Book Review: ‘Sentinels of Oz’ by JB Trepagnier

‘Sentinels of Oz’ is Book 1 of the Emerald City Academy series, a reverse harem adventure set in the not-so-wonderful-anymore land of Oz.

Francesca and Saffron, daughters of the witches of the East and the West, embody the struggle of those who deal with notoriety in the family and trying to claim what is rightfully theirs, despite the prejudice and judgement of most of the populous. In this, the author gives the readers an intriguing perspective, from which Dorothy and her friends are not necessarily heroes they have been made out to be. 

The characters are quirky and highly individual, but also relatable to readers. Each has strengths and flaws, motivations and priorities. The central characters also share a mission and a desire for justice, which binds them together and positions the reader alongside them. I really enjoyed the snark and sarcasm of Francesca, and I appreciated the fact that even though the four central characters had known one another all their lives, they could still disordered other. 

The story is a highly engaging blend of fantasy and mystery which draws the reader in and keeps them guessing to the end.The ending balances the resolution of some questions with the development of others, making the reader both satisfied with the conclusion and keen for the next book in the series.

This book should not, however, be mistaken for a children’s story. The story contains adult and sexual content which is definitely not appropriate for younger readers. 

Overall, this is a fun and enjoyable read.

Book Review: ‘Nowhere: A Shore Haven Short Story’ by Jennifer Reynolds

Find your copy here.

A zombie apocalypse story with some graphic macabre moments, ‘Nowhere’ is an emotionally involving story that pits the reader alongside the protagonist in a desperate bid to outrun the zombie epidemic. 

The tone of the story is urgent, drawing the reader into the panic and fear that Tera experiences as the story plays out. The author very effectively uses suspense and foreboding to create additional tension, while the macabre and often gruesome imagery repulses the reader’s senses. 

The story is quite well-developed and the writing is good, so this was an enjoyable short read. 

Book Review: ‘Larkin’s Landing’ by S.K. Wee

Small towns often seem quiet, as though nothing interesting would ever happen there. 

Larkin’s Landing is not that kind of small town. Full of old secrets and strong prejudice, it’s a community that is bursting at the seams with lies, deceit and mystery. 

This excellent blend of contemporary mystery and family drama keeps the reader guessing right to the end. The central characters are likeable, regular people who find themselves in the middle of a web of intrigue that they must undo before it undoes them. The story is well developed and suspenseful, taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride of anticipation and discovery as the mysteries of Larkin’s Landing unfold.    

There are elements of the story that some readers will find very confronting. It is a story that exposes the horrors of domestic violence and emotional abuse, and demonstrates very clearly that nobody should ever tolerate or excuse such reprehensible behaviour. There is also some adult content, so this book is not recommended for younger readers.

It is, though, a story of the importance of resilience, the healing power of acceptance, and the life-changing difference that true friendship makes. Overall, the story delivers a positive message and a satisfying sense of justice having been done.

Book Review: ‘She Hunts In The Woods: A Horror Story’ by Rich Hawkins

This is a good short story for October and Halloween reading. What starts as a sinister and tense story develops into a tale of fear and flight before growing darker and more horrific. 

The tension and sense of dread grow steadily, making both the main character and the reader increasingly uncomfortable before the true horror of the forest is revealed. The author combines elements of foreboding, macabre, revulsion and fear to influence the reader’s feelings and reactions. 

Even though the title gives away the fact that there’s something lurking in the woods, this story is quite original and well written.

There is some adult content, so it’s not recommended for kids.

Book Review: ‘Crystal Bones and Gossamer Wings’ by Dona Fox

A dark and horrifying tale of lives scarred by grief, pain, and abuse, this is not a story for the faint of heart.

Scenes of horror merge with images that arouse both deep pity and righteous anger in the individual narratives of Crystal and Dee. Having positioned the reader to feel deep empathy and sadness for the two very different central characters, the author then before weaves the different strands of the story together into an even darker, bleaker tapestry. 

The writing is strong and the story is well crafted. As the tale progresses, the author evokes a sense of dread that grows proportionally to the building suspense, yet the reader is still completely blindsided by the twists when they come.

This is a compelling and unsettling work of dark short fiction. 

New Release: ‘Chaining Daisy’ by Julia Blake.

If someone breaks, can they ever truly be put back together?

Book Two in the Perennials Trilogy, Chaining Daisy continues the story begun in Becoming Lili. Now adults coping with relationships, marriage and parenthood, Lili and her friends have no idea of the dark days to come.

Desperate for a baby, Daisy feels the chains of expectation tighten as her failure to conceive places an unbearable strain on her marriage, threatening to stretch her husband’s patience to breaking point.

Kevin also has problems as his feelings grow for his mysterious Ukrainian cleaner. But Kateryna is a woman with a tragic past and a secret – a secret which will change everything.

Chaining Daisy is a magnificent, sweeping story of life in all its harsh, beautiful wonder, and is a tale that will wrench at your heart and hold you spellbound until the very last page.

Book Review: ‘The Pursuit of Trust’ by Sarah B. Meadows

‘The Pursuit of Trust’ is Book 2 in the author’s Discovering Kia paranormal/urban fantasy series. 

Following on directly from where ‘In Pursuit Of Light’ left off, this book continues to explore questions about not only Kia, but also the individual pasts and stories of the men who have become her protectors, Once again, these men share the role of narrator, but it is also significant that Kia has more agency in this book and communicates her thoughts and feelings through more than gesture and action. 

Kia is still a mysterious character, although the reader definitely feels as though they grow to know her better throughout the second book. Answers to the questions about her nature and abilities remain elusive, however, which is also true of her companions.  

It is interesting that this book is titled ’The Pursuit of Trust’ because the lack of trust, and the inability of the central characters to have absolute confidence in one another, are central drivers of the storyline. In fact, the only character who has any implicit trust in anyone is Kia herself, thanks to her innate ability to know the truth and integrity of one’s character.  The different characters’ insights through their narration of parts of the story is a key means of exploring notions of trust and distrust, and the associated experiences of loyalty, jealousy and resentment that either nourish or poison the feelings of each character toward the others. 

This is an intriguing story that moves at a good pace, with a satisfying balance between action, suspense and development.

While the book finishes with the very strong sense that there is more of the story to come, it also provides a brief glimpse into one of the characters’ former lives, of which he has no memory, and which raises as many questions as it provides insights. This adds further mystery and complexity to the story, and increases the reader’s desire to read on and discover the truths that underpin the nature and personality of each of the central characters.