‘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.
‘In Pursuit Of Light’ focuses on the experiences of a close-knit group of men, a ‘band of brothers’ so to speak, each of whom is gifted with some form of special ability. These characters share the role of narrator, giving the reader intimate insights into the events of the story but also into each one’s thoughts, emotions and reactions.
Kia is a most mysterious character, who hooks the reader first with her vulnerability and then with her independence. The author makes fascinating use of the narrative device in that the reader gets to know Kia through the perspectives of the narrators rather than through her own experience and point of view.
The story combines elements of paranormal and urban fantasy, with strong post-apocalyptic overtones which come partly from the settings and world-building, and partly from the activities and behaviour off the men. While their actual occupation is really only hinted at, the reader does feel as though they are involved in some sort of resistance or paramilitary activity in a world that has survived an undefined but significant trauma.
The writing is powerful, telling a compelling story and making use of some almost poetic imagery at times. However, it is also true that the book as a whole would also benefit from more thorough editing to remove errors that, while individually minor, frustrate the reader as they accumulate.
This is an interesting and often suspenseful story. It does end with a cliffhanger designed to motivate readers to advance to the second book, but the story has sufficient resolution to give the reader a sense of having been provided answers to at least some of the residual questions posed by the story and its underlying premise.
There is adult content in this book, so it’s recommended for readers aged 18+ only.
‘In Pursuit Of Light’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.
Find your copy here.
This is the first book in Aliya DalRae’s new paranormal romance series featuring the vampires of the Fallen Cross Legion.
‘Fallen Prey’ is the story of Harrier, a Vampire who spent most of his time as a side character in DalRae’s Jessica Sweet trilogy being aloof and gruff, and really only began to let his guard down toward the end of the third and novel in the series.
DalRae’s characters are always interesting and complex, so the opportunity to delve deeper into the mysteries of one of the leading men of the Vampire Legion was most welcome.
The highly original and well-paced plot takes the reader up close and personal with Harrier, developing his character and story more fully and extending the story of the Legion and it’s key members at the same time.
While Harrier and Kythryn give the term ‘paranormal romance’ new meaning as the story unfolds, they find themselves immersed in situations filled with danger, action, and some moments of almost palpable tension between themselves and others.
DalRae has also demonstrated her cleverness in the title! ‘Fallen Prey’. It is only when the reader is deep into the story that they realise just how meaningful and appropriate the title of the book is, on numerous levels.
Even for loyal readers of Aliya DalRae’s books, it’s good advice to expect the unexpected.
‘Fallen Prey’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.
A magnificent adults-only collection of dragon stories!
One of my favourite things to discover is a book that gives the reader a sense of the author’s own personality. The incidental humour and quirky characters in these stories are evidence of a creative mind brimming with ideas and unafraid to follow them wherever they lead.
The Dragonheart Stories Is a brilliant collection of short stories that are imaginative, sensual and highly original — and definitely not for children! Very conservative readers would probably not appreciate them either, although this reader considers that to be very much to their own loss. The stories are much like the nature of their dragon characters: magnificent, beautiful, rowdy, complex, and at times aggressive, but at the same time filled with insight. Each story is both entertaining and thought-provoking. The narration instils in the reader a sense of reverence for the dragons, but also considerable affection for the central characters.
I really hope there are more of these stories to come. It is only fitting that this humble squirrel should pay these wonderful dragons tribute with a Golden Acorn.
Find your copy here.
The Artist: A magnificently rich historical romance.
This novel tells the story of a gifted artist and musician from youthful desperation to the dizzying heights and desperate lows that are the successes and failures of Apollo Vidali’s life. The reader is immersed in the decadence of the gifted artist and musicians’s life and mind as he searches for meaning, fulfilment and redemption. Vidali immediately appeals to the reader’s sympathy in his resistance to his father’s oppression and restraint, which contrasts with his own salacious and self-indulgent nature.
Magnificently and richly written, the narrative is enhanced by layers of poetry and vivid imagery that embellish the characters and settings with intricate detail and splashes of colour. The characters are complex and varied, and more than once I found them bringing the story to life on the movie screen of my mind.
Not only is this a most enjoyable read, it’s a wonderful sensory experience. There is mature content, so it’s not intended for a young audience.
‘The Artist’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.
Find your copy here.
A gritty read for lovers of dark fiction.
This is a dark, gritty and fatalistic story of ancient beliefs, rituals and powers that grapple for control of the future of the world as we know it. Doyle builds the story masterfully, complete with twists that take the reader’s breath away and a sense of urgency that grows as the action escalates.
The contrasts between the different characters and their personal ethics are really interesting, and serve as a reminder that human nature is flawed and can, when devoted solely to an ideology or even to oneself, be truly evil without any additional help from the spiritual realm.
‘The Celtic Curse: Newgrange’ is a highly original and often macabre tale crafted from strands of legend, religion, ancient culture, sex, superstition, loyalty and friendship.
It does contain adult content and violence, so is suitable for an adult audience. If you like your fiction dark and your endings darker, this book is for you.
Book Squirrel has awarded this book a shiny Gold Acorn.
Find it on Amazon.
This book is a fabulously naughty romp through time and space with Veerle, Myst, and Verrick along with a diverse range of friends, adversaries and AI for company.
This book is a fabulously naughty romp through time and space with Veerle, Myst, and Verrick along with a diverse range of friends, adversaries and AI for company. It had me laughing on the first page, and countless times throughout. The storyline is original and interesting, made complete by questions that need to be answered and some serious and touching moments for balance. The humour with which the story is delivered is refreshing and clever.
It does contain mature content, so it is suitable only for an 18+ audience. It’s LGBTI friendly, so it’s sure to please anyone with an open mind and a sense of humour.
‘Tempus Fugit’ was a really nice change and a great escape from the more serious and thought-provoking reading in which I often indulge. It is most suited for any grownup looking for a lighthearted read that still gives the grey matter something to do.