Book Review: ‘Sweet Destiny’ by Aliya DalRae

Third in the Jessica Sweet trilogy, ‘Sweet Destiny’ will knock your socks off.

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Aliya DalRae Sweet DestinyWhat. A. Journey.

While reading this third book in the Jessica Sweet trilogy, without a word of a lie, I have cheered, I have held my breath, I have raged, and I have wept.

Theories I had maintained from reading ‘Sweet Vengeance’ and ‘Sweet Discovery’ were confirmed and developed, and my questions were answered in unexpected ways. The sensation of looking on as the lives of people I had become close to almost burned to the ground was at times almost unbearable, but yet I had to read on. I had to know how it all worked out.

It was hard to put this book down. I read it in two sittings, and finished it with new respect for some old characters, and interest in seeing what might happen in the future with some new ones.

Of one thing I am sure: an author who can take a reader to both the heights of excitement and the depths of despair is a blessing to readers in a world where humdrum and cliche often seem to overwhelm the market. Aliya DalRae is a gifted writer, and I will one-click her books forever.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Sweet Destiny’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Artist’ by Lyra Shanti

The Artist: A magnificently rich historical romance.

Lyra Shanti The ArtistThis novel tells the story of a gifted artist and musician from youthful desperation to the dizzying heights and desperate lows that are the successes and failures of Apollo Vidali’s life. The reader is immersed in the decadence of the gifted artist and musicians’s life and mind as he searches for meaning, fulfilment and redemption. Vidali immediately appeals to the reader’s sympathy in his resistance to his father’s oppression and restraint, which contrasts with his own salacious and self-indulgent nature.

Magnificently and richly written, the narrative is enhanced by layers of poetry and vivid imagery that embellish the characters and settings with intricate detail and splashes of colour. The characters are complex and varied, and more than once I found them bringing the story to life on the movie screen of my mind.
Not only is this a most enjoyable read, it’s a wonderful sensory experience. There is mature content, so it’s not intended for a young audience.
Acorn Award I Golden
‘The Artist’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find 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 – ‘A Contrary Wind: a variation on Mansfield Park’ by Lona Manning

One of the finest Austen variations I have had the pleasure to read.

Lona Manning A Contrary Wind

Having read and been delighted by a number of Austen variations on previous occasions, I was most interested in Manning’s adaptation of Mansfield Park. While not my favourite of Austen’s works, I was intrigued as to what might be done to the classic novel to provide genuinely viable alternate outcomes for the characters, and hopefully to make Fanny Price more interesting than I found her in the original classic.

Lona Manning’s recreation of Mansfield Park, its inhabitants and neighbours did not disappoint. I found myself drawn into Austen’s world where the Bertram family prosper and their cousin, Fanny, is stifled amongst them. From that point, Manning’s variation is interwoven seamlessly with the original until Austen’s story is found to be completely changed. More than once, I had to think back and remind myself of what had happened in the original text, until I gave up on doing that and simply allowed myself to be carried away by Manning’s narrative.

‘A Contrary Wind’ is well-written, keeping in step with the language and writing style used by Austen to tell her stories, while being mercifully less wordy about some of the characters’ more trifling thoughts and decisions than Mansfield Park itself.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and consider it to be one of the finest Austen variations I have had the pleasure to read. Acorn Award I Golden

‘A Contrary Wind’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Christmas Miracle on Memorial Day’ by R.M.Gauthier

Enjoyable and easy to read, this novella—and the series to which it belongs— is sure to appeal to lovers of lighthearted and heartwarming romance. 

Renee Gauthier Christmas Miracle on Memorial DayThe fourth Christmas Miracle novella delivers the next chapter in the relationship of Jack and Charlotte in Christmas Town. As with the other books in this series, Gauthier tells the story in a familiar and comfortable manner that leaves the reader wanting more when the story comes to an end. While this book is set entirely on the one day, we see that there has been quite some development in the characters’ lives since the previous instalment of their story.
Enjoyable and easy to read, this novella—and the series to which it belongs— is sure to appeal to lovers of lighthearted and heartwarming romance.

Acorn Award I Golden

This book has been awarded one of Book Squirrel’s Gold Acorn awards.
Find it on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Dungari Rise’ by Nikki Landis

This is a complex and powerful story of love and hatred, desire and repulsion, truth and deceit that are inextricably interwoven.

Nikki Landis Dungari Rise

In a world of enmity, fear and suspicion, not every Dungari is the enemy.

This is a complex and powerful story of love and hatred, desire and repulsion, truth and deceit that are inextricably interwoven. As layers of deception are uncovered and characters learn truths about themselves and others, the reader is steadily drawn deeper into the story.

Action, danger, and desire combine to deliver a story that is thrilling in every sense of the word.

While this is a cleverly crafted dystopian/post-apocalyptic story, it also carries an important message against bullying, exploitation and abuse that is most appropriate to the world we live in today. As ‘Dungari Rise’ contains erotica and some quite graphic violence, it is suitable for adult audiences only.

Golden Acorns
It’s a pleasure to give this great read a Gold Acorn.

Find it at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Fairytale Christmas’ by Merrie Destefano

This was Book Squirrel’s Bookish Advent Event selection on December 20, so it’s lovely to be able to award ‘Fairytale Christmas’ a delicious Gold Acorn on Christmas Eve!

Merrie DeStefano FairyTale Christmas

A magical story of the power of love and its ability to endure despite time and evil. The tension of the opening chapters is gripping, setting the scene for the rest of the story to build and develop.

The seamless blend of original fantasy, paranormal elements and legend makes this book unique and fascinating.

I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

Golden AcornsThis was Book Squirrel’s Bookish Advent Event selection on December 20, so it’s lovely to be able to award ‘Fairytale Christmas’ a delicious Gold Acorn on Christmas Eve!

Find it at Amazon.