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

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

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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.

Book Review: ‘The Incredible Aunty Awesomesauce’ by J.S. Frankel

This brilliant book that should be on every teen’s reading list.

Jesse Frankel The Incredible Aunty AwesomesauceWhat a brilliant read! Highly original and very imaginative, the author takes YA sci-fi to a new level by demonstrating how very believable is the concept that we are “not alone” in the universe. By setting this story in our world, he positions the reader to explore thought-provoking questions about identity, self-knowledge and acceptance of others for who and what they are. This story is so engaging and action packed, it was really hard to put the book down once I had started reading.

Sam and Kym are both very realistic and relatable teenage characters. Both have endured bullying in different ways by their peers, and both finding their own ways of dealing with that. Their friendship and the way in which it develops is natural and the pair complement each other really well. The author has made Kym in particular a really strong and proactive character, and it’s great to see that she remains a positive female role model by really taking it up to the antagonists in the story and using her intelligence and strengths to counteract some really negative behaviours and attitudes.

Acorn Award I Golden

‘The Incredible Aunty Awesomesauce’ is a book that should be on every teen’s reading list and in every library, and is fully deserving of a Gold Acorn.

 

Find your copy at Amazon, Kobo, or Nook – if you prefer a different store, it’s probably there, too!

Book Review: ‘Alterations’ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another great novel in Stanhope’s ‘Elemental Witch Trials’ series.

Lucretia Stanhope EWT 5‘Alterations’ is the fifth novel in the Elemental Witch Trials series by Lucretia Stanhope. It resumes Gwen’s story some time after the events of ‘Familiar Betrayal’, as she finds herself pursuing new and dangerous directions. There seems to be so much at stake for Gwen in this book – but perhaps that is an issue of scale, for every mother perceives that there are threats to her children that she must overcome in order to protect them, and all individuals understand that there are many people who would be willing to take us down and few who would truly defend us if it meant putting themselves in danger.

One of the qualities I really admire about Gwen is her refusal to be passive and just let things happen around her. She is not only a strong woman, she is confident in using her strengths to achieve her aims. She may not have everything in control, but she definitely strives to do what she can and to respond to situations with positive outcomes in mind.

I really enjoyed this book, and I’m also really glad to see that the author is determined to make this series varied and complex. This instalment is full of tension and twists, and I’m definitely keen to read more of this series.

Acorn Award II Silver

‘Alterations’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find ‘Alterations’ here.

If this series is new to you, click here to read my review of the first book in the series, Blessedly Bound.

 

 

Book Review: ‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ by Catherine Cavendish

A beautifully dark novella.

Catherine Cavendish Miss Abigails Room‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ is a Victorian Gothic mystery suspense story embellished with some gloriously macabre moments. The author builds the suspense steadily, creating tension that is almost palpable by the end of the book. The reader’s suspicions grow alongside those of Becky, the main character, but the ending of the book still comes with a surprising twist that, in keeping with the conventions of gothic horror, leaves the reader both shocked and satisfied.

I really enjoyed the way in which the author depicted life both “upstairs” and “downstairs” in the house, and the ways in which the different threads of the story were woven together to create one complex, elegantly constructed story.

To craft a story that is reminiscent of Poe, Dickens and Downton Abbey at the same time is quite an achievement.Acorn Award I Golden

Well worth reading, this beautifully dark novella has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Blackrock’ by S.K. Gregory

A very enjoyable YA magical realism novel.

S.K. Gregory BlackrockWhen Kasey moves to a new town with her family, she automatically assumes it’s going to be awful.
It’s a situation many of us can identify with, although we’ve probably never had it go quite so badly as it does for her. In this, the author cleverly makes the reader identify with Kasey, and by that time, they’re hooked on the mystery of what’s been going on in Blackrock.

The story is interesting and complex enough to keep the reader guessing right up to the last page. The characters are believable and vividly drawn, each with their own flaws and secrets, so that anyone really could be the troublemaker. It’s natural for the reader to distrust them, but in having them distrust one another, the author creates seeds of doubt that help to drive the story and give it depth.

Acorn Award II Silver

I found ‘Blackrock’ to be a very enjoyable read, and have awarded it a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Heart Of The Mountain’ by Jeanette O’Hagan

An interesting and compelling YA fantasy novella.

Jeanette OHagan Heart of the MountainThis is a really interesting and compelling story set in a community that lives underground, beneath a mountain. The central characters are likeable and positive, demonstrating loyalty and care in a society that has become too concerned with survival to worry about those things.

While the story is in one sense about the importance of physical light, there is also a deeper underlying moral sense that there is an even greater danger in moral and spiritual darkness.
Important messages about friendship and loyalty are delivered through Zadeki, Delvina and Reza, and those who open themselves to their influence.

Acorn Award II Silver

I enjoyed this book, which I read easily in about an hour, and I will happily read the sequel. ‘Heart Of The Mountain’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.