Book Review: ‘Out Of Chaos’ by Elle Mott

‘Out Of Chaos’ is a compelling autobiographical read, written with honesty in a matter-of-fact style that makes reading this somewhat discomfiting story still a quite comfortable experience. 

The title of this book is no lie: it is a story of family dysfunction, homelessness, crime and abuse experienced by a young woman who had the strength to then reclaim and rebuild her life. It is a cautionary tale about how easy it can be to fall so far that it’s hard to get back up, but it is also a story that would give hope to anyone in similar situations.  

Mott neither glorifies the less-than-stellar choices and actions of her misguided youth nor begs for the reader’s pity as she tells her story, but does evoke a great deal of understanding and empathy in the reader as her life is pulled into a downward vortex from which she cannot escape. The moments of resolve and the decisive actions that Elle takes as a result position the reader to share her hope of a better life and to almost will her to make it work, despite the fact that they are reading the story in past tense. 

Despite the bleakness of its beginning and the despair encountered as the story continues, the overall tone and the message of this book are positive and life-affirming.

‘Out Of Chaos’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘A Study Of Household Spirits Of Eastern Europe’ by Ronesa Aveela

A fascinating compilation of stories, traditions and beliefs.
##tradition #beliefs #paranormal #nonfiction

This is a fascinating compilation of stories, traditions and collected information about the spirits and supernatural beings of Eastern European and especially Slavic cultures. There is a wealth of detail, including etymologies of the names and instructions for how to appease or banish each type of spirit. Some are similar to creatures found in fairytales and fantasy stories, while others may be completely new to the reader. 

The entries on each different spirit are thorough and richly detailed. The writing is clear and expressive while retaining the straightforward style that is conventional for an informative text. The inclusion of traditional stories, poems and ‘fun facts’ adds depth and texture to each chapter. 

This book would definitely appeal to those interested in the supernatural world or in cultural superstitions, and could also serve as a very useful reference work for writers and artists. There is an extensive bibliography and links to other sources that demonstrate the author’s diligence in research and historiography, which gives the reader confidence in the information provided. 

This most interesting and engaging book has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘These Savage Bones’ by Kaitlin Hillerich

The problem with committing to a relentless quest for truth and justice is that sometimes you get exactly what you wanted. 

When the ssudden, tragic loss of her beloved uncle unleashes a chain of events in Esperanza’s life that she could never have foreseen, she is confronted by a web of lies that challenges everything she thinks she knows. 

Esperanza is smart, fiercely independent, and headstrong, a young woman way ahead of her time and society in Mexico, 1875. Her spirit and loyalty are admirable, yet they can also be seen to cloud her judgement and cause her to overlook things in her life which she has always taken at face value. 

This story leaves the reader considering not only the unintended consequences of the characters’ actions, but also the difficulty of what to do with the calaveras that tumble fromthe family closet once the door is opened. 

A blend of mystery, historical fiction, and a bit of romance, ‘These Savage Bones’ is an interesting and thought-provoking tale that can be enjoyed in a couple of hours. 

This book has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Josie’ by Susan Lowe and Diane Iverson

‘Josie’ is the true story of a young German girl who endured the family’s expulsion from their home in Glogon, now Glogonj in Serbia, after Workd War II, and the horrors of persecution and imprisonment. 

Written from a child’s perspective, the story is told in a straightforward but very personal way, so that the reader develops a strong sense of empathy and connection with Josie, taking on her emotions and feeling the tension of key moments in the story quite profoundly. 

While Josie’s experiences are neither sanitised nor glossed over, her story is  encouraging and positive, a powerful testimony to the importance of love, hope, and family connections in a world that so often seemed to Josie to be full of hatred and violence. 

A suitable read for teens and adults, ‘Josie’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

‘The Hangman’s Daughter’ by Oliver Pötzsch

Superstition and fear are a dangerous combination, especially when they are allowed to rule over common sense and legal considerations. 

This is a fascinating historical tale full of mystery, intrigue and twists. There are moments of gut-wrenching sadness and others of macabre fascination. The story centres around Jakob Kuisl, the town’s hangman, his daughter Magdalena, and the other residents of 17th century Schongau in Bavaria, where children are disappearing and a local woman is suspected of witchcraft. 

While the story itself is fictional, it is strongly founded on the history of the author’s own family: Jakob Kuisl was one of the hangmen in the family line from which Potzsch is a descendant. This close connection gave the author access to books, documents, items and family records which add significant authenticity to this novel.

Perhaps it is this connection that enabled the author to recreate the social issues of the 17th century with a sense of urgency and bring his characters to life in a vivid and realistic way— or perhaps it’s just that the story is really well constructed and narrated in such a personal, intimate way. Whatever the reason, this is an excellent read. 

‘The Hanman’s Daughter’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘April Yellow Moon’ by Carol Ann Kauffman

This fourth Cat Collier mystery story continues the narrative of the relationship between Cat and Carter, which is yet again complicated by the situations which Cat finds herself investigating. 

‘April Yellow Moon’ is a good story. While not quite as suspenseful or dramatically tense as the previous stories in the series have been, the author draws the reader into Cat’s life and has them holding their breath, waiting to see what happens next, on more than one occasion.

In keeping with the rest of the series, this is a short read, comfortably finished in less than 90 minutes. 

Enjoyable and intriguing, ‘April Yellow Moon’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Read my reviews of January Black Ice, February White Lies and March Blues.

Book Review: ‘Murder By The Book’ by Devorah Fox

‘Murder By The Book’ is a short story with all the ingredients of a good murder mystery. There are plenty of suspects, a handsome cop and a clever amateur sleuth with a love of mystery novels and a keen eye for details.

It’s an enjoyable story that can be read in about half an hour, so it fits perfectly into a lunch break or a quiet spot in the day.

‘Murder By The Book’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here.