Book Review: ‘Journey of a Lost Manuscript’ by Lorraine Smith

A fascinating true story of the discovery of a Tudor document in 21st century Australia.

Lorraine Smith Journey of a Lost ManuscriptThis is a fascinating true story of a vellum manuscript from Tudor times, its discovery in a bookshop in Warrnambool in 2013, and the journey of discovery undertaken by Lorraine Smith to learn of the manuscript’s history.

It’s really well-written with an easy-going, conversational tone that makes the reader feel as though they’re just listening to the author tell her story, so it’s very relaxing and enjoyable to read. The reader gets a good feel for the character of the author as well as the different personalities she has encountered in the course of her investigations.
The story is complemented by very clear and interesting photographs and maps.

Because it is such an interesting read, ‘Journey of a Lost Manuscript’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.Acorn Award I Golden

Find your copy on Amazon or contact Spectrum Books in Warrnambool, Australia.

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: ‘Sketches of a Black Cat: Story of a WWII Night Flying Pilot and Artist’ by Ron Miner

Fantastic WWII history in a personal story.

 

Ron Miner Sketches of a Black Cat

Ron Miner’s collection of stories and art by his father, combined with the story of his own experiences of gathering those accounts together, provides a rare opportunity for detailed insight into the experiences of an American serviceman during World War II. The stories are told in a conversational and personal way, so that the reader begins to feel connected to both narrators as their stories develop.

The artwork by Miner’s father is incredible, presenting an extraordinary level of detail. The book also offers a range of photographs of planes, servicemen, news clippings and personal letters pertaining to America’s involvement in the war. The images alone are worth the price of the book.

As a history teacher, I really appreciated the straightforward manner in which these stories are told, and the level of detail given about events which are generally only relayed factually in textbooks. I plan to share some of these stories and pictures from the book with my own students when we study WWII.

This is a fantastic book for anyone who enjoys reading biography, adventure and war stories and for history enthusiasts.Acorn Award I Golden

Book Squirrel has awarded ‘Sketches of a Black Cat’ a Gold Acorn for overall excellence.

Readers can buy a copy at Amazon.

Book Review: ‘To Be A Queen’ by Annie Whitehead

Magnificent historical fiction!

Annie Whitehead To Be A Queen
Truly great historical fiction is that which immerses the reader in the events of history without distorting them, yet at the same time transports them into the story so completely that they feel they know the people and places that they meet there. ‘To Be A Queen’ achieves this goal in the magnificent telling of the story of Aethelflæd, which comes from one of my favourite periods of English history, when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia were in turn holding out against the Vikings and pushing them back, and when Alfred had not yet been named “ the Great” by those who recorded his role in history.

Whitehead’s writing is superb, blending a seamless and powerful narrative with poetic terms like “king-helm” drawn from the Old English style such as that seen in ‘Beowulf’ to give a reflection of how English was spoken then and to communicate ideas visually as well as verbally.

The author has created intimate and vivid portraits of the characters amongst the broad brush strokes of history, bringing to life the events and conflicts of the period in which Alfred, Ethelred and Edward fought to preserve England from the attacks and raids of the Vikings. Ancient kings, royal women, thegns, ealdormen, fractious children and servants alike are given flesh, emotions and qualities that make them leap off the page.

Aethelflæd is portrayed first as child, then as woman, then as the lady to whom all of Mercia pledged allegiance. Her vulnerabilities and flaws are real, giving a very strong sense of reality and familiarity to this woman of incredible strength and conviction. Aethelflæd has long been one of my favourite figures of English history, but I shall always feel from now on as though I know her more intimately and completely than before I read ‘To Be A Queen’.
Acorn Award I Golden
This book is truly worthy of more than a Gold Acorn. Alas, no higher honour exists!

‘To Be A Queen’ is available on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘100 Wild Mushrooms’ by Eva Pasco

Eva Pasco 100 Wild Mushrooms

‘100 Wild Mushrooms’ presents readers with one hundred chapters of nostalgia and memoir from the 1960s. Food, music, TV shows, comic books, toys, fashion, crazes, world events, celebrities and recollections of personal experience combine to form a most enjoyable trip down memory lane.

I really enjoyed the diversity and range of the topics in this book. Not content to merely entertain me, these memories carried me away to a different time where life seemed much more straightforward than it often seems to be today.

Written with good humour and warmth, This is a delightful collection that will appeal to a wide audience, especially those who were there but may not always remember much!

In Eva Pasco’s own words, “simply remembering a few of our favourite things meandering along Memory Lane is a trip worth taking.”

Golden Acorns
I’ve given this book a lovely Golden Acorn Award.

‘100 Wild Mushrooms’ is available on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ by Eric Tanafon

Six stars out of five: an amazing book, magnificently written!

Every now and then, as a reader, I experience an incredible moment of revelation when I take in an expression or image of something that is so powerful, it takes my breath away.

No sooner had I started reading ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ than I had to stop and experience the moment. I had just read an extraordinarily beautiful sentence: “The forest clearing was a web of moonlight and shadows.”

What perfect imagery!  It is simple and direct, but powerfully evocative at the same time.

In that moment, I was there. I had been transported to that forest clearing and drawn into the world of the story, even before I knew anything else about it.

This is the magic a writer works when wielding the wand that is their pen.

Eric Tanafon Robin Hood Wolf's Head

Tanafon continues to cast these spells with magnificent imagery throughout this book. As tales are told and the various storylines develop, the author provides the reader with a feast of sensory morsels that both satisfy and delight the reader.

At times, such images can be consumed at speed. Others, like this one, demand more thoughtful digestion to fully appreciate the skill in Tanafon’s craft:

“The autumn day had dawned softly, with light mists gathered around the sun like a veil. In the late morning the forest was still sweet and moist, haunted by the ghosts of decaying leaves.”

As a writer, I lost count of the times I read a sentence or two and thought to myself, “I wish I had written that!”

Tanafon’s genius in reinventing the story of Robin Hood as a paranormal adventure is equally as enchanting as his writing. The stories of Robin Hood, his band of followers and of their enemies are interwoven, not as a braid but as a rich tapestry. Thus the old stories are retold, stripping back the gloss of legend and hero worship and offering the reader a far more thought-provoking and deeply engaging retelling of the famous tales.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s not just a fantastic read: this is literature absolutely worthy of the top shelf.

Available on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Twice Born’ by T.J. Green

If, like me, you’ve never quite got over the fact that there won’t be anymore books featuring one Harry Potter, you should turn your attention to two books by T.J. Green: ‘Tom’s Inheritance’ and ‘Twice Born’.

If, like me, you’ve never quite got over the fact that there won’t be anymore books featuring one Harry Potter, you should turn your attention to two books by T.J. Green: ‘Tom’s Inheritance’ and ‘Twice Born’.

‘Twice Born’ is the brilliant sequel to ‘Tom’s Inheritance‘, but would work equally well as a standalone novel. It’s a wonderful story that explores the age-old theme of the battle between good and evil, and yet the complexities and motivations of the characters give ‘Twice Born’ a completely original and most enchanting story.

T.J. Green has infused this novel with a richness of magic, myth and adventure that is hard to adequately describe. The reader is drawn into this story so completely that one loses track of time and place while reading.

tj-green-twice-born

It’s wonderful to travel through The Other with King Arthur, Merlin and Nimue as well as Green’s original characters in Tom, Beansprout, Woodsmoke and Brenna.
As a reader, I felt protective of key characters when they were in danger and rejoiced with them in their victories. Naturally, I was sad when I realised the end was coming, so I tried to read it slower to make it last just a little longer.

Green also demonstrates her skill in world-building and fantasy in the variety of different realms she has created, and in the people and creatures who inhabit them. The scenes created in this book are full of marvellous sights, rich sounds and incredible experiences that the reader feels as though they are sharing with the characters.

I do believe that if I, like Tom and Beansprout, were given a chance to live in The Other forever, I’d jump at the opportunity.

It’s a wonderful, magical place, and I’m thankful to T.J. Green for taking me there twice.

Now, I’m just hoping for another book in the series. Please don’t disappoint me, Ms Green!
Five shiny stars for ‘Twice Born’.