Audiobook Review: ‘Chalk Outline’ by Veronica L Smith

A suspenseful and dramatic detective story.

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Children are disappearing and being found dead in alleys. Jake and Darius  are the detectives whose job it is to find out who is responsible. 

The trail is not without complications, and the investigation gets personal  for both officers before they can solve the case. 

‘Chalk Outline’ is a compelling and suspenseful story, narrated very effectively by Todd Waites in a style that at times sounds as much like a reporter as it does a storyteller, which adds to the sense of urgency and gives an air of reality to the narration. The narrator also makes very good use of voice and tone to denote the various characters, 

The story rises to a dramatic climax that keeps the reader’s heart well and truly in their throat as they listen, unable to do anything to change the outcome and having to look on as the action unfolds. 

An excellent audiobook experience, ‘Chalk Outline’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Abandoned’ by Tim Walker

A great historical fiction novella to introduce Tim Walker’s ‘A Light in the Dark Ages’ series.

Set at the end of the Roman occupation of Britain, ‘Abandoned’ tells the story of the settlement of Calleva Atrebatum, and the determination of its people to resist the fearsome invading  Saxon raiding parties who threaten their home and their lives. 

This is a story of bravery and commitment, and of townsfolk uniting for a common cause. The danger they face is very real, and in their determination to survive and overcome, the reader witnesses both the best and worst of human nature. 

The story gives us a realistic and thought-provoking view of a period of history that is little-known to most, and foreshadows the rest of Walker’s series which continues to tell the story of post-Roman England and those who seek to  not only live there but also to control it.

Walker’s storytelling is fluid and lively, full of action, adventure and intrigue. The cast of characters is varied and interesting, ranging from slaves to the ranks of Briton members of the Roman army who, like their countrymen, were left behind when the Romans evacuated to Gaul. 

At the end of this novella, the reader is left feeling as though they have become an ally of the people of Calleva Atrebatum, and keen to discover what happens next in the following book in the series. 

‘Abandoned’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’

Absolutely brilliant entertainment.

A rollicking saga full of pirates, rogues, strumpets, sassy parrots and adventure, this story carried me back in time to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the 17th century. The narration brought the story to life very effectively, and I was hooked in no time flat. 

The characters are richly drawn, complex and conflicted, each with secrets and passions that drive them and direct the choices and alliances they make. The central characters each have a mission that they seek to achieve, and the reader is kept in eager suspense about how those things may, or indeed may not, come to pass as the story unfolds. Each of them experiences significant moments of revelation and others of relief but, as often happens in life, even these tend to lead to further complications. 

The settings, too, are brought to life in vivid color and textures that enrich the story and add another level of depth and engagement in the story. For someone who has never been to Jamaica, the places depicted in the story all seemed very real and clear in my mind. 

There is some very amusing innuendo, adult content and violence throughout the book, so it’s not for younger audiences, but it is a story that can be enjoyed by a very broad adult audience because it blends elements of adventure, action, tragedy, romance and mystery with historical fiction, so that the story lines of individual characters are interwoven and tangled in most interesting and diverting ways.  

A most enjoyable and entertaining audiobook, ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy hereh.



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Book Review: ‘Malevolent Manifestation’ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another excellent instalment in an outstanding paranormal book series.

Must happiness always come at a price? 
In the world reigned by Gwen and Brac, the answer is most definitely “yes”.

In this ninth book in Stanhope’s Elemenhtal Witch Trials series, the members of Gwen’s family find themselves enmeshed in a web of consequences of alliances and liaisons of the past, while fighting a new and unknown opponent, and regret becomes a constant reminder that the past cannot be separated from the present and the future.

While Gwen’s family must work together to solve the mystery of their new antagonist, Destiny comes to the forefront of the storyline as she has not done before, demonstrating her strength and maturity as never before. It is refreshing to see her owning her gifts and demanding to be allowed to use them, rather than remaining the helpful wallflower she has been thus far.  

Although fraught with challenge and pain, this story is balanced by moments of beauty and joy, and by the celebration of achievements and triumphs, captured by the author to give the reader a sense of hope and anticipation of what is yet to come. 

This series continues to evolve and captivate the reader, demonstrating both the depth and complexityof the characters and story lines, and the skill of the author who has created them. 

‘Malevolent Manifestations’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

 

Book Review: ‘Never Again’ by Lily Luchesi

A powerful story, as terrifying as the true horrors of the historical events on which it is based.

There have been many horrors inflicted by humans on others in the last 500 years. Sean Wireman has witnessed them all. 

‘Never Again’ is a paranormal exposition of the consequences of human hatred and cruelty. 

The story is told from Sean’s perspective as both a witness and a sufferer of persecution, oppression and torture. The story is overwhelmingly dark and somber, but for those characters who bring light and relief into Sean’s life. The bleak and heavy tone of the writing suits the events of the story very well, yet the reader is aware that it is impossible for them to feel as weighted down by despair as Sean does.  

The main character is both flawed and heroic and, although he is not human, the reader develops a strong affinity with his emotions and responses, particularly the passions that characterise him, and his anger and heartbreak, which are portrayed so vividly they are palpable. 

The very powerful message of this novel is that the evil of the past must be resisted and put to an end. The horrors of the past must never be allowed to occur again. The reader is left in no doubt whatsoever that, like Sean, each of us must play our part in making that happen.

A gripping and often confronting read, ‘Never Again’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Children Of Darkness’ by Courtney Shockey

‘Children of Darkness is a grim tale filled with foreboding and brooding suspense from which there is little relief. Even when the protagonist forces herself to relax, both she and the reader remain slightly tense with the sensation that the respite can only ever be fleeting. 

Shockey builds the tension and darkness until it is almost tangible, then delivers blow after blow that suck the air from the reader’s lungs and keep them on the edge of their seat. 

This is a very well crafted horror story that keeps the reader guessing right to the end.

‘Children Of Darkness’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Kiss of Quicksilver’ by Dona Fox

A dark and disquieting tale.

This dark little tale by Dona Fox evokes a strong sense of desperation in her protagonist and other characters in their grim quest for survival.

Much like being thrown into the deep end of a dark pool, the reader is plunged into the action, yet only gradually realises the depths into which they have been submerged. There are some very effective moments of realisation and revulsion accompanied by an uncomfortable sensation of disquiet and doubt in the reader’s mind, both heightened by the tone of normality with which Fox infuses the narrative.

Easily read in less than half an hour, this is a perfect diversion during a break or over lunch on a busy day. Or… perhaps not while you’re eating. 

An excellent horror story, ‘Kiss of Quicksilver’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here