Book Review: 'Coming Home For Christmas' by Helen Pryke

Although the subtitle is ‘A Haunting Christmas Tale’, this is far from being scary or spooky. Instead, is it a positive and inspirational story full of Christmas Eve spirit. 

Without being overly sentimental, this story is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The reader is invited to witness a very special moment through the thoughts and memories of the central character, and is encouraged to reflect on what makes a particular date or a relationship unique and memorable. 

The story is beautifully told, wistful rather than morbid, and imbued with love and devotion. It is a short story, read in less than 15 minutes, but one that lingers in the thoughts of the reader long beyond that. 

Book Review: ‘Midnight Lasagne and Other Stories’ by Maria R. Riegger

‘Midnight Lasagne’ is a very enjoyable collection of varied and original Christmas-themed stories that make relaxing reading for the holiday season. 

Each story offers a different perspective or experience of Christmas, from that of a single mother to a ten-year old kid whose first love is video games. 

These stories are perfect for filling in quiet moments in the busy lead-up to Christmas.

Book Review: 'Winter's Curse' by April L Wood

‘Winter’s Curse’ is a very original and engaging YA paranormal romance novel in which Winter must overcome not just one, but two curses, that stand between her and future happiness. 

The story is well crafted, with some intriguing twists and turns and a few surprises along the way. Winter and her friends are likeable characters, while those who work against her are clearly intended to be disliked. The magical clans, their qualities and the social structures and rules by which they live are original and interesting, which adds another layer of complexity to the story and helps to drive the complications of the plot. 

This is a book that reminds the reader that real friendship and true love transcend the boundaries of class, heritage or alliance that people try to put on them, and that it’s more important to choose what is right than to settle for what others might decide or impose. 

Book Review: 'The Christmas Angel: A Tale of Redemption' by S. Tilghman Hawthorne

This is a beautiful short story that reminds us all that Christmas can be really challenging for those who have lost loved ones and miss them terribly. By sharing Julie’s thoughts and feelings, the author positions the reader to empathise with her and forces them to consider the power that grief and loss can have at Christmas, especially when other people are so cheerful. 

Even stronger, though, are the power and the warmth of the love and the words that bring healing to Julie’s heart. 

Full of love and Christmas spirit, this is a story that would suit both individuals and families at any time of year, but especially during December. 

Book Review: ‘What The Gods Allow’ by J.S. Frankel

Despite the fact that ‘What The Gods Allow’ is something of a change of pace for J.S. Frankel in that he usually writes fabulous YA and NA science fiction, this book is infused with Frankel’s trademark clever storytelling style and humour that engage the reader in the story and hook them so effectively that they lose all sense of time and place as they read. 

On one level this is an urban fantasy story of the ancient and modern worlds meeting in a quest to restore balance between the two. On another level, it’s a story of friendship, trust, and acceptance of differences in culture and appearance. It’s a story that reminds the reader that you can’t always believe what you’ve been told about someone, and that sometimes it’s the gods who are the monsters. 

The story is fun and engaging, deepened with moments of tension and driven by a deadline that compels the main character, Meddy, to fulfil her mission with a sense of urgency despite the growing conflict within her that makes her want to stay right where she is and keep her new life in 21st century Portland. 

An excellent read, ‘What The Gods Allow’ is a book that will appeal to readers of paranormal and urban fantasy. 

Book Review: ‘Kin: Horror in Moonshine Holler’ by J.B.Richards

This is a short story read that takes the reader from Texas to the wilds of West Virginia and an old family’s quest for revenge. 

While the tale has a few well-crafted macabre moments, it’s not really a full-on horror story as such- although it’s fair to say that at least one of the characters might beg to differ. It is a story of tragedy and of loyalty that binds a family against anyone who hurts one of their own. It’s a story that makes the reader hold their breath without realising it, and which highlights the often unforeseen consequences of one’s actions. 

The story is well written, interesting, and suspenseful. The characters are colourful and unique, and fit very well into the context and setting of the book.

Book Review: ‘Dark Little Wonders and Other Stories’ by Amy Cross

A collection of well-crafted and varied short stories, ‘Dark Little Wonders’ definitely lives up to its title.

The stories are all quite different, invariably dark, and full of twists and surprises. Taken one by one, each story challenges the reader to see life – and death – from a different perspective. In combination, this collection of dark fiction reminds the reader that one can be haunted by many more things than just ghosts. 

The writing is very good and the characters are realistic, each having burdens, flaws, and motivations to which the reader can easily relate. This adds punch to every twist sand makes the message of each story more powerful. 

‘Dark Little Wonders and Other Stories’ is an excellent read.