Book Review: ‘The Royal Tournament’ by Richard H. Stephens

A well-written medieval-style fantasy adventure.

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Richard H Stephens The Royal TournamentAn exciting medieval-styled fantasy adventure, ‘The Royal Tournament’ is the story of Javen, a youth who represents his local area in the King’s Tournament. It’s a great story full of action and excitement, but it also carries weighty themes of family, loyalty, friendship, and tolerance that give the reader reasons to think and reflect.

‘The Royal Tournament’ is a great read for older children and young adults, and provides plenty of fodder for valuable discussions either as a family or in a classroom.

Acorn Award II Silver
I really enjoyed this well-written short read, and have awarded it a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Dance Plays On’ by D. Denise Dianaty

The Dance Plays On is an enchanting original Victorian Gothic story.

Denise Dianaty The Dance Plays On‘The Dance Plays On’ reads quite like a Victorian Gothic story. All the classic elements are present, and yet this story is quite original. In an opening scene that could have come right out of Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’, the author introduces the main character, her guardian, and a handsome, heroic young man.

Elspeth is the most fully developed of the characters, while some remain somewhat two-dimensional. It must be said, though, that this is neither unusual nor out of place for a story of this length. While immediately positioned to like and favour Elspeth, the reader is less enamoured with her guardian, Mrs McIlroy, and experiences quite some relief to see her develop so that she becomes less aloof and detached, and actually demonstrates genuine care and affection for both Elspeth and her beau.

I enjoyed the melancholy, haunting tone and the eerie foreshadowing of the second half of the story, which kept the “heroine in distress” trope from being cliched or predictable.
Acorn Award II Silver

This beautiful story has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Forever Boy’ by Lita Burke

‘Forever Boy’ is a delightful clockpunk short read.

Lita Burke Forever Boy
‘Forever Boy’ is a delightful clockpunk story of the difference made in one young life when kindness and generosity cause bad magic to be replaced with good.

Kadmeion and Bright are nicely developed magical characters who drive the narrative. Instantly likeable, they engage and involve the reader through their rescue and rehabilitation of a small dog who, like many things in the magical world, turns out to be so much more than what he initially seemed.

This is a great read to enjoy in less than an hour, making it ideal for bookworms with busy lives, or to fill in a lunch break.
Acorn Award II Silver

‘Forever Boy’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen’ by Jennifer Rainey

‘Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen’ by Jennifer Rainey: Deliciously dark and twisted.

Jennifer Rainey Lovelace and Wick 0This book’s brilliant opening was just a taste of the vivid imagery and dark, ironic humour that characterises the writing. Before I had finished the first page, I knew I had found an author whose work I would truly appreciate.

This story is deliciously dark and twisted, full of varied and creatively crafted characters who each have their own motivations and desires that bring some surprising twists to the tale. The story moves at a very good pace, with lots of interesting plot and character developments.

The other aspect of this story that I really enjoy is that it delivers a wonderfully unique combination of steampunk, science fiction, historical fiction and paranormal elements.

There is absolutely zero chance of boredom while reading this book, and it is perfect for my subversive sense of humour. I definitely intend to read this entire series.

Acorn Award I Golden
‘Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Once A Queen – A Story of Elizabeth Woodville’ by Samantha Wilcoxson

Excellent historical fiction that tells the story of a little-known queen.

Samantha Wilcoxson Once A Queen‘Once A Queen’ is a novella that tells of Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Edward IV, from the time of the accession of Richard III until her death. Being very familiar with this period of history and with Shakespeare’s version of the story, I was delighted to find that this book had been researched quite well, and that the author had not simply settled for the ‘Richard was a very bad man’ interpretation of history.

Instead, Wilcoxson develops her theory of events and those responsible in subtle yet persuasive ways, drawing the reader into understanding how the alternative theories could very well be true. Of course, it is impossible for us to know who was responsible for the disappearance of Elizabeth’s young sons – the princes in the tower, or their eventual fate. It is, however, most refreshing to find intelligent and plausible historical fiction that embraces the possibilities in such an insightful way.

Wilcoxson brings Elizabeth and her daughters, and the other characters with whom they interacted, to life in glorious colour and depth, skilfully animating them and filling their conversations with emotion, hope, and responses that make the reader feel that they really begin to know them. The narrative flows smoothly, delivering Elizabeth’s story with the occasional surprise twist to keep the reader interested and engaged. Indeed, there is nothing cliched or predictable about the way in which the author delivers this story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish, and will definitely read the other books in the author’s Plantagenet Embers series.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Once A Queen’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Bitter Loss’ by Aliya DalRae

A powerful portrayal of one woman’s personal hell.

Aliya DalRae Fallen Cross Pack 3 Bitter Loss

The third in the Fallen Cross Pack novella series, ‘Bitter Loss’ is the vivid and heartbreaking portrayal of one woman’s descent into her own personal hell when her life takes a tragic turn.

 

Maggie Danes is very realistically portrayed in her responses and emotions. As grief gives way to despair, and then to hopelessnes, the reader can’t help but feel that they might not respond so differently should they find themselves in her situation.

 

This is a beautifully written story that works well as a standalone, but also fits perfectly into both the Fallen Cross and Jessica Sweet series. This fact alone is testament to DalRae’s talent as a writer.

 

Acorn Award I Golden
Like the others in this series, ‘Bitter Loss’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

 

Book Review: ‘A Little Favor’ by Erich Schubach

An enjoyable short read set in 1930s Germany.

Erik Schubach A Little Favor
When Jillian agrees to do a little favour for a friend, things take a turn for the worst. Thus we see her drawn into a world that she never expected to be part of.

 

This is an enjoyable short story, easily read in less than an hour. Some of the 1930s slang – which would have been quite at home in an old black & white detective noir film – was a little mystifying, but the story was generally quite well told.

 

I liked the personal qualities that made Jillian stand out amongst pre-war stereotypes, and which she drew on in order to complete far greater errands than that initially entrusted to her.

Acorn Award II Silver

As an enjoyable short read, ‘A Little Favor’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

 

Readers can buy a copy of the book at Amazon.