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.

‘Bittersweet’ by Aliya DalRae

Aliya DalRae Bittersweet
‘Bittersweet’ by Aliya DalRae is the story of Malcolm, the black cat who features in Sweet Vengeance and Sweet Discovery, the first two novels in the Jessica Sweet trilogy.

The Jessica Sweet paranormal/mystery/romance novels portray Malcolm as a dark, mysterious creature who keeps his secrets closely concealed. ‘Bittersweet’ shows much more of who he is – sensitive and loving, yet carrying a burden that nobody else can understand.

This is a powerful and moving story, even for readers who are not familiar with DalRae’s Jessica Sweet novels. It works equally well as a standalone story, a companion backstory to the novels, or a very effective appetizer as an introduction to the novels.

DalRae’s writing is highly expressive and yet still so comfortable that the reader is drawn right into the world of Fallen Cross.

This book can be easily read in an hour, so ‘Bittersweet’ would be a perfect lazy afternoon or end of day read.

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I’ve given this ADR novella five shiny stars.

‘Bittersweet’ is available on Amazon as an ebook or in paperback.
Alternatively, you can get it free via Instafreebie by signing up to Aliya DalRae’s mailing list.

Book Review: ‘The Gift’ by Nikki Landis

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Narrated in the first person by the character of Gemma Harding, ‘The Gift’ keeps the reader guessing right to the end. This story draws the reader into a complicated web of deceit and carefully constructed appearances that leave Gemma able to trust only  herself and her gift in her search for the answers she needs.

The reader is drawn into Gemma’s character in the first chapter by a  narration that is almost a stream-of-consciousness passage, through which Landis reveals Gemma’s special ability and how it has impacted on her life thus far. The reader, familiar with Gemma’s thoughts and feelings, follows her through this story sharing her thrills, fears and questions as events unfold.

This is a brilliant read. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys the mystery/thriller genre, particularly with a psychological edge to it.

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Book Review: ‘An Enlightening Quiche’ by Eva Pasco

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Just the right proportions of history, secrets, adultery, passion, and rivalry are mixed together to form the wonderful sensation that is ‘An Enlightening Quiche’.
Rich in detail and sassy narration, Eva Pasco paints a portrait of small-town life that rings true for anyone who has lived in such a place.
On the surface, everything is clean and just right, but underneath there is a surging, heaving mass of emotion, ambition and self-interest that immerses the reader in the
characters’ lives.
Eva Pasco‘s writing is descriptive and quirky, reflecting the French-Canadian idiom of the fictional town of Beauchemins, Rhode Island. The reader is drawn into the story through the parallel narrations of the lead characters, making them them feel as though they are a one of the townsfolk and leading them to decide for themselves who is honest or justified in their actions as the story progresses. Pasco’s humour comes through, resulting in chuckles and smirks as one reads. Yet there are also moments of shock and sadness, and of a strong sensation of more than one character wishing things had been different.
Having spent some time in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, the French-Canadian nostalgia for all things Quebequois has been beautifully captured by Pasco. The occasional exclamation of “Tabarnak!” and the consistent use of French names for even the most mundane of foods – “un croque-monsieur” for a grilled ham and cheese sandwich –  adds authenticity and depth to the characters. Beauchemins actually made me a little homesick for my own part of French Canada. Would someone please deliver me a poutine?
This honorary Canuck gives ‘An Enlightening Quiche’ 5 stars, not only for it’s fabulous story, but also for its charm and authenticity. Beauchemins – ca vaut le visite!
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See the book and read the reviews on Amazon.

March Reading List Challenge.

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I am proud to announce to the world that I read all the books on my list for February! I also read an extra one – Twice Born – because I was so excited about its arrival early in the month!

These books have all been read and reviewed on the Book Squirrel blog during the month of February. What’s even better is that they were all fabulous!

The Mages’ Stones, Reclamation, Twice Born and The Rainbow Serpent each received 5/5 stars – and ‘Call of Kythshire’ was so good, it received 6!

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It’s not that I give five stars terribly easily. It’s probably more a case of having selected absolutely superb books to read and review.

So, onto the Reading List Challenge for March. 
Remember, the link will take you conveniently to the Amazon page to preview and buy the book. 

This month, in no particular order, I plan to read:

‘Call of Sunteri’ and ‘Snowberry Blossom’ by Missy Sheldrake.
This is the next novel and a short story that follows it by the author of ‘Call of Kythshire’, so I know these are going to be great.

‘An Enlightening Quiche’ by Eva Pasco.
This promises to be a delicious tale of rivalry and bad behaviour. Bring it on!

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‘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.

 


‘Souls Discovered’ by Miranda Brock.
Fantasy, adventure, mythical beasts and a quest. It already sounds like a winner to me!

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For an extra challenge:‘Nova’ by Joanne Van Leerdam.
Your assignment: read it and let us know what you think! Write a review!

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