Audiobook Review: ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’

Absolutely brilliant entertainment.

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A rollicking saga full of pirates, rogues, strumpets, sassy parrots and adventure, this story carried me back in time to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the 17th century. The narration brought the story to life very effectively, and I was hooked in no time flat. 

The characters are richly drawn, complex and conflicted, each with secrets and passions that drive them and direct the choices and alliances they make. The central characters each have a mission that they seek to achieve, and the reader is kept in eager suspense about how those things may, or indeed may not, come to pass as the story unfolds. Each of them experiences significant moments of revelation and others of relief but, as often happens in life, even these tend to lead to further complications. 

The settings, too, are brought to life in vivid color and textures that enrich the story and add another level of depth and engagement in the story. For someone who has never been to Jamaica, the places depicted in the story all seemed very real and clear in my mind. 

There is some very amusing innuendo, adult content and violence throughout the book, so it’s not for younger audiences, but it is a story that can be enjoyed by a very broad adult audience because it blends elements of adventure, action, tragedy, romance and mystery with historical fiction, so that the story lines of individual characters are interwoven and tangled in most interesting and diverting ways.  

A most enjoyable and entertaining audiobook, ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy hereh.



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Book Review: ‘Never Again’ by Lily Luchesi

A powerful story, as terrifying as the true horrors of the historical events on which it is based.

There have been many horrors inflicted by humans on others in the last 500 years. Sean Wireman has witnessed them all. 

‘Never Again’ is a paranormal exposition of the consequences of human hatred and cruelty. 

The story is told from Sean’s perspective as both a witness and a sufferer of persecution, oppression and torture. The story is overwhelmingly dark and somber, but for those characters who bring light and relief into Sean’s life. The bleak and heavy tone of the writing suits the events of the story very well, yet the reader is aware that it is impossible for them to feel as weighted down by despair as Sean does.  

The main character is both flawed and heroic and, although he is not human, the reader develops a strong affinity with his emotions and responses, particularly the passions that characterise him, and his anger and heartbreak, which are portrayed so vividly they are palpable. 

The very powerful message of this novel is that the evil of the past must be resisted and put to an end. The horrors of the past must never be allowed to occur again. The reader is left in no doubt whatsoever that, like Sean, each of us must play our part in making that happen.

A gripping and often confronting read, ‘Never Again’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘A Different Kind of Angel: A Novel’ by Paulette Mahurin

A compelling story based on real events.

It is not difficult to be horrified by the level of cruelty that humans will inflict on one another, especially where prejudice and power are involved. There is much in this book that tells of the trauma, the emotional and physical scarring, and the horrors experienced by the victims of such torture experienced not only by those who survived the government pogroms against the Jews in late 19th century Russia, but also by those exposed to the depths of degradation meted out to those who found themselves inside the cruel, cold walls of the notorious Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum in New York. 

Based on the true story of Nellie Bly’s infiltration of the asylum and subsequent exposure of the abuses and brutality that occurred there, and on the experiences of many who fled Russia in the hope of making a new life in America, ‘A Different Kind of Angel’ tells the stories of Klara Gelfman and the other women she meets inside that institution. 

The book certainly has its dark moments, but it also gives emphasis to the resilience and kindness of people like Klara and her friends Catherine and Nellie. These women are inspirational in their ability to rise above the pain and muck time and time again, reminders to us all of the power of encouragement and kindness in the face of hostility and fear. 

Mahurin tells a compelling story. The characters are strongly drawn, and the depictions of the various behaviours of the inmates of the asylum are vivid and, one suspects, based on careful study and research. At no time is the narrative insensitive to the plight of the insane, nor to the individual qualities of each woman and her mental illness. The reader has a strong sense of how their lives and conditions could be  vastly different given proper care, nutrition and some kindness, and feels deeply grateful to the few souls who showed these women as much compassion as they were able to. 

Overall, the story is more encouraging than depressing, and most enlightening. Despite the darkness, the message of the story is  positive and empowering, especially for those enduring some kind of misery or darkness in their own lives. 

‘A Different Kind of Angel: A Novel’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Starblazer: Through The Black Gate’ by Reiter

A really enjoyable sci-fi epic.

Reiter Starblazer
‘Starblazer’ is a genuine sci-fi epic, action packed and loaded with conflict, power struggle and suspense. The world building is incredible, immersing the reader in a realm that is both fantastic and believable at the same time. The writing is clean and the story is coherent and really well developed.

The real strength, though, lies in the characters. Their flaws balance their abilities and strengths in a way that makes them believable and still complex enough to remain unpredictable. The subversive humour that emerges in certain characters is refreshing and very engaging.

In contrast to the stereotypes of science fiction, which I acknowledge as the main reason I read less of it that I otherwise might, I really liked the fact that the female characters are central to this story, They are intelligent, self-sufficient and powerful in their own right.

This is a big book, but it’s a real page-turner with an entertaining story and lots of action and energy.Acorn Award I Golden

Starblazer has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: Born Into Chaos by Lily Lamb

A blend of fantasy, paranormal and fairy tale in one powerful story.

A Drew Born Into Chaos‘Born Into Chaos’ is a compelling story of love, loss, abuse of power and retribution. Spanning centuries and drawing on folklore and legend, and with a touch of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ too, the story of the halfling Adamas unfolds as one in which he must discover his destiny and work to fulfil it in order to find peace and resolve the pain of the past.

This is a really enjoyable read that blends fantasy, paranormal and fairy tale and, as fairy tales tend to do, delivers some important lessons about the meaning of life along the way.

Acorn Award II Silver

For these reasons, ‘Born Into Chaos’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Summer Of My Enlightenment’ by Kristy Dark

A well-written and complex psychological thriller.

51pGX1V5G5L‘The Summer of My Enlightenment’ is , on one level, the story of Angela and her search for meaning and fulfilment after a tragic event, but it’s also an interesting study of the nature of obsession, infatuation and narcissism and the danger that exists when they interact.

There is so much I could say about my anger toward particular characters, and my desire to see them suffer some consequences for their actions, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. Be prepared, though, for some strong emotional responses as the story unfolds. And if mind games and manipulation are trigger points for you, it’s probably best to choose a different book.

A well-written and complex psychological thriller, this book certainly kept me guessing. There was suspense and frustration aplenty, and there were numerous surprises and twists along the way. Both of the central characters are flawed and conflicted, which often makes a reader sympathetic to one or both of them, which others very well may be; however, I found it hard to warm to either of them. This certainly added an extra layer of “chiller to the thriller” for me, but also added to my frustration because there was a large degree of dramatic irony involved in my reading of the story.Acorn Award II Silver

I have awarded this book a Silver Acorn because it ticked all the “dark fiction” and “suspense” boxes, but left this reader somewhat dissatisfied at the end.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Dragonheart Stories: Fairy Tales for Grownups’ by Jane Jago

A magnificent adults-only collection of dragon stories!

Jane Jago The Dragonheart StoriesOne of my favourite things to discover is a book that gives the reader a sense of the author’s own personality. The incidental humour and quirky characters in these stories are evidence of a creative mind brimming with ideas and unafraid to follow them wherever they lead.

The Dragonheart Stories Is a brilliant collection of short stories that are imaginative, sensual and highly original — and definitely not for children! Very conservative readers would probably not appreciate them either, although this reader considers that to be very much to their own loss. The stories are much like the nature of their dragon characters: magnificent, beautiful, rowdy, complex, and at times aggressive, but at the same time filled with insight. Each story is both entertaining and thought-provoking. The narration instils in the reader a sense of reverence for the dragons, but also considerable affection for the central characters.

Acorn Award I Golden

I really hope there are more of these stories to come. It is only fitting that this humble squirrel should pay these wonderful dragons tribute with a Golden Acorn.

Find your copy here.