Book Review – ‘A Contrary Wind: a variation on Mansfield Park’ by Lona Manning

One of the finest Austen variations I have had the pleasure to read.


Lona Manning A Contrary Wind

Having read and been delighted by a number of Austen variations on previous occasions, I was most interested in Manning’s adaptation of Mansfield Park. While not my favourite of Austen’s works, I was intrigued as to what might be done to the classic novel to provide genuinely viable alternate outcomes for the characters, and hopefully to make Fanny Price more interesting than I found her in the original classic.

Lona Manning’s recreation of Mansfield Park, its inhabitants and neighbours did not disappoint. I found myself drawn into Austen’s world where the Bertram family prosper and their cousin, Fanny, is stifled amongst them. From that point, Manning’s variation is interwoven seamlessly with the original until Austen’s story is found to be completely changed. More than once, I had to think back and remind myself of what had happened in the original text, until I gave up on doing that and simply allowed myself to be carried away by Manning’s narrative.

‘A Contrary Wind’ is well-written, keeping in step with the language and writing style used by Austen to tell her stories, while being mercifully less wordy about some of the characters’ more trifling thoughts and decisions than Mansfield Park itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and consider it to be one of the finest Austen variations I have had the pleasure to read. Acorn Award I Golden

‘A Contrary Wind’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: (Almost) Average Anthology: Tales Of Adventure, Loss and Oddity by Jason Nugent.

A collection that displays the range and power of Nugent’s dark imagination.

Jason Nugent Almost Average AnthologyThis interesting and varied collection opens w ith an astounding personification of death that challenges the reader to confront their fear and think more philosophically about death as an entity rather than an event.


Once he has the reader’s attention, Nugent carries them from scene to scene, ranging from bleak to grim, to macabre. Each story delivers a thought-provoking punch or a clever twist that takes the reader by surprise.


I chose to enjoy these short stories individually rather than one after another in close succession, and found each one to be very well executed. As a collection, they display the range and power of Nugent’s dark imagination and his ability to deliver each story with a profound effect.

Acorn Award II Silver

This book has been awarded a Silver Acorn.


Book Review: ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ by Pam Lecky

A very enjoyable short read, complete with a couple of very effective chills for good measure

Pam Lecky The Lighthouse KeeperThis story is set on the windswept coast at Black’s Bay, where Sally and Alex plan to spend their first weekend away together. The isolation of the lighthouse lends a bleak and forlorn air to the setting, and compounds the darkness and the unfamiliar when the sun goes down.


The reader is positioned to empathise with Sally through exposure to her thoughts, feelings and responses to the events of the weekend, which makes them in turn vulnerable to the eerie twists in the story.


This is a very enjoyable story, complete with a couple of very effective chills for good measure. It’s an easy read in under 30 minutes, which makes it ideal for a lunch break or a short escape into a story to break up a busy day.

Acorn Award II Silver

Book Squirrel has awarded ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ a Silver Acorn.


Book Review: ‘Thoughts of You’ by Anthony Beddis

An expressive collection of honest, passionate flash prose. .. but it’s not poetry.

2018-03-11 13.54.55This collection of honest, passionate flash prose is rich in imagery and high expression of the author’s love and desire for the object of his affections. The writing is quite poetic, taking the reader deep into the thoughts and emotions of the author as he expresses his innermost thoughts and feelings.


I was bemused, however, to see this book listed as poetry. It is definitely intimate and expressive, but it is also definitely prose as it is written in the form of full sentences, in paragraphs, arranged as such. Use of imagery, regardless of frequency or consistency, does not in itself define one’s writing as poetry.


The reader does develop a profound sense of intimacy with the author, sharing as one does in his most personal and honest moments with his beloved. His thoughts and feelings are highly relatable and his absolute honesty is disarming.


This is an enjoyable book that fulfils the purpose revealed in the title: these are the thoughts that fill the author’s mind and soul each day, demonstrating his adoration of, and also his commitment to, the lucky person who consumes him so powerfully. Acorn Award III Bronze


Book Squirrel has awarded this book a Bronze Acorn because while the writing really is lovely and I did enjoy it, it’s not actually poetry and should not be marketed as such.



Book Review: ‘Tainted Waters’ by Lucretia Stanhope

This is a fantastic read that keeps the reader wondering and guessing from start to finish.

It is often said that light drives out darkness and that loves drives away fear. Such proverbs may be mostly true most of the time, but not without exception.

Lucretia Stanhope PPK 1Tainted Waters

‘Tainted Waters’ is a book full of such exceptions. It is a story of shadows and illusions, doubts and deceptions, and of clouded thoughts and emotions. In her youth, Alice desires security, truth and a sense of belonging, but enjoys none of these. Trusting nobody and belonging nowhere, her world is one where, time and time again, she has to choose the least terrible option and learn to make the best of it.

Stanhope has woven a tale in which conflict, distrust and obscured truths come into sharp contrast as the powers of light and darkness battle with one another for supremacy. As Alice discovers who and what she is, and how to make use of the resources available to her, the reader sees those same contrasts in her character: naïveté and inherited knowledge, vulnerability and power, weakness and strength.

This is a fantastic read that keeps the reader wondering and guessing from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found it hard to put down.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Tainted Waters’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence in storytelling.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Killer of a Mind’ by Valerie Albermarle

This book is both a great story and a sensory pleasure for the reader.

Valerie Albermarle Killer of a MindA gifted writer takes the reader from whatever place and position they’re in and transports them to the setting of the author’s choice and creation.

In ‘Killer of a Mind’, Albermarle immerses the reader in the sights and sensations of various towns along the east coast of America before dunking them in the waters of the Mayan Riviera on the shores of Mexico, where the contrasts and conflicts of this story are heightened by those characteristic of Tulum, the Mexican town in which Ryan finds himself. Noise and quiet reflection, richness and poverty, sunshine and shade all reflect Ryan’s own mental and emotional condition.

Unlike Ryan, the reader understands that there is always more than one side to a story. Albermarle has woven the threads of this story together with craftsmanship and finesse, leaving nothing to either predictability or fate. The reader is not allowed to become complacent – as Ryan discovers, there is always a new challenge, a surprise or a revelation as a corner is turned or a hill is crested that shows the light shining on things differently with a change of perspective.

Albermarle’s writing is rich and vivid, developing magnificent scenery full of colour and sound, and complex characters that seem to have more shade than light to them.
Acorn Award I Golden
Book Squirrel has awarded ‘Killer of a Mind’ one of his special Golden Acorns for excellence because this book is both a great story and a sensory pleasure for the reader.

Find your copy here.

Author Interview: Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi

Book Squirrel chats with sci-fi author Emanuel Andrei Costuchi.

Interview Orange

Welcome, folks! Today Book Squirrel chats with Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi, a Sci-Fi writer from Romania, part of the European Union.
Hi Emanuel, welcome!

Thank you for having me, Book Squirrel!

unnamed What inspired you to write?

I became writer because I love the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?  

I was a consumer like everybody, this means I watched movies, I read books and I played computer games, but one day I decided to create my own Sci-Fi universe. So was born the space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?

I love to read and I have read a lot of books, no matter of genre.
My favorite Sci-Fi book is “Roadside picnic” by Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky.
My favorite Fantasy book is the “Rune Swords” series by multiple authors like Clayton Emery, Rose Estes, Tom Wham, J.F. Rivkin.

What are you working on writing now?

I finished the first three volumes of my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord” on November 11, 2017 and now I am looking for a publishing house. Starship “Apple of Discord” is about the adventures of a man from Earth, named Adam, who will meet alien civilizations and technology.
I plan to write more volumes, because my saga isn’t finished yet, and I have other projects too. I want to write another Sci-Fi novel called The Independence, and even Fantasy books.

Who designs your book covers?

This was me. For my Sci-Fi book The Restoration, which is published on all Amazon websites, I used free images from Internet and the cover template provided by CreateSpace.
I paid an young artist from my country to draw the redhead android, which I want to use it as my cover for my space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”. His name is Cosmin Benchea.

What’s your favourite TV show?

This would be Games of Thrones, but I love Vikings and Star Trek too.

What movie can you watch over and over again?

This would be Star Wars: Rogue One. Although I love Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, Vader, Obi Wan, Yoda and many other heroes, I think Jyn Erso is great too.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I have a nice story about this, which is posted on my Amazon Author page. My maternal gradma asked me this too, and I answered that I want to become a cowboy. My grandma mocked me and said that I want to become a cattle herder. I read comics at that time and my favorite character was a lone ranger. Still is. I said “cowboy” because I was to young to know the word EXPLORER.
I didn’t became an astronaut like Yuri Gagarin or Neil Armstrong. Or the next Jacques Cousteau, Steve Irwin, or “Bear” Grylls. I have some health issues with my heart. I was born like this, but I don’t complain about that. I take medicines daily.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

Another one is created by me:  “If you can’t provoke any emotion, there’s little point in writing.” – Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi

I like that!

Thank you!

Where can readers follow you on social media?

If readers would like to contact me, I would love to hear from them. I personally read and respond to all inquiries.
I have a website, and I am on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram. I also have another page on Facebook for my book.

Fantastic! And where can we buy your book?

It’s available at Amazon.