This book contains four unique young adult short stories that are full of the colours and textures of Southwestern America.
These are very entertaining and interesting stories, populated by a variety of diverse characters who all face various challenges common to youth, from issues of cultural acceptance to boys manipulating girls to get what they want. The challenges faced by the characters are often complicated by differences of culture or understanding that set them apart from those around them.
All four stories have quite thought-provoking elements that pique the reader’s curiosity and invite them to engage in the story at a deeper level. By making the reader intimately familiar with each main characters’ thoughts and responses, the author cleverly immerses the reader in each story and leads them to feel as though they are watching over the characters’ shoulders as a silent eyewitness to the events that unfold.
Magical realism and paranormal elements create additional layers of mystery and intrigue within each narrative. Because some of the protagonists are not human, the stories are highly original and their outcomes are not predictable.
This is a most enjoyable and diverting book with a fresh perspective on YA literature.
This is my favourite kind of story: history, magic, mystery, suspense, danger and choices that seem impossible to make. Superimposing a magical overlay onto real historical events made this book absolutely fascinating and gave it a very strong sense of originality and intrigue. The drama built slowly and steadily throughout each complication and challenge, drawing the reader deeper and more intricately into both Thomas’ life and challenges and the Gunpowder Plot itself.
The main characters were well-rounded and likeable, even if it was not always possible to like or condone some of the things they felt compelled to do, and the problems they faced were well-designed and skilfully developed. The way in which the author breathed both life and magic into historical figures, events and places made them seem so real that the audience really does begin to feel as though they are there, looking over Thomas’ shoulder and equally as swept along by the action of the story as it unfolds as he is.
Of course, part of the magic of this audiobook is the masterful narration by Oliver Hembrough, who excels at voice acting and storytelling. His performance combined with Brandes’ brilliant writing to create an audiobook that is flawless in its delivery of this deeply intriguing tale. This beautifully crafted story completely captivated me.
This is a delightful tale full of winter magic with well developed fairy tale qualities that enrich the story telling.
While the characters are not very complex, they are likeable and engaging, and the reader does develop a sense of empathy and concern for them at the beginning of the story that helps to hook them into the events of the tale. Of course, it is a short story, so the characters are not required to be developed in any depth or detail. It is enough that they do what they do and that the story is beautifully told.
The story also has some lovely Yuletide elements, although not so much that it is only a story for the Christmas season.
This would be a lovely story for family reading, particularly on a winter’s night.
‘A Sprig Of Holly’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.
A great holiday read for anyone more interested in “boo” than “ho ho ho”… but definitely not for kids.
What if your most basic assumptions bout Santa turned out to be wrong?
Is he just a jolly old fat guy who delivers presents, or is there much, much more to his story?
Claudette Melanson presents a somewhat different version of Santa in these twelve stories, which are well-crafted and well told. There is some lovely connectivity between the stories, which is sometimes quite overt and at other times sneaks up on the reader and takes them by surprise.
This is a great holiday read for anyone more interested in “boo” than “ho ho ho”. Do take the title seriously, though: this book is definitely not for kids, as there is some quite graphic content.
‘The 12 Terrors of Christmas’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
An enchanting Christmas story with a classic feel.
Not everyone believes in Santa, but Henry Burrows wants to. In the time-honoured tradition of great Christmas stories, though, things aren’t always so straightforward.
‘Santa’s Chair’ is the story of Henry’s visit to a city department store to see Santa and the magic that can happen when a young child believes.
This is a delightful and well-written story that can be read and enjoyed in less than half an hour. It’s a good story for any age, and would be great to share as a family during the pre-Christmas season. It has the feel of a classic story, and definitely has the potential to become one.
An excellent 21st Century retelling of an old tale.
This novella is a contemporary retelling of the classic Swan Lake story.
The well known story has been cleverly recreated in a contemporary setting and style, with a variety of great characters that have been developed very cleverly and with good attention to detail. The best stories have characters that you love and others that you love to hate, and this book does not disappoint.
It’s great to see this story being given new life in a way that is is well-written and very enjoyable. It blends mystery, fantasy, romance and magical realism quite seamlessly to deliver a story that is very engaging and delivers some strong lessons about family, loyalty, and the power of love.