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

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

Advertisements
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: ‘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.

<br>

Book Review: ‘To Be A Queen’ by Annie Whitehead

Magnificent historical fiction!

Annie Whitehead To Be A Queen
Truly great historical fiction is that which immerses the reader in the events of history without distorting them, yet at the same time transports them into the story so completely that they feel they know the people and places that they meet there. ‘To Be A Queen’ achieves this goal in the magnificent telling of the story of Aethelflæd, which comes from one of my favourite periods of English history, when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia were in turn holding out against the Vikings and pushing them back, and when Alfred had not yet been named “ the Great” by those who recorded his role in history.

Whitehead’s writing is superb, blending a seamless and powerful narrative with poetic terms like “king-helm” drawn from the Old English style such as that seen in ‘Beowulf’ to give a reflection of how English was spoken then and to communicate ideas visually as well as verbally.

The author has created intimate and vivid portraits of the characters amongst the broad brush strokes of history, bringing to life the events and conflicts of the period in which Alfred, Ethelred and Edward fought to preserve England from the attacks and raids of the Vikings. Ancient kings, royal women, thegns, ealdormen, fractious children and servants alike are given flesh, emotions and qualities that make them leap off the page.

Aethelflæd is portrayed first as child, then as woman, then as the lady to whom all of Mercia pledged allegiance. Her vulnerabilities and flaws are real, giving a very strong sense of reality and familiarity to this woman of incredible strength and conviction. Aethelflæd has long been one of my favourite figures of English history, but I shall always feel from now on as though I know her more intimately and completely than before I read ‘To Be A Queen’.
Acorn Award I Golden
This book is truly worthy of more than a Gold Acorn. Alas, no higher honour exists!

‘To Be A Queen’ is available on Amazon.

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.

51SdRC-ABRL
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.

Book Launch & Blog Tour: Webley and the World Machine by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Today, Book Squirrel welcomes Zachary Paul Chopchinski and his new release steampunk novel, Webley and the World Machine! 

Today, Book Squirrel welcomes Zachary Paul Chopchinski and his new release steampunk novel, Webley and the World Machine! 

Title: Webley and the World Machine
Author: Zachary Paul Chopchinski
Genre: Steampunk
Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Designs
Publisher: Books & Bow Ties Publishing
Editor: plot2published
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb: A world beneath our world.
An army of mechanical monsters.
A war to end all wars.
When Adalwolf Stein and Arija Rapp discover a mechanical world hidden deep within the earth, the result is life changing. Webley and the creators of The World Machine work to keep the Earth turning. But when Arija and Adalwolf discover a growing conflict that will destroy the Earth, they find themselves forced to fight.
Will they be able to stop the war in time or will they regret ever having set foot in The World Machine?
Zachary is a bow tie wearing, formal vest rocking, pocket watch using, sarcastic monster of a writer. Currently residing in Orlando, Florida, he spends his days working, writing and procrastinating.
Zach has multiple college degrees, in the fields of criminal justice and criminology…because he wanted to catch ALL the bad guys. Now, coupled with being an author of young adult fiction he spends his days yelling at people for breaking regulatory laws.
Zach is the author of the Gabrielle series, a young adult fantasy with a paranormal-historical-time traveling twist (try saying that five times fast)
Author Links:
Buy Links:
“We aren’t going anywhere with your creepy smiling ass. Thanks for the offer, but we have better things to do. Like fight these crazy mantis things. So, if you don’t mind, step off, or I’ll throw you another beating,” Adal offered as he took a half step ahead of Arija who yanked at his sleeve.
            “What the hell are you doing? If I couldn’t take him, you sure as hell can’t! Not in your condition anyway.” Arija slid her hand down Adal’s side to where his empty holster sat on his hip. “Where’s your gun?” she mumbled out of the side of her mouth.
            “I don’t know. It went flying when I did. I’m going to make my move. You make yours!” Adal mumbled back, keeping his eyes trained on his opponent. With his little finger, Adal motioned to the two knives on the platform.
            “So, what’s the plan, shiny? We gonna do this, or are you going to just stand there and look at me? I mean, I know I’m pretty, but damn,” Adal said, the humor gone from his voice. The Dweller’s grin faded and his mouth thinned. He closed his robotic hands into fists and lowered his head to his shoulders.
            “If you think it’s in your best interest, Topsider, please feel free to try your odds. I will greatly enjoy peeling back your skin and seeing what your wet insides look like. When I’m done with you, your mate is next!” he said, flicking his gaze toward Arija.
Arija flinched at the word “mate.” She wasn’t even Adal’s girlfriend, for reasons she didn’t exactly understand, and the word brought a sudden embarrassment to her cheeks.
Adal’s upper lip twitched as he watched him eye Arija like she was a prize at the fair. His face burned, and his palms got sweaty at the thought of this man with Arija, torturing her or . . . whatever else he had in mind. Adal was ready to put his fist down this asshole’s throat.

 

Book Review: ‘The Lost Inheritance Mystery’ by Ben Hammott

An enjoyable Victorian-style mystery story.

Ben Hammott Lost Inheritance Mystery

This is an enjoyable gothic Victorian-style mystery story, fashioned in a manner that aims to emulate the style of Dickens’ portrayal of the people and society of the time. The writing and character development are infused with humour, and the story itself is interesting, although the pace of the story is at times a little slower than I would have preferred. The characters are likeable, even if their names are somewhat contrived, albeit in a humorous way. As the story draws to an end, Hammott delivers a series of clever twists that add to both the irony and the Dickensian humour of the book.

The final chapter, though, brought with it a complete change of pace, which I suspect the book may have been better off without – there is nothing wrong with this chapter in itself, but i think it may have served better as the first chapter of the next mystery misadventure for these characters.

Acorn Award III BronzeI did enjoy this book, although not as much as I have enjoyed others of Ben Hammott’s works, so I’m awarding it a Bronze Acorn.

Find ‘The Lost Inheritance Mystery’ on Amazon.