Book Review: ‘The Chronicles of Aveline’ by Ken Fry

There is no doubt that many of the things done throughout history in the name of God and religion served only to dishonour and shame both. This truth is highlighted throughout this book, as it is in any study of the period in which the story is set. 

’The Chronicles of Aveline’ is a medieval drama set during the 12th century in the decade leading up to the Third Crusade. 

From the thrill of adventure and the rush of first love to crushing loss and thrilling adventure, Aveline discovers the depth and extent of her own strength and resilience. Hers is a story of courage and commitment, and of the powerful motivation that comes from an intensely personal pursuit of justice.  

The story is well crafted, making use of suspense and anticipation to heighten the reader’s engagement in the story as the tale progresses, and maintaining an emotional involvement in Aveline’s inner life as well as her physical fate. The writing is vivid and sensory, bringing the characters and settings to life in a most enjoyable manner. 

The story comes to a natural conclusion, but leaves questions unanswered and destinies unfulfilled, suggesting that there is much more of Aveline’s yet story to come. I certainly hope that turns out to be the case. 

’The Chronicles of Aveline’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘Yardley: An Unconventional Love Story’ by Lucretia Stanhope

Part of Stanhope’s ‘Elemental Witch Trials’ series, this novella tells the back story of Yardley, a minor but mysterious character in the other books. 

It is interesting to gain insight into the nature and qualities of a character who has hovered on the periphery of the story so far, and to see how the connection between Yardley and Sebastian was first established. I was surprised by the appearance of one of the other minor characters from the series in this book, as it was a connection I had not expected.

Testament to the author’s creativity and talent is the fact that even after reading multiple novels in this series, I can still be completely surprised by a cleverly crafted connection or plot twist. 

This was an enjoyable read, easily finished in under two hours. 

‘Yardley’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘Or What You Will: A Reimagining Of Twelfth Night’ by CH Clepitt

Just like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, this is a fun romp full of coincidence, disguise, trickery, and mistaken identity, albeit set on a tropical island in the 21st century. 

Clepitt’s trademark humour infuses the narrative with warmth and a lighthearted tone that make the story very entertaining. The characters are, in keeping with Shakespeare’s play, delightful and a bit daft at the same time, which is how the story is actually made to work. 

Given that the play already bent the gender roles and expectations back in the 1600s, it is a  plot that easily lends itself to the incorporation of gay and lesbian characters and themes, achieved with the intelligence and wit that are characteristic of Clepitt’s writing.

There is sufficient homage to Shakespeare’s tale to make it recognizable, and sufficient originality and development of setting, plot and characters to make the work distinct as Clepitt’s own. 

A most enjoyable read, ‘Or What You Will’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘The Interspecies Poker Tournament’ by Claire Buss

’The Interspecies Poker Tournament’ is a prequel to The Rose Thief’, Claire Buss’ first novel to feature Ned, Jenni, and the rest of the Thief Catcher gang.

It is a wonderfully quirky fantasy story, full of rich and diverse characters that all have their own priorities and vested interests in catching the murderer.

It’s written with humour and warmth that infuse the story with a genuine feel-good tone, despite the multiple deaths, general trickery and deliberate obfuscation by some, and the presence of some rather sinister characters. 

This novella-length book can easily be read in a couple of hours, and would best suit a YA-and-older audience. I found it to be a great diversion on a quiet afternoon, and thoroughly enjoyed the story. 

’The Interspecies Poker Tournament’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘Irma’s Endgame’ by Paulette Mahurin

It is a well-crafted mystery story that goes beyond the “whodunnit” aspect to touch on ideas or issues that are both fascinating and thought-provoking at the same time. 

‘Irma’s Endgame’ is just such a book. A compelling mystery novel on one hand, and a powerful “What if?’ premise on the other, ensures that the reader will be fully engaged in the intricacies of this story. It demonstrates the best and worst of human nature, and explores the vulnerability of even the closest of relationships to a range of external forces. 

The story is well-paced and carefully constructed. The characters are varied and interesting, and quite realistic. 

An enjoyable and interesting read, ‘Irma’s Endgame’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘Moon Warriors’ by Kayla Krantz

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the bad people and the good. After all, we only see what other people are willing to let us see, and some of them are very good at manipulating our perceptions.

Our understandings of the world and of ourselves would certainly be confronted and challenged by the shocking discovery that one we have always been told was our enemy is actually more of a friend than someone we have loved and trusted. 

Talia, driven to find our the truth behind the death of her boyfriend, finds herself in exactly that situation, The story takes her on a sometimes terrifying and often surprising journey of discovery, during which she finds out far more than she expected at the outset. 

‘Moon Warriors’ is a really good paranormal romance story that can be read in a couple of hours. This is a book that will please lovers of paranormal romance or dark romance, although there is some strong language and graphic content, so it’s not suitable for young readers.  

‘Moon Warriors’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘Oathbreaker’ The Kings Hounds book 2 by Martin Jensen

This sequel to The King’s Hounds continues the story of the friendship between Winston and Halfdan as they find themselves investigating a murder at a monastery en route to carrying out another assignment on behalf of King Cnut.

Historical enmity and mistrust, not only between Saxons and Danes but also between two prominent monasteries, cloud the situation, requiring the two medieval amateur detectives to tread carefully while ferreting out the relevant facts and details from the actions and words of the cast of characters that surrounds them. 

This is a great story, full of interest and intrigue. The characters are varied and colourful, and the settings are lifelike and fascinating.

The story is embellished with interesting historical details and insights that enable the reader to develop their own questions and theories about the suspects, just as they would with a mystery set in the present, keeping them engaged in the plot and paying careful attention to the clues discovered and discussed by Winston and Halfdan. 

A most enjoyable medieval mystery read, ‘Oathbreaker’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

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