Book Review: ‘Sweet Suffering’ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another excellent part of a series I have really been enjoying.

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Book eight in Stanhope’s Elemental Witch Trials series continues Rose’s story with some powerful and compelling developments.

This instalment explores the balance of power and strength not just between key characters, but also within some of them more personally and individually. It also pays deeper attention to issues of heredity and consequence at a deeper level than previous books in the series. Some episodes of this novel are confronting, while others are devastating for the characters and the reader alike.

As with every other part of this excellent series thus far, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

‘Sweet Suffering’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘A Sprig Of Holly’ by J.A. Clement

A delightful tale full of winter magic.

This is a delightful tale full of winter magic with well developed fairy tale qualities that enrich the story telling.

While the characters are not very complex, they are likeable and engaging, and the reader does develop a sense of empathy and concern for them at the beginning of the story that helps to hook them into the events of the tale.  Of course, it is a short story, so the characters are not required to be developed in any depth or detail. It is enough that they do what they do and that the story is beautifully told.

The story also has some lovely Yuletide elements, although not so much that it is only a story for the Christmas season. 

This would be a lovely story for family reading, particularly on a winter’s night. 

‘A Sprig Of Holly’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

There are more stories in this series, which I’m keen to read!

Book Review: ‘Twelve Tales of Christmas’ by Jane Jago

A highly recommended Christmas short story collection.

Jane Jago is a gifted writer who creates vivid and believable characters and drops them into situations that the reader finds engaging and relatable.  Many of these stories are laced with Jago’s trademark wit, while others are quite sobering.

‘Twelve Tales of Christmas’ delivers varied and excellent short stories, each set at Christmas time, each with its own theme and messages.

These well-written stories are entertaining and thoughtprovoking at the same time, long enough to fully engage the reader, and short enough to be enjoyed in snatched breaks in the very busy pre-Christmas season. 

This collection comes highly recommended, and has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy on Amazon

Book Review: ‘Penny White and the Temptation Of Dragons’ by Chrys Cymri

A most excellent read… with dragons.

This is a brilliant read. 

Unpredictable, interesting and exciting, this book is full of diverse and complex characters that challenge and compel one another in various ways as the story progresses.

Penny White is delightfully snarky and very human, and endears herself to the reader immediately  as she responds with empathy in a most unusual situation.  As the story unfolds, the reader finds themselves immersed in a whole new fantasy adventure. The story is highly original and very entertaining.  

The way in which the author has positioned this world and its “neighbour” world is fascinating, and the ways in which the two worlds are linked physically, but also through the sharing of creatures, issues and mysteries that must be solved make the story so very engaging and involving for the reader that it is very hard to put the book down until the final page is read.

The world building and logistics are thoughtful and carefully developed, so that the story moves between this world and the alternate world quite smoothly and logically. 

I am excited to have discovered this fantastic new series, and am very pleased to award this book a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of ‘Penny White and the Temptation Of Dragons’  here.

Book Review: ‘The Swan Princes: A Christmas Tail’ by Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

An excellent 21st Century retelling of an old tale.

This novella is a contemporary retelling of the classic Swan Lake story.

The well known story has been cleverly recreated in a contemporary setting and style, with a variety of great characters that have been developed very cleverly and with good attention to detail.  The best stories have characters that you love and others that you love to hate, and this book does not disappoint. 

It’s great to see this story being given new life in a way that is is well-written and very enjoyable. It blends mystery, fantasy, romance and magical realism quite seamlessly to deliver a story that is very engaging and delivers some strong lessons about family, loyalty, and the power of love. 

‘The Swan Princes’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Christmas Will’ by A.S. McGowan

An enjoyable historical fiction with mystery and a hint of romance.

Set in Chicago and Boston in the 1860s, ‘The Christmas Will’ is the story of Ester Woods, who rises above prejudice and discrimination only to have it follow her. It is a story that explores the lot of women in pre-Civil War America, where men made the rules and women bore the consequences, yet it is also a story that celebrates the free thinking women who stood up against such strictures and embraced their intelligence and talents, and who dared to hope for more than just being someone’s wife. 

As an Australian, I found some of the grammar and word choices awkward, although I know that the author has followed accepted patterns of American English, so I was determined to not allow it to detract from the story that was being told.  I would, however, encourage the author to have non-Americans among her editorial team or beta readers, so that matters of local usage are less distracting for readers who are accustomed to more international patterns and usage of English.

 This is an enjoyable read. I do appreciate the way in which the author has blended elements of historical fiction and  mystery to make the story complex and intriguing.


‘The Christmas Will’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

 Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Falling For Elizabeth Bennet’ by Debra Ann Kummoung

A new reinvention of Pride and Prejudice – don’t expect the same story!

In this reinvention of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, the author has reworked the same characters and some elements of the story to create an original work based on Austen’s classic, but not consistent with it. I did enjoy some of these new twists and turns, and appreciated the author’s exploration of the stigma associated with epilepsy in the 18th century. 

I found myself conflicted not by these alterations, but by the fact that the entire story is written in present tense, which gives the story the feeling of a running commentary rather than a developed storyline. While that may be a matter of personal preference, I didn’t feel as though the narration did justice to the storyline or the important ideas the author wanted to develop and explore.

I also found it odd that the characters kept on using each other’s names every time they spoke during a conversation, which felt stilted and quite redundant. 

All in all, this was an enjoyable enough read, but probably better for a reader less fussy about writing style than I am. 


Falling for Elizabeth Bennet has been awarded a Bronze Acorn. 

Find your copy here