Book Review: ‘The Kupala Night’ by N.C. Stow

A beautifully written fantasy tale.

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N.C. Stow The Kupala Night

 

When I was young, I had a book of Russian folk stories that filled my imagination with vivid colours, magnificent imagery and rich stories that always had a deeper meaning.  This was where my lifelong interest in Russian history began.

 

‘The Kupala Night’ took me right back there, and filled me with the same fascination that I remember feeling all those years ago.

 

Inspired by Russian folklore, this is the beautifully written fantasy tale of a young woman who carelessly fails to heed her grandmother’s warnings.  Unforeseen consequences deliver a clear moral, as exists in every Russian folk tale, before the story finishes with another twist.

It’s a short story that takes less than 30 minutes to read, but the style and beauty of the writing make the reading both satisfying and delightful. Vivid images of the scenes and characters played in my imagination as the story unfolded.

Acorn Award I Golden

I thoroughly enjoyed this short read, and have awarded it a Gold Acorn.

Find it on Amazon.

 

Book Review: ‘Embrace The Darkness and other short stories’ by P.J. Blakey-Novis

Six stories for readers who enjoy their fiction dark and original.

PJ Blakely-Novis Embrace The Darkness
This book is a collection of six dark stories that are just the right length to read during a coffee break.

Each of these stories paints a unique scene in which the central character experiences the darker side of life. Some macabre and some more horrific, each story surprises and intrigues the reader with a twist or a barb in the tale.The stories are well written and should please those readers who enjoy their fiction dark and original.

Enjoyable and varied, this book has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Readers can buy a copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘A Shape On The Air’ by Jill Ibbotson

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Julia Ibbotson A Shape On The Air

This brilliant story is an absolutely enthralling blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Drawn into the life of Vivianne Du Lac, history professor, the reader is almost immediately plunged into an intricate web of complications, challenges and unexpected developments that are woven together so that no strand of the story is independent of the others. The narrative is smooth and well-constructed, and Ibbotson’s writing is excellent.

The characters are very well crafted, especially given that each fits into more than one story strand. Viv is the most complex and detailed of them all, being the central character, but the others are all given depth through their interactions and responses as the story progresses.

More than simply being enjoyable, this is a thought-provoking and involving read in which the reader becomes completely engrossed. Acorn Award I Golden

‘A Shape On The Air’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Get your copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘A Little Favor’ by Erich Schubach

An enjoyable short read set in 1930s Germany.

Erik Schubach A Little Favor
When Jillian agrees to do a little favour for a friend, things take a turn for the worst. Thus we see her drawn into a world that she never expected to be part of.

 

This is an enjoyable short story, easily read in less than an hour. Some of the 1930s slang – which would have been quite at home in an old black & white detective noir film – was a little mystifying, but the story was generally quite well told.

 

I liked the personal qualities that made Jillian stand out amongst pre-war stereotypes, and which she drew on in order to complete far greater errands than that initially entrusted to her.

Acorn Award II Silver

As an enjoyable short read, ‘A Little Favor’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

 

Readers can buy a copy of the book at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Forest of Ancestors’ by K.A. Denver

Book Squirrel Review: ‘Forest of Ancestors’ by K.A. Denver

K.A. Denver Forest of Ancestors

 

This is a great story which holds a good level of mystery and intrigue that develops at a good pace as the plot progresses. The differences between light and dark magic, and the ways in which each character uses their magic, add interest and complexity to the story. The central characters are varied and quite well crafted although, as a reader, I didn’t really feel as connected to most of them as I would have liked to.

 

I really like the concept of the forest of ancestors as a place of memory as well as of magic, and the ways in which that setting is portrayed and developed in the story. The images were formed quite vividly in my mind as I read, and it was good to see the characters fully engaging with, and responding to, this special element of their environment in personal ways.

 

My one criticism – and it is a real annoyance as a reader – is that there were places in which the writing really needed more thorough editing to remove quite obvious errors that remain in the text. A less fastidious reader might not notice all of them, but a couple of them were quite glaring and should never have made it to the final manuscript.

 

Overall, though, I did enjoy this book. It has some quite original elements and surprising turns that complement the strong storyline.

 

Acorn Award II Silver
I’ve awarded ‘Forest of Ancestors’ a Silver Acorn because, despite its flaws, it is a great read.

 

Get your copy at Amazon.

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Book Review: The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

This is a book that delivers the full gamut of emotions through the course of Della’s story. It’s a well-written and very satisfying read.

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Some people find it easy to leave the past behind. Others cling to the parts of it that hold precious memories or give them comfort. Both types of folks exist in this beautiful story of loss, grief, and finding oneself among that which remains.

 

When love, trust, and Della’s understanding of her own family are called into question,  the reader is reminded just how rare personal integrity can be, and just how profoundly it speaks for itself to others who value it.  The reader finds themselves silently cheering for Della every time she resists the type of mediocrity to which she seems to have been relegated since she was a child, and rejoicing with her when she overcomes her challenges and does something truly extraordinary.

 

This is a book that delivers the full gamut of emotions through the course of Della’s story. It’s a well-written and very satisfying read.

 

Acorn Award I GoldenThe Bookshop On Rosemary Lane has been awarded one of Book Squirrel’s shiny Gold Acorns.

 

Find it on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Who Put Her In?’ by Jane Jago

‘Who Put Her In?’ is a gripping mystery/thriller that is very hard to put down.

Jane Jago Who Put Her In

‘Who Put Her In?’ is a gripping mystery/thriller that is very hard to put down. Set in an old English pub, populated by relatable and engaging characters, this is a book that draws the reader in and has them stay right to the end.
The story revolves around Joss and Ben, who take on running a pub for two weeks while the owners take a vacation, and find themselves confronting the various problems that have been haunting the establishment for some time.

Jane Jago delivers the story from the matter-of-fact, no nonsense perspective of Joss, whose personality makes it possible for the reader to take in the depths and shocks of the story without personally taking them on board. One does not get far into the story before feeling as though they know Joss and Ben quite well, and the story unfolds quite seamlessly around the reader who is included as an observer.

I enjoyed this book so much that I was happy to forgive the occasional typographical error as I was reading. In fact, I felt a little sad to be leaving the Fair Maid and Falcon at the end of it all.

Acorn Award I Golden

This excellent book has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find it on Amazon.