‘Bittersweet’ by Aliya DalRae

Aliya DalRae Bittersweet
‘Bittersweet’ by Aliya DalRae is the story of Malcolm, the black cat who features in Sweet Vengeance and Sweet Discovery, the first two novels in the Jessica Sweet trilogy.

The Jessica Sweet paranormal/mystery/romance novels portray Malcolm as a dark, mysterious creature who keeps his secrets closely concealed. ‘Bittersweet’ shows much more of who he is – sensitive and loving, yet carrying a burden that nobody else can understand.

This is a powerful and moving story, even for readers who are not familiar with DalRae’s Jessica Sweet novels. It works equally well as a standalone story, a companion backstory to the novels, or a very effective appetizer as an introduction to the novels.

DalRae’s writing is highly expressive and yet still so comfortable that the reader is drawn right into the world of Fallen Cross.

This book can be easily read in an hour, so ‘Bittersweet’ would be a perfect lazy afternoon or end of day read.

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I’ve given this ADR novella five shiny stars.

‘Bittersweet’ is available on Amazon as an ebook or in paperback.
Alternatively, you can get it free via Instafreebie by signing up to Aliya DalRae’s mailing list.

Book Review: ‘Christmas Miracle in July’ and ‘Christmas Miracle on Valentine’s Day’ by R.M. Gauthier

I have decided to write one review for this pair of novellas because they fit so neatly together.
Each of these short stories provides a lovely diversion from a busy day or week by drawing the reader into the fictional world of Christmas Town, where the spirit of the festive season lingers all year round. Each is short enough to read in one sitting, but long enough to conveniently put down at the end of a chapter and resume reading later.  They’re both great stories for all year round, and certainly not limited to the seasons in which the titular seasons occur.
The main character, Jack, is well developed and quite likeable. The air of mystery that surrounds his arrival in town over summer is intriguing, and definitely hooks the reader into the story.  Gauthier cleverly plays on the unresolved questions he brings with him, drawing the reader further into the story at the same time as further entangling Jack with every development and surprise in the plot.
Charlotte is an intriguing character – she appears to be open and easily read, but there is always the sensation that there’s much more to her than meets the eye. As Jack is surprised to discover, she’s just the person to keep him guessing and on his toes.
Other characters are less thoroughly developed, as is completely normal for shorter stories. One does sense, though, that there are more stories to be told in Christmas Town, and that Bill, Christian and Hope may feature prominently in those, too. This reader certainly hopes so!
These novellas are a complete change of pace for R.M. Gauthier, who has featured on this blog as the author of the spicy mystery thriller, Control, and the related novellas ‘Longing’ and ‘Waiting’. The second full novel in the Landon Miller series, ‘Bound’, is due for release on May 1st.

All of Gauthier’s books are available on Amazon, and are free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

I’m giving these great stories 5 stars each. At $0.99, they are the bargains you don’t want to miss out on!
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Book Review: ‘The Gift’ by Nikki Landis

Nikki Landis The Gift

Narrated in the first person by the character of Gemma Harding, ‘The Gift’ keeps the reader guessing right to the end. This story draws the reader into a complicated web of deceit and carefully constructed appearances that leave Gemma able to trust only  herself and her gift in her search for the answers she needs.

The reader is drawn into Gemma’s character in the first chapter by a  narration that is almost a stream-of-consciousness passage, through which Landis reveals Gemma’s special ability and how it has impacted on her life thus far. The reader, familiar with Gemma’s thoughts and feelings, follows her through this story sharing her thrills, fears and questions as events unfold.

This is a brilliant read. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys the mystery/thriller genre, particularly with a psychological edge to it.

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April Reading List Challenge

March didn’t quite go as expected. How on earth is it April already?

Needless to say, I didn’t get through all the books on my list for March. It was a combination of factors, being an action-packed month at work which meant taking more work home, and getting distracted by my own writing and  organising a new release!
The books still on the pile have been carried over to April, with a couple of others added.

In March, I read all of ‘Call of Sunteri’ by Missy Sheldrake, and half each of two other books: ‘An Enlightening Quiche’ by Eva Pasco, and ‘Sediments’ – the poetry of Lyra Shanti.

‘Call of Sunteri’ is a beautifully written, magical adventure tale for YA and older.
You can read the official Book Squirrel review for more information and links.

Lyra Shanti’s poetry is beautiful and vivid. It winds tendrils of love, desire and angst around your imagination and forces it to paint pictures for you. I’ve not finished reading it, so keep an eye out for that review this month.

‘An Enlightening Quiche’ has a lot more depth and profundity than one might expect from a book titled after quiche. I’m really enjoying it. The review will happen soon!

Which brings us to my April reads.

‘Christmas Miracle in July’ and ‘Christmas Miracle on Valentine’s Day’ by  R.M. Gauthier.

These twin novellas blend humour, small-town life and unexpected romance. I wonder, though, if the romance is the only thing that will take the reader by surprise? I suspect not.

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‘Souls Discovered’ by Miranda Brock. Fantasy, adventure, mythical beasts and a quest. It already sounds like a winner to me!
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‘The Dying of the Mother Seed’ by India Emerald. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by this author so far. I’m looking forward to this.

At the time I wrote this, The Dying of the Mother Seed was still listed as free on Amazon. I don’t know how long that will last.
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‘Snowberry Blossom’ is a short story/novella that fits into the Keepers of the Wellsprings series right after ‘Call of Sunteri’. I’m sneaking it in because it’s short, and because I can’t wait to keep reading this series.
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If you’re looking for something new and different, you could try ‘Stained Glass’ by Joanne Van Leerdam.  This new release was featured on the Book Squirrel blog last week.
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Promo Stained Glass Cover

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This is a collection of  22 poems for and about women, by a woman who is striving to live, love, work and make sense of the world she lives in.

Available now in your favourite eBook store, and permanently priced at $0.99.

Book Review: ‘Reclamation’ by Sandy Frediani

Beautifully written, ‘Reclamation’ is a series of stories that function as parts of a whole. From beginning to end, the reader is entranced by the storytelling and the imagery used to achieve it.
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Frediani has embedded mysticism and beauty so skilfully in these stories that even concepts of corruption, degradation and justice are explored in ways that deepen the reader’s understanding of the reclamation and redemption that occur throughout these tales.

A very mysterious and poignant element of this book is that the setting could be anywhere. It’s not bound to a specific location or people group. Instead, the story is unified by the mystical elements that add so much depth and vibrancy to the story.

The reader is drawn into the stories and the places where they take place. The imagery was rich and powerful, creating vivid pictures of characters, scenes and landscapes as each story played out, almost like a film playing on a virtual screen in my mind.

Read it. You won’t be sorry.

 

 

 

Book Review: ‘Reclamation’ by Sandy Frediani

Beautifully written, ‘Reclamation’ is a series of stories that function as parts of a whole. From beginning to end, the reader is entranced by the storytelling and the imagery used to achieve it.
sandy-frediani

Frediani has embedded mysticism and beauty so skilfully in these stories that even concepts of corruption, degradation and justice are explored in ways that deepen the reader’s understanding of the reclamation and redemption that occur throughout these tales.

A very mysterious and poignant element of this book is that the setting could be anywhere. It’s not bound to a specific location or people group. Instead, the story is unified by the mystical elements that add so much depth and vibrancy to the story.

The reader is drawn into the stories and the places where they take place. The imagery was rich and powerful, creating vivid pictures of characters, scenes and landscapes as each story played out, almost like a film playing on a virtual screen in my mind.

Read it. You won’t be sorry.
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Book Review: ‘The Rainbow Serpent’ by Lyra Shanti

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This beautiful, magical tale is very loosely based on the characters and events of the ancient Hebrew stories of the Biblical Garden of Eden, but is both original and dynamic enough to neither require nor call for comparisons. It would be a great disservice to the author to expect this story to mirror or mimic the other.
‘The Rainbow Serpent’ is a mystical story in which Shanti has woven an intricate tale of love in many forms, and of the complications that arise when loyalties and commitments are divided. Shanti has sculpted realistic characters with whom the reader can empathise. I was drawn, at different times, into the depth of motherly love, the joy of celebration, the sadness of longing despite separation, and the despair of one who has reached the point of no return.
While this book explores quite serious themes, Shanti’s writing is quite lyrical and soothing. The story itself reminded me of Kipling’s tales, in that the skilful narration carries the reader through joy, fear, anguish and loss to a point of reflection in which they understand both the story and its lessons for humanity. Thus, the story also serves as something of a modern fable – when one acts on feelings alone, untempered by reason or contemplation, the consequences can be devastating.
Lyra Shanti is a writer well worth reading, whether she turns her hands to fable or fantasy. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey this story took me on, and I will definitely read more of Shanti’s works.

 

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