Book Review: 'The Promise of the Opal' by Lyra Shanti

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As full of mysticism as it is of mystery, ‘The Promise of the Opal ‘ is a vivid and sensual read that takes the reader to China and immerses them in a compelling love story that both blurs and crosses boundaries– of time, of gender, and of the laws that apply to the physical and spiritual worlds as we understand them. 

The characters are complex, interesting and relatable. Each struggles with questions of identity and belonging, and with feelings of inadequacy and failure, and each must wrestle with those issues as they discover confronting yet undeniable truths about themselves and each other. 

The writing is full of texture and sensory richness that brings the characters and settings — and their history — to life. The story unfolds seamlessly, deeply engaging the reader and making them feel as though they are present in the story. 

While the adult content in the story is tasteful and respectful, it is suitable for adult audiences only. 

This book delivers a fascinating story and a beautiful.reading experience.

Book Review: ‘Where Souls Entwine’ by Laura Rosek

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Part romance, part paranormal mystery and part crime story, ‘Where Souls Entwine’ is a story about interconnections between past, present and destiny that go beyond the physical realities that most people perceive. 

While it is a sequel to Rosek’s previous novel, the book does stand alone very effectively to deliver an interesting and thought-provoking read. 

Other than the antagonist, who is a most reprehensible person, the characters are quite likeable and serve to deliver significant lessons about trust, commitment and belief as the story unfolds. 

There are some scenes depicting graphic violence and domestic abuse, so this is not a suitable story for younger readers, nor for anyone sensitive to such matters. It is, however, generally a positive story. 

Book Review: ‘So Absurd It Must Be True’ by Victoria Ray

I have read plenty of stories that confused me before, but this book took me to another level of bewilderment. 

Without a doubt, this is the strangest collection of stories I have ever read. There are some really creative ideas, but those are frustrated by too many nonsense moments, too many absurdities and not enough development in the stories to make the ideas really work effectively. 

To be honest, the burb promised ‘absurd’ and ‘bizarre’ and it certainly delivered that. I should have taken it more literally than I did. 

Book Review: ‘An Unexpected Brew’ by JE Mueller

The concept of coffee being magical is not a new one by any means, but how good would it be if a barista could brew a bit of luck or confidence into your next cup? Similarly, the tale of Cinderella is not new, but this adaptation of the story has qualities that are original and different. It is an unexpected and delightful brew indeed. 

The author has given the old story a new setting and context, and provided some interesting twists to keep readers guessing. 

The characters have been reinvented so that they are quite original, yet recognisable and true to the conventions of the much-loved fairy tale. The central characters are likeable and relatable, and their interactions are natural and engaging. 

The target audience is YA, but it is a story that will be appealing for a much broader readership. This is a really fun and engaging read.

Book Review: ‘Presenting the Marriage of Kelli Anne and Gerri Denemer: Beyond the Chamber Door Book 2’ by Paul Alleva

This is a dark, horrifying tale that grasps the reader in its talons and holds them captive, right to the end. 

The different parts of the narrative seem disjointed, and to not make sense at first, but that is the intended effect: this is a nightmare, a living hell, flashes of lucidity and terror that draw the reader into the different kinds of horror that the central characters each find themselves in. 

The story lurches and rolls, disorienting and impossible to predict, reflecting the turmoil of the main characters’ deepest thoughts and feelings. As the story plays out, the strands of the narrative pull together to create structure and resolution from the mayhem.

The one thing that really annoyed me was the failure of the author to differentiate between ‘slither’ and ‘sliver’,  using the one word for both meanings as though the second does not exist on more than one occasion. This may seem like nit-picking, but it demonstrates yet again that there is no substitute for a good editor if an author wishes to avoid frustrating their readers.

This is not a book for the faint of heart, but it is certainly a gripping read. 

Book Review: ‘Little Book of Spring’ by Claire Buss

A relatable, easy to read poetry collection.

This book offers vignettes of daily life and glimpses into the thoughts of a young woman. Her children, family life, personal feelings and places they visit all feature in this collection of poetry. 

Some of the poems carry a kernel of a deeper truth that provoked more thought, while others skip through a scene, describing it in a way that leaves the reader nodding and smiling. In every case, it is easy to relate to the ideas expressed by the poet. 

Book Review: ‘Who Am I: Prequel to the Semiramis Series’ by Maya Daniels

This story tells of the early life of Alexia Semiramis, a young woman who learned the soul-destroying power of both words and abuse as a child before she ever discovered that the gifts that made her different than everyone else were magical. 

It is an interesting exposé of the psychology of one who has suffered at the hands of those who should have loved and treasured her, and of one who resents the qualities that set them apart from others in the first place. While it is fictional, there is much written here that will ring true for anyone who has been bullied or abused.

The writing is bold and defiant, creating an angry tone that begs for justice. Thus, this short story sets the stage for the Semiramis series, and creating a strong sense of intrigue and anticipation as to how Alexia might embrace her gifts and use them to take control of her life.