Ronaldo : The Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester

Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well that made such a change! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Ronaldo and his flying school antics.

This is the first children’s book I’ve reviewed. The author, Maxine Sylvester, was kind enough to send me this e-book. I only wish I could of read it out loud to a group of children. I love to see their reactions and faces light up when I do the voices and sound effects! (Takes me back to when I was a nursery school assistant and story time was the highlight of my day!)

The story was a fun read, following young Ronaldo and his reindeer friends and family on the first part of his journey to achieve his dream, to be one of Santas reindeer on the most important night of the year~ Christmas Eve.

With lots of life lessons scattered throughout the story and some very funny illustrations adding to its appeal, this is a perfect alternative to traditional festive bedtime stories.

Children would be able to relate to Ronaldo’s hopes, dreams and also fears. It teaches the reader that it’s important in life to have faith in yourself, focus, appreciate the love and support of those close to you, and, above all, don’t take life too seriously. It feels good to have a bit of fun, and it feels great to be a success!

Overall, a smashing kids book that is suitable for adults to read to their children, or for readers of about 7+ to read themselves. My only gripe is I had black and white illustrations in the e-book, and I’d of loved to see them in full colour. I’m guessing a physical book would be a far more enjoyable read. Long live proper children’s books with full technicolour! πŸ˜‰

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Tess and Tattoos by H. A. Leuschel (Story #1 from the Manipulated Lives compilation)

Tess and Tattoos by H.A. Leuschel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read Tess and Tattoos in H A Leuschel’s compilation Manipulated Lives. It was the first short story out of the five, and although they were all great stories, this was definitely my favourite. I always enjoy reading about older characters. There’s something very heartwarming and poignant about the older generation, they seem to have a way with words, looking at the world through older and wiser eyes.

The author absolutely nailed it with the main protagonist in this story. Tess, an octogenarian is spending her final years living in a care home, the highlight of the day is when her carer, Sandra, does her rounds and the two women bond and form a touching friendship which is the basis of the story.

This novella is divided into short chapters with clear paragraph spacing which is something I always appreciate in a book.

On starting this, I was given very clear visuals of the scene the author created, vividly placing the characters in a setting that was easy to picture in my minds eye. The character personas were portrayed with precision and simplicity, I connected with them instantly, particularly Tess.

This story has mystery, feel good factor, and a touch of sadness. I was pleasantly surprised by the conclusion, I had an inkling as to where it was going, but the writing was stylised in such a way that it kept me hooked, drip feeding little details at perfectly timed moments.

H A Leuschel has a knack, she gently builds insight into the human psyche in story form, adding feeling and creativity which creates powerful stuff. In Manipulated Lives, Tess and Tattoos was the one novella that stood out the most, and it deserves an individual review in its own right. The other four are also exceptional, so I’d go read them all, they won’t disappoint!

A well deserved 5 star rating from me! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Manipulated Lives by H. A. Leuschel (A 2017 top read)

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 Stories 5 Stars

This is the first collection of novellas that I’ve read in all my years of book-worming. I’ve always preferred to read one longer story, to acclimatise myself to the writing style and characters. Taking the time to find that pull you get when immersed into an authors world. The connection, that moment when you know that you’re hooked. It’s something that can’t be rushed, I love the savouring feeling of meeting a new set of characters, and being a fly on the wall, whatever the scene or situation. This is my reasoning for always choosing one book, one story. It’s why I have never opted for a collection of short stories, I felt that their length wouldn’t give me the time I need to get settled in.

Manipulated Lives by H A Leuschel has completely overhauled that thought process! I think I may have been missing out all this time because I never gave novella compilations a chance. This collection is outstanding, it is going to be a very hard act to follow indeed.

The five stories are very different. But they all have one common denominator, a manipulator. These characters are cleverly calculated, likeable and hateable in equal measures, and yet, fascinatingly brilliant. You’ll find yourself relating to them, whether you’ve been on the receiving end of manipulation, or if you are a manipulator yourself.

The author had the ability to grab my attention within a paragraph or two. This goes for every single story. That pull I mentioned above was instant. This collection could be written as five full length books, the characters were absolutely fascinating, I’d like to know more about each and every one of them.

Manipulators come from all walks of life, and without sounding too sinister, Ms Leuschel has manipulated me into changing my opinion on short reads!! Luckily, this kind of bookish manipulation is very welcome, but once you read these stories, I’m sure you’ll agree that being manipulated is extremely distressing. If you even realise that it is happening to you of course.

Tess and Tattoos

Tess, an Octogenarian, who is haunted by her past.

The Spell

Sophie, a young, successful woman, who gets totally sucked in by the life of a small boy and his father.

Runaway Girl

Holly, a teenager who falls for the school heart throb.

The Narcissist

A manipulators POV, trying to fathom out his life and his current situation.

My Perfect Child

Lisa, and her unconditional love for her son.

With punchy titles, and well written characters this collection was a superb read. There is dark and disturbing undertones of how twisted and truly evil humans can be, making for a fascinating character study that I cannot fault.

After each story when I closed the book, I caught sight of the cover, and it dawned on me just how fitting it was. A simple picture capturing a young woman obscuring her face with the back of her hand. As I went from story to story, it became apparent that this reaction spoke volumes.

This is a collection of stories that will stay with me for quite some time. It was relatable and thought provoking, and I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to the author for sending me a copy to read and review.

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Welcome πŸ’œπŸ“šπŸ’œ

So, if you’ve just stopped by as you’ve arrived here from my Tweet, nice to see you! And I thank you for taking the time to read this far. πŸ˜‰

My blog isn’t very old, and I am still trying to understand a LOT of basic stuff. I’m too busy bloody reading or scrolling on Goodreads/NetGalley 😱 I do not need any more ARC’s. OK? I have plenty. Plenty.

Anyway, I digress, generally my blog is for my Goodreads reviews, but as I get more confident, I’ll post stuff…ummmm, bookish stuff mainly. And maybe the odd nice photo, owl-related probably.πŸ˜‰

OK, well, that is all. And follow me. If you want. Up to you. No pressure.πŸ™…

The Witchfinders Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars rounded up to 5

Every time I read a historical fiction book, I’m reminded just how fascinating English history is, and that I absolutely bloody love this genre!

Beth Underdown has done a superb job of writing her debut novel based on true events surrounding the fear and intrigue of Witchcraft in seventeenth century England. The story is based on the life of the 1640s Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, with the main protagonist being his sister, Alice.

The authors writing style created such feelings of helplessness and pity. The scenes were full to the brim of atmosphere, I could smell the filth, hear the whispers of townsfolk, visualise the clothing and wretched children playing in the gutters.

It all sounds so deeply depressing, but, believe me, it was far from it. To say I was gripped by the story would be a lie. It took me just over a week to read it, which is quite a time for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed every single aspect of this book. I think it took me so long because I was savouring each chapter, hanging on to every beautifully written paragraph, and wallowing in the thought of reading another installment. A great book doesn’t necessarily need to be devoured in one sitting.

The Witchfinder’s Sister has everything to pull the reader into the dark and terrifying times women had to endure during this period. Suspicion was rife and the threat of torture, and ultimately, death if you so much as grew any kind of herb on your windowsill filled many a woman with dread. Seems to me that male chauvinism was as rife as dysentery, and God help you dear if you have any thoughts or beliefs of your own!

I’m bound to give this kind of novel the five star treatment, I just can’t help myself, I can’t resist historical fiction, and when Witchcraft is the subject matter, and the writing is this good, I’m sold.

Oh, and before I forget, this has major cover~love from me. I’d like to own a physical copy of this just to touch and appreciate that artwork. Stunning.

I’d like to thank the publisher, Penguin Random House UK, the author, Beth Underdown and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Being the ‘book-cover-judger’ that I am, I dived into this thinking I’d be devouring its bookishness with relish. After all, what bibliophile could resist that cover?! The premise of an Indie Bookstore that opens until midnight, and a ‘BookFrog’ who has committed suicide amongst the books.

“Lydia’s skills as a bookseller came mainly, she believed, from her ability to listen. A raging case of bibliophilia certainly helped, as did limited financial needs, but it was her capacity to be politely trapped by others that really sealed her professional fate”.

I really wanted to love this. I so did. But I just felt so detached from it a lot of the time. I knew it wasn’t going to be a barrel of laughs, but there was absolutely no escape from the morbid scenarios at any point, and it started to drag me down.

This is wavering between 3 stars and 3.5 stars. It gets an average three, based on the fact that this was one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read and I was glad when it was over. But I have to squeeze in that extra half a star because it was a cleverly written book that had an intensity to keep me interested. Not gripped or excited. Just interested.

As I headed to the quarter of the way mark, intriguing little cryptic bookish clues started to really pique my interest. But I still felt a niggling distance from it that I just couldn’t shake off.

The story was engulfed with a dark sadness, the characters felt a tad unfinished, and I thought there were some holes that needed to be filled with things other than bleak and slushy weather visuals and people’s grotty clothing descriptions.

It was hard work at times, but I trudged through, because it was no way a DNF. It wasn’t anywhere near bad enough for that.

I enjoyed the way the two narratives combined, Lydia as a thirty-something and Lydia as a ten year old. Her younger self was very well portrayed, the child perspective being very believable and well written.

To conclude, I’d shelve this book ‘on the fence’, because that’s exactly where I’m sat regarding my opinions and thoughts. I can’t say much more about it other than it’s upsetting and violent. It was not at all what I expected.

I’d like to thank the publisher, Random House UK and the author, Matthew Sullivan for the opportunity to read this, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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