Friday 18 January 2013

Mini Reviews: La Dame à La Licorne, The Trouble With Nightingale & Phoenix

La Dame à La LicorneTitle: La Dame à La Licorne
Author: Anne Marie
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Released: 24th August 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was very impressed with this story.  Kate's voice comes across wonderfully clearly right from the beginning.  She's strong, independent and she can fight for herself.  Absolutely not the whiny type.  Each character in this has their own unique voice and their personality comes across with extraordinary clarity.

Marie has created for us here something very different.  In the first instance, she has centred her story on a creature in fantasy that is very little explored.  In all the years I have spent reading, I've come across this only once, and that didn't work very well for me. But Marie made this engaging, and how?  Because she put a twist on it. This is an element of fantasy that we've built a lot of preconceptions and images of, yet in a stroke of brilliance the author has given it a completely different personality.  The 19th century French background made it all the more magical somehow; it was the perfect setting.

So what makes this so remarkable?  I talk like I've never come across these things before.  Well, folks...

This is a short story. (And I mean shorter than short.)  But despite this, the author has managed to get a lot in every page, from the first page.  You get a brilliant sense of who each character is, not to mention the feeling that they all have their own history. Anne Marie packs a lot of punch here.  Her writing is to the point and conveys a lot.  So if you're short on time and you're looking for something original, this book fits that criteria.  And not many books can say that.

The Trouble With NightingaleTitle: The Trouble With Nightingale
Author: Amaleen Ison
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Released: 20th January 2011
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another recommended short story.  I really liked the world-building in this.  London...rubbishy old estate...demons.  It all really came together to create the perfect background and I definitely would not mind a full-length novel set against it.  Millie was a likeable protag.  You can easily tell she's been through a lot and now she's just trying to get through life.  I felt that despite the doubt, she was very quick to accept her situation - but then that's probably down to the fact that this is only short.  There's very much this sense of her having lost a lot already and now she refuses to let anyone take anything else away from her.

I quite liked Fabian too, with his cheekiness and his ability to turn into cute fuzzy animals while at the same time being able to fight.  I like that Ison created a hint of something between him and Millie that suggested they could potentially develop a relationship without actually making it one.  A new romance in a short story would not work, and the author has kept this in mind, something I appreciate.  Overall her characterisation and world-building made this very enjoyable.

PhoenixTitle: Phoenix
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Released: 11th May 2012
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wow.  This was something incredibly different from your average story.  Jennifer Mason-Black has a truly beautiful writing style that captures emotions and thoughts perfectly.  Despite this being another short story, the auther expertly deals with issues like homosexuality and abuse.  Somehow she also mixed that with an almost supernatural element.  Phoenix left me with questions at the end, but for some reason I'm not frustrated with not knowing.  The ambiguity of it actually sits very well with me, a further sign of Mason-Black's brilliant writing.

The characterisation in here is amazing.  I truly felt for Tucker because of all the things he's been through.  We see him both as an adult and as a teenager, and it's great to see that as an adult, now living a better life, he doesn't just dismiss his past.  Instead he reflects on it and allows it to shape him in a way that makes him a better person; he still cares.  I could feel Gabriel's pain even though it was never overtly mentioned, and I smiled at the way he took care of Kelsey despite everything.  Kelsey herself talks a lot of what sounds like madness to the two boys, but whether it is true or not, it's obvious she's been through a lot.  Phoenix introduces Tucker as an adult, with most of the story being a flashback of one key time in his life as a teen, and the title and cover here are definitely appropriate.  This story was truly wonderful.

Even though these are short stories, I can absolutely recommend them - and I don't even like reading short stories.  You don't want to miss out on these.

A big thank you to Musa for providing copies of these in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I'm not always the biggest fan of short stories either, unless they are about characters I have met before (for example, as part of a larger series). But these sound great, particularly Phoenix. Wonderful reviews, Aa'Ishah!

  2. I have only ever read one maybe two short stories but, overall I'm not a fan. Sometime I feel that if you get a brilliantly story, you want it to last longer and develop. But I have to say these books look brilliant! I may need to check them out sometime! I'm a contrasting person sometimes! Haha! :) Lovely Reviews!

  3. I love strong heroines, richly envisioned world-building, and beautiful writing, so all these short stories sound excellent! I'm not familiar with any but I'll be sure to them give them a shot eventually. :) Fabulous reviews, darling!

  4. I've nominated you for the 2013 Liebster Award!

  5. I don't mind short stories. I'm an impatient person for the most part and they usually get down to the nitty gritty quickly, which is more than fine with me. I'll have to keep these in mind when I need a quick story fix, as that sound wonderful. Lovely reviews Aa'Ishah.

    And sorry to hear about your computer problems! I hate having them, too. I feel your pain. Hopefully things will be fixed soon. :)


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