Book Review: ‘Children Of Darkness’ by Courtney Shockey

‘Children of Darkness is a grim tale filled with foreboding and brooding suspense from which there is little relief. Even when the protagonist forces herself to relax, both she and the reader remain slightly tense with the sensation that the respite can only ever be fleeting. 

Shockey builds the tension and darkness until it is almost tangible, then delivers blow after blow that suck the air from the reader’s lungs and keep them on the edge of their seat. 

This is a very well crafted horror story that keeps the reader guessing right to the end.

‘Children Of Darkness’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

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Book Review: ‘A Different Kind of Angel: A Novel’ by Paulette Mahurin

A compelling story based on real events.

It is not difficult to be horrified by the level of cruelty that humans will inflict on one another, especially where prejudice and power are involved. There is much in this book that tells of the trauma, the emotional and physical scarring, and the horrors experienced by the victims of such torture experienced not only by those who survived the government pogroms against the Jews in late 19th century Russia, but also by those exposed to the depths of degradation meted out to those who found themselves inside the cruel, cold walls of the notorious Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum in New York. 

Based on the true story of Nellie Bly’s infiltration of the asylum and subsequent exposure of the abuses and brutality that occurred there, and on the experiences of many who fled Russia in the hope of making a new life in America, ‘A Different Kind of Angel’ tells the stories of Klara Gelfman and the other women she meets inside that institution. 

The book certainly has its dark moments, but it also gives emphasis to the resilience and kindness of people like Klara and her friends Catherine and Nellie. These women are inspirational in their ability to rise above the pain and muck time and time again, reminders to us all of the power of encouragement and kindness in the face of hostility and fear. 

Mahurin tells a compelling story. The characters are strongly drawn, and the depictions of the various behaviours of the inmates of the asylum are vivid and, one suspects, based on careful study and research. At no time is the narrative insensitive to the plight of the insane, nor to the individual qualities of each woman and her mental illness. The reader has a strong sense of how their lives and conditions could be  vastly different given proper care, nutrition and some kindness, and feels deeply grateful to the few souls who showed these women as much compassion as they were able to. 

Overall, the story is more encouraging than depressing, and most enlightening. Despite the darkness, the message of the story is  positive and empowering, especially for those enduring some kind of misery or darkness in their own lives. 

‘A Different Kind of Angel: A Novel’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Blow – A Short Story’ by K.J. Waters

A dramatic and suspenseful short story that you can enjoy in less than an hour.

Set in Florida during Hurricane Ivan, this story is a companion to Waters’ books Shattering Time and Stealing Time, but works effectively as a stand-alone story. 

The author increases the tension and suspense as the intensity of the hurricane rises. The reader is positioned to experience the events as though looking over the main character’s shoulder, sharing in his thoughts and feelings as the drama unfolds. 

I enjoyed both the author’s writing style and this very dramatic short story. 

‘Blow’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Get your copy here

Book Review: ‘Christmas Miracle on the 4th of July’ by R.M. Gauthier

An enjoyable and lighthearted read.

This fifth book in Gauthier’s lighthearted mystery/romance novella series is set around the July 4th holiday, giving much of the story a celebratory tone that readers will enjoy. Those less inclined to decorate and celebrate every event will identify with Jack, less curmudgeonly than he was at the beginning of the series, but still bemused by Charlotte’s love for holidays and decoration. 

The mystery in this story develops slowly while the reader is immersed in the lives of Jack and Charlotte, and the other residents of Christmas Town, and sets the scene for the next novella in the series. 

It’s an enjoyable and lighthearted read, yet with sufficient momentum to keep the reader keen for the next book in the series. 

‘Christmas Miracle on the 4th of July’ Has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here

Book Review: ‘Spring Fling’ by Claire Buss

A relatable, easy to read poetry collection.

‘Spring Fling’ offers vignettes of daily life and glimpses into the thoughts of a young woman. Her children, family life, personal feelings and places they visit all feature in this collection of poetry. 

Some of the poems carry a kernel of a deeper truth that provoked more thought, while others skip through a scene, describing it in a way that leaves the reader nodding and smiling. In every case, it is easy to relate to the ideas expressed by the poet. 

‘Spring Fling’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

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.