Book Review: ‘The Castle’ by Nikki Moyes

A highly original and engaging short read.

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Nikki Moyes The Castle
‘The Castle’ is a fantasy/scifi short story about Risha, who finds herself vulnerable because of her age and place in society.

 

This is a story in which the author has created an empowering female lead character for a YA audience, something that we definitely need to see more of at this point in time. Rather than dwelling on her weaknesses, Risha focuses on her strengths and uses them to face the situation in which she finds herself.

 

The reader is quickly immersed in Risha’s world, becoming an observer and looking over Risha’s shoulder as she transforms from an observer into an actor in the story that unfolds,  taking some surprising turns that keep the reader guessing.

 

Highly original and engaging, this is a great short read that can easily be enjoyed in a lunch break.

Acorn Award I Golden

Book Squirrel has awarded ‘The Castle’ a Gold Acorn.

 

Find your copy on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘100 Word Horrors’ Anthology

100 Word Horrors: A collection of brilliant short reads.

Anthology 100 Word Horrors

A drabble is a piece of writing that is about 100 words in length.

 

What people often do not realise is that writing something short and making it as effective as something longer is actually really hard to do. The same opportunities to develop plot, characters and ideas in a novel or longer story do not exist in flash, micro fiction, or drabbles.

 

This book is a collection of drabbles by different authors, all in the genre of horror. The majority of these pieces of short fiction are brilliant; some are less effective, but that is largely a matter of personal preference. The chills, crawling of skin and unexpected twists are delivered with all the skill and craft that these writers use in their other, longer works, but their talent is highlighted in the fact that they can achieve this in so few words.

 

This book is great for anyone who loves horror, especially for a quick snatched moment of escape during a break or quiet moment. It’s also ideal for anyone new to the genre who wants to “dip their toes in the water” for the first time without committing to a longer read.
Acorn Award I Golden

 

‘100 Word Horrors’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

 

Get your copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘The Kupala Night’ by N.C. Stow

A beautifully written fantasy tale.

N.C. Stow The Kupala Night

 

When I was young, I had a book of Russian folk stories that filled my imagination with vivid colours, magnificent imagery and rich stories that always had a deeper meaning.  This was where my lifelong interest in Russian history began.

 

‘The Kupala Night’ took me right back there, and filled me with the same fascination that I remember feeling all those years ago.

 

Inspired by Russian folklore, this is the beautifully written fantasy tale of a young woman who carelessly fails to heed her grandmother’s warnings.  Unforeseen consequences deliver a clear moral, as exists in every Russian folk tale, before the story finishes with another twist.

It’s a short story that takes less than 30 minutes to read, but the style and beauty of the writing make the reading both satisfying and delightful. Vivid images of the scenes and characters played in my imagination as the story unfolded.

Acorn Award I Golden

I thoroughly enjoyed this short read, and have awarded it a Gold Acorn.

Find it on Amazon.

 

Book Review: ‘A Shape On The Air’ by Jill Ibbotson

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Julia Ibbotson A Shape On The Air

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Drawn into the life of Vivianne Du Lac, history professor, the reader is almost immediately plunged into an intricate web of complications, challenges and unexpected developments that are woven together so that no strand of the story is independent of the others. The narrative is smooth and well-constructed, and Ibbotson’s writing is excellent.

The characters are very well crafted, especially given that each fits into more than one story strand. Viv is the most complex and detailed of them all, being the central character, but the others are all given depth through their interactions and responses as the story progresses.

More than simply being enjoyable, this is a thought-provoking and involving read in which the reader becomes completely engrossed. Acorn Award I Golden

‘A Shape On The Air’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Sketches of a Black Cat: Story of a WWII Night Flying Pilot and Artist’ by Ron Miner

Fantastic WWII history in a personal story.

 

Ron Miner Sketches of a Black Cat

Ron Miner’s collection of stories and art by his father, combined with the story of his own experiences of gathering those accounts together, provides a rare opportunity for detailed insight into the experiences of an American serviceman during World War II. The stories are told in a conversational and personal way, so that the reader begins to feel connected to both narrators as their stories develop.

The artwork by Miner’s father is incredible, presenting an extraordinary level of detail. The book also offers a range of photographs of planes, servicemen, news clippings and personal letters pertaining to America’s involvement in the war. The images alone are worth the price of the book.

As a history teacher, I really appreciated the straightforward manner in which these stories are told, and the level of detail given about events which are generally only relayed factually in textbooks. I plan to share some of these stories and pictures from the book with my own students when we study WWII.

This is a fantastic book for anyone who enjoys reading biography, adventure and war stories and for history enthusiasts.Acorn Award I Golden

Book Squirrel has awarded ‘Sketches of a Black Cat’ a Gold Acorn for overall excellence.

Readers can buy a copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘So Much For Buckingham’ by Anne R. Allen

A well written, clever and very entertaining book.

Anne R Allen So Much For Buckingham
A wonderful blend of comedy, mystery and history, ‘So Much For Buckingham’ plunges the reader into the world of Camilla Randall, an author and bookshop owner who finds her world falling apart around her, bit by bit. Unable for various reasons to rely on those who usually support her, Camilla is overwhelmed by the awful things happening to her and those close to her.  Unwittingly caught up in other people’s murky behaviour, both Camilla and her best friend,Plantagenet, find themselves having to work out what on earth is going on in their lives with very little reliable information to help them.

 

The writing skill and intelligence of the author is demonstrated in the deftness with which the different strands of the story are spun and then woven together. I really enjoyed the fact that this book kept me guessing. The plot is definitely not predictable, and the central characters are both unique and likeable.  The humour with which ‘So Much For Buckingham’ is written is clever, varying between clever puns on names of people from the world of Shakespeare’s play ‘Richard III’, witty conversations, and deep irony in some of the plot developments.  One can read this book at any level of knowledge of things to do with King Richard III, or in complete ignorance of them, and still find the book amusing. The serious moments in the story give weight to the themes of character assassination and cyberbullying in a way which shows the extent of the consequences of such behaviour without devastating the reader.

 

Although this is part of a series, it works well as a standalone. I haven’t read the rest of the series – yet – but at no point did I feel as though there were things I really needed to know from the other books in order for this one to make more sense.

Acorn Award I Golden

In short, this is a well written, clever and very entertaining book. I’ve given it a Gold Acorn for excellence.

 

Get your copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘When Leaves Fall’ by C.A. King

A powerful and emotive short story that is well worth reading.

C.A. King When Leaves Fall
‘When Leaves Fall’ is an emotive and powerful story that will remain relevant as long as neglect and prejudice exist.

The author has cleverly crafted a story that positions the reader to empathise with Ralph and abhor the way in which he is treated long before all the facts of his situation are known.

This is a great short read that one can enjoy in less than an hour and still be left with something significant to ponder. It’s an ideal “busy person” or “busy day” read.

Acorn Award II Silver

‘When Leaves Fall’ has earned a Silver Acorn award.
Find it on Amazon.