Book Review: ‘Sparky’ by Millie Slavidou

A delightful story for children about acceptance and friendship.

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What a delight to discover this original and imaginative children’s fantasy story that is entertaining while embracing important ideas about difference, resilience and acceptance. Just like every child and many adults, Sparky must learn to accept and work with his limitations and his abilities alike. 

The characters in this story are delightful, with Nicky and her grandmother leading the way in showing others that prejudgment and first impressions are unreliable, and in demonstrating openness and acceptance of Sparky while others show fear and distrust. 

The illustrations are charming and highly engaging, and thus add another level of interest and involvement in the story for the children who comprise its target audience. 

This is a great book for both independent young readers and for families to read together. As such, it would make a delightful addition to school, town and home libraries. 

‘Sparky’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘A Sprig Of Holly’ by J.A. Clement

A delightful tale full of winter magic.

This is a delightful tale full of winter magic with well developed fairy tale qualities that enrich the story telling.

While the characters are not very complex, they are likeable and engaging, and the reader does develop a sense of empathy and concern for them at the beginning of the story that helps to hook them into the events of the tale.  Of course, it is a short story, so the characters are not required to be developed in any depth or detail. It is enough that they do what they do and that the story is beautifully told.

The story also has some lovely Yuletide elements, although not so much that it is only a story for the Christmas season. 

This would be a lovely story for family reading, particularly on a winter’s night. 

‘A Sprig Of Holly’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

There are more stories in this series, which I’m keen to read!

Book Review: ‘Penny White and the Temptation Of Dragons’ by Chrys Cymri

A most excellent read… with dragons.

This is a brilliant read. 

Unpredictable, interesting and exciting, this book is full of diverse and complex characters that challenge and compel one another in various ways as the story progresses.

Penny White is delightfully snarky and very human, and endears herself to the reader immediately  as she responds with empathy in a most unusual situation.  As the story unfolds, the reader finds themselves immersed in a whole new fantasy adventure. The story is highly original and very entertaining.  

The way in which the author has positioned this world and its “neighbour” world is fascinating, and the ways in which the two worlds are linked physically, but also through the sharing of creatures, issues and mysteries that must be solved make the story so very engaging and involving for the reader that it is very hard to put the book down until the final page is read.

The world building and logistics are thoughtful and carefully developed, so that the story moves between this world and the alternate world quite smoothly and logically. 

I am excited to have discovered this fantastic new series, and am very pleased to award this book a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of ‘Penny White and the Temptation Of Dragons’  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: ‘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.

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!