Book Review: ‘The Feels’ by Vanessa Ravel

‘The Feels’ is a gripping psychological thriller that explores ideas of guilt, secrecy, and vengeance through the experiences of Ariel, the protagonist of the story, and her interactions with those close to her as the story progresses.

Ariel is a complex and deeply flawed character, yet one for whom the reader develops a strong sense of empathy because the story is told from her perspective, Her thoughts and feelings are communicated powerfully, creating vivid images in the reader’s mind and evoking strong emotional responses.

The story also provides a fascinating study of a mind corrupted by both mental illness and indulgence in evil, through the thoughts and actions of the antagonist. This adds a dimension of psychological horror that leaves the reader aghast at the extent of the destruction caused by a depraved mind.

The story remains unpredictable and suspenseful throughout, keeping the reader guessing right to the end with plenty of complications and heart-in-the throat moments.

‘The Feels’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

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Book Review: ‘March Blues: A Cat Collier Mystery’ by Carol Ann Kauffman

‘March Blues’ is an engaging and well-paced mystery novella.

The third in Carol Ann Kauffman’s mystery novella series featuring vivacious private investigator Cat Collier, ‘March Blues’ continues the development of the main characters’ stories while Cat investigates some new cases and discovers that not all mysteries are as open and shut as she would like.

While the story is very entertaining, complexity is added by the  issues of trust and integrity and the consequences of choices made in the past that both confront the characters and prompt the reader to think about what their own actions might be in similar circumstances.

An engaging and well paced short read, ‘March Blues’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

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Book Review: ‘Treed’ by Virginia Arthur

At the centre of this book is aa old oak tree and the fight to protect it from destruction, yet this is also a story of preservation of memories, friendships and relationships in a world where do much is treated as disposable.

The contrast between commercialIsm and sentimentality is powerful, framed in terms of the battle for the tree, but also brought into sharp focus in the character of Maybelline. She is the link between last and present, the catalyst for the events of the story, and the key figure– other than the tree– around whom this.story revolves.She is likeable, loyal, and has a fun approach to getting older without giving in to becoming elderly.

Maybelline finds herself surrounded by a cast of characters who, although she doesn’t know them well at the start of the story, show her that there is more than one way to become a family.

I really enjoyed this story, but I also value the message from the author: too many trees are cut down, too many forests are destroyed and too many lives are changed irreparably for the sake of greed for money and personal gain. Somewhere along the line, our culture has got its values very wrong.

This is a good read, delivering some valuable messages in a most positive way.

‘Treed’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Pandora’s Matryoshkas’ by Ferdy S.G. Dumel

“You know, a man loves the mystery of woman, but not the moral confusion.”

This is the essence of the situation in which Chris, one of the central characters, finds himself.  Caught in a web of grief, desire and a deepening sense of confusion and frustration, Chris is trapped within that very riddle packed in a mystery, wrapped in an enigma that is both Russia and her women. 

The author effectively captures the reader in the same mysteries that engulf Chris, deepening the reader’s sense of empathy for his situation and heightening the suspicion that Chris will never fully understand what he has gotten himself into.

Although this reader was not entirely satisfied by the conclusion, and my suspicions remain unassuaged, it certainly gave me insights into the different world of Moscow and the vastly different lifestyle of its people to my own. This added to the sense of mystery and intrigue that the story evoked, and heightened my interest in the events of the plot.

Overall, this is a confronting read, quite well-written and intentionally unsettling. It reminds the reader that little in life is ever as straightforward as we think, and that trust is something we tend to do far too easily.

Pandora’s Matryoshkas has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Book Review: ‘Christmas Miracle on Halloween’ by R.M. Gauthier

Another great instalment in R.M. Gauthier’s holiday themed mystery series.

There are more ghosts from the past than Jack can handle in this sixth book in Gauthier’s lighthearted mystery/romance novella series, which is set in Christmas Town at Halloween.  

This instalment in the series sees the mysteries of Jack’s current case heighten as the secrecy about his investigation is revealed. 

At the same time, Jack finds himself in trouble with Charlotte more than once as questions about family, friends and events of the past come to the surface. A sense of foreboding lands heavily on the reader as Halloween arrives, leaving them to wonder if Jack will really prove able to help Charlotte deal with the parts of her past that haunt her still.

Once again, Gauthier has delivered an enjoyable and lighthearted read, loaded with enough questions to make the reader keep going in the hope of finding answers in the next book in the series. 

Christmas Miracle on Halloween has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here.

Book Review: ‘February White Lies: A Cat Collier Mystery’ by Carol Ann Kauffman

A great mystery novella – the second in an excellent series

Having thoroughly enjoyed ‘January Black Ice’, the first in Kauffman’s Cat Collier mystery series last year, I started this second instalment feeling a little sorry that I had left it so long. 

‘February White Lies’ picks up the story of Cat and her boyfriend Carter a short while after the end of the first story.  Members of their families and friends return as regular characters, alongside new people of interest in a new mystery. 

Kauffman’s characters are natural and familiarly drawn, and her writing is comfortable and easy to read. The different characters’ stories are interwoven neatly enough to work in a novella, but without the events of the plot feeling contrived or relationships overly orchestrated. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so I’m going to commit to reading ‘March Blues’ in the coming month. 

This excellent little mystery has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

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Audiobook Review: ‘Chalk Outline’ by Veronica L Smith

A suspenseful and dramatic detective story.

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