‘You’re Not A Goth Until You Sack Rome’ by Jeffery Cook and Kathleen Perkins

As unpleasant as the experiences may be, it is often when experiencing persecution or encountering conflict that people make surprising discoveries about themselves.

That is absolutely the case for Rae Schwarz when she discovers that there is much more to her life than homework, preparing for Halloween and avoiding the school bully. What ensues is a story of resilience, friendship, loyalty, discovering new talents and looking beyond the surface to recognise what is hidden underneath.

This story is refreshing and original, written with a very comfortable style and personal tone that makes it very relatable and highly engaging. The characters are interesting and varied, each complementing the others in ways that are not immediately obvious to the reader at the outset, and demonstrating the it is entirely possible to be ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. 

A book laden with positive messages and values, ‘You’re Not A Goth Until You Sack Rome’ demonstrates a profound acceptance of differences and individuality and encourages the reader to recognise their own unique combinations of personality, ability and talent, and to learn to see others in the same way. 

This is a most enjoyable and entertaining story, written for a YA audience but suitable and appealing for all ages. 

Book Review: ‘Betwixters: Once Upon a Time’ by Laura C Cantu

What a wonderful, spellbinding story! 

‘Betwixters’ has just the right balance of friendship, danger, adventure and magic to make it a highly engaging and memorable story that draws the reader in right from the start. 

Noah, Skye and Ethan are three regular kids who find their courage and friendship tested by the most unique circumstances, but it is those same qualities that they rely on to find the solution to their problems. They are realistic and relatable characters, brought to life in a really vivid way. The wider cast of supporting characters is similarly true to life, 

The story is wonderfully written, infused with suspense and tempered with humour, and frequently evoking a warm and positive tone that provides a very good balance for the darker elements of the story.

A great story for all ages from middle years up, ‘Betwixters’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Night’s Gift: Of Cats and Dragons Book 1’ by Camilla Ochlan and Carol E. Leever

A brilliant YA fantasy adventure!

Camilla Ochlan Carol Leever Night's GiftWhat a brilliant read! ‘Night’s Gift’ is a highly original and enormously entertaining fantasy adventure story.

The world building is rich in imagery and sensory detail, enabling vivid and lively visualisation as the story is read. The reader is led from one distinct setting to another, and yet another, each time developing a clear picture of the size, dimension and texture of buildings, streetscapes and scenery.

The central characters of Omen and Templar are both likeable, complex and somewhat rogueish hero figures, each with their own flaws but also possessing good qualities which others do not always recognise. My favourite though, is Tormy— it’s impossible to resist his bravery and loyalty, while his perception and encouragement both add additional dimensions to the way in which Omen and Templar fight against the evil that threatens to destroy them.

There is absolutely nothing to dislike about this book. It has all the elements of a compelling fantasy adventure— danger, challenges, deadly creatures, magic, deception, sword fights, and heroism— bound together with friendship and humour. It leaves the reader both satisfied and keen for the next phase of the story.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Night’s Gift’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Pablo the Storytelling Bear’ by Penny Luker

This is a storybook every family needs to own and read.

Penny Luker PabloThis is an adorable children’s storybook about Bill and his friend Pablo, a toy polar bear who tells delightful bedtime stories. Rich in imagination and wonder, this book and the stories within it are engaging and heartwarming, delivering very positive messages about friendship, family and behaviour.

Bill is a nice kid who belongs to an average family. Rather than portraying him as an ideal child, the author has made him relatable to other kids: he has disappointments, fights with his sister, and has moments of selfishness. Overall, though, Bill is a good model for kids in the way these situations are resolved.

Pablo’s stories also present opportunities to discuss highly relevant global issues such as conservation, environment, climate change and animal welfare with children in sensitive and proactive ways.

As someone who loves books, polar bears and Canada, I appreciate the beautiful storytelling and the messages of the stories in this book.

Acorn Award I Golden

This book has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Scheherazade Cat – The Story Of A War Hero’ by Stephanie C. Fox

A beautiful story of a little cat and how she saved a soldier.

Stephanie C Fox Scheherazade Cat

This beautiful story of a calico kitten and her role in the Gulf War is beautifully written in a straightforward yet heartwarming style that will be enjoyed by older children, but also by adults. The writing is expressive but still easily understood, and the uglier elements of the war are treated gently, although not ignored, so that younger or sensitive readers are not frightened or put off from reading the story.

The cover and illustrations by Milena Radeva are absolutely stunning, capturing both the story and the personality of the kitten as she grew and won her place in the heart of a soldier.

‘The Scheherazade Cat’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence in both storytelling and illustration.

Find ‘The Scheherazade Cat’ here.

Book Review: ‘Blue Light Christmas 2: A Cry for Elf’ by Tobey Alexander

‘A Cry for Elf’ is a fun read for kids and grownups alike. 

Tobey Alexander Blue Light Christmas 2‘A Cry for Elf’ is a fun read for kids and grownups alike.  Set one year after the first book in the series, Alexander takes readers of all ages on a romp through the North Pole in which Constable Tim Tinsel and his daughter, Eve, are challenged with the task of rescuing Santa and reclaiming Christmas from key occupants of the Naughty list.

The story is delightful, full of action and humour that will entertain and amuse independent readers and provide meaningful family time for those who read the story together. The story delivers clear moral messages about choosing to do what is right and putting others before ourselves, without being either preachy or self-righteous.

There’s no reason at all why reading this book should be limited to the Christmas season. It’s perfectly entertaining and valuable reading for any day of the year.

Golden Acorns
This was Book Squirrel’s featured book in the Bookish Advent Event on December 9th, so it’s delightful to be able to give it a Golden Acorn in recognition of its excellence.
Find it on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘The Gift’ by Rhonda Hopkins

This Christmas story challenges the reader to assess their values and priorities, and to remember what is most important in life. 

What do we sacrifice for success without realising? Rhonda Hopkins The Gift
When his life is thrown into turmoil with no notice two weeks before Christmas, Robert faces a number of challenges he had never anticipated. The choices he makes will be the difference between success or failure as a father and family man.
The story itself is well-written and nicely developed. I wasn’t expecting the ending to happen as it did, but the ability to surprise a  reader thus is one mark of a good writer.  ‘The Gift’ is an enjoyable and rewarding short read.
This Christmas story challenges the reader to assess their values and priorities, and to remember what is most important in life.
Silver Acorns
Book Squirrel gives this book a Silver Acorn.
Find ‘The Gift’ on Amazon.