Book Review: ‘Prince of York: A Story of Reginald Pole’ by Samantha Wilcoxson

‘Prince of York’ offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of Reginald Pole, Catholic cardinal who also happened to be the nephew of English kings Edward IV and Richard III. As such, Pole found himself at odds with Henry VIII over more than his Church of England’s split from the Roman Church. 

In the turbulent world of Renaissance, political intrigue and religious Reformation, Wilcoxson brings Pole to life, networks him with both prominent and humble people, places him in vividly drawn settings, and animates the conflicts and issues that confronted him in a highly realistic and compelling way. The reader has the sensation of looking on as the events of the story unfold, developing considerable  empathy for Pole in the dilemmas and challenges he faces.  

The story definitely presents history from a perspective that is not often explored through fiction. Unlike his more famous relatives, Pole’s responses to the world around him are characterised by his faith and humility. Wilcoxson’s Pole reminds the reader, as the man himself would have done, that there is always a bigger picture to consider and that the greatest success is not always found in personal gain. 

The book is very well written and most enjoyable to read. Even though it is historical fiction, it feels authentic. Surely, for a work of fiction, there can be no higher praise than that.

Book Review: ‘A Medium’s Birthday Surprise’ by Chariss K Walker

This is the first book in the Becky Tibbs: A North Carolina Medium Mystery Series, in which medium Becky Tibbs uses her paranormal abilities to help solve mysteries and help ghosts find peace. 

While skeptics might think that such blending of cozy mystery and paranormal investigation sounds contrived, Walker has created characters and storylines that seem realistic and eminently believable. A range of world views and perspectives are represented by different characters in the story, and the reader is respectfully left to draw their own conclusions. 

Regardless of one’s philosophy and world view, this is a really interesting and well-crafted mystery story. Becky’s path to solving the mystery is challenging and complex, and she must rely on investigation and logic to solve the problems she encounters along the way. 

The writing is good and the action and intrigue of the story builds well, right up to the end of the book. 

This is a series I would like to read more of. 

Book Review: ‘A Study of Rusalki : Slavic Mermaids’ by Ronesa Aveela

I had read stories of sirens and nymphs before, but there is so much more to this aspect of folklore than many people have ever realised. Prior to reading ‘A Study of Rusalki’, I had no idea that the Slavic culture of mermaids was so interesting and complex. 

This book is easy to read, well organised and quite fascinating. From superstition and legend to history and literature, the author provides a comprehensive study of a culture and belief system that seems little known beyond its own region.

The selected excerpts from literature are wonderfully entertaining, but also add depth and substance to the author’s descriptions and analysis.

Book Review: ‘Mya’ by Missy Sheldrake

A prequel to the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, this is a story that easily stands alone as a most excellent work of fantasy fiction.  Sheldrake’s storytelling is as mesmerising as the songs of her minstrels, making this magical sword and sorcery fantasy for Young Adult and older readers a spellbinding tale that, once started, is hard to put down.

Magically and mystically gifted, Mya is a young woman like no other, Her story is one of adventure and friendship, of seeking and fulfilling her destiny, and one in which danger is always conspiring or lurking around one corner or another. She is a wonderful heroine – she is engaging and loveable, straightforward yet complex, and humble despite her abilities. Through the adventure and the challenges she faces, Mya does not only become more resilient and self-reliant, she learns to trust both her own instincts and the destiny to which she is called.  

The cast of characters surrounding Mya is varied and interesting, each one portrayed in full colour and lively detail. The story is told with rich imagery and well-paced action that moves along at a very good pace. 

Sheldrake is an author who should be much more widely read, as her books are highly original and hold enormous appeal for lovers of fantasy, adventure and coming of age stories alike. 

Book Review: ‘October Jones: The Lightning Pines Mystery’ by J.D. McFarren

This is an entertaining and interesting mystery story for kids that delivers positive messages about honesty, friendship and personal integrity. 

October Jones is a likeable protagonist who kids will relate to easily. He is basically a good kid, but finds himself getting into trouble from time to time. Alongside his friends and his sister April, October takes it upon himself to solve a mystery and finds himself defending his own innocence at the same time. 

This is a kids’ novel suitable for independent readers, or for families to read together. It would make an excellent addition to any family, town or school library. 

Book of the Week: ‘Reecah’s Flight’ by Richard H Stephens

Reecah’s Flight is Book 1 in the Legends of the Lurker fantasy series by Richard H Stephens. 

There’s something strange about the woman living on top of the hill and the people of Fishmonger Bay leave her alone. At least until the day she pays a visit to the village witch.

There’s something strange about the woman living on top of the hill and the people of Fishmonger Bay leave her alone. At least until the day she pays a visit to the village witch. Banding together, the villagers take action. One magic user is bad enough; the emergence of a second—intolerable. Her life spinning out of control, Reecah Draakvriend tries desperately to unravel the dark secret hanging over her head. In a never-ending battle to survive, she must decide whether it is wiser to slay the dragon or become a victim of her people. If Reecah can’t find the key to unlock her family heritage, will she fall prey to the mystery so many others have died to protect?

Banding together, the villagers take action. One magic user is bad enough; the emergence of a second—intolerable.

Her life spinning out of control, Reecah Draakvriend tries desperately to unravel the dark secret hanging over her head. In a never-ending battle to survive, she must decide whether it is wiser to slay the dragon or become a victim of her people.

If Reecah can’t find the key to unlock her family heritage, will she fall prey to the mystery so many others have died to protect?

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Book Review: ’The Shadows of Miss Pring’ by K.E. Fraser

They say you should never make assumptions about people, and it’s certainly true of the titular character of this book. There is a lot more to Miss Eleanora Pring than meets the eye, which makes for a most entertaining read. Miss Pring is an absolutely delightful character with a snarky sense of humour and a wicked talent with a set of knitting needles. 

Part cozy mystery, part adventure, part suspense, this is a really fun story with some great surprises and twists. The story is set in Adelaide, Australia, providing some nice local content and offering a laconic kind of humour that is typically Australian.

It also delivers some great lessons along the way: one should not assume older people don’t know more than they let on, and never, ever underestimate little old ladies. 

‘The Shadows of Miss Pring’ is a most enjoyable mystery read. 

Book Review: ‘Books, Blogs and Bloody Murder’ by Michelle Ann Hollstein

Find your copy here.

This is a fun short cozy mystery story featuring Aggie Underhill, an amateur sleuth. The story revolves around a woman’s sudden death in a local bookstore.

Aggie is delightful, and each of her friends adds colour and vitality to the story. 

While this particular story is more about Aggie’s situation than sleuthing or solving crime, it is an engaging and entertaining light read that serves as a good introduction to the series.

Book Review: ‘A Tropical Murder’ by Trisha J Kelly

‘A Tropical Murder ‘ is an enjoyable mystery adventure full of hidden clues and red herrings that keep both the reader and the amateur sleuths at the centre of the story guessing. 

The cast of characters is interesting and varied, with plenty of shady characters, hidden motives and skeletons in closets to complicate the puzzle of the disappearance of Malcolm Wilson. 

Unpredictable and original, the story is quite well structured and thoughtfully developed, providing an entertaining and interesting light read. 

Book Review: ‘A Queer Old Christmas ‘ by CH Clepitt

Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, this excellent story explores the devastating consequences of bigotry and hatred within families, and the healing power of acceptance and love.

Infused with humour and warmth that serves as a very effective contrast to the bitterness of the antagonist, the story immerses the reader in the lives of Linda, Tim and Ani as they navigate their way through quite significant challenges. It is a positive and uplifting book that helps those who have the privilege of being comfortable in their situations to understand what it is like for others who experience discrimination and prejudice, and how to appropriately respond to differences in others. 

The writing is excellent, the story is expertly crafted, and the characters are delightful. All in all, it’s a very entertaining read that comes highly recommended for YA and older. It’s a story that everyone should read.