Book Review: ‘Bitter Loss’ by Aliya DalRae

A powerful portrayal of one woman’s personal hell.

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Aliya DalRae Fallen Cross Pack 3 Bitter Loss

The third in the Fallen Cross Pack novella series, ‘Bitter Loss’ is the vivid and heartbreaking portrayal of one woman’s descent into her own personal hell when her life takes a tragic turn.

 

Maggie Danes is very realistically portrayed in her responses and emotions. As grief gives way to despair, and then to hopelessnes, the reader can’t help but feel that they might not respond so differently should they find themselves in her situation.

 

This is a beautifully written story that works well as a standalone, but also fits perfectly into both the Fallen Cross and Jessica Sweet series. This fact alone is testament to DalRae’s talent as a writer.

 

Acorn Award I Golden
Like the others in this series, ‘Bitter Loss’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

 

Book Review: ‘Once Upon A Grave’ by William Bove

An enjoyable short read, but I wanted more.

William Bove Once Upon A Grave

 

Set during a period of profound economic depression, the tone of the opening chapters is evocative of the hopelessness and privation experienced by those who endured it, and particularly by the central character who has different, but equally valid, reasons for disenchantment and restlessness. The contrasts between the environments and settings of the different phases of the story are striking, and have a profound effect on the author’s delivery of the story.

I enjoyed reading this story, although there were aspects that I wish the author had developed in more depth. The main character is really the only multidimensional character in the story, which is fine in a short read, but I did want to know and see more of the two other key figures that appeared in the second half of the story, and to understand more of the connections between them all.  I also felt somewhat dissatisfied that the revelations made to the main character in the second phase of the story were delivered by her reading a book to which the reader had no access – and was therefore somewhat glossed over in the narrative. It left this reader feeling like an onlooker, rather than being involved emotionally in the journey of the character.

 

Overall, ‘Once Upon A Grave’ is an enjoyable short read, although less gripping than I generally hope for in paranormal or dark fiction.
Acorn Award III Bronze

 

Book Squirrel has awarded this book a Bronze Acorn.

 

Find it on 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: ‘Bitter Challenge’ by Aliya DalRae

‘Bitter Challenge’ is another great short read that has further filled out the answers to mysteries raised in DalRae’s Jessica Sweet novels, yet can easily stand alone and be read without spoilers of the series for readers who haven’t got to those other books yet.

Aliya DalRae Fallen Cross Pack 2 Bitter Challenge

An ADR Short that follows ‘Bitter Beginnings‘, this book tells the story of the next stage in the life of Patrick Danes. Although now a wolf shifter and separated from his family, he has lost neither his principles nor his desire to make things better for the pack.

 

The narrative flows easily, bringing scenes and characters to life for the reader. Patrick’s strength and moral character gives the reader a sense of safety and hope in even the most dire of situations.

 

‘Bitter Challenge’ is another great short read that has further filled out the answers to mysteries raised in DalRae’s Jessica Sweet novels, yet can easily stand alone and be read without spoilers of the series for readers who haven’t got to those other books yet.

Acorn Award I Golden

For all of these reasons, I’m giving this book a lovely Gold Acorn.

 

Find ‘Bitter Challenge’ on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Bitter Beginnings’ by Aliya DalRae.

Bitter Beginnings is a great read that has left me wanting the next book in the series. 

The first of Aliya DalRae’s Fallen Cross Pack Series, this compelling story delves into the history of one of the minor characters in the Jessica Sweet mysteries and places him firmly in the spotlight. While ‘Sweet Vengeance’ and ‘Sweet Discovery’ focus on interactions between the human and vampire worlds, ‘Bitter Beginnings’ explores the world of the shifters in the wolf pack that lives near Jessica’s home town of Fallen Cross.
Aliya DalRae Fallen Cross Pack 1 Bitter Beginnings

Bitter Beginnings is exactly what the title suggests: there is no romantic “padding” in this story. Patrick’s story is straightforward and, at times, brutal. It’s easy to see how his experiences contributed to the Alpha of the Pack that we meet in DalRae’s earlier novels and stories.

DalRae’s writing is intuitive and fluent, giving her narrative an easy-to-read feel and infusing her characters with qualities that the reader can easily identify with, without dumbing anything down. She is an accomplished storyteller who never fails to transport the reader into the world she has created and into the lives, challenges and aspirations of her characters.

Bitter Beginnings is a great read that has left me wanting the next book in the series.

Golden Acorns
For all of these reasons, this book has earned a delicious Gold Acorn.

Find ‘Bitter Beginnings’ on Amazon.

Dec 18 ~ Featured Book: ‘Spells and Jingle Bells’ anthology.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 18 is ‘Spells and Jingle Bells’, an anthology collection of cozy paranormal holiday themed stories by fifteen different authors.

Something for everyone in this budget friendly collection!

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 18 is ‘Spells and Jingle Bells’, an anthology collection of cozy paranormal holiday themed stories by fifteen different authors.Anthology Spells and Jingle Bells

It looks as though there is something for everyone in this collection of holiday themed paranormal stories.

‘Tis the season for sugarplums, gingerbread, and … eye of newt?

Ring in the holiday season with a little sprinkle of magic and mystery. Meet new friends and reunite with old ones as fifteen paranormal mystery authors spread some holiday cheer in this anthology collection of never before published short stories and novellas.

‘Spells and Jingle Bells’ is available on Amazon.

Dec 15 ~ Featured Book: ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 15 is ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson. 
Readers will love anti-heroine Viper in this grimdark blend of historical and contemporary fantasy in a fairy tale like no other.

Book Squirrel’s Advent Event featured book for December 15 is ‘The Queen’s Viper’ by Lesley Donaldson.

Lesley Donaldson The Queens Viper

Time heals all wounds. Except hers.
Will immortal Viper overcome the power surging within herself even as Queens of Britain try to control her?

To enhance the life-magic of the people she feeds upon, Viper ensures Tudor Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen of England. The villainous immortal also seeks a Crown Jewel that stirs up her repressed memories. Her quest to find her past throws her into the path of malevolent Annys. Annys entraps Viper for centuries. In modern London, Viper inexplicably escapes. She enlists her Foundling, Mouse, to overcome immortal magic and human power as she seeks revenge upon her nemesis and the descendants of the humans who helped Annys, starting with Queen Elizabeth II.

Readers will love anti-heroine Viper in this grimdark blend of historical and contemporary fantasy in a fairy tale like no other.

‘The Queen’s Viper’ is available at Amazon.