Book Review: Sparkly Badgers’ Christmas Anthology

A great collection for Holiday reading.

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The Sparkly Badgers’ Christmas Anthology is a wonderful family-friendly collection of holiday themed short stories that embrace diversity and explore a variety of ways in which different families and individuals celebrate Christmas.

Each of these stories and poems gives a different perspective that encourages the reader to consider a different point of view to their own, and provides an opportunity for reflection as well as entertainment. 

The stories in this book are written for readers of varying age groups, and so provide some lovely opportunities for family reading and sharing together. 

I very much enjoyed the two afternoons I spent reading these stories, and am pleased to award this book a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘The Rite of Wands’ by Mackenzie Flohr.

‘The Rite of Wands’ audiobook is excellent.

I read and reviewed ‘The Rite of Wands’ over a year ago, but only just picked up the audiobook. I’ve really only started listening to audiobooks in the last couple of months, and knowing how much I enjoyed reading the book, I was keen to add this to my collection. 

I was delighted to find the story to be just as fresh and exciting, and to be able to immerse myself in  the world of Mierta McKinnon once again. 

This audiobook is excellent. The narration is clear and expressive, and the use of voice, tone and accent to develop the individual qualities of different characters is wonderful. 

It is a pleasure to award ‘The Rite of Wands’ another Gold Acorn. 

The audiobook is available on both Audible and Kobo. 

Book Review: ‘The Awakening’ by A. Drew

A really great macabre mystery!

Part mystery, part macabre horror and part paranormal suspense, ‘The Awakening’ is a very good read.

The story is interesting and complex, cast with believable characters who face their biggest challenge ever while just trying to get through life from day to day. 

The central character is a regular teenage guy named Phil, who faces his own questions of identity and belonging by trying to fit in with the “in crowd”, as so many teens do. This sets off a disturbing chain of events that intrigue the reader and draw them deeper into Phil’s life as the story unfolds. 

This is the prequel to The Dowling House, but works perfectly well as a standalone book.

It’s a really good read. I have awarded ‘The Awakening’ a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.  

Book Review: ‘The Swan Princes: A Christmas Tail’ by Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

An excellent 21st Century retelling of an old tale.

This novella is a contemporary retelling of the classic Swan Lake story.

The well known story has been cleverly recreated in a contemporary setting and style, with a variety of great characters that have been developed very cleverly and with good attention to detail.  The best stories have characters that you love and others that you love to hate, and this book does not disappoint. 

It’s great to see this story being given new life in a way that is is well-written and very enjoyable. It blends mystery, fantasy, romance and magical realism quite seamlessly to deliver a story that is very engaging and delivers some strong lessons about family, loyalty, and the power of love. 

‘The Swan Princes’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Replacement’ by Bianca Sierra-Luebke

A sci-fi novel that is well worth reading.

51tsXWRXbDLThis is a fascinating and enjoyable sci-fi read. The story is compelling and the characters are well-developed, becoming better understood by the reader over time as their histories and motivations are revealed.

The author uses both Angelica, the main character, and the Lymerian race and its interaction with humanity on earth to explore questions of identity, destiny and free will. There is a powerful divide between “then” and “now” developed in both levels of this story, created in Angelica’s story through the flashbacks in her dreams, and amongst the Lymerians in the almost wistful tone in which they speak of what used to be while clinging to the structures and rules of their society.

The world-building is quite neo-classical, yet enhanced by technologies and extraordinary abilities among the people that make Krisenica an original and complex place. The Lymerian social system and history add interest and a sense of mystery, while the main character’s struggle to reconcile her experiences and understand the events happening around her add emotional depth and ensure the reader’s loyalty toward her.

Acorn Award II Silver

‘The Replacement’ is well worth reading and will hold definite appeal to sci-fi readers who are looking for something new and original to read within their preferred genre. It has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Leopard in the Mist’ by S.E. Turner

This book, and the series to which it belongs, come highly recommended.

2018-09-18 19.28.17“Is that why we mourn so much in death, for the unsaid word in life? Is that why we can’t let go, for misplaced promises and the lost hours that we try to grab when it’s all too late?

Embedded in this beautiful story is a profound exploration of grief and loss, and the struggle that humans have in resolving their emotions and experiences when they confront the inevitable changes that accompany the passing of someone they have loved and valued.
At more than one point in the narrative, the reader is compelled to consider those soul-searching questions again as the overwhelming power of grief resonates deeply within both the characters and the reader.

It is a moving and at times heart-wrenching story of coming of age and fulfilling destiny by making the right decisions, not just for oneself but also for the society in which one lives.

The strands of different characters’ stories are drawn together in this book, having been interwoven and overlaid throughout the series so far. Overall, the series provides a rich and broad tapestry of narrative that blends earthen tones with royal purples and other vivid colours and textures.

When one of the characters reflects on the events and challenges of the past, and the things he has learned about society and humanity, he says “I personally can’t see a successful future where one person thinks they are better than another person.” This is where the relevance of this series for each of us is really driven home: when we treat one another as equals, we are all better off, both individually and collectively.

The third in Turner’s ‘KIngdom of Durundal’ series, ‘A Leopard In The Mist’ brings this excellent trilogy of books (thus far) full circle, providing unity and resolutions not only for its own part of the story, but also for the first two books in this excellent series.  Acorn Award I Golden

This excellent novel has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

 

If you have not read ‘A Hare In The Wilderness’ or ‘A Wolf In The Dark’, they come highly recommended.
Click on each title to read my reviews of books 1 and 2 in this fantastic series.

 

 

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.