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 Cut Of The Clothes’ by Erato

An interesting and entirely absorbing historical fiction novel.

Erato The Cut of the ClothesThis historical novel explores the friendship between ‘Prinny’ Prince George and Beau Brummel, the leading men of London fashion during the reign of George III. It is a turbulent story of the crests and troughs of the prince’s personal relationships and social fortunes, written from his point of view, providing very personal insight into the thoughts, feelings and inner conflicts of a man who was obligated to live his life in the public eye.

This novel is very well written. The writing is vivid and lively, effectively evoking the sights and sounds of London society and making almost tangible the sensations of fabrics, textures, and settings. The characters are complex and fascinating, although not necessarily likeable. The skill of the author is such that despite his flaws and selfishness, the reader is still strongly positioned to sympathise with the prince and to almost will him to overcome the adverse situations in which he finds himself.Acorn Award I Golden

This book is very interesting and entirely absorbing. I have awarded it a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy on Kobo, Nook or  Amazon.

Book Review: ‘The Summer Of My Enlightenment’ by Kristy Dark

A well-written and complex psychological thriller.

51pGX1V5G5L‘The Summer of My Enlightenment’ is , on one level, the story of Angela and her search for meaning and fulfilment after a tragic event, but it’s also an interesting study of the nature of obsession, infatuation and narcissism and the danger that exists when they interact.

There is so much I could say about my anger toward particular characters, and my desire to see them suffer some consequences for their actions, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. Be prepared, though, for some strong emotional responses as the story unfolds. And if mind games and manipulation are trigger points for you, it’s probably best to choose a different book.

A well-written and complex psychological thriller, this book certainly kept me guessing. There was suspense and frustration aplenty, and there were numerous surprises and twists along the way. Both of the central characters are flawed and conflicted, which often makes a reader sympathetic to one or both of them, which others very well may be; however, I found it hard to warm to either of them. This certainly added an extra layer of “chiller to the thriller” for me, but also added to my frustration because there was a large degree of dramatic irony involved in my reading of the story.Acorn Award II Silver

I have awarded this book a Silver Acorn because it ticked all the “dark fiction” and “suspense” boxes, but left this reader somewhat dissatisfied at the end.

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 Recruit’ by M.M. Cox

The Recruit is an interesting and refreshing change from witches and vampires.

M.M. Cox The Recruit‘The Recruit’ introduces the reader to Cassie, a teen who thinks her biggest problems are not getting along with her mother and not wanting a boyfriend when everyone else seems to. When Cassie is confronted by bigger problems that she hasn’t even realised existed in her life, she is launched on a journey of discovery that the reader follows with avid interest.

This story is really well written. The characters and dialogue are believable, and the story is packed with action, complications and heart-in-your-throat moments that make it hard to put down. Teen and YA readers will relate quite easily to Cassie, Kristen and Landon, and there’s certainly enough complexity and depth in the story to keep older readers engaged, too.

‘The Recruit’ tells a great story, but it also raises some really interesting and thought-provoking questions about the nature of evil, and the balance of good and evil in the world we live in. Readers are challenged to think beyond what they can see and reminded that appearances can be very deceiving.

As a reader who enjoys a variety of paranormal stories, I found this book to be an interesting and refreshing change from witches and vampires.Acorn Award I Golden

‘The Recruit’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.
Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Prince of Sorrows’ by D.K. Marley

A tragic story, very well told.

D.K. Marley Prince of SorrowsWhen one sets out to retell an old, world famous story, it is essential that both the plot and the characters are crafted well enough to keep the reader engaged when they already know what’s going to go wrong and how things are going to work out. This first first title in a ‘Fractured Shakespeare’ series by D.K. Marley does not disappoint in its new delivery of the ages-old story of Hamlet.

‘Prince of Sorrows’ is a novelised retelling of the story of Hamlet with a much less ‘Anglicised’ feeling about it than Shakespeare’s play. In fact, this story feels so authentic and well-developed, it actually seems as though it’s more like the original story from which Shakespeare might have drawn his plot and characters. The characters are complex and intricately drawn, and bear names that are definitely more Scandinavian than those used by Shakespeare, yet many are not entirely dissimilar. The story is just as dramatic as the play itself, capturing the intrigue of politics within the castle of Elsinore and the rollercoaster of Amleth’s thoughts and feelings as the tension increases and the story reaches its climax.

Even as a reader who knows Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ extremely well, I enjoyed this adaptation of the play to prose. It’s a tragic story, very well told.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Prince of Sorrows’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Ether’ by J.S. Frankel

If I could give ‘Ether’ six stars, I would.

Jesse Frankel EtherWhat an absolutely brilliant read!

Frankel is a master of inventive stories that surprise and enthral the reader. This book has all the ingredients of a page-turner – mystery, danger, teen angst, an unlikely romance, thugs, and surprise twists – and they’re bundled into a highly unique storyline that hooks the reader in and keeps them hostage until the story is done.

The characters are all crafted with expertise. Sam is a regular guy with flaws, hopes, and struggles that readers will definitely relate to. His responses to the unpredictable turns that his life takes reinforce the reader’s respect for him. Esther is refreshing and very individual, and presents a very strong female character who does far more than merely complementing Sam’s character. Her leadership and initiative are driving forces in the story, which no doubt would have ended very differently without her.

Acorn Award I Golden

‘Ether’ is one of those books that will leave you wondering what on earth you’re going to read next that might possibly compete with the incredible ride you’ve just had. It is most deserving of a Gold Acorn.

Grab your copy today on Kobo, Amazon or Devine Destinies.