Audiobook Review: ‘Hiding the Past: The Forensic Genealogist Series Book 1’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin


The past holds all sorts of mysteries for those who enjoy researching their family tree. But what if no such avenue of research is available? What if someone were to find that their past simply didn’t exist?

Despite the fact that Peter Coldrick has no family and no family tree, his past does catch up with him in a way that sets Morton Farrier on a course of investigation that led to places that neither he nor the reader could possibly expect. 

This is a really interesting mystery story with a refreshing perspective that presents new opportunities and avenues for investigation than amateur sleuths or police detectives usually employ. The story also draws on some intriguing elements of World War II history as the background for an investigation that takes place seventy years later and in a completely different context. 

The narration by Jonathan Ip is very good indeed. He has a very pleasant voice to listen to, and portrays the different characters very effectively. His reading brings the story to life, and immerses the audience in the story as an eyewitness to the drama and action as it takes place. 

All in all, a great story and an excellent narration. 

‘The Baby on the Back Porch’ by Lucia N Davis

Sometimes people’s lives cross in uncanny ways. Whether it is by design, destiny or accident, these are events that can change the entire course of someone’s life.

‘The Baby on the Back Porch’ is a short story full of mystery, danger, and surprises. As the story progresses, the author makes really good use of foreboding and dream sequences to build tension and heighten the anticipation of the reader. The characters and premise of the story are believable and relatable, and while it starts off with the appearance of a story that might be romantic, it soon develops into something far more mysterious and compelling. 

This s a really well-crafted and enjoyable story that can comfortably be read in less than an hour and leaves the reader pondering the nature of coincidence and the ways in which one’s destiny might be interwoven with others’.

Book Review: ‘Thistle Down’ – Wildflowers of Scotland Book 1 by Sherrie Hansen

‘Thistle Down’ introduces Pastor Ian MacCraig of St Conan’s Kirk in Lochawe, Scotland, and the various members of the congregation and community in the village in a lighthearted and warm story of two very different sisters and their prospective wedding plans. 

The tone of the story is warm and familiar, aided by delightfully origina yet typically Scottish characters who speak with frankness and good humour. This book really does have the feel of one of those wonderful British TV series that one watches on a Saturday or Sunday evening, becoming immersed in a small community and the local goings on while getting to know all the neighbours. 

Being a novella-length read, it was easy to read in an afternoon, and provided a wonderful escape for a couple of hours. 

‘Thistle Down’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘Escaping from Houdini’ by Kerri Maniscalco

The third in Kerri Maniscalco’s Victorian macabre mystery series, ‘Escaping from Houdini’ is set on the Etruria, a cruise ship travelling from London to New York in 1899 with Audrey Rose Wadsworth, her beau Thomas Cresswell, and Uncle Jonathan Wadsworth aboard.

A series of gruesome murders present this Victorian forensic science team with a series of challenges and mysteries that must be solved before arriving at their destination. 

The story is intricate and complex, dark and dangerous, and completely captivating. Themes of distraction, illusion and deception interweave like a macabre carnival dance. The personal consequences and implications for Audrey Rose, Thomas, and other passengers on the ship are compelling, keeping the audience engaged both mentally and emotionally in the drama as it unfolds. 

Nicola Barber’s narration is expressive, fluent and most enjoyable. Barber has a definite gift for characterisation and drama  that makes her storytelling lively and most enjoyable.  

An excellent audiobook experience, ‘Escapting From Houdini’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Available as a novel or audiobook

Book Review: ‘The First Queen Of England’ by MJ Porter

Elfrida, or Ælfryth, was anointed and crowned queen of England in the same ceremony that her husband, Edgar, was crowned King in 973 AD. 

‘The First Queen Of England’ is the first instalment of Elfrida’s story. This is a really well-written book, based on sound research and good knowledge of the historical context of the story. 

Historically, there is quite limited information available on the early life of Elfrida, but Porter has penned a well-crafted and believable personal story which, while it is fictional, is consistent what is known of both Elfrida and Edgar and their families. 

This task brings with it many challenges, not the least of which is diffusing a cast of characters from the different perspectives and accounts of history which have been the subject of discussion and debate for centuries. In presenting lead characters who are engaging and interesting, but also flawed and fallible, the author has given the reader people with whom they can relate at a very human level, despite their differences in social status and experience, and the changes in society that have occurred during the vast amount of time that stands between them. 

The supporting characters are likewise portrayed with not only their attractive qualities and strengths on public display, but also their motivations and interests exposed to the reader’s scrutiny. This gives the reader a rich insight into the machinations and social engineering of life at court and among the nobility in 10th century England. The characterisation is detailed, insightful and razor sharp, revealing the author’s considerable talent at filling in the blanks on the pages of history and creating characters that are complex and often quite delightful in the way they play their roles.  
Porter paints the settings and events in vivid colours and textures that seem almost tangible, bringing Elfrida’s home in Wessex and the King’s court at Winchester to life in such a way that each place is depicted clearly and then becomes familiar to the reader as the story progresses. 

A richly and intricately detailed work of historical fiction, ‘The First Queen Of England’ is an immensely enjoyable read. It has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Tails Always Wins’ by C.A. King

As humans, we tend to think of ourselves as being at the pinnacle of creation, the most developed and intelligent species. Yet history attests to the selfishness, the prejudice and the cruelty to which humanity is, above all other species, susceptible. 

‘Tails Always Wins’ is a paranormal romance suspense story that highlights just how hateful people can be to those who are different in some way, and the long-lasting effects their cruelty can have on the victims.  

There is a lot at stake for the characters, but the story also reminds the reader that we too must resist complacency and never turn a blind eye to the schemes of evil people. 

When Brodie finds himself at the mercy of a scheme designed designed to bring about the eradication of his kind, the reader realises that such a plan is a quite believable proposition because, sadly, we have seen humans do that kind of thing to others in the not-so-very-distant past. 

This highlights the wisdom of both Brodie and Tails concealing their true nature from the rest of society, even though their stories and their reasons for doing so are quite different. 

While each of them is morally opposed to the evil that confronts them, it is their true nature that unites them against the common enemy. In this, it is also a story of the power of acceptance and alliance in the lives of those who have fought for too long on their own. 

The story is well crafted with highly individual, likeable lead characters with whom it is easy to sympathise, and some characters that the readers will readily dislike. The author makes very effective use of suspense and subtle suggestion to engage the reader and keep them hooked on the story right to the end. 

‘Tails Always Wins’ is a most enjoyable read, and has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper’ by Phyllis Entis

The third book in Phyllis Entis’ ‘Damien Dickens Mysteries’ crime/detective series, ‘The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper’ continues the story of private investigators Damien and Millie Dickens with new challenges and investigations, at the same time taking them into new territory in their relationship. 

This is an exciting and tension-filled story with some very interesting and quite unexpected twists. I enjoyed the suspense and the interaction between different characters, and I loved the chance to revisit Montreal as I enjoyed the narrative. 

The narrator has a nice, clear voice and is easy to listen to. His reading is expressive and fluent, and his use of register, accent and inflection in his characterisation is consistently good. 

Overall, this was an excellent audiobook experience.

‘The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of the audiobook or the novel here