Book Review: ‘Blood of Roses: Edward IV and Towton’ by J.P. Reedman

While some history textbooks are interesting and quite easy to read, it is also fair to say that many are written by historians who do not seem to mind that their works are either lofty, dull, or both. 

The beauty of historical fiction is that it has the power to make history accessible to those who otherwise would know little of the events presented in its pages, and to create interest in those men and women who made history through their words, actions and achievements. 

Reedman’s historical fiction is both very readable and enjoyable. 
‘Blood of Roses: Edward IV and Towton’  tells the story of the events during the Wars Of The Roses that resulted in the coronation of Edward, Earl Of March as King Edward IV. The author has brought history to life on these pages, transforming historical figures into vividly portrayed characters and the reader into an onlooker during those pivotal moments in English history. 

Readers who have read and studied the history of this period in detail will find the fictionalised story to be interwoven seamlessly with the account of historical events. Reedman’s narrative is smooth and fluent, and the plot and action of the story are well paced and exciting. 

For all those reasons, ‘Blood of Roses: Edward IV and Towton’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘Half Sick of Shadows’ by Richard Abbott

As someone who has always loved Tennyson’s poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’, the title of this book caught my eye and imagination immediately. Rather than being a retelling of the poem, however, this book is a speculative fantasy about the life of the Lady before the events of the poem take place, and on the nature of her observations of the world around her tower.

The story is very creative and highly original in its development, intriguing the reader with hints about the truth of the Lady’s identity and the reasons for her being imprisoned in her tower.

The Lady’s character is quite thoroughly developed, as the reader is allowed into her thoughts and responses as well as into her activities. Other characters in the book are less well developed, simply because the story moves from one group to another as it progresses, but all are portrayed in a personal and evocative  manner that gives both the Lady and the reader a strong sense of connection to them. 

The author has given the well known story a new sense of mystery and intrigue and another layer of mystical connection that gives this book depth and has a profound effect on the reader. 

A most enjoyable read, ‘Half Sick of Shadows’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

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Book Review: ‘Christmas Miracle on Thanksgiving’ by R.M. Gauthier

It’s the most awful feeling: knowing you have screwed up, knowing that you may have ruined everything you’ve been working for… and knowing there’s not a thing you can do about it. 

If you have ever been in that situation, you will totally relate to Jack’s thoughts and feelings at the beginning of this book. The author has done an excellent job of creating distance and tension between her characters that is almost palpable, as is the misery Jack experiences as a result. It takes quite some skill as a writer to make the reader feel sympathy for a man who has caused his own problems, but Gauthier does so most effectively. 

In addition to further developing the continuing story of events in Christmas Town, the author uses her characters to deliver important and relatable lessons about friendship, loyalty, and resolving one’s problems in constructive and healthy ways. Of course, the story is so entertaining that the reader doesn’t even realise they are being schooled in conflict resolution until they stop to reflect on what they have read.

The seventh of eight novellas in this endearing mystery/romance series, this has been the most thought-provoking thus far. ‘Christmas Miracle on Thanksgiving’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.  

Book Review: ‘The Skeletons of Birkbury’ by Diana J Febry

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to believe that the events of the past will remain there.

There are plenty of people in this book who are dealing with the ghosts and skeletons of the past, some with powerful and tragic consequences.

The Skeletons of Birkbury is a very enjoyable and well-constructed mystery story, set in a seemingly normal English village populated by believable characters, most of whom seem quite likeable and all of whom seek to keep up appearances of respectability.

Whose ghostly chickens are about to come home to roost? And which members of the community will fail to get out of the way as they do?

The Skeletons of Birkbury has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

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Book Review: ‘March Blues: A Cat Collier Mystery’ by Carol Ann Kauffman

‘March Blues’ is an engaging and well-paced mystery novella.

The third in Carol Ann Kauffman’s mystery novella series featuring vivacious private investigator Cat Collier, ‘March Blues’ continues the development of the main characters’ stories while Cat investigates some new cases and discovers that not all mysteries are as open and shut as she would like.

While the story is very entertaining, complexity is added by the  issues of trust and integrity and the consequences of choices made in the past that both confront the characters and prompt the reader to think about what their own actions might be in similar circumstances.

An engaging and well paced short read, ‘March Blues’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘Timeless Trouble’ by Lucretia Stanhope

It is no small feat to create a series of books that continues to interest and intrigue a reader over time and innumerable  developments of plot and character.  It should be recognised as a significant achievement, then, that this tenth title in Stanhope’s Elemental Witch Trials series is as riveting as the first. 

This novel focuses on the connections between the central characters, but also those between the witches and vampires that readers of the series have come to know, and between the realms they rule and travel. Indeed, it seems that everything is connected to everything else, one way or another. 

As new challenges arise to test their strengths and loyalties, The central characters are faced with almost impossible choices that must be made. The reader is also confronted by those trials, fully aware of the extreme difficulty and serious consequences of each one. 

An intriguing and suspenseful read, ‘Timeless Trouble’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

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Audiobook Review: ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ by Kerri Maniscalco

The identity of Jack the Ripper remains one of the biggest mysteries in the history of both Victorian England, and of the murky world of serial killers.

Maniscalco takes that mystery, envelopes it in the life and times of a fictional would-be forensic scientist, shrouds it with London fog, and hides it in a dark place where nobody thinks or dares to look.

‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ is a beautifully written blend of mystery, macabre horror and historical fiction that keeps the audience completely rivered as the story unfolds. Suspense builds from the time of the discovery of the first victim right up to the climax and conclusion.

Available on Kobo and Audible.

The cast of characters is varied and complex, each with secrets and personal motivations that intrigue both the reader and one another. The way in which the author drops hints and suggestions is quite tantalising, adding another layer of mystery to the characters and their actions.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The narration was fluent and well paced, and a pleasure to listen to.

I definitely plan to indulge in the sequel very soon.

‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.