Book Review: ‘Blood of Roses: Edward IV and Towton’ by J.P. Reedman

While some history textbooks are interesting and quite easy to read, it is also fair to say that many are written by historians who do not seem to mind that their works are either lofty, dull, or both. 

The beauty of historical fiction is that it has the power to make history accessible to those who otherwise would know little of the events presented in its pages, and to create interest in those men and women who made history through their words, actions and achievements. 

Reedman’s historical fiction is both very readable and enjoyable. 
‘Blood of Roses: Edward IV and Towton’  tells the story of the events during the Wars Of The Roses that resulted in the coronation of Edward, Earl Of March as King Edward IV. The author has brought history to life on these pages, transforming historical figures into vividly portrayed characters and the reader into an onlooker during those pivotal moments in English history. 

Readers who have read and studied the history of this period in detail will find the fictionalised story to be interwoven seamlessly with the account of historical events. Reedman’s narrative is smooth and fluent, and the plot and action of the story are well paced and exciting. 

For all those reasons, ‘Blood of Roses: Edward IV and Towton’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Half Sick of Shadows’ by Richard Abbott

As someone who has always loved Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’, the title of this book caught my eye and imagination immediately. Rather than being a retelling of the poem, however, this book is a speculative fantasy about the life of the Lady before the events of the poem take place, and on the nature of her observations of the world around her tower.

The story is very creative and highly original in its development, intriguing the reader with hints about the truth of the Lady’s identity and the reasons for her being imprisoned in her tower.

The Lady’s character is quite thoroughly developed, as the reader is allowed into her thoughts and responses as well as into her activities. Other characters in the book are less well developed, simply because the story moves from one group to another as it progresses, but all are portrayed in a personal and evocative  manner that gives both the Lady and the reader a strong sense of connection to them. 

The author has given the well known story a new sense of mystery and intrigue and another layer of mystical connection that gives this book depth and has a profound effect on the reader. 

A most enjoyable read, ‘Half Sick of Shadows’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Lady Of The Mist’ by WC Quick

If you have ever suspected that the ‘happy ever after’ of fairy tales wasn’t actually true? 

This is a dark fantasy sequel to Cinderella that brings with it a very different set of premises than those suggested by the ending of the popular children’s fairy tale. 

Written with dark humour and a strong sense of irony, this is a fairy tale for the cynical and subversive. 

An entertaining short read, ‘Lady Of The Mist’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.  

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘A Perfect Memory’ by Dona Fox

‘A Perfect Memory’ is a psychological horror short story that twists reality, layering distortion upon disorientation, and making the reader question their perceptions just as the characters do.

The setting really is the star of this story: Chandler House reminded me of pictures of abandoned hospitals and institutions,  with grunge and tarnish on the surfaces, and coldness beneath them. The contrast between the intimidation exerted by certain characters and the vulnerability of others was powerful, emphasising the imbalance between them heightening the impact of the sense of unease that grows within the reader until it evolves into discomfort that is almost unbearable.

‘A Perfect Memory’ certainly provides a confronting reading experience that has a profound effect on the reader and delivers exactly what those who enjoy reading psychological thrillers and horror will be looking for. 

A story that can be read in less than an hour, this chilling short read has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Author Interview: Gregory Tasoulas

Today I’m chatting with author Gregory Tasoulas about his short story called Elmwean’s Lodge. Welcome, Gregory!

Thank you, Book Squirrel!

Why don’t you start by giving us a rundown of the story?

It’s the first in a series of novelettes set in an original teslapunk world.

Professor Incabad Reyl is the greatest scientist of his time. His equation of echomagnetic fractions marked the beginning of a new era of technological advancement for the Horizon.
In 104 H.S., 30 years after his groundbreaking discovery, he sets off on an adventurous search, in order to uncover the laws that govern the dynamics between the twelve electrons of his fractional echomagnetic dynamics theory.
On the way to this Master Equation, Professor Reyl will stumble upon hidden truths that will change the way humanity perceives existence.

That sounds really interesting. What inspired you to write?

I like stories. Listening to stories, seeing them on film, hearing about them, exploring them. Their reasoning, their logic, their purpose. And I like telling stories, creating fictional situations. For me it’s not about the process of writing, but rather conveying a story that is in my mind.

What are you working on writing now?

I am currently finishing the novella Return to Elmwean’s Lodge, which is the sequel to my first published short. I am also finishing up my research for the next one in the series, as well as a couple of standalone stories which are set in different eras of the Horizon and introduce new characters and places.

Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?

No, but I do vape a lot when I write (my cats make it hard to safely eat or drink near the computer).

Who designs your book covers?

Mario Tsota, an amazing young illustrator who is also a very diligent and cooperative professional. He is currently studying fine arts at the University of Fine Arts in Thessaloniki, Greece. You can find his work on his website.

What’s your favourite kind of music?

Atmospheric instrumental has been my favorite for the past decade or so, but I also enjoy several gothic genres.

Forest, country, beach or city?

Why not a combination of the above? I enjoy the mingling. 

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

Unsatisfying jobs. I’ve had a lot of them in my life and you will find a lot of my characters are plagued by this very real problem.

What’s your favourite TV show?

Babylon 5. 

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Big Trouble in Little China. You didn’t see that coming, did you?

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut. I know, cheesy.

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Autumn. I love the balance of temperature and weather, as well as the gearing up to Xmas 😀

And the nuts?

Haha, sure!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, Hesiod.

What’s your favourite quote, ever?

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.” H.P. Lovecraft

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Understanding women and waking up in the morning.

That’s where I’m lucky. Lady squirrels are very easy to understand.

Lucky indeed, my friend!

Where can readers follow you on social media?

I have a Website and I’m on Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook.

And where can readers find your book?

Elmwean’s Lodge is free to download in epub and pdf on our website and a few digital stores.

Thanks for being here today, Gregory! I wish you success!

Thank you, Book Squirrel!


Book Review: ‘Christmas Miracle on Thanksgiving’ by R.M. Gauthier

It’s the most awful feeling: knowing you have screwed up, knowing that you may have ruined everything you’ve been working for… and knowing there’s not a thing you can do about it. 

If you have ever been in that situation, you will totally relate to Jack’s thoughts and feelings at the beginning of this book. The author has done an excellent job of creating distance and tension between her characters that is almost palpable, as is the misery Jack experiences as a result. It takes quite some skill as a writer to make the reader feel sympathy for a man who has caused his own problems, but Gauthier does so most effectively. 

In addition to further developing the continuing story of events in Christmas Town, the author uses her characters to deliver important and relatable lessons about friendship, loyalty, and resolving one’s problems in constructive and healthy ways. Of course, the story is so entertaining that the reader doesn’t even realise they are being schooled in conflict resolution until they stop to reflect on what they have read.

The seventh of eight novellas in this endearing mystery/romance series, this has been the most thought-provoking thus far. ‘Christmas Miracle on Thanksgiving’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.  

Book Review: ‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’ by Claire Buss

‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’ is a delightful short story from Roshaven, the setting of the author’s’ fantasy novel, The Rose Thief.

Central characters Ned Spinks and Jenni the Sprite return with their quirky brand of investigation when a mysterious shop appears in Roshaven. Of course, nothing is straightforward and their endeavours to solve the mystery being about more mayhem than they anticipated.

This is a fun story for all ages that can be enjoyed in less than half an hour. It does work.as a standalone story: prior knowledge of Roshaven and its residents is not essential to understanding and enjoyment of ‘Ye Olde Magick Shoppe’, but readers who have not yet read The Rose Thief will very likely want to after this brief taste of Buss’s enchanting storytelling.

This excellent short story has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.