Book Review: ‘The Feels’ by Vanessa Ravel

‘The Feels’ is a gripping psychological thriller that explores ideas of guilt, secrecy, and vengeance through the experiences of Ariel, the protagonist of the story, and her interactions with those close to her as the story progresses.

Ariel is a complex and deeply flawed character, yet one for whom the reader develops a strong sense of empathy because the story is told from her perspective, Her thoughts and feelings are communicated powerfully, creating vivid images in the reader’s mind and evoking strong emotional responses.

The story also provides a fascinating study of a mind corrupted by both mental illness and indulgence in evil, through the thoughts and actions of the antagonist. This adds a dimension of psychological horror that leaves the reader aghast at the extent of the destruction caused by a depraved mind.

The story remains unpredictable and suspenseful throughout, keeping the reader guessing right to the end with plenty of complications and heart-in-the throat moments.

‘The Feels’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Fallen Prey’ by Aliya DalRae

This is the first book in Aliya DalRae’s new paranormal romance series featuring the vampires of the Fallen Cross Legion. 

‘Fallen Prey’ is the story of Harrier, a Vampire who spent most of his time as a side character in DalRae’s Jessica Sweet trilogy being aloof and gruff, and really only began to let his guard down toward the end of the third and novel in the series.  

DalRae’s characters are always interesting and complex, so the opportunity to delve deeper into the mysteries of one of the leading men of the Vampire Legion was most welcome. 

The highly original and well-paced plot takes the reader up close and personal with Harrier, developing his character and story more fully and extending the story of the Legion and it’s key members at the same time. 

While Harrier and Kythryn give the term ‘paranormal romance’ new meaning as the story unfolds, they find themselves immersed in situations filled with danger, action, and some moments of almost palpable tension between themselves and others. 

DalRae has also demonstrated her cleverness in the title! ‘Fallen Prey’. It is only when the reader is deep into the story that they realise just how meaningful and appropriate the title of the book is, on numerous levels. 

Even for loyal readers of Aliya DalRae’s books, it’s good advice to expect the unexpected. 

‘Fallen Prey’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here


Book Review: ‘Timeless Trouble’ by Lucretia Stanhope

It is no small feat to create a series of books that continues to interest and intrigue a reader over time and innumerable  developments of plot and character.  It should be recognised as a significant achievement, then, that this tenth title in Stanhope’s Elemental Witch Trials series is as riveting as the first. 

This novel focuses on the connections between the central characters, but also those between the witches and vampires that readers of the series have come to know, and between the realms they rule and travel. Indeed, it seems that everything is connected to everything else, one way or another. 

As new challenges arise to test their strengths and loyalties, The central characters are faced with almost impossible choices that must be made. The reader is also confronted by those trials, fully aware of the extreme difficulty and serious consequences of each one. 

An intriguing and suspenseful read, ‘Timeless Trouble’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Pandora’s Matryoshkas’ by Ferdy S.G. Dumel

“You know, a man loves the mystery of woman, but not the moral confusion.”

This is the essence of the situation in which Chris, one of the central characters, finds himself.  Caught in a web of grief, desire and a deepening sense of confusion and frustration, Chris is trapped within that very riddle packed in a mystery, wrapped in an enigma that is both Russia and her women. 

The author effectively captures the reader in the same mysteries that engulf Chris, deepening the reader’s sense of empathy for his situation and heightening the suspicion that Chris will never fully understand what he has gotten himself into.

Although this reader was not entirely satisfied by the conclusion, and my suspicions remain unassuaged, it certainly gave me insights into the different world of Moscow and the vastly different lifestyle of its people to my own. This added to the sense of mystery and intrigue that the story evoked, and heightened my interest in the events of the plot.

Overall, this is a confronting read, quite well-written and intentionally unsettling. It reminds the reader that little in life is ever as straightforward as we think, and that trust is something we tend to do far too easily.

Pandora’s Matryoshkas has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Audiobook Review: ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’

Absolutely brilliant entertainment.

A rollicking saga full of pirates, rogues, strumpets, sassy parrots and adventure, this story carried me back in time to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the 17th century. The narration brought the story to life very effectively, and I was hooked in no time flat. 

The characters are richly drawn, complex and conflicted, each with secrets and passions that drive them and direct the choices and alliances they make. The central characters each have a mission that they seek to achieve, and the reader is kept in eager suspense about how those things may, or indeed may not, come to pass as the story unfolds. Each of them experiences significant moments of revelation and others of relief but, as often happens in life, even these tend to lead to further complications. 

The settings, too, are brought to life in vivid color and textures that enrich the story and add another level of depth and engagement in the story. For someone who has never been to Jamaica, the places depicted in the story all seemed very real and clear in my mind. 

There is some very amusing innuendo, adult content and violence throughout the book, so it’s not for younger audiences, but it is a story that can be enjoyed by a very broad adult audience because it blends elements of adventure, action, tragedy, romance and mystery with historical fiction, so that the story lines of individual characters are interwoven and tangled in most interesting and diverting ways.  

A most enjoyable and entertaining audiobook, ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy hereh.



.

Book Review: ‘Never Again’ by Lily Luchesi

A powerful story, as terrifying as the true horrors of the historical events on which it is based.

There have been many horrors inflicted by humans on others in the last 500 years. Sean Wireman has witnessed them all. 

‘Never Again’ is a paranormal exposition of the consequences of human hatred and cruelty. 

The story is told from Sean’s perspective as both a witness and a sufferer of persecution, oppression and torture. The story is overwhelmingly dark and somber, but for those characters who bring light and relief into Sean’s life. The bleak and heavy tone of the writing suits the events of the story very well, yet the reader is aware that it is impossible for them to feel as weighted down by despair as Sean does.  

The main character is both flawed and heroic and, although he is not human, the reader develops a strong affinity with his emotions and responses, particularly the passions that characterise him, and his anger and heartbreak, which are portrayed so vividly they are palpable. 

The very powerful message of this novel is that the evil of the past must be resisted and put to an end. The horrors of the past must never be allowed to occur again. The reader is left in no doubt whatsoever that, like Sean, each of us must play our part in making that happen.

A gripping and often confronting read, ‘Never Again’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘A Different Kind of Angel: A Novel’ by Paulette Mahurin

A compelling story based on real events.

It is not difficult to be horrified by the level of cruelty that humans will inflict on one another, especially where prejudice and power are involved. There is much in this book that tells of the trauma, the emotional and physical scarring, and the horrors experienced by the victims of such torture experienced not only by those who survived the government pogroms against the Jews in late 19th century Russia, but also by those exposed to the depths of degradation meted out to those who found themselves inside the cruel, cold walls of the notorious Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum in New York. 

Based on the true story of Nellie Bly’s infiltration of the asylum and subsequent exposure of the abuses and brutality that occurred there, and on the experiences of many who fled Russia in the hope of making a new life in America, ‘A Different Kind of Angel’ tells the stories of Klara Gelfman and the other women she meets inside that institution. 

The book certainly has its dark moments, but it also gives emphasis to the resilience and kindness of people like Klara and her friends Catherine and Nellie. These women are inspirational in their ability to rise above the pain and muck time and time again, reminders to us all of the power of encouragement and kindness in the face of hostility and fear. 

Mahurin tells a compelling story. The characters are strongly drawn, and the depictions of the various behaviours of the inmates of the asylum are vivid and, one suspects, based on careful study and research. At no time is the narrative insensitive to the plight of the insane, nor to the individual qualities of each woman and her mental illness. The reader has a strong sense of how their lives and conditions could be  vastly different given proper care, nutrition and some kindness, and feels deeply grateful to the few souls who showed these women as much compassion as they were able to. 

Overall, the story is more encouraging than depressing, and most enlightening. Despite the darkness, the message of the story is  positive and empowering, especially for those enduring some kind of misery or darkness in their own lives. 

‘A Different Kind of Angel: A Novel’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here