Book Review: ‘The Pursuit of Trust’ by Sarah B. Meadows

‘The Pursuit of Trust’ is Book 2 in the author’s Discovering Kia paranormal/urban fantasy series. 

Following on directly from where ‘In Pursuit Of Light’ left off, this book continues to explore questions about not only Kia, but also the individual pasts and stories of the men who have become her protectors, Once again, these men share the role of narrator, but it is also significant that Kia has more agency in this book and communicates her thoughts and feelings through more than gesture and action. 

Kia is still a mysterious character, although the reader definitely feels as though they grow to know her better throughout the second book. Answers to the questions about her nature and abilities remain elusive, however, which is also true of her companions.  

It is interesting that this book is titled ’The Pursuit of Trust’ because the lack of trust, and the inability of the central characters to have absolute confidence in one another, are central drivers of the storyline. In fact, the only character who has any implicit trust in anyone is Kia herself, thanks to her innate ability to know the truth and integrity of one’s character.  The different characters’ insights through their narration of parts of the story is a key means of exploring notions of trust and distrust, and the associated experiences of loyalty, jealousy and resentment that either nourish or poison the feelings of each character toward the others. 

This is an intriguing story that moves at a good pace, with a satisfying balance between action, suspense and development.

While the book finishes with the very strong sense that there is more of the story to come, it also provides a brief glimpse into one of the characters’ former lives, of which he has no memory, and which raises as many questions as it provides insights. This adds further mystery and complexity to the story, and increases the reader’s desire to read on and discover the truths that underpin the nature and personality of each of the central characters. 

Book Review: ‘The Feels’ by Vanessa Ravel

‘The Feels’ is a gripping psychological thriller that explores ideas of guilt, secrecy, and vengeance through the experiences of Ariel, the protagonist of the story, and her interactions with those close to her as the story progresses.

Ariel is a complex and deeply flawed character, yet one for whom the reader develops a strong sense of empathy because the story is told from her perspective, Her thoughts and feelings are communicated powerfully, creating vivid images in the reader’s mind and evoking strong emotional responses.

The story also provides a fascinating study of a mind corrupted by both mental illness and indulgence in evil, through the thoughts and actions of the antagonist. This adds a dimension of psychological horror that leaves the reader aghast at the extent of the destruction caused by a depraved mind.

The story remains unpredictable and suspenseful throughout, keeping the reader guessing right to the end with plenty of complications and heart-in-the throat moments.

‘The Feels’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Red Sarah’ by C.A. Kauffman

A delightful fantasy story that blends the historical, magical and contemporary worlds.

C.A. Kauffman Red SarahThis is a delightful fantasy story that blends the historical, magical and contemporary worlds with an interesting sci-fi twist.

While the mystery around Sarah and the Reds is answered as the story develops, questions about the fate of Lucas and the kingdoms of Mist and Marlowe remain until the very end. The story does have a surprisingly satisfying ending, although most likely not the one most readers expect or prefer.

As with many stories this length, none of the characters are particularly thoroughly developed, but the reader does come to feel that they know Sarah and Lucas fairly well, and that they are invested enough to want particular outcomes for them.

‘Red Sarah’ is an interesting and enjoyable short read that can be read comfortably in the space of a little over an hour, or managed easily enough during breaks in a busy day.
Acorn Award II Silver

This book has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: (Almost) Average Anthology: Tales Of Adventure, Loss and Oddity by Jason Nugent.

A collection that displays the range and power of Nugent’s dark imagination.

Jason Nugent Almost Average AnthologyThis interesting and varied collection opens w ith an astounding personification of death that challenges the reader to confront their fear and think more philosophically about death as an entity rather than an event.

 

Once he has the reader’s attention, Nugent carries them from scene to scene, ranging from bleak to grim, to macabre. Each story delivers a thought-provoking punch or a clever twist that takes the reader by surprise.

 

I chose to enjoy these short stories individually rather than one after another in close succession, and found each one to be very well executed. As a collection, they display the range and power of Nugent’s dark imagination and his ability to deliver each story with a profound effect.

Acorn Award II Silver

This book has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

 

Book Review: ‘The Unlikeliest Candidate’ by J. S. Frankel

An absolutely ripping read for NA and grownups.

Jesse Frankel The Unlikeliest CandidateHarry Cannell’s life is going to hell in a handcart – fast. He’s a regular guy with regular problems that start piling up until one extraordinary event changes everything for him.

It’s great to find a brilliant story that revolves around a character who is actually so ordinary and who struggles to make sense of exactly how he arrived at the point in life where he finds himself as the book opens. This makes him relatable to the reader, and positions them to feel sympathy for the misery he experiences.

This story is a unique blend of mystery, sci-fi, comedy, romance and adventure all in one. It’s a great escape into the realm of ‘What if?’ that tempts the reader to wonder and hope that there might actually be something more, some unrealised possibilities that we simply overlook as we pursue life as we know it.

There is some physical intimacy in this book, so it’s suitable for New Adult audiences and up, rather than YA.

‘The Unlikeliest Candidate’ is an absolutely ripping read from start to finish.
Acorn Award I Golden

Book Squirrel has awarded it a Gold Acorn for brilliant storytelling and great writing.

Find your copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Bitter Loss’ by Aliya DalRae

A powerful portrayal of one woman’s personal hell.

Aliya DalRae Fallen Cross Pack 3 Bitter Loss

The third in the Fallen Cross Pack novella series, ‘Bitter Loss’ is the vivid and heartbreaking portrayal of one woman’s descent into her own personal hell when her life takes a tragic turn.

 

Maggie Danes is very realistically portrayed in her responses and emotions. As grief gives way to despair, and then to hopelessnes, the reader can’t help but feel that they might not respond so differently should they find themselves in her situation.

 

This is a beautifully written story that works well as a standalone, but also fits perfectly into both the Fallen Cross and Jessica Sweet series. This fact alone is testament to DalRae’s talent as a writer.

 

Acorn Award I Golden
Like the others in this series, ‘Bitter Loss’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

 

Book Review: ‘The Dowling House’ by A. Drew

The Dowling House blends some nicely developed Gothic and macabre elements with some moments of pure horror. It is indeed a most satisfying creepy read.

A Drew The Dowling House

A tragic story of possession, grief and despair that crosses the boundaries of generations and spiritual realms, The Dowling House leaves the reader resolved to neither simply dismiss the unknown nor to underestimate the power of evil.

The story is quite well crafted, luring the reader into the presence of evil by appealing to that morbid fascination with the mysteries of spirits and ghosts that is so often a part of human nature. George and Melissa are realistic characters, and even though there were times I really wanted him to toughen up and be more useful, his responses to his experiences were probably how many of us would respond in similar circumstances, so I have had to forgive him for that, especially since he does actually do the right things when it matters.

The Dowling House blends some nicely developed Gothic and macabre elements with some moments of pure horror. It is indeed a most satisfying creepy read.

Acorn Award II Silver

I’ve awarded The Dowling House a Silver Acorn.

Find it on Amazon.