Book Review: ‘Wild Rose’ by Sherrie Hansen

‘Wild Rose’ continues the story of Pastor Ian MacCraig and the community of St Conan’s in Lochawe, Scotland, that began with Thistle Down. 

This is a lighthearted, often humorous and sometimes very poignant story of an unlikely meeting that unleashes an unpredictable series of events full of twists and turns.

While it is a romantic story, it’s also a story of human nature in which judgement and forgiveness feature prominently. It challenges the reader to think about their own perceptions of others, especially those who stand out from the crowd in one way or another.

There is some subtle adult content, so it’s not a book for young readers. That being said, that content is written with sensitivity, and is unlikely to offend adult readers.

‘Wild Rose’ is a most enjoyable read, and has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Book Review: ‘Highland Raven’ The Celtic Blood Book 1 by Melanie Karsak

Historically, very little is known of the early life of Gruoch, later known as Lady Macbeth. Immortalised by Shakespeare as a conniving, power -hungry shrew, audiences have been fascinated by her for centuries. 

Karsak weaves a kinder tale of the young Gruoch in this excellent work of historical fantasy. History, magic and fantasy combine to tell a story of a young woman searching to discover her destiny and calling in life, while still learning who she is and the power she holds over men. 

This story is so powerfully and beautifully written that it is easy to forget that this is fiction, and to believe that this really is Gruoch’s story. We see Gruoch’s strengths and vulnerability, her loyalty and hatred, her past and glimpses of her future. As readers, we love those she loves and despise those she hates, and we become deeply invested in her hopes and dreams. 

The author has also incorporated some lovely nods to Shakespeare’s play, littering quotes and references to the text throughout the narrative. This very cleverly lends credibility and legitimacy to Karsak’s story, reinforcing that sense of reality and closeness to Gruoch that the reader feels from almost the first page onwards. 

The story delivers a fascinating blend of mystery, fantasy, romance, and adventure in an expertly crafted package that is almost impossible to put down once started. 

‘Highland Raven’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Cracksman Code’ by Jane Jago

The Cracksman Code is a terrific read.

On more than one occasion, this story will warm your heart right before lurching it into your throat and leave you holding your breath.

Part thriller, part heartwarming portrait of a family bound by loyalty and their own way of doing things, the strands of this story blend seamlessly into one immensely enjoyable story that leaves the reader feeling like a member of the family. It’s a story that immerses the reader in both the professional and the personal sides of operations that, while they are in pursuit of justice, are nevertheless just outside of legal boundaries.

The Cracksman family are entirely realistic and believable, each with strengths and flaws that play off the other characters’ qualities in a very familiar way. At the same time, they do have some remarkable talents and involvements that make them anything but your standard family-next-door. Similarly, their friends Anna Marshall and Sam Henderson are very normal people who do extraordinary things out of their commitment to the same kind of loyalty and values embraced by the Cracksmans. 

Clever and witty writing highlights the warmth of the friendships and family relationships and contrasts powerfully with the acute tension created in the action and suspense sequences of the story, making this a book that is hard to put down. 

There is some adult content, so this book is not suitable for young readers.

’The Cracksman Code’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

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. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘In Pursuit of Light’ by Sarah B Meadows

‘In Pursuit Of Light’ focuses on the experiences of a close-knit group of men, a ‘band of brothers’ so to speak, each of whom is gifted with some form of special ability. These characters share the role of narrator, giving the reader intimate insights into the events of the story but also into each one’s thoughts, emotions and reactions. 

Kia is a most mysterious character, who hooks the reader first with her vulnerability and then with her independence. The author makes fascinating use of  the narrative device in that the reader gets to know Kia through the perspectives of the narrators rather than through her own experience and point of view. 

The story combines elements of paranormal and urban fantasy, with strong post-apocalyptic overtones which come partly from  the settings and world-building, and partly from the activities and behaviour off the men. While their actual occupation is really only hinted at, the reader does feel as though they are involved in some sort of resistance or paramilitary activity in a world that has survived an undefined but significant trauma.  

The writing is powerful, telling a compelling story and making use of some almost poetic imagery at times. However, it is also true that the book as a whole would also benefit from more thorough editing to remove errors that, while individually minor, frustrate the reader as they accumulate.  

This is an interesting and often suspenseful story. It does end with a cliffhanger designed to motivate readers to advance to the second book, but the story has sufficient resolution to give the reader a sense of having been provided answers to at least some of the residual questions posed by the story and its underlying premise. 

There is adult content in this book, so it’s recommended for readers aged 18+ only.

‘In Pursuit Of Light’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Shadow’s Edge: The Kyn Chronicles Book 1’ by Jami Gray

‘Shadow’s Edge’ is a really well constructed urban fantasy/paranormal/mystery story that hooks the reader right from the start and envelops them in a web of mystery and conspiracy that holds them captive until the very last page.

Also evident from the outset is the writer’s skill at developing character, a setting and scene through powerful writing and stunning imagery. This author is a wordsmith, a creator of imagery and fluent, compelling narrative that makes reading this book a pleasure.

Contrasting with that, however, is a small number of typographical errors that take the reader by surprise and break their concentration from the flow of the story. While this is disappointing, it should also be acknowledged that these flaws are fewer in number than those I have encountered in some traditionally published classics, so they remain a minor irritation and nothing more. 

The characters are varied and interesting, each a unique blend of characteristics that work well for the role they play – the hard headed boss, the investigators with tough exteriors, or the mysterious nemesis, all of them are very finely crafted.

Raine and Gavin are both really well developed. The reader feels as though they come to know them well, although the secrets of their pasts are only hinted at, keeping the reader guessing about their back stories and the inner conflicts each one conceals. These complexities are compounded by sexual tension between them that is so ripe, it’s about to fall off the vine. The frisson of energy that results adds to the intrigue and suspense of the story, building and rumbling like not-so-distant thunder as theIr individual investigations deepen and interweave.

The story is action-packed and suspenseful. While some satisfying resolution is achieved within the story arc, there remain some tantalising questions and connections that tie this book to the next in the series. 

All in all, this is a riveting read that, once started, is very hard to set down. 

‘Shadow’s Edge’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Storm at Keizer Manor’ by Ramcy Diek

The story opens at a point where the relationship between Annet and Forrest is complicated by their different pasts and by their different aspirations for the future. As is often the way, their feelings for one another really only crystallize when they are blindsided by events that change everything for them. 

As the narrative progresses, the reader is reminded of the importance of both communicating one’s love for another so that nothing is left to assumption or doubt, and of making the most of every moment, not taking each other for granted. 

This book delivers a fascinating study of the contrasts in moral judgements and social expectations of women between the 19th and 21st century, and challenges the reader to contemplate how they might cope if they found themselves in a different time, and without electricity, cars or smart phones. Annet is challenged not only by the differences between the two time periods, but also by the prejudice with which she is treated by those who have no understanding of her origins or culture. 

The story is quite well structured and progresses at a good pace. The characters are realistic and varied, and generally quite well developed, although I did feel that Forrest was a little too prone to dithering about and moaning without really developing or progressing the story much at a crucial part of the plot when he could have heightened the drama and suspense had he responded differently. 

The use of alternating points of view enabled the reader to have quite deep insight into the thoughts and feelings of both Forrest and Annet, engaging in their circumstances and becoming quite invested in how the complications of the story might be resolved. 

Overall, this was quite an enjoyable and interesting book. 

Storm at Keizer Manor’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here