Book Review: ‘The Watery Kingdom’ by Raven M Williams

Enjoyable and fun, but a bit too quick in the telling.

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51qy1YkUTDL‘The Watery Kingdom’ is a transformation of the story of The Little Mermaid.

As a reader who really appreciates short stories, I found this story to be quite enjoyable and fun, although perhaps a little too short. Because the style of the writing is quite succinct, and because the story is written in present tense, it feels at times as though the reader is being hurried through the story. The story and its characters would have benefited from a little more description and development, so that the reader had more time and opportunity to become fond of the heroes and learn to really despise the villain before the end of the story.

I really liked the character of James and his role in twisting the classic tales, but once again, this part of the story would benefit from some more depth and detail.Acorn Award III Bronze

‘The Watery Kingdom’ has been awarded a Bronze Acorn.

You can find your copy here.

Series Review: ‘Lineage’ by C H Clepitt

Highly original and wickedly brilliant.

This is a marvellous series of three paranormal short story reads. The writing is witty and laced with dark humour, the characters are quite unique and yet seem to belong together in a “shabby chic” kind of way, and the stories are enormously entertaining.

Clepitt writes with a trademark brand of cynical dark humour, and there are some gems of observation about society and people in general embedded in these stories of urban vampires making a life for themselves in 21st century England.

Each story is short enough to read in one sitting, and the overall story arc enjoys good continuity and development of both the characters and the challenges they face from one to the next.Acorn Award I Golden

The ‘Lineage’ series has been awarded a Gold Acorn for originality and wickedly brilliant storytelling.

 

Book Review: ‘Saving Cecelia’ by Elle Botz

A poignant, powerful story.

Elle Botz Saving Cecilia'This story is not long but it sure packs a punch. It is powerfully emotive, not only in the writing but also in its messages about caring for those we love and maintaining our relationships with family beyond what is merely convenient or, worse still, shallow tokenism.

‘Saving Cecilia’ is the story of Cee Cee and her grandmother, Cecilia, and the love between them that endures despite the ravages of grief, time and Cecilia’s dementia.

I found that I could identify strongly with Cee Cee, having cared for my own mother during her own battle with that soulless disease, and having experienced many of the same anxieties and sorrows that Cee Cee did. Her character was very honestly and thoughtfully developed, particularly through her relationship with Cecilia and her thoughts and responses to the events and other characters of the story.

This is a story that everyone from mid-teens and older should read, because at some time in our life, most people will know a Cecilia or a Cee Cee if they are blessed enough to not actually become them.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Saving Cecilia’ Has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘When Shadows Dance’

A really well crafted short story.

2018-08-09 18.32.03.pngThis is a beautifully written, well balanced story full of contrasts: light and shadow, age and youth, mishap and design. It has some almost Gothic elements and a finely tuned sense of foreboding that builds as the story unfolds, with a few neat little twists along the way, that are nicely balanced by its poignant and wistful moments.

It’s quite a short read at 18 pages, but one that proved to be a delightful diversion in a busy day.Acorn Award I Golden

‘When Shadows Dance’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Slaughter Sisters’ by Greg Alldredge

Love Gaslamp stories? Read this.

2018-08-08 21.38.17‘The Slaughter Sisters’ is a gaslamp novella set in the same world as the author’s Helena Brandywine mystery series. The Slaughter Sisters are Faith, Grace and Charity, monster hunters extraordinaire.

The writing is lively and vivid, which engages the reader and enhances the dynamic characters. There is diversity and variety in the characters, some of whom are more complex than others. Each with their own strengths and flaws, the main characters are both highly individual and very complementary of each other as a group. One thing I really appreciated while reading is the way in which the author showed a character who had been perceived as a hindrance to be an asset, initiating new awareness and appreciation among the others. In this, the author subtly and cleverly teaches the reader a lesson about their own willingness to be positioned by the opinions of others and to allow that to influence our own acceptance and tolerance.

The plot is interesting, balancing the well-developed mystery and some sombre moments with some lighter moments of humour and irony.

Acorn Award I GoldenI very much enjoyed this story. It works well as a standalone, but it also makes me keen to read the rest of the author’s books set in this world. ‘The Slaughter Sisters’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Locksley Vol. 2 – Sherwood’ by Mark Brownless

This new retelling of the Robin Hood legend is engaging and full of action.

Mark Brownless Locksley 2 SherwoodThis second instalment of Mark Brownless’ new retelling of the Robin Hood legend is as engaging and full of action as the first. As the tension between the rebels in Sherwood Forest and the soldiers of Guy of Gisborne escalates, the reader is drawn deeper into the forest and positioned alongside Robin of Locksley’s band, ready for battle.

The characters are developed with more complexity as the story progresses, so that the reader sees their humanity as well as their heroism. The author has explored more of the back stories behind key characters such as Robin and Little John, and the growing familiarity with them further engages the reader’s loyalties.

Unlike many of the older accounts of Robin Hood that I remember, this one features strong and independent female characters who make valuable contributions to the outlaw cause, rather than looking prettily helpless and needing to be rescued or defended.  This certainly doesn’t come across as a 21st century construct based on feminist sensitivities or politics, though – it feels genuine and respectful, and reminds the reader of the historical fact that there were indeed women living  and fighting for the cause alongside the men, and they were equally as brave and committed to resisting the corrupt agents of government that ruled over them all.

I’m really enjoying this series, and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Locksley Vol. 2 – Sherwood’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Series Review: The ‘Dragonhall Chronicles’ by Mirren Hogan

A beautifully written and evocative fantasy series.

‘The Dragonhall Chronicles’ consist of three novellas that introduce Hogan’s ‘Reasoner Trilogy’ that takes place in the same world.

Nerra’s Flight’ introduces Nerra, a young adult magin, living in a world in which even the ability to use magic is punishable by death, and tells of her attempt to escape those who would punish her for her abilities. Dragons, suspense and adventure await! The story is engaging and interesting, and the reader quickly warms to both Nerra and her sister. It’s a brief but enchanting introduction to this series of stories, of which I am definitely keen to read more.

More suspenseful than the first novella, ‘Nerra’s Run’ picks up the tale some years later. Children with magical abilities are still being captured and killed, and the authorities are still pursuing Nerra. The author establishes a strong sense of foreboding that continues to build as the story develops. Older and still determined to defy those who want her captured and killed, Nerra remains a character whose bravery and determination are admirable, and with whom the reader can sympathise strongly. She is developed with additional depth in this story in ways which both increase the reader’s affection and support for her, and fill them with anxiety for her future.

The third short story of the Dragonhall prequels to Dragonhaze, ‘Nerra’s Children’ is darker and more sobering than the others. The magin are still being persecuted and put to death, and Nerra faces challenges more heartbreaking than ever before. Although older and less impulsive, Nerra remains the strong, loyal woman that we have seen her become in her first two stories.
Mirren Hogan Reasoner 1 Dragonhaze

The action in each story moves at a steady pace, carrying the reader along as the tension rises.
By the time the reader finishes this third instalment, they are familiar with Nerra and her world, and keen to discover more in the pages of Dragonhaze, the novel that starts the Reasoner Trilogy.

Acorn Award I Golden
This beautifully written and evocative fantasy series has been awarded a Gold Acorn for overall excellence in storytelling.

Find this series, and other excellent books by Mirren Hogan, on Kobo, Amazon, Nook, and other stores.