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

New Release: ‘The Sorceress’ Vengeance: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 2′ by JB RIchards

‘The Sorceress’ Vengeance’ is the second in The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy fantasy series by JB Richards. The stories of Kirin, Tyriel and the Fabiosa sisters are continued from ‘The Curse of the Dragon Stone’, the first exciting novella in the trilogy. 

As a terrorist threat looms in the distance, Ejaenin falls victim to a deadly curse. Her sister-witches are scrambling to find a cure, but time is running out.

Kirin and Tyriel strive to help the Fabiosa Sisters with their plight, even as they try to convince The Wolf that they share a common legacy.

Meanwhile, the Sorceress, Zorella, schemes to destroy the Fabiosa Clan in a terrible plot that will allow her to seize control over the entire Realm and take vengeance on the man who spurned her and her child!

Book 1 of the trilogy is ‘The Curse of the Dragon Stone’. Read the review or find your copy here!

Find your copy of ‘The Sorceress’ Vengeance: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 2′ here.

Book Review: ‘The First Queen Of England’ by MJ Porter

Elfrida, or Ælfryth, was anointed and crowned queen of England in the same ceremony that her husband, Edgar, was crowned King in 973 AD. 

‘The First Queen Of England’ is the first instalment of Elfrida’s story. This is a really well-written book, based on sound research and good knowledge of the historical context of the story. 

Historically, there is quite limited information available on the early life of Elfrida, but Porter has penned a well-crafted and believable personal story which, while it is fictional, is consistent what is known of both Elfrida and Edgar and their families. 

This task brings with it many challenges, not the least of which is diffusing a cast of characters from the different perspectives and accounts of history which have been the subject of discussion and debate for centuries. In presenting lead characters who are engaging and interesting, but also flawed and fallible, the author has given the reader people with whom they can relate at a very human level, despite their differences in social status and experience, and the changes in society that have occurred during the vast amount of time that stands between them. 

The supporting characters are likewise portrayed with not only their attractive qualities and strengths on public display, but also their motivations and interests exposed to the reader’s scrutiny. This gives the reader a rich insight into the machinations and social engineering of life at court and among the nobility in 10th century England. The characterisation is detailed, insightful and razor sharp, revealing the author’s considerable talent at filling in the blanks on the pages of history and creating characters that are complex and often quite delightful in the way they play their roles.  
Porter paints the settings and events in vivid colours and textures that seem almost tangible, bringing Elfrida’s home in Wessex and the King’s court at Winchester to life in such a way that each place is depicted clearly and then becomes familiar to the reader as the story progresses. 

A richly and intricately detailed work of historical fiction, ‘The First Queen Of England’ is an immensely enjoyable read. It has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book of the Week: ‘Fallen Captive’ by Aliya DalRae

‘Fallen Captive’ is the second book in a suspenseful and exciting new series of paranormal romance suspense novels by Aliya DalRae.  

Held captive from birth for crimes ultimately committed by another, the Vampire, Nox, escapes the Primeval only to spend his first hundred years of liberty searching for somewhere to belong. The last place he imagined he’d call home is with the Fallen Cross Legion, a military faction serving the very entity responsible for his wrongful imprisonment. The only complication is the fire-haired female who saved his life, if not his eye.

From the moment she laid eyes on him, Rachel found herself drawn to Nox. However, the loss of her human husband after a lifetime of devotion left her with no desire to put herself through that brand of heartbreak ever again. She doesn’t need a male in her world to feel complete. 

When the Primeval demands an audience with Nox and the Legion Warriors, they find themselves far from home and at the mercy of a madman. Compelled by the Seer blood running through her veins, Rachel joins the Warriors on their journey to London, knowing full well they’ll be lucky to escape with their lives.

But her heart has betrayed her, and Rachel knows she must do whatever it takes to rescue the male that she loves. 

Of course, you may want to start at the beginning of the Fallen Cross Legion series with Fallen Prey, which has been reviewed previously on this blog.

Aliya DalRae is the author of the Jessica Sweet trilogy of paranormal romance novels and the Fallen Cross Pack paranormal novella series.

Book Review: ‘Azalea Wang Mysteries’ Books 1-3 by Lucy Ai

Amateur detective stories are abundant, and readers are generally spoiled for choice. While readers will always choose books that appeal to them for their own reasons, it’s always exciting to find a series that not only presents a succession of very interesting mystery stories, but also addresses bigger ideas such as prejudice, jealousy and the assumptions people make about one another.  

Azalea Wang Mysteries is one such series, and is well worth reading for more than just well-developed mystery stories that will keep you guessing right to the end. 

These stories are set largely in and around the senior citizens community of Evening Glory. Azalea Wang is, like many of the residents, of Chinese heritage, and the Chinese culture adds a refreshing and interesting perspective in these mystery stories. The stories draw on particular Chinese cultural elements in such a way that they become part of the story and become more familiar to non-Chinese readers, providing a new sense of familiarity and understanding that builds both knowledge and acceptance.

The stories very subtly address not only the assumptions non-Chinese people make, but also the biases that different groups of Chinese people hold about one another. Because those stereotypes are challenged, the characters and the reader begin to see the people in these stories as individuals, each with a story and a past and reasons why they behave the way they do, rather than simply as a member of one group or another. This adds a positive tone to the stories that is actually very hard to resist, drawing the reader in and making them feel as though they too are part of the community. 

The three mysteries contained in this book are varied and unique, while Azalea’s own story continues throughout. The three cases are well crafted and there are some great surprises and twists along the way, making the stories unpredictable and entertaining.

Azalea is a delightful character. Kind, thoughtful, intelligent and lively, the reader gets to know her as a friend and a mother as well as an amateur sleuth. The people with whom she shares her life are a diverse group, so the cast of characters and suspects is realistic and relatable. 

There is a little bit of not-really-for-younger-readers content in one of the stories, but it is not graphic or explicit.

A most captivating and enjoyable mystery story collection, the Azalea Wang Mysteries collection has been awarded a Silver 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