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.

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: 'Dead by Morning' by Kayla Krantz

Teen peer pressure reaches terrifying new levels in this YA paranormal thriller, in which the protagonist Luna Ketz appears to be a most unlikely heroine: she’s not popular, she’s Muslim in a predominantly white community, and she hates Chance, the boy who is determined to get her attention. 

The tension between Luna and Chance continues to escalate as the story progresses and Luna finds herself caught in a web of conspiracy, secrecy and deceit. In a highly original blend of YA paranormal, mystery and horror, the gripping storyline is evidence of author’s ability to blend reality and fantasy in an intriguing way that engages the reader and causes them to invest emotionally in Luna’s fate.  

‘Dead By Morning’ is easy to read and hard to put down once started. 

Book Review: ‘Another Girl Calls My Dad Daddy’ by Emma L Price

Find your copy here.

If there’s anything young readers will find relatable, it’s sibling jealousy and rivalry— especially in blended families. The author has done a great job of creating a realistic and complex family situation in which two girls must each learn to share their father and fully accept one another.

Readers will find Portia both likeable and understandable, and while not all of her responses are ideal, they will se her as a young person who is doing her best to adjust to new challenges and trials. Her challenges in getting to know the real Jasmine are clearly and empathetically portrayed through her thoughts and actions, just as Jasmine’s feeelings are communicated through her behaviours. 

Although both girls find the changes they have to make confronting and awkward, this is a positive and encouraging story that is sure to help young readers understand these kinds of situations from someone else’s point of view. 

This book is probably best suited for preteen and early teen readers, but it is enjoyable enough for older audiences too.  It would certainly be a good choice for families to read together, and a highly appropriate addition to local and school libraries. 

Book Review: ‘The Old Gilt Clock’ by Paulette Mahurin

Find your copy here.

There are times, particularly in the face of conflict or adversity, in which one might be tempted to ask, “What can one person do?”

The story of Willem Arondeus is testament to the fact that one person can do a very great deal to oppose hatred or wrongdoing, both through their own efforts but also by inspiring and encouraging others to also stand against evil. 

 Willem’s life story is well written and makes compelling reading. A man well acquainted with prejudice and hatred, Willem has been brought to life by the author in a manner that is both realistic about his flaws and empathetic about his suffering, credibly portraying him as a very normal person with a profound commitment to doing what was right.

This book adds a personal dimension to history and confronts the reader with the sense of helplessness experienced by the Dutch people of the time, and with the anger and resentment they harboured toward the Nazis and those who dumped with them. It made me reflect on what I know of my own grandfather, who was also a member of the Dutch resistance during the German occupation of the Netherlands in WWII, and to feel.somehow even more strongly connected to Willem and his friends as a result.

This is often an uncomfortable read, but it is an important one. Because stories like this are told, our generation is reminded to be vigilant against evil, to stand with the oppressed, and to ‘do some good ‘.

Book Review: ‘Coming Home For Christmas’ by Helen Pryke

Although the subtitle is ‘A Haunting Christmas Tale’, this is far from being scary or spooky. Instead, is it a positive and inspirational story full of Christmas Eve spirit. 

Without being overly sentimental, this story is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The reader is invited to witness a very special moment through the thoughts and memories of the central character, and is encouraged to reflect on what makes a particular date or a relationship unique and memorable. 

The story is beautifully told, wistful rather than morbid, and imbued with love and devotion. It is a short story, read in less than 15 minutes, but one that lingers in the thoughts of the reader long beyond that. 

Book Review: ‘The Sage’ The Witch’s Ambitions Trilogy Book 3 by Kayla Krantz

‘The Sage’ is an excellent conclusion to the trilogy that tells the story of Lilith and her pursuit of the truth about her identity and her destiny in the magical community. 

Like the first two books in the series, the story is fraught with tension, twists and suspense that keep the reader deeply engaged in the story while Lilith, Willow and the Elemental Coven fight for both survival and justice. 

This is an excellent story, and is really well written.  I found the whole trilogy to be highly original and very compelling. 

Book Review: ‘Larkin’s Landing’ by S.K. Wee

Small towns often seem quiet, as though nothing interesting would ever happen there. 

Larkin’s Landing is not that kind of small town. Full of old secrets and strong prejudice, it’s a community that is bursting at the seams with lies, deceit and mystery. 

This excellent blend of contemporary mystery and family drama keeps the reader guessing right to the end. The central characters are likeable, regular people who find themselves in the middle of a web of intrigue that they must undo before it undoes them. The story is well developed and suspenseful, taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride of anticipation and discovery as the mysteries of Larkin’s Landing unfold.    

There are elements of the story that some readers will find very confronting. It is a story that exposes the horrors of domestic violence and emotional abuse, and demonstrates very clearly that nobody should ever tolerate or excuse such reprehensible behaviour. There is also some adult content, so this book is not recommended for younger readers.

It is, though, a story of the importance of resilience, the healing power of acceptance, and the life-changing difference that true friendship makes. Overall, the story delivers a positive message and a satisfying sense of justice having been done.

Book Review: ‘Last Call’ by Kaye Lynne Booth

This is an interesting and well-written story that can be read in under 30 minutes, making it ideal for busy people wanting a quick escape. The story neatly combines elements of mystery and suspense with a thought-provoking twist. 

The main character is relatable, as is his situation he finds himself. Empathy is induced by the first person narration and the exploration of his thoughts and responses, especially when he begins to question his own perceptions. When life offers him a refreshing change, the reader is challenged to consider what they would do in the same circumstances, giving them a vested interest in the outcome of the story. 

‘Last Call’ is a most enjoyable short story.