Book Review: (Almost) Average Anthology: Tales Of Adventure, Loss and Oddity by Jason Nugent.

A collection that displays the range and power of Nugent’s dark imagination.

Jason Nugent Almost Average AnthologyThis interesting and varied collection opens w ith an astounding personification of death that challenges the reader to confront their fear and think more philosophically about death as an entity rather than an event.


Once he has the reader’s attention, Nugent carries them from scene to scene, ranging from bleak to grim, to macabre. Each story delivers a thought-provoking punch or a clever twist that takes the reader by surprise.


I chose to enjoy these short stories individually rather than one after another in close succession, and found each one to be very well executed. As a collection, they display the range and power of Nugent’s dark imagination and his ability to deliver each story with a profound effect.

Acorn Award II Silver

This book has been awarded a Silver Acorn.


Book Review: ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ by Pam Lecky

A very enjoyable short read, complete with a couple of very effective chills for good measure

Pam Lecky The Lighthouse KeeperThis story is set on the windswept coast at Black’s Bay, where Sally and Alex plan to spend their first weekend away together. The isolation of the lighthouse lends a bleak and forlorn air to the setting, and compounds the darkness and the unfamiliar when the sun goes down.


The reader is positioned to empathise with Sally through exposure to her thoughts, feelings and responses to the events of the weekend, which makes them in turn vulnerable to the eerie twists in the story.


This is a very enjoyable story, complete with a couple of very effective chills for good measure. It’s an easy read in under 30 minutes, which makes it ideal for a lunch break or a short escape into a story to break up a busy day.

Acorn Award II Silver

Book Squirrel has awarded ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ a Silver Acorn.


Book Review: ‘Thoughts of You’ by Anthony Beddis

An expressive collection of honest, passionate flash prose. .. but it’s not poetry.

2018-03-11 13.54.55This collection of honest, passionate flash prose is rich in imagery and high expression of the author’s love and desire for the object of his affections. The writing is quite poetic, taking the reader deep into the thoughts and emotions of the author as he expresses his innermost thoughts and feelings.


I was bemused, however, to see this book listed as poetry. It is definitely intimate and expressive, but it is also definitely prose as it is written in the form of full sentences, in paragraphs, arranged as such. Use of imagery, regardless of frequency or consistency, does not in itself define one’s writing as poetry.


The reader does develop a profound sense of intimacy with the author, sharing as one does in his most personal and honest moments with his beloved. His thoughts and feelings are highly relatable and his absolute honesty is disarming.


This is an enjoyable book that fulfils the purpose revealed in the title: these are the thoughts that fill the author’s mind and soul each day, demonstrating his adoration of, and also his commitment to, the lucky person who consumes him so powerfully. Acorn Award III Bronze


Book Squirrel has awarded this book a Bronze Acorn because while the writing really is lovely and I did enjoy it, it’s not actually poetry and should not be marketed as such.



Book Review: ‘Tainted Waters’ by Lucretia Stanhope

This is a fantastic read that keeps the reader wondering and guessing from start to finish.

It is often said that light drives out darkness and that loves drives away fear. Such proverbs may be mostly true most of the time, but not without exception.

Lucretia Stanhope PPK 1Tainted Waters

‘Tainted Waters’ is a book full of such exceptions. It is a story of shadows and illusions, doubts and deceptions, and of clouded thoughts and emotions. In her youth, Alice desires security, truth and a sense of belonging, but enjoys none of these. Trusting nobody and belonging nowhere, her world is one where, time and time again, she has to choose the least terrible option and learn to make the best of it.

Stanhope has woven a tale in which conflict, distrust and obscured truths come into sharp contrast as the powers of light and darkness battle with one another for supremacy. As Alice discovers who and what she is, and how to make use of the resources available to her, the reader sees those same contrasts in her character: naïveté and inherited knowledge, vulnerability and power, weakness and strength.

This is a fantastic read that keeps the reader wondering and guessing from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found it hard to put down.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Tainted Waters’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence in storytelling.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Killer of a Mind’ by Valerie Albermarle

This book is both a great story and a sensory pleasure for the reader.

Valerie Albermarle Killer of a MindA gifted writer takes the reader from whatever place and position they’re in and transports them to the setting of the author’s choice and creation.

In ‘Killer of a Mind’, Albermarle immerses the reader in the sights and sensations of various towns along the east coast of America before dunking them in the waters of the Mayan Riviera on the shores of Mexico, where the contrasts and conflicts of this story are heightened by those characteristic of Tulum, the Mexican town in which Ryan finds himself. Noise and quiet reflection, richness and poverty, sunshine and shade all reflect Ryan’s own mental and emotional condition.

Unlike Ryan, the reader understands that there is always more than one side to a story. Albermarle has woven the threads of this story together with craftsmanship and finesse, leaving nothing to either predictability or fate. The reader is not allowed to become complacent – as Ryan discovers, there is always a new challenge, a surprise or a revelation as a corner is turned or a hill is crested that shows the light shining on things differently with a change of perspective.

Albermarle’s writing is rich and vivid, developing magnificent scenery full of colour and sound, and complex characters that seem to have more shade than light to them.
Acorn Award I Golden
Book Squirrel has awarded ‘Killer of a Mind’ one of his special Golden Acorns for excellence because this book is both a great story and a sensory pleasure for the reader.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘The Chartreuse Spirit’ by India Emerald

India Emerald The Chartreuse Spirit
This is an intriguing story which appears at first to consist of separate and quite distinct observations and reflections from Verity and Peter during a time in which they are separated by Peter’s investigation of a case. The reader does not understand these recollections to be convergent at all until, at some indistinct point, they realise that the two characters’ accounts both relate to the same mystery.


It’s very cleverly constructed, and while it does work as a standalone, the reader can gain considerable understanding of the context of this story and its central characters by reading ‘Hope’s Well’ by the same author.

Acorn Award II Silver

This is a great short read that can be enjoyed in the space of a lunch break. Book Squirrel has awarded it a Silver Acorn.


Book Review: ‘Mystery At The Fair’ by Connie Cockrell

Readers who enjoy a good mystery will be sure to enjoy ‘Mystery At The Fair’. 

Connie Cockrell Mystery At The Fair
This book introduces Jean Hays, new to Greyson, Arizona, and the newest member of the organising committee for the annual local fair. There are complications aplenty, even before the fair gets under way, and Jean finds herself at front and centre of the story.

This is a well-crafted mystery, full of twists and turns that surprise the reader and keep them guessing right up to the end and a few red herrings thrown in for good measure. The characters are well rounded and interesting, with their flaws as evident as their strengths, making them relatable and realistic.


Those readers who enjoy a good mystery will be sure to enjoy ‘Mystery At The Fair’. Acorn Award I Golden


Book Squirrel has awarded this book a Gold Acorn.