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TIBC Review Policy

Yesterday evening fellow author and book blogger, TJ Fox approached me about a list he is creating of book bloggers currently accepting books by indie authors.

In order to make it clear which books I will accept, I present my Review Policy:

Absolutely will accept: Middle-Grade books (9-12), Chapter books (7-9)

Probably will accept: Picture books

Might accept: Young Adult books (12+)

Currently not accepting: Adult books

Please send me a message either through my contact page or through any of my social media accounts with the details of your book. I will check it and decide whether I am interested in reviewing.

I will aim to turn around a read/review in about 7 days of ACCEPTING your book. If you haven’t heard from me after 7 days, then feel free to nudge me

The dilemma of the indie book writer v reviewer…

I realise that I have been a little quiet for the last week or so and for that I apologise. It had been my intention to publish at least one blog post a week and I haven’t been entirely successful in this. For that, I apologise.

So why have I felt unable to post?

The answer lies in my blog addition of book reviews. I am thrilled with the positive response that TIBC has had. Lots of people have been keen for me to review their books and I have been happily reading some excellent ones. My dilemma rises from when the books are not excellent but could have been had they been subjected to rigorous editing and PROOFREADING!

Publishing a book takes time. It takes money too, but if you are on a tight budget paying for a proof-reader can seem an unnecessary expense. I get that. I didn’t pay to have my book proof-read, but I am very lucky to be surrounded by people who I could rely on to read my book and point out where there was a glaring missing full stop or speech mark. Leaving them aside however, I read and reread my book almost 100 times in the last 3 months or so, checking and rechecking the basics to ensure that I wasn’t submitting something with glaring errors.

I adore reading but I cannot read a book which is littered with errors, leaving aside any problems with the plot itself. In addition, as a reviewer of books for children, on a blog which is aimed at parents and children who want to read my books above all else, I am not going to be promoting books which in my view are unfinished. That is certainly not the self-promotion I want.

Self or indie publishing (whichever way you want to phrase it) is incredibly easy to do and monstrously difficult to succeed at. We are seen as the rejects who couldn’t get book deals and the perception is our books are littered with errors and lacking in cohesive plot or believable characters. These are unfair sweeping statements that hinder the indie author before they have even published their book. I’m guilty of it too, before I started this process, I looked down on self-publishing and would avoid purchasing books from indie authors because of my bias towards them. I now know how passionate, talented and dedicated to their craft many indie authors are. I have read some brilliant self published works which any sensible agent/publisher should jump on. Given all this, it is depressing and frustrating to read a book which matches the stereotype and fails to meet my expectations.

My dilemma then has very much been how to address this. I am not going to write a public review but I also recognise that despite my frustration, I cannot leave a fellow author without any kind of feedback. My response was to respond in email with apologies and explanation as to why it wouldn’t be appearing here. I’m not sure what else I could do?

It is the first time but I’m sure won’t be the last.

Please comment down below,

Are you a book blogger? What do you do when faced with this situation? Do you think I did the right thing? How do we tackle this bias against self-publishing?

If this rant got you intrigued, you can find my book…here!

If you want to read a review of an excellently written and proof-read indie book for children, TIBC #1: Trouble with Parsnips, Laurel Decher

TIBC #1: Trouble with Parsnips, Laurel Decher

It is always a good sign when I finish a book in one night. I did it with Harry Potters 4/5/6 & 7 ; Garth Nix’s Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen; Philip Pullman’s novels were regularly devoured into the small hours; Terry Pratchett had me laughing while my eyes were held open with matchsticks* and now I can add this hilarious and hugely entertaining novel, Trouble with Parsnips to the list.

Title: Trouble with Parsnips

Author: Laurel Decher

Genre: fantasy/humour/modern fairytale

Page count: 268

Published: 2018

TIBC Rating: * * * * *

Oh I do like that the first book I review gets the top rating!


Trouble with Parsnips opens at a christening party in the home of our nameless royal heroine. She has the nickname Fifteenth, as she is the fifteenth child of King Oliver and Queen Sibyl. Unfortunately, they have been so busy ruling the kingdom of Cochem (of which the Golden Parsnip is the symbol of state) and educating the older children, that she has been a decade without a name, hence the christening party.

As the story begins, Fifteenth is trying her hardest to ensure that everything goes as planned and she ends the day with a name and a suitable Fairy Godmother’s gift, as is appropriate for royal princesses on their christening day. This is not as simple a task as you may think. From the threat of Croquet Fever and missing guests to the very fact that without a name you are often forgotten, Fifteenth has a lot to handle. Luckily she is well equipped for the task, handy with a wrench and very quick thinking, she gets around most issues…that is until the arrival of the Blackflies and all the trouble they bring…

…her biggest test will come with the dreaded arrival of Croquet Fever, (not as harmless as you may think) when all her plans come tumbling down and the Golden Parsnip is no longer in Cochem hands…


This was an absolute delight to read. From the first chapter to the last, I was entertained by Fifteenth and the other characters. She is a modern-day heroine of the highest order: intelligent, handy, independent, feisty and kind, she leaps off the page as all the best main characters should. The cast around her too, are real while maintaining the ‘fairytale’ feel for the book. I particularly loved Bridget and her father who were genuinely good people. The villain of the piece (I won’t spoil who it is, though you will probably guess early on) is appropriately villainous and I enjoyed the scene where they trailed Fifteenth around the gathered guests as she did odd-jobs for each of them, ensuring they were shown appropriate hospitality.

The story flows wonderfully and there is a strong sense of connection to the main thread of the book throughout. We have all dealt with the feeling of being invisible and being afraid to speak up and I liked how this was explored and the way that it was resolved without being too ‘preachy’ or patronising. That overall is the feeling I take away from this, at no point did I feel to old to be reading it. The story resonated with me as an adult as much as I’m sure it will with children. The humourous nature of the book too, was not excessive: My enjoyment of it was drawn more from the absurdity of the situations than any ‘jokes’, a clever format in the vein of Terry Pratchett or Lemony Snicket, which I particularly enjoy.

If I were to make any criticism, it would be with the front cover, which, in my opinion, doesn’t particularly suit the book. It makes it look far more like a ‘princess story’ than it actually is, despite being full of royalty, kingdoms and tournaments. It is definitely a book that I feel as a story would appeal to both boys and girls, but some boys may be put off by the ‘girly’ front cover and miss out on a fantastic story.

Overall this is a brilliantly entertaining book which both boys and girls of 8/9+ will love. Fifteenth may feel forgotten by her family but her story is definitely one that I will remember and return to read again and again.


Thank you, Laurel for the opportunity to review this brilliant book!

You can find Laurel here:

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Introducing The Indie Book Collective – AKA Book Reviews

As a writer, it is important to read. Through reading, we can experience new styles, explore different genres, learn new things and generally revel in the world of books which we are a part of.

I am a true believer in supporting fellow writers and as my own books will be self-published, I want to support my fellow indie writers…

…hence The Indie Book Collective

I have reached out, in some of my social media groups, to indie writers and offered to read and review their work.

Any indie writer reading this, is welcome to contact me with details of their book.

Please note, I will ONLY accept books suitable for children. My preference is middle grade, as that is the age range of my own writing, but I will happily read chapter books and will consider picture books.

I will also look at Young Adult books, but my reviewing them will be based on the content/appropriateness for my website.

What I have learned this year…

Last night, I went to my writing group which is made up of teachers from across the region. It is run by a former lecturer/tutor on the course, who is undeniably passionate about writing and in particular, writing for pleasure.

One of the exercises that we did was to reflect on this past academic year (with being a group of teachers, this was our last session). She asked us to consider what we had learned in regards to writing and what we had learned in regards to teaching writing. With my status as ‘former teacher’ I was unsure how to proceed with this latter question and so focused on the ways I have grown as a writer in general, not just within the sessions. After all, my profession may no longer be within the day-to-day education of children, but I feel that the best writers are those whom we can model ourselves after.

And so to my list. It isn’t long or particularly innovative. It is purely a self-reflection on how far I have come since I first sat down at my computer screen and introduced myself to Osha et al.

This year I have learned…

To write without inhibition.

The joy of interesting language.

To respond to what’s around me and be inspired by the mundane.

To view things differently.

To enjoy the writing process not just the results.

The power of good writing.

That less is often more.

To make mistakes, change, write again, change, try a different way, change, before maybe being satisfied???

Punctuation can come last.

To be a writer/author who taught as opposed to a former teacher who writes.

The last one feels particularly of note.

That day, 18 months ago, that I chose to begin my story, and saw in my mind’s eye the little girl staring in awe at a cave painting, I thought of myself as a teacher who had left the profession and was going to write. The difference is subtle but it’s an important one. I am an author and I was a teacher. Both feed off one another and I can draw on skills and ideas which I used in the classroom, but they are two separate spheres. When I go into schools it is as an author not as a teacher; my passion is books, reading, writing, language, plot, character, dialogue and all the rest, as opposed to education and teaching.

Thinking about this year, I can see this big difference in the “pruning” that I gladly did of my book. Ironically, it was the removal of those aspects of writing that we teach children (…thanks Mr Gove!…) that helped the flow and brought the book to life. I let go of the feeling of rigidity of ‘writing to teach’ and instead allowed myself to write a plot which children would respond to. That was the key.

I really hope that a child (or several) will read my book(s) and enjoy them. Yes they can learn historical ‘facts’ and draw lessons from them, but that is not the focus as it once was. Writing Osha, I fell in love with her as a character not as a literary device. She is real to me, as I hope she will be for others and these are lessons that I can take forward as I embark on the next one.

…I just hope it doesn’t take 18 months this time!…

What have you learned this year?

Is there a difference in your writing now than previously?

Comment, like, share. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Announcement: From the Cave Wall available for purchase now!

And so the journey has arrived at its conclusion. Or maybe it’s better said that this section of the journey has. The book is now available at Amazon!

It has been a long labour of love and devotion, and I have loved every minute (mostly!)

I hope you enjoy it. Please leave a review and remember, if you want more then please join my readers’ club: The Source Detectives (aimed at children…whatever age!)

Now comes the hard part!