Audiobook Review: ‘A Blessing In Disguise’ by C H Clepitt

A delightful short story audiobook that can be enjoyed in one sitting.

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CH Clepitt A Blessing In Disguise AudiobookI’ve enjoyed every book by C.H. Clepitt that I’ve read, so I was keen to see how this book worked as an audiobook.

The story is read by Margaret Ashley. Her voice is very expressive and easy to understand, with a lovely British accent that makes listening a pleasure. The reading of the story is well paced and articulate, so it’s easy to follow.

The story itself is lighthearted and whimsical, the sort of thing you’d find on a lovely British TV sitcom. With the subtitle “Life Begins at 48”, this story uses warmth and humour to draw the audience into the all-too-familiar-these-days scenario of a middle-aged woman’s life taking unexpected turns one after the other. The main character Linda is likeable and, although somewhat cynical, takes the surprises and twists of life in her stride. ‘A Blessing in Disguise’ reminds the audience that problems and complications do sometimes bring their own rewards, and that life really is what we make of it in choosing how we will respond and resolve the situations we find ourselves in.

A fairly short story of 26 minutes’ duration, it’s easily enjoyed in one sitting.

Acorn Award I GoldenThis excellent audiobook has been awarded a Gold Acorn, and is also available as an ebook.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Dragon School: First Flight’ by Sarah K.L. Wilson

Compelling YA fantasy that captivates the imagination.

Sarah KL‘Dragon School: First Flight’ is a compelling YA fantasy adventure story. Filled with danger, excitement and discovery, this book introduces Amel Leafbrought, a teenage girl embarking on life as a trainee dragon rider.

Amel does not see herself as heroic, yet she is. She does not allow her disability to limit either her dreams or her determination, nor does she give in to the taunts from those who cannot see past it. She does, however, allow herself to express the fear and misery that is all-too-familiar to those who bear the brunt of discrimination and bullying. The reader develops empathy with Amel not because of the way in which others treat her, rather than because of her disability, purely because while her physical limitations are challenging, they are not the greatest cause of distress to her. The ways in which she responds to both kinds of challenge are generally positive and proactive, and allow her individual qualities to shine. The realisation that she has abilities others do not is a source of encouragement to both Amel and the reader.

The author has portrayed the best and the worst qualities of humanity in the characters that make up the cast of the story. Some are kind, some are hateful, while others are indifferent for various reasons. In this, a fact of life is portrayed quite realistically: each of us has to work out who we can trust, who we cannot, and who are our allies if we are to find our path in life and navigate it successfully.

‘Dragon School’ captivated my imagination as powerfully as I remember Harry Potter doing when I first read it, but it is most definitely not a “copycat” concept.

There are so many elements of this book that work really well. The world building is unique and interesting, the social systems are complex and fascinating at the same time, the complications and challenges are dangerous, and the things for which Amel and her peers must strive are important.

I am excited to see this narrative develop and expand, and to see Dragon School and Amel become the enormous success that it deserves to be.

This series is now on my “one-click”list, and all who love YA fantasy, magic, and dragons should ensure it is on theirs, too.  Acorn Award I Golden

While ‘Dragon School: First Flight’ is only a short book, it is a most excellent one, and most worthy of a Golden Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘January Black Ice’ by Carol Ann Kauffman

An excellent little mystery story.

Carol Ann Kauffman Cat Collier 1It is a skilful writer indeed who can captivate a reader, transport them to a new place and situation, introduce them to new people,, and then hold them there throughout the story. Carol Ann Kauffman is one such writer. Having been impressed by her writing style when reading her fantasy novella ‘Red Sarah’, which I enjoyed immensely, I was keen to pick up another of her works.

‘January Black Ice’ is a delightful, feel-good cozy mystery. The story is really well written. It flows easily, has great variation in pace and tone where it’s needed, and maintains a high level of engagement between the readers and the characters through tense and relaxed moments alike.

Kauffman writes lively, likeable characters whose stories intertwine in such a way that the reader thinks it’s going to be a romance until the mystery bursts onto the page in front of them, seamlessly turning the story in a new direction for local journalist Cat and for Carter, the mysterious new guy in town.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’m pleased to see that there are more titles in the series. I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with Cat Collier. Acorn Award I Golden

This excellent little mystery has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Saving Cecelia’ by Elle Botz

A poignant, powerful story.

Elle Botz Saving Cecilia'This story is not long but it sure packs a punch. It is powerfully emotive, not only in the writing but also in its messages about caring for those we love and maintaining our relationships with family beyond what is merely convenient or, worse still, shallow tokenism.

‘Saving Cecilia’ is the story of Cee Cee and her grandmother, Cecilia, and the love between them that endures despite the ravages of grief, time and Cecilia’s dementia.

I found that I could identify strongly with Cee Cee, having cared for my own mother during her own battle with that soulless disease, and having experienced many of the same anxieties and sorrows that Cee Cee did. Her character was very honestly and thoughtfully developed, particularly through her relationship with Cecilia and her thoughts and responses to the events and other characters of the story.

This is a story that everyone from mid-teens and older should read, because at some time in our life, most people will know a Cecilia or a Cee Cee if they are blessed enough to not actually become them.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Saving Cecilia’ Has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Locksley Vol. 2 – Sherwood’ by Mark Brownless

This new retelling of the Robin Hood legend is engaging and full of action.

Mark Brownless Locksley 2 SherwoodThis second instalment of Mark Brownless’ new retelling of the Robin Hood legend is as engaging and full of action as the first. As the tension between the rebels in Sherwood Forest and the soldiers of Guy of Gisborne escalates, the reader is drawn deeper into the forest and positioned alongside Robin of Locksley’s band, ready for battle.

The characters are developed with more complexity as the story progresses, so that the reader sees their humanity as well as their heroism. The author has explored more of the back stories behind key characters such as Robin and Little John, and the growing familiarity with them further engages the reader’s loyalties.

Unlike many of the older accounts of Robin Hood that I remember, this one features strong and independent female characters who make valuable contributions to the outlaw cause, rather than looking prettily helpless and needing to be rescued or defended.  This certainly doesn’t come across as a 21st century construct based on feminist sensitivities or politics, though – it feels genuine and respectful, and reminds the reader of the historical fact that there were indeed women living  and fighting for the cause alongside the men, and they were equally as brave and committed to resisting the corrupt agents of government that ruled over them all.

I’m really enjoying this series, and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Locksley Vol. 2 – Sherwood’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Series Review: The ‘Christmas Miracle’ series by R.M. Gauthier

A novella series that mystery lovers will not want to miss out on!

This series of mystery novellas by R.M Gauthier is lighthearted and refreshing, although not without complications and moments of tension.

Each of these short stories provides a lovely diversion from a busy day or week by drawing the reader into the fictional world of Christmas Town, where the spirit of the festive season lingers all year round. Each is short enough to read in one sitting, but long enough to conveniently put down at the end of a chapter and resume reading later.  They’re great stories for all year round, and certainly not limited to the seasons in which the titular seasons occur.

The main character, Jack, is well developed and quite likeable. The air of mystery that surrounds his arrival in town over summer is intriguing, and definitely hooks the reader into the story.  Gauthier cleverly plays on the unresolved questions he brings with him, drawing the reader further into the story at the same time as further entangling Jack with every development and surprise in the plot.

Charlotte is an intriguing character – she appears to be open and easily read, but there is always an understanding that there’s much more to her than meets the eye. As Jack is surprised to discover, she’s just the person to keep him guessing and on his toes.

Other characters enjoy more development as the series progresses, so the reader also has opportunities to see more of  Bill, Christian and Hope as they appear in the successive stories.

These novellas are a change of pace for R.M. Gauthier, who has also been featured on this blog as the author of the more psychological mystery thriller series featuring Landon Miller.Acorn Award I Golden

All of Gauthier’s books are available on Amazon, and are free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

The Christmas Miracle Series is available in a boxed set, or as individual titles.

This is definitely a Gold Acorn series that mystery lovers will not want to miss out on!

Book Review: ‘The Leshy’ by N.C. Stow

A great story for families to enjoy together.

N.C. Stow The LeshyA short story drawn from Russian folklore, ‘The Leshy’ is a poignant story of a girl who understands and accepts that she is different to others, and must discover her true destiny in order to fulfil it.

Although not quite as evocative as the author’s other Russian-inspired story, ‘The Kupala Night’ which was reviewed on this blog in February 2018, ‘The Leshy’ is an interesting story well told. The imagery used and the retention of Russian names for household items and places give the story a distinctly folky-fairytale feel that is both charming and very effective in helping to draw the reader into the story.

‘The Leshy’ is a short read that would be suitable for families to read together, and for older children to enjoy on their own.

Acorn Award II Silver

This delightful story has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.