Audiobook Review: ‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins

Find your copy here.

’The Binding’ is a tragic and compelling historical fantasy story of unlikely alliances, forbidden love, and the power of memories. The writing is beautiful and the story is superbly crafted. The narration by Carl Prekopp is a joy to listen to, as he gives life and voice to the characters and enchants the listener into feeling as though they are actually there as the events unfold. 

The story explores timeless themes including patriarchy and the abuse of power, particularly in terms of social class but also when it comes to the way society as a whole viewed same-sex relationships in the past. Because all of those prejudices still exist in society today, albeit to a lesser extent, the story is powerfully relevant. 

The characters, particularly Emmet and Alta, are developed so fully that the audience feels as though they know them intimately, which creates an emotional investment in their lives. This depth of feeling heightens the tensions of the complications and challenges they face, and makes the twists and revelations of the story more impactful. 

‘The Binding’ is available in ebook and novel as well as audio.

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: ‘Haunted: The Sparkly Badgers Anthology’

Some of the stories and poems in this collection are creepy, others are darker and more sinister, and still others embrace a fascination with the macabre.

There is a good variety of concepts, genres and writing styles among the different authors’ contributions, making this an interesting and very enjoyable collection, ideal for reading at Halloween or on any other long, dark night. 

Book Review: ‘Blackrock’ by S.K. Gregory

A very enjoyable YA magical realism novel.

S.K. Gregory BlackrockWhen Kasey moves to a new town with her family, she automatically assumes it’s going to be awful.
It’s a situation many of us can identify with, although we’ve probably never had it go quite so badly as it does for her. In this, the author cleverly makes the reader identify with Kasey, and by that time, they’re hooked on the mystery of what’s been going on in Blackrock.

The story is interesting and complex enough to keep the reader guessing right up to the last page. The characters are believable and vividly drawn, each with their own flaws and secrets, so that anyone really could be the troublemaker. It’s natural for the reader to distrust them, but in having them distrust one another, the author creates seeds of doubt that help to drive the story and give it depth.

Acorn Award II Silver

I found ‘Blackrock’ to be a very enjoyable read, and have awarded it a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Return of the Sleeping Warriors’ by Petra Costa

A brilliant Australian YA #urbanfantasy read.

Petra Costa Return of the Sleeping Warriors 1The first book in the ‘When Magic Awakes’ series, this book starts by dropping the reader right into a situation of tension and mystery that continues to grow and develop further as the story progresses. One by one, the questions are layered and woven together so that before long, the reader realises that this book simply demands to be read.

Michael and Dana appear to be typical teenagers living in suburban Melbourne. Sport and school consume most of their time, but there’s something else going on that intrigues both the central characters and the reader. Their family seems quite normal and their dislike of the nasty neighbours seems completely natural.

There is, however, much more to both sides of the equation than meets the eye.

As the action of the story progresses, the reader becomes very familiar with both Michael and Dana, their family members, and the flaws and strengths of each. The reader is very much inclined to cheer Michael and Dana on as they confront a set of circumstances that they never expected to meet in suburban Melbourne.

I really enjoyed the typical Australian flavour of the settings in the story and also in the writing. I find that, too often, Australian authors feel they need to sacrifice their ow surroundings and way of speaking in deference to the power of American popular culture. The author has, in this book, not only retained those qualities but also incorporated them as part of the strengths of the settings, characters and story.Acorn Award I Golden

I found this to be an excellent and interesting book, with plenty of action and excitement to engage YA readers and older, so I have awarded it a Gold Acorn.

I have also added Petra Costa to my list of “one-click” authors, whose books I shall buy without hesitation.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘A Daffodil For Angie’ by Connie Lacy

This is a brilliant read, evocatively and honestly written.

Connie Lacy A Daffodil for Angie

‘A Daffodil For Angie’ drops the reader right into the social upheaval of the 1960s, in which Angie must try to make sense of her life. Against the backdrop of feminism, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and integration of negro students into schools, the Vietnam War, and the craze for British fashion and music, Lacy has woven a story that fits right into the world of ‘Mississippi Burning’ and ‘To Sir With Love’, and yet she makes it intimately personal.

As the reader sees things from Angie’s point of view, the reader is confronted with the same questions that Angie struggles to answer: What sort of person am I? How do I respond to behaviour that is unacceptable? How do I stand up for what’s right when I have to go against the majority of people to do that? Am I more than the sum of my clothes, makeup and behaviour?

Angie speaks to the person inside each one of us who remembers being bullied or singled out, who has been unfairly compared to a sibling or a friend, or who is no longer prepared to tolerate abusive behaviour even though others seem blind to it. As she grapples with these questions, our own convictions and social consciences are challenged and solidified – because as much as we don’t like to admit it fifty years later, our society is still focused on appearances, sexism and sexual predation are still very real, and many people still discriminate against others on the basis of skin colour. People are still hateful, and both racism and sexism are still very real to us.

Yet as much as this is social commentary, it is also a very personal and emotive story of one young woman’s search for meaning in her life, and of her finding her own identity in the process. The use of songs and records to pinpoint moments in her journey lends another dimension to the setting, but more importantly to Angie’s growth as an independent and self-aware individual, willing to stand for what she believes in and against what she understands to be wrong.

Acorn Award I Golden
This is a brilliant read, evocatively and honestly written. It is fully deserving of a Gold Acorn award.

Get your copy here.