Book Review: Four American Tales by Jack Messenger

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On starting this collection with the first story, Wichega, I was immediately drawn in by the wistful, melancholic voice of Sweet Pea, telling her story so powerfully. This story is so evocative of memories, of sights and smells and sensations, that I almost felt that I was right there in the scene. This story is such an engaging way to open the quartet of stories.

Messenger’s writing is equally powerful and emotive in the other stories. The characters are developed richly, each having their own distinct voice and mannerisms that portray far more than what is told of them in the stories themselves.

These stories, and the characters in them, are varied enough to keep the reader engaged and curious throughout the book. There is neither cliche nor repetition in the plots, characters and imagery delivered by Messenger.

These stories are, without doubt, American in both style and setting, at different times reminding me of the imagery and eloquence of John Steinbeck.

This is the first of his books that I have read, but I definitely hope to read more of his writing. I enjoyed Four American Tales very much.

Four American Tales is available on Amazon.

‘The Lion and The Tiger’ by Lyra Shanti

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‘The Lion and The Tiger’ is a short story companion to Lyra Shanti’s ‘Shiva XIV’ epic sci-fi series. It fills in a little of the backstory of Hynfir, whom we meet in the novels as the general of the Tah army. For those who have not read the Shiva XIV series, this short story works perfectly well as a standalone.

Written with Shanti’s trademark eloquence, ‘The Lion and The Tiger’ is the story of the meeting and relationship of  the Lirhan warrior, Hynfir, and Leif, the man who should have been off limits.

‘The Lion and The Tiger’  is not very long, but it has profound relevance for anyone whose love or life challenges judgemental or restrictive social boundaries.

If you haven’t read the Shiva XIV stories, ‘The Lion and The Tiger’ will whet your appetite for the novels which are, in my opinion, the next great space epic just waiting to be discovered.

‘The Lion and The Tiger’ is available at Amazon for just $1.
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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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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.

Author Spotlight: India Emerald

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India Emerald writes fabulous stories that blend imagination and magic with Fantasy, Magical Realism, and occasionally Science Fiction.

She is the author of The Mages’ Stones Complete Set (2016) and as individual books, Hope’s Well (2016), The Tale of Rigby Hall (2016), Water Lilies (2016), The Battle for Goblin Bridge (2016), and Paxton (2016). She has even written a space opera!


You can read my review of The Mages’ Stones here. It’s available on Amazon for less than the price of a cup of coffee, and is great reading.
In fact, all three of India’s books represent fantastic value for these great stories. They’re all on  Amazon

India has a great presence on social media, where she frequently indulges in any fun that’s available. She loves hashtag games on twitter, and is an active member of the Indie author community on Facebook.

You can follow India on:
Twitter: @india_emerald
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/IndiaEmeraldAuthor

Author profiles:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15046207.India_Emerald
Amazon:https://smile.amazon.com/India-Emerald/e/B01CH630LU

Book Review: ‘The Mages’ Stones’ by India Emerald

‘The Mages’ Stones’ by India Emerald is one of the books listed in the Book Squirrel February Reading Challenge.

This is a unique collection of stories that share characters and an overall plot, while each has its own individual focus – just like the stones for which they are named.

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The stories are interesting and well-crafted. It was exciting that the pieces of the overall puzzle fell slowly into place as I read, often without my even realising that was happening.

For me, the beauty of reading the stories as a complete collection was not having to wait between instalments. This enabled the tension to really build as each story progressed toward the final resolution.

I really enjoyed reading ‘The Mages Stones’. It left me wondering what my stone would be, and which of my traits it would work best with.

.5 stars are the reward for a great read. Well done, Ms Emerald!

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Book Review: The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries by J. Schlenker

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‘The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries’
by J. Schlenker is an eclectic collection of
light-hearted, generally humorous short stories that each deliver something for the reader to muse on. Whether this is a moral or just an entertaining idea varies from one story to the next. While some are more thought-provoking than others, each story is well-written in Schlenker’s conversational, easy-going style.

This was a good collection to pick up and put down throughout the busy Christmas-New Year holiday period, and would easily suit readers with busy and demanding lifestyles, as well as those who just enjoy a good short story from time to time.

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‘Gentleman With Brass Knuckles’ by Emmanuel Obi

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Emmanuel Obi has perfectly captured the essence of the detective noir genre with his lead character, Bruce Howard.

The stories in this collection move at a good pace, and have some interesting and likeable characters that provide connection and consistency between different stories. Obi has generated some really interesting storylines and twists that keep the reader guessing.

It’s also refreshing that, over time, his lead character reveals his own weaknesses and humanity, which add another layer of complexity to his bravado and his genius for solving crime.

There is some adult content, so I’d recommend this book for anyone over 18 who enjoys a good, old-fashioned “whodunnit” with modern twists.

In short, this is a really enjoyable collection.

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You can find both of Emmanuel Obi’s Bruce Howard collections at Amazon.