The much beloved fairy tale of Snow White gets a cold, dark twist in this paranormal reinvention by Lanie Goodell. Many elements of the story remain the same, although the reader experiences a heightened sense of sinister suspense as Snow’s true nature is revealed to the reader.
This is definitely not the Disney or children’s storybook version of the story, harking back to the macabre intensity of the fairy tale’s earliest form while adding additional original twists to the tale.
Comfortably read in under an hour, this story was both interesting and darkly entertaining without being too mentally demanding.
Although ‘Severn’ is book 9 in The Kingdom of Durundal series, there is absolutely nothing repetitive or predictable about this book. The author has cleverly and covertly woven discreet threads of the earlier narrative into this story, concealing the intricacy of the narrative until the story carries the reader to the well-crafted moment of revelation in which the connections and relationships become clear and crystallise.
This is a tale of strength and survival, of brotherhood and friendship, and of death and destiny. Different narratives interweave and blend together, keeping the reader fully engaged in Severn’s story. It is an enthralling story which moves at an exciting pace and is very hard to put down once started.
The cast of characters are varied and vibrant, with powerful and relatable motivations and interests. The settings are portrayed so vividly that the reader can almost feel the snap of the wind in their face or the crackle of a fire as it burns.
Turner’s craft as an author is so finely honed that readers who are new to this series can easily read ‘Severn’ as a standalone, and then enjoy the earlier books in the series without having received significant spoilers.
‘Severn’ is a highly recommended read.
Part murder mystery, part personal journey, ‘Lonely Hearts Complex’ is an interesting and authentic read that immerses the reader in the lives of the Ruth, Riley and Marshall, residents of Tombora Springs.
The characters are diverse, likeable and engaging. Their personal stories keep the reader intrigued and maintain a good level of excitement and suspense as the narrative continues.
This book is comfortably read in a couple of hours and delivers a most enjoyable contemporary light mystery read.
The first book in the Witches of Runesbury series featuring Scarlett Oliver, this is an excellent read.
This book offers a fresh and highly original combination of elements that are very popular among readers, yet have been made the author’s own with a unique setting, characters and storyline that are most intriguing and entertaining.
The book is very well written, and hard to put down once started. The narrative develops steadily and delivers some great twists that ensure the story is unpredictable and exciting.
Runesbury is populated by a variety of well-developed and complex character, some of whom the reader is clearly meant to love, and others who are obviously meant to be disliked and distrusted. There are some cleverly tailored red herrings amongst them for good measure, and they certainly help to keep the reader guessing.
All in all, this is a most enjoyable book and I look forward to reading more in the series.
When an amateur theatre company reunite for their 20th annual performance of Shakespeare’s’A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, one might expect they’d have their act together.
‘Midsummer’s Bottom’ immerses the reader in the lives of the actors, but also in the lives of the fey characters who are weary of seeing themselves represented in the troupe’s performances.
Like the play being performed, the story is an enjoyable romp through a glade in a forest, complicated by love, jealousy, and fey interference in the lives of humans.
This book is well-written and quite entertaining. The characters are varied and interesting, made complex by their desires and motivations, and intricately connected to both the play and one another’s lives.
Just how the plot will resolve keeps the reader guessing right to the end.
This book is recommended for readers aged 18 and over, as ‘Midsummer’s Bottom’ does contain some adult content, although not graphic or gratuitous.
‘A Song of Sixpence’ tells the story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, her marriage to Henry VII, and the lives of her siblings in the years after the death of Richard III.
The book has been well researched, filling in the spaces between known facts and recorded history with a well-constructed and very credible ‘what if?” story about the fate of her younger brothers, known as the Princes in the Tower. The author draws the reader into the lives of both Elizabeth and her younger brother Richard, using their perspectives to weave a rich tapestry of storytelling in which historical figures are fleshed out, consistently with what history tells us of them, yet taking on life once again, each with their own unique blend of different motivations, fears, flaws and strengths that make this story both compelling and engaging.
The narration by Alex Lee is very easy to listen to. Her reading is expressive and fluent, and her use of tone, voice and accent to achieve effective characterisation is consistently excellent.
The sequel to ‘Webley and the World Machine’ in Zachary Chopchinski’s Hall of Doors Steampunk adventure series is an action-packed, highly entertaining adventure story that features Adal, Arija and their friend Kip, a Dweller of Webley’s World Machine.
This story is set in Taraveil, another of the worlds that lie beyond the doors in Webley’s Hall of Doors. Once again, Chopchinski’s world building is complex and detailed, full of fascinating technology and diverse, colourful characters. Rich sensory detail adds texture and dimension to the various settings and environments in the book, complementing the action, characters and complications of the story.
Snarky and confident, Adal and Arija meet their matches in Ypsilon and her Grinder compatriots. Through conflict, danger and the formation of unlikely alliances, the integrity and loyalty of each of the central characters is tested as the story progresses.
Just like Adal and Arija, Ypsilon, Sasha, Van and Masa are characters that young adult readers will relate to. They are strong and flawed, passionate and vulnerable, smart mouthed and profoundly loyal to their own.
Chopchinski’s writing is edgy and descriptive, in keeping with the story and the world in which it is set. The story moves at a good pace, keeping the reader and their imagination fully engaged.
‘Kip and the Grinders’ is fast paced, distinctly original steampunk fiction that demands to be finished once started.
This is a richly detailed and colourful story set during the troubled reign of Henry VI. The book tells the story of Eleanor Cobham, wife of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, a younger brother of King Henry V.
Eleanor is a fascinating character who demonstrates intelligence and resilience throughout the events that shaped her life and the future of her family. The story is told in first person, so the reader develops a strong sense of empathy with her as the story progresses.
Her perspective delivers fascinating insight into well-known events of the past from the point of view of a woman whose security and future depended on those who held power and who jostled for position at court.
The story is complex and thought-provoking, full of intrigue and political manoeuvring, nuanced by reminiscences and regret. It highlights the precarious nature of courtly life and the swiftness with which one’s circumstances could change, and reminds the reader that true clarity and wisdom are delivered only by hindsight.
Riches’ writing style is engaging and easy to read, yet still consistent with the way in which Eleanor and her contemporaries would have thought and spoken to one another.
‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’ is a most excellent work of historical fiction.
‘Dragon School’ is outstanding YA fantasy adventure featuring Amel Leafbrought, a teenage girl beginning her career as a dragon rider.
Despite significant physical and social challenges, Amel demonstrates determination, integrity and resilience, presenting a really good role model for young people who often confront obstacles of one kind or another in achieving their goals. Her discovery of abilities that others do not have is a powerful element of Amel’s narrative, and serves as a strong encouragement for others who experience physical disabilities or limitations.
Amel’s experiences of other people, whether peers, teachers or dragons, demonstrate important lessons about the importance of careful discernment about who should be trusted, and about the true nature of friendship.
This series is highly original and well constructed. The story progresses at a very good pace, with plenty of adventure balanced by reflection and the development of friendships and connections between characters. The imagery is colourful and detailed, the characters diverse and varied, and the complications and problems they face are compelling.
The world building is unique and interesting, featuring complex and thought-provoking social systems, detailed and thoughtful architecture, and geography quite unique to this world.
The narration by Jigisha Patel, is clear and fluent, with excellent diction and expression, although there are a couple of minor errors. Her use of voice and tone to develop character and deliver the narrative results in a compelling story that is as engaging and enjoyable as Wilson’s writing.
While there are more episodes to follow, this audiobook ends with sufficient resolution to satisfy the audience, and a tantalising promise of more adventure to come.
The second in the Lucy Lawrence mystery series, this is a most intriguing story, full of twists and turns, and set in a most exotic location. From Nice to Cairo to Sakkara, the reader is taken on a journey of many discoveries — not all of them archaeological.
The characters are colourful and lively, each with personal motivations and interests that they tend to keep to themselves, adding layers of intrigue to the secrets and mysteries that Lucy finds awaiting her in Egypt.
It is clearly evident and most pleasing that the author has taken care to keep the characters and their actions consistent with the time and places in which the story is set.
The story is well-crafted and written in a style that is very easy to read. The narrative unfolds at a good pace, with enough suspects and red herrings to keep both Lucy and the authorities guessing and to ensure very little predictability.