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. 

Book Review: ‘The Herbalist’s Daughter’ by Jeanette O’Hagan

Find your copy here.

This charming and delightful story focuses on Anna, nurserymaid at the palace and daughter of the local herbalist. The misery of feeling less attractive than others and of being not quite fulfilled in life imakes Anna a character that many readers will easily relate to. Despite her own perceptions of her shortcomings, Anna is a good-hearted and honourable young woman who does her job well. 

While there are moments of doubt and events that threaten Anna’s safety, the overall tone of the story is warm and lighthearted. It is a quick read that very effectively delivers an important message: others often see more value or beauty in us than we perceive in ourselves. 

’The Herbalist’s Daughter’ will appeal to readers of young adult fantasy, fairytale and romance.

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: ‘Becoming a Hero’ by C.R. Garmen

This is a fun fantasy story full of action and adventure for Paul Paulson and his donkey, Gilbert, who set out on a journey and find themselves landing in more danger than they ever anticipated. It’s a story that reminds the reader of the power of friendship and loyalty, and the importance of working together to solve problems and achieve what needs to be done. 

The story moves at a good pace, full of twists and turns that engage the imagination and keep the reader guessing. There are a few macabre moments, effectively balanced by the optimism of the central characters and the humour and positive tone of the writing. 

‘Becoming a Hero’ is an entertaining and enjoyable novella with a good moral and valuable messages that will suit for Young Adult and older readers.

‘The Elemental Coven’ The Witch’s Ambitions Trilogy Book 2 by Kayla Krantz

The second book of this great paranormal series continues the story of the ongoing war between the Elementals and the Council from Lilith’s perspective. The narrative delivers some completely unexpected twists and heart-in-your-throat moments of suspense and anticipation. Because the reader can never be sure of what will happen, it is highly involving and interesting. 

The writing is good and the story moves at a good pace. The story is easy to read and very engaging, particularly in the way it immerses the reader in Lilith’s personal life and keeps them invested in her wellbeing and her future.  

Just like Book 1 in the series, this is an excellent paranormal mystery read.

Book Review: ‘Roger’s Revelation: : An Emma: Ancestor’s Tales Vignette ‘ by Paula Shablo

This is a quite a wistful and quirky read on one hand, yet quite dark and confronting on the other.

A deep sense of irony pervades the story and  highlights the tragedy of the backstory which Roger reveals to Emma when she meets him at their old school. It is certainly thought-provoking about what comes after death and the likelihood that the spirit world could exist right alongside, or even intersect with, our own.

The raw reality of suicide and the jolting power of grief and survivor’s guilt are treated with sensitivity and empathy, and the story cleverly positions the reader to understand the perspectives of both Roger and Emma, and other people known to them both, as they share their experiences. 

This story may be personally challenging to those who have lost friends or loved ones to suicide, but it may also offer some reassurance and objectivity through the different perspectives of the characters.

It is a testament to the skill of the author that the story is very well balanced and poignant, given its serious and sombre themes.