Book Reviews

A Horse Called Trouble
by C.K. Volnek 
 Perfect read for teens

This is a lovely uplifting book about a troubled girl and a troublesome horse who find love and trust in each other. The ranch setting is appealing and provides a great contrast for the dark, internal and external conflicts which drive the story.

In A Horse Called Trouble, Ms Volnek explores the sensitive issues in childhood and adolescence of ‘the haves’ and ‘have nots’, of friendships and jealousies, of rejection and bullying, and shows us a strong central character who fights on, and grows, in spite of the odds. We are drawn into the story from the start, and held there, feeling we are participants in 13-year-old Tara’s life. How we love Tara and Trouble.

Beautifully written, evoking a gamut of emotions, A Horse Called Trouble is a lesson for bullies and encouragement for those who are treated unfairly. But more than this, the book is a gripping adventure to be loved and passed on from generation to generation. A Horse Called Trouble is up there with the classics. I loved it.


My Review of  Crossroads at Isca, by Laurel Lamperd.

Togas, Tribunes and Taboos.

Crossroads at Isca draws us into the lives of Romans and Britains in a conquered land. We become part of a local family, or tribe, who rebel against Roman authority, in their different ways. This is a story about betrayal, manipulation, love, honour, duty and fear. Set during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138AD), Isca refers to a Roman legionary fortress and settlement, in South Wales on the plains below the ancient village of Ceobury. The two cultures clash and exploit each other. We watch both camps try to cooperate but also manipulate each other in order to survive and thrive, and our sympathies are constantly changing.

The story hooked me right from the start. I have grave concerns for the two cousins who are unaware of the potential betrayer in their midst. Marella, the dancer, is headed for trouble and she's determined to take Faine, the singer, with her. Faine is a sensible young woman but there is a Roman tribune, Titus, who intrigues her and who is infatuated with her.

I applaud the author, Laurel Lamperd, for her thorough research. This book is rich in history. It has everything from everyday life in the primitive village, where we become part of a family; eating, drinking, laughing, crying and journeying with them, even burying them, to kidnapping, murder and human sacrifice. We come to understand the significance of pagan sacrifice, on the one hand, and on the other, how necessary high priests are and how they become revered. We face the evil from within the clan, admire the strength of the women who carve out their own destinies against impossible odds, and respect the attributes of the Romans.

Lamperd creates believably flawed characters who drive the gripping plot, and she doesn’t shy away from the taboos of the times but handles them with the skill of a seasoned writer.

This historical adventure allows us to experience Roman Britain, first hand. The story is entertaining and enlightening and encourages us to question our own values. Would we succumb in the circumstances?

I must admit, I enjoy everything from this author’s pen.

Highly recommended.


My review of  Glancing Through The Glimmer by Pat McDermott.

In Glancing Through the Glimmer, author Pat McDermott turns Irish history on its head and draws us into a fantasy so real we never want to leave. This novel is full of wonderful characters we want to spend time with. Enchanted, we roam Dublin’s fair city, dance with ancient fairies veiled in glimmer, and wander the magical labyrinths within the hills of Howth and beneath a royal castle.

On entering this magical world with American teen, Janet Gleason, granddaughter of the American Ambassador, and her friend Matti, we meet handsome Liam Boru – the prince who might have been – and Finvarra, King of the Fairies who depends on…no…demands royal patronage. Then there is the memorable Nora, with the power to charm and deceive, who turns up at the right and wrong times, and the lovely Princess Talty, Crown Princess of Ms McDermott’s mythical Ireland.

Janet dreads meeting the royal family and having to dance with a prince because she can’t dance, and Prince Liam doesn’t want to escort another American upstart to this year’s Royal Ball. So, it is fortunate that young love blossoms between the pair when both are still unaware of each other’s true identity.

However, mischief, cunning and selfishness born of need are traits attributed to the desperate fairies. They are dangerous to unwary humans. Janet and Liam find themselves separated and adrift in their own frightening adventures.

Written from the heart, Ms McDermott’s hauntingly lovely story will enthral both young and adult readers.  I love Glancing Through The Glimmer. It feels personal.

So, when you step inside these pages, heed my simple warning, ‘Beware bewitching music on the misty hills above the Irish sea.’  #

 Published by MuseItUp Publishing

Available from MuseItUp Bookstore and Amazon Kindle.
March 30th 2012

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