Book Review: ‘Prince of York: A Story of Reginald Pole’ by Samantha Wilcoxson

‘Prince of York’ offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of Reginald Pole, Catholic cardinal who also happened to be the nephew of English kings Edward IV and Richard III. As such, Pole found himself at odds with Henry VIII over more than his Church of England’s split from the Roman Church. 

In the turbulent world of Renaissance, political intrigue and religious Reformation, Wilcoxson brings Pole to life, networks him with both prominent and humble people, places him in vividly drawn settings, and animates the conflicts and issues that confronted him in a highly realistic and compelling way. The reader has the sensation of looking on as the events of the story unfold, developing considerable  empathy for Pole in the dilemmas and challenges he faces.  

The story definitely presents history from a perspective that is not often explored through fiction. Unlike his more famous relatives, Pole’s responses to the world around him are characterised by his faith and humility. Wilcoxson’s Pole reminds the reader, as the man himself would have done, that there is always a bigger picture to consider and that the greatest success is not always found in personal gain. 

The book is very well written and most enjoyable to read. Even though it is historical fiction, it feels authentic. Surely, for a work of fiction, there can be no higher praise than that.

Book Review: ‘The Silent Shield’ by Jeff Wheeler

The fifth book in The Kingfountain Series, ‘The Silent Shield’ is another wonderful foray into the kingdom of Ceredigion and the conflict that threatened to consume the surrounding lands. 

The continued story of Tryneowy Kiskaddon is personal and compelling, enchanting in both plot and the language used to tell the story and depict the places in which it takes place. 

A young woman of strength and integrity, Tryneowy is an admirable character that readers can respect, a role model for equality and embracing one’s abilities despite the judgement and expectations of others. 

Readers who have not read the previous books in this series will find this to be a complete story on its own, and thoroughly enjoyable as such. 

Those reader would, however, be better advised to start at the beginning of this outstanding series, simply because it is so immensely enjoyable. 

Book Review: ‘The Auctioneer’ by J.S. Frankel

‘The Auctioneer’ is a highly original, fast-paced sci-fi novel that transports the reader to new worlds while at the same time challenging and reinforcing their values and priorities. 

The story delivers mystery and intrigue in a classic science-fiction setting populated by a plethora of different types of people and creatures. The characters are diverse and interesting, each vastly different from the others, and from the outset it is hard for the reader — and, indeed, the heroes of the story— to know who really can be trusted. 

Different rules and standards apply in different worlds — but does that make them all acceptable? This is the crux of the complication that sets this story in motion, and the issue which the reader finds so compelling. 

‘The Auctioneer’ is a brilliant read, full of surprises and twists, and enjoyably unpredictable in its resolution. 

Book Review: ‘1066 Turned Upside Down: Alternative Fiction Stories by Nine Authors’

1066 was a pivotal year for England: it brought the death of two kings and end of Anglo-Saxon rule, the Battle of Hastings, and the Norman Conquest. 

‘1066 Turned Upside Down’ is a collection of speculative historical fiction, presenting some very enjoyable reading and some really thought-provoking alternative histories. 

As a collection, the quality of the writing is exceptional and the variety of possible outcomes presented is truly fascinating. My personal favourites are the contributions by Annie Whitehead and Joanna Courtney, but I also really enjoyed Richard Dee’s story that highlights the power of teachers to inspire and mentor their students. 

It is not necessary to know the history of 1066 before reading: these stories will satisfy both curious minds and history buffs alike. The true historical context of each story serves as an introduction for the fictional account that follows. 

The stories are all quite believable, each one challenging the reader to question: what might have been if things had gone even just slightly differently? 

Book Review: ‘The Spyglass File’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

This is the fourth full length novel featuring Morton Farrier, forensic genealogist. The books in this series all explore an historical mystery while Morton also researches his own genealogical background. 

This is an intriguing story, extremely well told. 

A captivating blend of WWII intrigue, family secrets and investigative mystery fiction, this is yet another riveting instalment in a most excellent series. 

Book Review: ‘Webley and the World Machine’ by Zachary Chopchinski

The byline of ‘Webley and the World Machine’  promises “a steampunk adventure full of sass and snark” which is a very good indication of what the reader will experience in this book. The adventures of Adal and Arija make for a highly original and entertaining read. 

Adal and Arija are typical teens, each with passions and interests that motivate them, both unfailingly loyal and committed to one another as best friends. The story takes them on a journey that challenges their resilience and their individual understandings of life as they have always known it and, at the same time, strengthens and transforms their friendship. They are people that young adult readers will relate to in many ways, including their experiences of life and of other people who are not so easy to get along with, the priorities they hold, and the way they speak and interact with one another. 

The intricate and multi-textured world building in this novel is testament to the immense imagination and creativity of the author and adds a lot of interesting sensory detail to the story. The settings, characters and creatures are brought to life vividly, and the story is very well paced. 

In short, there is absolutely nothing that is boring or mundane about this book. 

New Release: ‘Being a P.I. — Again” by Alan Zacher

This new mystery suspense story from author Alan Zacher is out now!

Tom Mayor is a man in his mid-fifties who had done nothing with his life. Never had a steady job living off his parents, and he was a closet drunk. Then, as a joke, he told his mother that he had “the stuff” to be a private detective, like the “Thin Man”.
With the help of his mother, he gets his first case, and after some difficulties, he solves the murder of the next-door neighbor’s granddaughter. The case made him famous—and rich! The father of the murder victim gives him a million dollars. Life, for the first time in his miserable life, is good for Tom.
But now, someone is trying to kill him. Who? Why? To find out, Tom must become a P. I.— Again!

Alan Zacher turned to writing after many years of being a “struggling” actor in LA. He has had two novels published: “I’m No P. I.” and “A Ghoulish Good Time.” Having had MS for serval years now, he knows physical and mental pain and looks to laughter to endure it. He hopes that his novels do just that–give much laughter.

Book Review: ‘Blue Mage’ by Amber Morant

The saying goes that “there is no honour among thieves”, but the protagonist of this story is certainly an exception to that rule. 

This is a fun fantasy short story full of action and varied, interesting characters. Elona, the central character is clever and talented, and it is most engaging to see her adapt to the changes that happen in her life without losing her individuality or sacrificing her loyalty. 

The world building is quite unique, providing settings that reveal the two extremes of life in the kingdom of Tore— the wealth of the mage’s citadel and the grunge of the thieves’ den. The kingdom has a very old-world feel, yet the characters have access to modern technology, which creates an intriguing juxtaposition

The story can be read under an hour, which makes it ideal for a lunch break or fitting into a busy lifestyle. 

Book Review: ‘Penny White and the Temptation Of Dragons’ by Chrys Cymri

A most excellent read… with dragons.

This is a brilliant read. 

Unpredictable, interesting and exciting, this book is full of diverse and complex characters that challenge and compel one another in various ways as the story progresses.

Penny White is delightfully snarky and very human, and endears herself to the reader immediately  as she responds with empathy in a most unusual situation.  As the story unfolds, the reader finds themselves immersed in a whole new fantasy adventure. The story is highly original and very entertaining.  

The way in which the author has positioned this world and its “neighbour” world is fascinating, and the ways in which the two worlds are linked physically, but also through the sharing of creatures, issues and mysteries that must be solved make the story so very engaging and involving for the reader that it is very hard to put the book down until the final page is read.

The world building and logistics are thoughtful and carefully developed, so that the story moves between this world and the alternate world quite smoothly and logically. 

I am excited to have discovered this fantastic new series, and am very pleased to award this book a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of ‘Penny White and the Temptation Of Dragons’  here.

Book Review: ‘Thorns‘ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another great read in an excellent paranormal series.

This seventh book in the Elemental Witch Trials series focuses on Rose, Brac’s daughter, take over as the main character, Brac still features prominently in the story, while Gwen and other family members continue to take supporting roles. Once again, the author achieves a natural and smooth progression that enriches the series without losing continuity or cutting off the stories of other family members.

Rose is a formidable character, not afraid to use both her physical and inner strengths to achieve her goals. She is complex and conflicted, which adds a very relatable layer of depth to her story.

As with every other instalment of this excellent series, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Thorns has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.