Book Review: ‘Dead Lake’ by Darcy Coates

Suspenseful, dark, mysterious and occasionally macabre, ‘Dead Lake’ is a supernatural thriller set in and around a remote lake cabin. 

The anticipation with which the story starts soon turns to foreboding which grows steadily more profound as the tale progresses.

Coates’ writing is enriched with vivid imagery that stimulates the reader’s senses and imagination, immersing them in the curiosity, and then the terror, experienced by Sam, the protagonist of the story. By the two-thirds point of the story, the fear and adrenaline is palpable and the suspense creates a strong sense of dread that is both compelling and distinctly uncomfortable. 

Because of its suspense and brooding darkness, this is an excellent read that will appeal to readers of mystery, thrillers, and horror alike. 

Book Review: ‘Don’t Be A Meaniehead’ by Angelique S. Anderson

This is an enjoyable and straightforward story for children that deals with bullying and interacting with other kids in positive ways. The story is told in rhyming verse that makes it easy for kids to memorise key principles and therefore be more able to recall and apply them. 

This is a great book for young independent readers, but also for families to read and discuss together. It certainly offers opportunities for parents to discuss with their children the sorts of experiences that kids commonly have, and how to deal with those situations when they arise. 

The illustrations are engaging portraits of Anderson’s clockwork dragon character Quincy, who also features in Anderson’s steampunk fiction novel series for older readers, and his friends posing to reflect different aspects of the story as it is told. 

‘Don’t Be A Meaniehead’ has a strong positive message for children, making it a valuable addition to family collections and libraries. 

Book Review: ‘Shy Violet’ by Sherrie Hansen

The third instalment in Hansen’s ‘Wildflowers of Scotland’ series, this book is a wonderful light romance read.

Infused with good humour and populated by diverse and interesting characters, it is a tale full of twists and turns and surprises that keep the reader engaged and guessing.

The narrative moves at a good pace, sweeping the reader along with Violet as she faces her challenges and her fears, albeit not always as wisely as one might hope. 

Not only is ‘Shy Violet’ enormously entertaining, it also reminds the reader of the importance of honesty, the value of friendship, and the life-changing power of forgiveness.

This book, like the series to which it belongs, is highly recommended.

Audiobook Review: ‘The Bone Witch’ by Rin Chupeco

In ‘The Bone Witch’, there are two narratives which seem at first to be separate, but eventually reveal themselves to be interwoven to create a vast, rich tapestry of storytelling that binds the listener in its magic. 

This magical dark fantasy is a spellbinding story in which fate and magic balance one another as Tea discovers her destiny and learns to use her powers and make important choices wisely. 

The narrators tell the story fluently and engagingly, with clear diction and good expression. Both are pleasant to listen to, and the two complement each other as effectively as their stories do. 

’The Bone Witch’ is a brilliant fantasy coming of age story, whether enjoyed as a novel or an audiobook. 

Book Review: ‘October Jones: The Lightning Pines Mystery’ by J.D. McFarren

This is an entertaining and interesting mystery story for kids that delivers positive messages about honesty, friendship and personal integrity. 

October Jones is a likeable protagonist who kids will relate to easily. He is basically a good kid, but finds himself getting into trouble from time to time. Alongside his friends and his sister April, October takes it upon himself to solve a mystery and finds himself defending his own innocence at the same time. 

This is a kids’ novel suitable for independent readers, or for families to read together. It would make an excellent addition to any family, town or school library. 

Book Review: ‘Perverse’ by Tim Walker

‘Perverse’ is a collection of poems and short fiction that exhibit the broad and diverse range of writing talent of Tim Walker, author of the excellent Light In The Dark Ages historical fiction series. 

Walker’s poetry offers insights and reflections on the trials, triumphs and unexpected twists of life. The poet offers a somewhat jaded but also grateful perspective that reminds the reader that as hard as life can be, it’s still worth living. 

The collection also includes a number of dribbles and short stories that showcase the author’s gift for storytelling in prose form. Each story is interesting and uniquely twisted to surprise the reader, and the underlying cynicism and dark humour add depth and most appealing irony to some of the stories. 

Much like the proverbial box of chocolates, this book is full of different textures and flavours, but there is definitely something that will suit the tastes of each different reader. While the subject matter and reflective depth of the poetry makes it more likely to be appreciated by readers who have lived and lost a little, the prose will appeal to a wider audience.   

Overall, this is a thought-provoking and enjoyable collection that offers a range of short reads that can fill in a short break one at a time, or colour a whole afternoon of reading and reflection. 

Book Review: ‘The Gullwing Odyssey’ by Antonio Simon Jr

As Marco embarks on an errand to deliver an important package, his life takes a most unexpected turn. 

What ensues is a riotous escapade full of diverse and interesting characters, situations full of danger and challenge, and enduring friendships that change not only Marco’s outlook on life but also his entire future. 

The storytelling is lively and colourful, carrying the reader along at a good pace and immersing them in Marco’s experiences. The narrative is infused with good humor and witty banter between characters, making this a most entertaining young adult fantasy adventure. 

Book Review: ‘A Dark Covenant’ by F.B.Hogan

‘A Dark Covenant’ is a Gothic horror short story filled with foreboding and dramatic tension, embellished with macabre scenes that cause the reader to hold their breath and open their eyes just that little bit wider as they read. 

The writing is evocative, subtly appealing to the reader’s senses while appearing to tell the story in a quite straightforward fashion. The terror of the climax is heightened by the profound contrast with the main character’s indifference toward his situation, and with the pathos of his childhood experiences. 

This outstanding short read demonstrates not only the author’s versatility, but also her ability to draw extraordinary horror stories out of the most ordinary of circumstances. 

Book Review: ‘A Confabulated Compendium of Anecdotes’ by Melissa H North

Find your copy here.

This collection of intriguing and mysterious Steampunk-style speculative short stories offers a good variety of settings and situations in which the reader is immersed as the tales develop. 

The writing is evocative and richly textured. Some of these stories are full of brooding darkness and  macabre imagery, creating a powerful contrast with the ironic humour and hopeful adventure that pervades the final story.

These stories are just the right size to enjoy one at a time during breaks in a busy day, and varied enough to maintain the reader’s interest when read in one sitting. 

There is some adult content, so this is not a suitable book for younger readers, but it is a most enjoyable and diverting read for grownups.

Book of the Week: ‘Reecah’s Flight’ by Richard H Stephens

Reecah’s Flight is Book 1 in the Legends of the Lurker fantasy series by Richard H Stephens. 

There’s something strange about the woman living on top of the hill and the people of Fishmonger Bay leave her alone. At least until the day she pays a visit to the village witch.

There’s something strange about the woman living on top of the hill and the people of Fishmonger Bay leave her alone. At least until the day she pays a visit to the village witch. Banding together, the villagers take action. One magic user is bad enough; the emergence of a second—intolerable. Her life spinning out of control, Reecah Draakvriend tries desperately to unravel the dark secret hanging over her head. In a never-ending battle to survive, she must decide whether it is wiser to slay the dragon or become a victim of her people. If Reecah can’t find the key to unlock her family heritage, will she fall prey to the mystery so many others have died to protect?

Banding together, the villagers take action. One magic user is bad enough; the emergence of a second—intolerable.

Her life spinning out of control, Reecah Draakvriend tries desperately to unravel the dark secret hanging over her head. In a never-ending battle to survive, she must decide whether it is wiser to slay the dragon or become a victim of her people.

If Reecah can’t find the key to unlock her family heritage, will she fall prey to the mystery so many others have died to protect?

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