of her ‘Posts from your Archives’. If you’re not a follower of her blog, you’re missing out on a treat! Do take a look around and perhaps you have a couple of posts to submit yourself for the series.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second postby author Annika Perry and is a book review for Elisabeth’s ListsbyLulah Ellender

Elisabeth’s Lists: A Book Review

My signed copy of Elisabeth’s Lists: A Family Story by Lulah Ellender

There is a word in Japan for unread books left to pile up around one – tsundoku! I’m guilty of a few tsundoku collections of books; ones bought with well-meaning and tingling anticipation. Somehow they become unintentionally forgotten and lay precariously balanced with other books, dangling over the edge of shelves.

Often treasures of literature are hidden among these and this is the case for one such book which…

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020 – #Memories – I Remember by Annika Perry

Memories play a pivotal role in all our lives, and in one piece of writing, I let my consciousness take a back-seat as I explored my own past. I’m delighted to share ‘I Remember’ as it is featured on Sally Cronin’s inspired ‘Posts from Your Archives’ series. I’ve turned comments off here and look forward to seeing you on Sally’s blog!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post:New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post by author Annika Perry and I am sure as you read, memories of your own from your childhood and teenage years will resurface and be enjoyed…

I Remember

I remember the splash of the waves against the side of my grandfather’s wooden boat, my brother standing proudly by the mast.

I remember sitting in the back, snuggled like a chick under my mother’s arms, the sea salt and my long blond ponytail lashing my cheeks.

I remember being passed to land like a bag of sugar, an exulted terrified scream then the freedom of the warm rocks beneath my feet. Away…

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FROM HAVOC TO HARMONY

For years I’ve lain in bed studying the right corner of my bedroom. The mini alcove proved impossible to furnish, not for lack of trying though.

For nearly a decade a redundant large bookcase lurched out of the gap, encroaching into the room, looming over. It became an overbearing presence in the harmonious room.

Earlier a small hanging shelf fitted easily between the chimney breast and the wall, yet with only two shelves there was still the problem with the wasted space beneath. A small antique wooden box moved in for a while before becoming recalled for other purposes in the neighbouring room. Furniture seems to be itinerant in my house … restless, always on the move.

Enough is enough and one day I decided to take charge! A yearning cried out to be fulfilled, my vision for the corner, quietly resting in my mind longed for existence. It was time!

It never fails to astound me how one small plan leads to so much upheaval in a house! As I sketched my very rough outline for a fitted bookcase, my husband and I decided to invest in a new bed at the same time! And, oh yes, didn’t the paint need freshening up?!

By this time you might have realised there are a lot of books in my house … many of which needed to be moved for the project. The dining table and chairs moved into the living room (see what I mean about restless furniture!) With a heave and ho, with muttering galore, with logistics reminiscent of a battle plan we set forth!

We have a dog-legged staircase and on the middle landing are two beautiful bookcases both filled to the brim with books. Before any big furniture could go down and up these needed to be moved to the dining room. Gosh, did we add to the daily step count with these books alone! Over a hundred Encyclopaedia Britannica books moved down along with an old bible from my husband’s family as well as an abundance of fiction novels.

As the leather-bound Encyclopaedia Britannica books sprawled across the floor, their numbers seemed insurmountable as they lay in unread heaps. With thoughts to decluttering it was decided to sell them all … thank goodness for eBay and a lovely chap bought them and came to collect them the day after the auction ended. I bade the collection a fond farewell but no regrets and in the process greeted the extra space for other books!

Next to join the already burgeoning ad hoc library in the dining room (why does this post remind me of the game of Cluedo!), all the books from my old-fashioned bookcase and desk came downstairs. I cradled my children’s books in my arms, hello Heidi, ahh, the Children on the Oregon trail, there you are gold-embossed Ivanhoe!

Next step was bed removal and I’m always happy when one can donate to charity and the British Heart Foundation were only too happy to pick this up, along with the old bookcase! At last freedom … the painting soon got underway, the new bed was chosen and I’d found a carpenter for the bookcase.

A skilled craftsman, he immediately ‘got’ my vision for the corner, shared my enthusiasm for the design, adding his own additions to blend with existing old-fashioned bookcase and desk! I was skittish with excitement as I received the sketches! Perfect!

Four weeks later, the room had been reassembled and I am overjoyed with the result. The bed is a haven of comfort, I’m sleeping the cosy slumber from childhood, the corner bookshelf is a delight to see. Just as I imagined, sitting snugly into the gap, bringing light and warmth into the room!

Next came the most joyful of chores … arranging the books across the bookshelves in all the rooms of my home! Uprooting books from my study, the living room to create a cherished cohesion that I’d lost during numerous moves. I mulled over the location of books, their groupings. Where the Encyclopaedia Britannica books had resided I’ve now put my reportage and journalism books, memoirs and biographies! Already I’m finding my time going downstairs has exponentially lengthened as I take a halfway break, pick up a book, glancing through it. I’m having a wonderful time revisiting my old friends!

Unread books are safely stacked in the new bedroom bookcase along with inspirational books, poetry books ready for a perchance read are behind the glass doors, fiction books are scattered with my unusual known-only-to-me organisational skill! Ask me for a book, if I have it, I can find it!

The four weeks of havoc at home was more than worth the chaos, and I’m overjoyed with the peaceful harmony in the new bedroom with its enchanting bookcase.

Spring's Breeze & A Musical Interlude!

Spring’s breeze strokes my cheek
Star flower heralds warm days
Storm warning – keep safe!

These past few days have been the sunniest for months and numerous walks in woods, along the coast, inspired me to write the haiku above.

Spring is so close, almost tangible, yet the threat of the latest tempest this weekend returns us to the winter gloom. Before Storm Ciara, a severe gale, coursed its way across the UK we headed outside enjoying the glory of nature to the utmost. Soon enough we needed to retreat indoors to the cosiness of home.

Out on the daily meditations, I remember that not only Mother Nature can lift us high, music also has a sublime ability to reach our inner core.

One piece that recently touched me so is a piano cover by Sammy Perry of Odesza’s song ‘A Moment Apart’. It is one of Sammy’s favourite songs from their album.

Listening to this my spirits soar. I imagine spring, life itself, unfurling. It is peaceful, magical and inspirational. Enjoy!

Meet author Annika Perry and her love of writing on “A Better World of Books” #authorinterview

I was delighted recently when Alethea asked me for an interview as part of her fabulous series “A Better World of Books”. Here she wants to celebrate authors who inspire “hope, joy, positivity, or a sense of empowerment” through their books! Wow! I am honoured to take part.

Learn about the origins of my children’s book “Oskar’s Quest”, my favourite fictional creation and exactly how does this all fits in with talking to guinea pigs!

Click on the link to read the whole interview! Enjoy!

The Light Behind the Story

annika-perryAnnika Perry is an award-winning author, blogger and book reviewer. She has two books in print and is working on a third. I asked Annika to be a guest for A Better World of Booksafter I learned about the release of her childrens book, Oskars Quest. Bette Stevens, a reviewer of the book, had this to say about it, In this beautifully illustrated childrens book, author Annika Perry captures the importance of caring for others, overcoming fears and making new friends.

Annika, thank you for being a guest for A Better World of Books.Can you tell our readers how you came up with the idea for Oskars Quest?

Alethea, I am delighted to be here and thank you so much for inviting me on to your blog. I’m loving your insightful questions…

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From the Poetic to the Factual: Two Book Reviews

After a lifetime of New Year’s resolutions … and often failing to keep them, these last years I’ve steered away from making any.

However, one aspect of blogging weighs heavily upon me, my failure to review as many books as I would like, particularly indie-published ones. If my TBR pile was a real heap of books they would fill a room, I fear; luckily many are kept safe on my Kindle, hidden from immediate sight but never forgotten. I’m determined to share these books with you on my blog, a couple every month and I am happy to start with the two below.

Ironically, these are paperbacks, one a poetry book kindly gifted to me by Bette A. Stevens. The other by Mary Smith caught my interest as an unusual factual book about her local town.

“My Maine: Haiku through the Seasons” by Bette A. Stevens

‘My Maine’ is a gem of a poetry book celebrating the state of Maine through 150 haikus. Bette A. Stevens captures the essence and heart of Maine with wonderful and evocative poetry that flows easily from one to the next.

Divided into four seasons each page is accompanied by a photograph taken by the poet, all stunning, reflecting the brimming beauty of her words. I am in awe how the poet has not only managed to bring alive the grandeur of the landscape, its mountains, pine trees and lakes but also writes with skill and a sense of humour about the minutiae of life in the state!

The writer’s keen observation of life is evident throughout and her passion for nature and the wildlife is extraordinary and she conveys this to the reader with exemplary skill.

This is a book I treasure and which I’ve read many times. I’m absolutely captivated by the ‘story’ of Maine, a state I feel I can now rightly call, every so slightly, ‘My Maine’!

Whilst reviewing the book I jotted down many of my favourite haikus. Here are just a couple to tempt you!

“Firewoods heaped high
Mesmerizing hearth aglow
Cozy reading nook.”

Bette A. Stevens

“Silently – Snowfalls
Reign over field and forest
Supremely sovereign.”

Bette A. Stevens

Rating:        5 out of 5 stars

Available:    Amazon US  Amazon UK

Publisher: DBS PUBLISHING

Read more about Bette at Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author

“A-Z of Dumfries: Place-People-History” by Mary Smith & Keith Kirk

In her latest book Mary Smith, along with fellow writer Keith Kirk, takes the reader on a fascinating and absorbing alphabetical tour of her local town, Dumfries. Situated in the South West of Scotland, people have lived in the area for at least 3,000 years and it has been the home to many including the famous poet Robert Burns. Through the 26 letters of the alphabet, the book explores the places, people and history of Dumfries and it offers incredible insight to a town that I fear is often overlooked.

Some of the entries depict traumatic events as the reader learns about Robert Burns’ wife Jean Armour, who had nine children but only three survived her. Superb details and plenty of colour photographs ensured that I was hooked by the various entries and I immediately felt as if I had myself visited amongst other places Robert Burns museum and the world’s oldest working Camera Obscura.

I am astounded by the level of research and the momentous task of collecting all the information, collating and writing the book. It is presented in a skilled yet easily accessible and entertaining manner. The reader is captivated by both the larger historical events and people as well as ordinary objects such as fountains and parks, all with their own unique story.

As I finished the book I felt as if I’d travelled around Dumfries and seen its gems for myself … and I hope to do so in the future. I will be a highly informed visitor as a result of this book! Meanwhile, it has made me intrigued about my town, which I know I take for granted and I am now eager to learn more about it!

Rating:        5 out of 5 stars

Available:    Amazon US  Amazon UK

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Read more about Mary at Mary Smith’s Place

I hope you’ve enjoy reading these reviews which I intend to become a regular monthly feature. Have you read any of these? Are you tempted by the reviews to look at any closer. As always, I look forward to your comments & discussion.

Welcome Author Annika Perry #wouldyourather

“Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?”

This is only one of the fun albeit tricky questions that Jill Weatherholt posed to me in her renewed childhood game of “Would You Rather” feature on her blog!

I was hooked by the series since its inception in September 2019 and I am delighted to be featured last week. Please click the link to find out more!

Jill Weatherholt

Today I’m excited to welcome our friend and writer, Annika Perry. For those of you who know Annika, I’m sure you’ll agree she is one of the kindest and most generous bloggers you’ll ever meet. We connected many years ago, and now I feel as though we’re old friends. I was excited when she expressed an interest to play “would you rather.” I think you’ll enjoy her answers as much as I did.

Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?

Without a doubt, I’d rather travel in time! Ever since reading ‘The Time Machine’ by H G Wells as a child I knew here was the perfect way to travel although I realised it came with its own inherent hazards. Avoiding these I would visit various eras across time. The major world events, whilst of interest, would not appeal to me as much as seeing…

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THE RAPTOR

It was a grisly sight first thing that morning. The garrotted dove lay lifeless on the lawn, a storm of feathers upon the dull green grass. Bright red blood seeped out of the neck wound, the purity of white blemished by death.

Near to its kill, the raptor looked on with an expression of huffed up pride and indignation. Not one to usually brave suburban gardens, this enclosed haven with its regular visitors of peace proved too irresistible for the falcon. What could go wrong?

Earlier, replete after eating fallen sunflower seeds, the doves ambled leisurely, without care, along their promenade route, bidding each other a quiet good morrow. Then the raptor struck. It was almost too easy. Yet, he had not taken into account the witness. Loud urgent slams on the glass followed. These he nonchalantly ignored. The raptor loomed over the stricken dove and gripped its corpse tightly in its talons.

Crash! A door was violently flung open. An angry shout. Then a pneumatic drill of curses. The raptor would never relent. Until a sudden flurry of towels as the human windmill careered towards him.

With a vicious squawk, the raptor took flight.

He would be back!

©Annika Perry, January 2020