Book Review: ‘Warm Shelter: A Ghost Story’ by Rich Hawkins

A powerful, dark short story.

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Rich Hawkins Warm ShelterThis is a powerful story of one man’s descent into darkness. The author has drawn the reader into that journey by positioning them to look over Alex’s shoulder to see what he sees, but also by expressing the character’s thoughts and feelings in a really natural and familiar way. It’s a very good story, combining elements of horror, macabre, and suspense to keep the reader in the grip of the rising tension as the story progresses.

Perhaps the most striking quality of the story is the writing itself. It’s lean and precise but, at the same time, incredibly sensory and poetic. Hawkins skilfully causes imagery to flash into the mind of the reader and linger for a moment in such a way that the reader can not only see but also smell and taste those images, until the next scene and the next image takes its place. Hawkins makes great use of suggestion and foreboding to gradually darken the story, allowing the reader time to hypothesise and question before reaching the conclusion of the story. These elements combine to imbue the story with a nightmarish quality that evolves subtly at first and grows stronger as the tension of the story builds.

It’s a short read, but one that has a significant impact on the reader.  Acorn Award I Golden

‘Warm Shelter’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ’50 Habits of Highly Successful Authors’ by Jo Lajko

A helpful and practical guide to achieving success as an author.

Jo Lajko 50 Habits

In this helpful volume, Jo Lajko shares his experience and insights in the world of book marketing.
His advice is practical and easily understood, and provides a wealth of insight and understanding for authors who need to know how to produce the best book they can, and how to market that book when it’s published.

Lajko offers advice for authors who choose to pursue traditional publishing as well as for those who choose the Independent route. He consistently encourages them, whichever path they pursue, to write well, to ensure that the editing is excellent, and that the marketing is focused, and offers very helpful hints and tips that help each writer to achieve those things.

Lajko’s overall message is that authors need to create the whole package, of which their book is only one part. He gives step-by-step instructions about how an individual writer can develop their platform and audience so that their book is produced, received and promoted consistently well.

One of the points that Lajko makes very strongly is the importance of gratitude. This really resonates with me as an Indie author, because I have seen for myself the difference it makes to be part of an author community that is supportive, encouraging, and thankful. I have been inspired by those who are thankful enough for their own success that they will mentor and encourage those who are just starting out, and I have benefited from their expertise and wealth of knowledge.

Jo Lajko is generous and enthusiastic in sharing his expertise and knowledge in ’50 Habits’. As an author, I am very thankful that he has done so.  Acorn Award I Golden

This book has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

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.

 

 

Audiobook Review: ‘A Blessing In Disguise’ by C H Clepitt

A delightful short story audiobook that can be enjoyed in one sitting.

CH Clepitt A Blessing In Disguise AudiobookI’ve enjoyed every book by C.H. Clepitt that I’ve read, so I was keen to see how this book worked as an audiobook.

The story is read by Margaret Ashley. Her voice is very expressive and easy to understand, with a lovely British accent that makes listening a pleasure. The reading of the story is well paced and articulate, so it’s easy to follow.

The story itself is lighthearted and whimsical, the sort of thing you’d find on a lovely British TV sitcom. With the subtitle “Life Begins at 48”, this story uses warmth and humour to draw the audience into the all-too-familiar-these-days scenario of a middle-aged woman’s life taking unexpected turns one after the other. The main character Linda is likeable and, although somewhat cynical, takes the surprises and twists of life in her stride. ‘A Blessing in Disguise’ reminds the audience that problems and complications do sometimes bring their own rewards, and that life really is what we make of it in choosing how we will respond and resolve the situations we find ourselves in.

A fairly short story of 26 minutes’ duration, it’s easily enjoyed in one sitting.

Acorn Award I GoldenThis excellent audiobook has been awarded a Gold Acorn, and is also available as an ebook.

Find your copy here.

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: ‘Yoga Fox’ by Sylva Fae

A book that every family with young children should own.

Sylva Fae Yoga FoxThis is a breathtakingly beautiful children’s book.

The illustrations are gorgeous. From the rich autumnal tones of the leaves to the eloquence of the expressions on the animals’ faces, ‘Yoga Fox’ is a visual delight. The pictures alone will engage young readers, but there is so much more to be gained from reading this book than just aesthetic pleasure.

‘Yoga Fox’ carries important positive messages about resilience, self-awareness and positive strategies to change the ways in which one is perceived by others. In this story, a young fox recognises both his problem and a proactive way to resolve the situation. In doing so, he engages the interest and curiosity of both those around him and those reading his story.

This story would be ideal for family reading, bedtime stories, and independent reading by children who have begun to develop as readers. It’s certainly a book that children would love reading and a story they would value as they grow up.

Acorn Award I Golden

‘Yoga Fox’ really does deserve a place in every home bookshelf, library, and elementary school classroom. It has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.