Book Review: ‘Pablo the Storytelling Bear’ by Penny Luker

This is a storybook every family needs to own and read.

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Penny Luker PabloThis is an adorable children’s storybook about Bill and his friend Pablo, a toy polar bear who tells delightful bedtime stories. Rich in imagination and wonder, this book and the stories within it are engaging and heartwarming, delivering very positive messages about friendship, family and behaviour.

Bill is a nice kid who belongs to an average family. Rather than portraying him as an ideal child, the author has made him relatable to other kids: he has disappointments, fights with his sister, and has moments of selfishness. Overall, though, Bill is a good model for kids in the way these situations are resolved.

Pablo’s stories also present opportunities to discuss highly relevant global issues such as conservation, environment, climate change and animal welfare with children in sensitive and proactive ways.

As someone who loves books, polar bears and Canada, I appreciate the beautiful storytelling and the messages of the stories in this book.

Acorn Award I Golden

This book has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Red Sarah’ by C.A. Kauffman

A delightful fantasy story that blends the historical, magical and contemporary worlds.

C.A. Kauffman Red SarahThis is a delightful fantasy story that blends the historical, magical and contemporary worlds with an interesting sci-fi twist.

While the mystery around Sarah and the Reds is answered as the story develops, questions about the fate of Lucas and the kingdoms of Mist and Marlowe remain until the very end. The story does have a surprisingly satisfying ending, although most likely not the one most readers expect or prefer.

As with many stories this length, none of the characters are particularly thoroughly developed, but the reader does come to feel that they know Sarah and Lucas fairly well, and that they are invested enough to want particular outcomes for them.

‘Red Sarah’ is an interesting and enjoyable short read that can be read comfortably in the space of a little over an hour, or managed easily enough during breaks in a busy day.
Acorn Award II Silver

This book has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Chartreuse Spirit’ by India Emerald

India Emerald The Chartreuse Spirit
This is an intriguing story which appears at first to consist of separate and quite distinct observations and reflections from Verity and Peter during a time in which they are separated by Peter’s investigation of a case. The reader does not understand these recollections to be convergent at all until, at some indistinct point, they realise that the two characters’ accounts both relate to the same mystery.

 

It’s very cleverly constructed, and while it does work as a standalone, the reader can gain considerable understanding of the context of this story and its central characters by reading ‘Hope’s Well’ by the same author.

Acorn Award II Silver

This is a great short read that can be enjoyed in the space of a lunch break. Book Squirrel has awarded it a Silver Acorn.

 

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: The Riddle of the Gods – Shiva XIV Book 3 by Lyra Shanti

Space opera of epic proportions.

Continuing directly from the first two books in the series, ‘The Riddle Of The Gods’ follows the inter-planetary conflicts and politics that impact so powerfully on the lives of Ayn, Pei and Axis and their compatriots as they fight against the corruption and oppression that has placed their universe in peril. Their battles are personal as much as they are planetary, and as the drama unfolds, the urgency with which they must fight increases. Choices must be made, relationships and alliances are formed, and consequences can be significant far beyond individual circumstances. Through all this, the theme of honor and loyalty is pervasive.

One of the elements of this series that I really admire is the way in which Shanti leads her characters on a personal pilgrimage in which each must accept who they are as an individual before they can fulfill their destiny. It’s a powerful lesson that addresses the most crippling fear of many people: ‘Am I enough?’ in a resounding and positive way.

This really is an elegantly constructed universe, and its stories are compelling. Shanti has yet again demonstrated her prowess as a world-builder and architect of complex, deeply involving characters and storylines.

The Shiva XIV series really is a brilliant space opera of epic proportions. Get on board— it’s a trip you don’t want to miss.

Acorn Award I Golden

As with Shanti’s Shiva XIV Books 1 and 2, and companion novellas, ‘The Riddle Of The God’s’ has received one of Book Squirrel’s shiny Gold Acorn awards.

Find it on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘A Christmas Tail’ by E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago

This is a gorgeous children’s story in rhyme that delivers the lesson of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ in a simple and effective way for children and adults alike. 

EM Swift Hook Jane Jago A Christmas Tail
This is a gorgeous children’s story in rhyme that delivers the lesson of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ in a simple and effective way for children and adults alike.
The layout and illustrations are charming, and the story is heartwarming.
This would be a great story for families to read together leading up to Christmas.

Silver Acorns

‘A Christmas Tail’ gets a lovely Silver Acorn.

 

‘A Christmas Tail’ is available on Amazon.

Book Review: Shiva XIV – The Veil of Truth by Lyra Shanti

When I wrote my review of the first book in the Shiva XIV series, I said that this could easily become everyone’s next favourite space epic series, and that  it would easily fill the void that Star Wars fans would experience after the final episode.

Having just finished ‘The Veil of Truth’, the second book in the series, I stand wholeheartedly by those words. This brilliant space opera series really is a gift that keeps on giving.

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When I wrote my review of the first book in the Shiva XIV series, I said that this could easily become everyone’s next favourite space epic series, and that  it would easily fill the void that Star Wars fans would experience after the final episode.

Having just finished ‘The Veil of Truth’, the second book in the series, I stand wholeheartedly by those words. This brilliant space opera series really is a gift that keeps on giving.

Lyra Shanti Shiva XIV 2 The Veil of Truth

Following directly from the action and story of of ‘Shiva XIV’,  this book is once again woven from highly original and engaging stories in which the characters find themselves in a web of conflicted love, loyalties and ambitions that develop and unfold as the they pursue justice and discover truths about themselves that are not always either welcome or pleasant.

Shanti’s magic envelopes the reader, not just in the magical realism that is blended so beautifully with the sci-fi elements of this book, but also in her writing itself. The reader is swept along, easily visualising the worlds and characters that are central to the story. The worlds are intricate and complex, each with individual qualities that make it unique from the others. Shanti then plays these worlds off against one another, adding to the personal stories of the characters so that the reader truly understands that there is much more at stake than the fates of individuals.

Shanti really is a very gifted storyteller who takes the reader on a new and often surprising journey. The plot lines are well developed and strong, woven so skilfully together that the reader doesn’t always realise how intricately and significantly the characters’ stories contribute to one another.

The book ends not with a cliffhanger as the first did, but rather with a surprise and a very strong sense that there is more to learn and discover before the story can really end. I’m very much looking forward to reading book 3, ‘The Riddle of the Gods’, and continuing this fantastic journey.
Golden Acorns

‘The Veil of Truth’ by Lyra Shanti gets a lovely Golden Acorn.
It’s available on Amazon, with the rest of this amazing series and some excellent short stories that also take place in the Shiva XIV universe.