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: ‘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. 

Audiobook Review: ‘Six of Crows’ by Leigh Bardugo

A stunning, tense and dark adventure that carries the reader from the streets of Ketterdam to the splendour of the Ice Court on the most dangerous mission Kaz Brekker and the Dregs had ever taken on. 

The writing is powerful and compelling, conveying the desperation and adrenaline of the story, and the imagery is rich in sensory detail.

Telling the story from the different characters’ perspectives create an intriguing dramatic irony that both informs the reader and helps to build the suspense and anticipation that completely  hooks the audience. 

The narrators – one for each central character – are expressive and very listenable, making the story flow and creating a very effective interweaving of the strands of the story. The characters really come to life with the audio, especially in the recounting of their backstories, the exposition of their thoughts and fears, and the revelation of their perceptions and responses to the other characters and the experiences they share. 

The story remains suspenseful and maintains the innate tension of the story right to the end. 

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: ‘Last Call’ by Kaye Lynne Booth

This is an interesting and well-written story that can be read in under 30 minutes, making it ideal for busy people wanting a quick escape. The story neatly combines elements of mystery and suspense with a thought-provoking twist. 

The main character is relatable, as is his situation he finds himself. Empathy is induced by the first person narration and the exploration of his thoughts and responses, especially when he begins to question his own perceptions. When life offers him a refreshing change, the reader is challenged to consider what they would do in the same circumstances, giving them a vested interest in the outcome of the story. 

‘Last Call’ is a most enjoyable short story. 

Book Review: ‘An Unexpected Brew’ by JE Mueller

The concept of coffee being magical is not a new one by any means, but how good would it be if a barista could brew a bit of luck or confidence into your next cup? Similarly, the tale of Cinderella is not new, but this adaptation of the story has qualities that are original and different. It is an unexpected and delightful brew indeed. 

The author has given the old story a new setting and context, and provided some interesting twists to keep readers guessing. 

The characters have been reinvented so that they are quite original, yet recognisable and true to the conventions of the much-loved fairy tale. The central characters are likeable and relatable, and their interactions are natural and engaging. 

The target audience is YA, but it is a story that will be appealing for a much broader readership. This is a really fun and engaging read.

Book Review: ‘Who Am I: Prequel to the Semiramis Series’ by Maya Daniels

This story tells of the early life of Alexia Semiramis, a young woman who learned the soul-destroying power of both words and abuse as a child before she ever discovered that the gifts that made her different than everyone else were magical. 

It is an interesting exposé of the psychology of one who has suffered at the hands of those who should have loved and treasured her, and of one who resents the qualities that set them apart from others in the first place. While it is fictional, there is much written here that will ring true for anyone who has been bullied or abused.

The writing is bold and defiant, creating an angry tone that begs for justice. Thus, this short story sets the stage for the Semiramis series, and creating a strong sense of intrigue and anticipation as to how Alexia might embrace her gifts and use them to take control of her life.