Book Review: ‘The Awakening’ by A. Drew

A really great macabre mystery!

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Part mystery, part macabre horror and part paranormal suspense, ‘The Awakening’ is a very good read.

The story is interesting and complex, cast with believable characters who face their biggest challenge ever while just trying to get through life from day to day. 

The central character is a regular teenage guy named Phil, who faces his own questions of identity and belonging by trying to fit in with the “in crowd”, as so many teens do. This sets off a disturbing chain of events that intrigue the reader and draw them deeper into Phil’s life as the story unfolds. 

This is the prequel to The Dowling House, but works perfectly well as a standalone book.

It’s a really good read. I have awarded ‘The Awakening’ a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.  

Book Review: ‘The Swan Princes: A Christmas Tail’ by Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

An excellent 21st Century retelling of an old tale.

This novella is a contemporary retelling of the classic Swan Lake story.

The well known story has been cleverly recreated in a contemporary setting and style, with a variety of great characters that have been developed very cleverly and with good attention to detail.  The best stories have characters that you love and others that you love to hate, and this book does not disappoint. 

It’s great to see this story being given new life in a way that is is well-written and very enjoyable. It blends mystery, fantasy, romance and magical realism quite seamlessly to deliver a story that is very engaging and delivers some strong lessons about family, loyalty, and the power of love. 

‘The Swan Princes’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

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: ‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ by Catherine Cavendish

A beautifully dark novella.

Catherine Cavendish Miss Abigails Room‘Miss Abigail’s Room’ is a Victorian Gothic mystery suspense story embellished with some gloriously macabre moments. The author builds the suspense steadily, creating tension that is almost palpable by the end of the book. The reader’s suspicions grow alongside those of Becky, the main character, but the ending of the book still comes with a surprising twist that, in keeping with the conventions of gothic horror, leaves the reader both shocked and satisfied.

I really enjoyed the way in which the author depicted life both “upstairs” and “downstairs” in the house, and the ways in which the different threads of the story were woven together to create one complex, elegantly constructed story.

To craft a story that is reminiscent of Poe, Dickens and Downton Abbey at the same time is quite an achievement.Acorn Award I Golden

Well worth reading, this beautifully dark novella has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Captain and The Ambassador’ by Carol Ann Kauffmann

A very satisfying and enjoyable read.

Carol Ann Kauffman The Captain and The Ambassador‘The Captain and The Ambassador’ is an enjoyable blend of science fiction adventure, space-travel and lighthearted romance, with some well-developed mystery and drama woven through the story, infusing it with greater depth and tension.

Regardless of the fact that the book is largely set beyond earth, Kauffman demonstrates the universal truths of human nature through her characters. It’s easy to see that a character in a book is putting other concerns ahead of those of the heart, but on reflection, the reader understands that this is very often the sort of limitation that an individual puts on oneself for one or more different reasons. It takes only a little empathy for the reader to want the heroes of the story to end up happy, but this also carries the reminder that it’s important for each individual, reader included, to choose the life that makes them happy, too.

Whether it’s because they have enjoyed them or because they haven’t, everyone understands the value and importance of acceptance, love, personal freedom and justice, and it is those qualities that make ‘The Captain and The Ambassador’ a satisfying and very enjoyable read.Acorn Award I Golden

I’ve awarded this great book a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Heart Of The Mountain’ by Jeanette O’Hagan

An interesting and compelling YA fantasy novella.

Jeanette OHagan Heart of the MountainThis is a really interesting and compelling story set in a community that lives underground, beneath a mountain. The central characters are likeable and positive, demonstrating loyalty and care in a society that has become too concerned with survival to worry about those things.

While the story is in one sense about the importance of physical light, there is also a deeper underlying moral sense that there is an even greater danger in moral and spiritual darkness.
Important messages about friendship and loyalty are delivered through Zadeki, Delvina and Reza, and those who open themselves to their influence.

Acorn Award II Silver

I enjoyed this book, which I read easily in about an hour, and I will happily read the sequel. ‘Heart Of The Mountain’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.