Book Review: ‘Night’s Gift: Of Cats and Dragons Book 1’ by Camilla Ochlan and Carol E. Leever

A brilliant YA fantasy adventure!

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Camilla Ochlan Carol Leever Night's GiftWhat a brilliant read! ‘Night’s Gift’ is a highly original and enormously entertaining fantasy adventure story.

The world building is rich in imagery and sensory detail, enabling vivid and lively visualisation as the story is read. The reader is led from one distinct setting to another, and yet another, each time developing a clear picture of the size, dimension and texture of buildings, streetscapes and scenery.

The central characters of Omen and Templar are both likeable, complex and somewhat rogueish hero figures, each with their own flaws but also possessing good qualities which others do not always recognise. My favourite though, is Tormy— it’s impossible to resist his bravery and loyalty, while his perception and encouragement both add additional dimensions to the way in which Omen and Templar fight against the evil that threatens to destroy them.

There is absolutely nothing to dislike about this book. It has all the elements of a compelling fantasy adventure— danger, challenges, deadly creatures, magic, deception, sword fights, and heroism— bound together with friendship and humour. It leaves the reader both satisfied and keen for the next phase of the story.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Night’s Gift’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Watery Kingdom’ by Raven M Williams

Enjoyable and fun, but a bit too quick in the telling.

51qy1YkUTDL‘The Watery Kingdom’ is a transformation of the story of The Little Mermaid.

As a reader who really appreciates short stories, I found this story to be quite enjoyable and fun, although perhaps a little too short. Because the style of the writing is quite succinct, and because the story is written in present tense, it feels at times as though the reader is being hurried through the story. The story and its characters would have benefited from a little more description and development, so that the reader had more time and opportunity to become fond of the heroes and learn to really despise the villain before the end of the story.

I really liked the character of James and his role in twisting the classic tales, but once again, this part of the story would benefit from some more depth and detail.Acorn Award III Bronze

‘The Watery Kingdom’ has been awarded a Bronze Acorn.

You can find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘When Shadows Dance’

A really well crafted short story.

2018-08-09 18.32.03.pngThis is a beautifully written, well balanced story full of contrasts: light and shadow, age and youth, mishap and design. It has some almost Gothic elements and a finely tuned sense of foreboding that builds as the story unfolds, with a few neat little twists along the way, that are nicely balanced by its poignant and wistful moments.

It’s quite a short read at 18 pages, but one that proved to be a delightful diversion in a busy day.Acorn Award I Golden

‘When Shadows Dance’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Series Review: The ‘Dragonhall Chronicles’ by Mirren Hogan

A beautifully written and evocative fantasy series.

‘The Dragonhall Chronicles’ consist of three novellas that introduce Hogan’s ‘Reasoner Trilogy’ that takes place in the same world.

Nerra’s Flight’ introduces Nerra, a young adult magin, living in a world in which even the ability to use magic is punishable by death, and tells of her attempt to escape those who would punish her for her abilities. Dragons, suspense and adventure await! The story is engaging and interesting, and the reader quickly warms to both Nerra and her sister. It’s a brief but enchanting introduction to this series of stories, of which I am definitely keen to read more.

More suspenseful than the first novella, ‘Nerra’s Run’ picks up the tale some years later. Children with magical abilities are still being captured and killed, and the authorities are still pursuing Nerra. The author establishes a strong sense of foreboding that continues to build as the story develops. Older and still determined to defy those who want her captured and killed, Nerra remains a character whose bravery and determination are admirable, and with whom the reader can sympathise strongly. She is developed with additional depth in this story in ways which both increase the reader’s affection and support for her, and fill them with anxiety for her future.

The third short story of the Dragonhall prequels to Dragonhaze, ‘Nerra’s Children’ is darker and more sobering than the others. The magin are still being persecuted and put to death, and Nerra faces challenges more heartbreaking than ever before. Although older and less impulsive, Nerra remains the strong, loyal woman that we have seen her become in her first two stories.
Mirren Hogan Reasoner 1 Dragonhaze

The action in each story moves at a steady pace, carrying the reader along as the tension rises.
By the time the reader finishes this third instalment, they are familiar with Nerra and her world, and keen to discover more in the pages of Dragonhaze, the novel that starts the Reasoner Trilogy.

Acorn Award I Golden
This beautifully written and evocative fantasy series has been awarded a Gold Acorn for overall excellence in storytelling.

Find this series, and other excellent books by Mirren Hogan, on Kobo, Amazon, Nook, and other stores.

Book Review: ‘Tea and Dark Chocolate’ by Debbie Manber Kupfer

A fun read for older children and MY readers.

Debbie Manber Kupfer Tea and Dark Chocolate‘Tea and Dark Chocolate’ is a delightful collection of short stories and poetry for older children and younger YA readers. Some pieces are magical, others whimsical, but all are entertaining and interesting.

This book would suit any kids who are interested in stories about magic, fantasy creatures and amusing situations. It’s lighthearted and fun, and should engage even readers with a short attention span.

This book works perfectly well as a standalone, but also serves as a nice introduction to the author’s P.A.W.S series of #paranormal books for the same audience.

Acorn Award II SilverAn enjoyable read, ‘Tea and Dark Chocolate’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Return of the Sleeping Warriors’ by Petra Costa

A brilliant Australian YA #urbanfantasy read.

Petra Costa Return of the Sleeping Warriors 1The first book in the ‘When Magic Awakes’ series, this book starts by dropping the reader right into a situation of tension and mystery that continues to grow and develop further as the story progresses. One by one, the questions are layered and woven together so that before long, the reader realises that this book simply demands to be read.

Michael and Dana appear to be typical teenagers living in suburban Melbourne. Sport and school consume most of their time, but there’s something else going on that intrigues both the central characters and the reader. Their family seems quite normal and their dislike of the nasty neighbours seems completely natural.

There is, however, much more to both sides of the equation than meets the eye.

As the action of the story progresses, the reader becomes very familiar with both Michael and Dana, their family members, and the flaws and strengths of each. The reader is very much inclined to cheer Michael and Dana on as they confront a set of circumstances that they never expected to meet in suburban Melbourne.

I really enjoyed the typical Australian flavour of the settings in the story and also in the writing. I find that, too often, Australian authors feel they need to sacrifice their ow surroundings and way of speaking in deference to the power of American popular culture. The author has, in this book, not only retained those qualities but also incorporated them as part of the strengths of the settings, characters and story.Acorn Award I Golden

I found this to be an excellent and interesting book, with plenty of action and excitement to engage YA readers and older, so I have awarded it a Gold Acorn.

I have also added Petra Costa to my list of “one-click” authors, whose books I shall buy without hesitation.

Find your copy here.

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.