Book Review: ‘Midnight Lasagne and Other Stories’ by Maria R. Riegger

‘Midnight Lasagne’ is a very enjoyable collection of varied and original Christmas-themed stories that make relaxing reading for the holiday season. 

Each story offers a different perspective or experience of Christmas, from that of a single mother to a ten-year old kid whose first love is video games. 

These stories are perfect for filling in quiet moments in the busy lead-up to Christmas.

Book Review: 'Winter's Curse' by April L Wood

‘Winter’s Curse’ is a very original and engaging YA paranormal romance novel in which Winter must overcome not just one, but two curses, that stand between her and future happiness. 

The story is well crafted, with some intriguing twists and turns and a few surprises along the way. Winter and her friends are likeable characters, while those who work against her are clearly intended to be disliked. The magical clans, their qualities and the social structures and rules by which they live are original and interesting, which adds another layer of complexity to the story and helps to drive the complications of the plot. 

This is a book that reminds the reader that real friendship and true love transcend the boundaries of class, heritage or alliance that people try to put on them, and that it’s more important to choose what is right than to settle for what others might decide or impose. 

Book Review: ‘Murder and Mistletoe’ by AR DeClerck

‘Murder and Mistletoe’ is a very good cozy mystery set in 1936, first on the Paris-Bordeaux train and then in Bordeaux itself. The very confident and classy Franny Calico is a seasoned amateur sleuth who finds herself investigating a mystery that threatens not only her own safety, but that of others near and dear to her. 

The story is well crafted and develops at a good pace, keeping both Franny and the reader intrigued. The characters are engaging and interesting, and there are sufficient touches of late 1930s styling and glamour to make the settings and plot believable. 

Easily read in less than 90 minutes, this novella delivers most enjoyable reading, ideal for readers busy with preparations for Christmas and end of year celebrations. 

Book Review: 'The Christmas Angel: A Tale of Redemption' by S. Tilghman Hawthorne

This is a beautiful short story that reminds us all that Christmas can be really challenging for those who have lost loved ones and miss them terribly. By sharing Julie’s thoughts and feelings, the author positions the reader to empathise with her and forces them to consider the power that grief and loss can have at Christmas, especially when other people are so cheerful. 

Even stronger, though, are the power and the warmth of the love and the words that bring healing to Julie’s heart. 

Full of love and Christmas spirit, this is a story that would suit both individuals and families at any time of year, but especially during December. 

Audiobook Review: ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ by Kerri Maniscalco

The sequel to ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’, this is equally gripping and dramatic historical fiction set in Romania, with the majority of the story taking place at the school of forensic medicine that is housed in the castle that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler. 

The book blends history, folklore, horror and forensic mystery genres in a uniquely twisting tale in which Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell once again seek to solve a series of mysterious deaths.

The action is well paced, heightened by plenty of suspense and intrigue. There are plenty of mysterious characters and viable suspects, and the story is so well constructed that the truth almost imperceptible until it is revealed. 

The narration by Nicola Barber is excellent, and gives a great deal of listening pleasure. 

‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of the audiobook or novel here

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

It’s the most awful feeling: knowing you have screwed up, knowing that you may have ruined everything you’ve been working for… and knowing there’s not a thing you can do about it. 

If you have ever been in that situation, you will totally relate to Jack’s thoughts and feelings at the beginning of this book. The author has done an excellent job of creating distance and tension between her characters that is almost palpable, as is the misery Jack experiences as a result. It takes quite some skill as a writer to make the reader feel sympathy for a man who has caused his own problems, but Gauthier does so most effectively. 

In addition to further developing the continuing story of events in Christmas Town, the author uses her characters to deliver important and relatable lessons about friendship, loyalty, and resolving one’s problems in constructive and healthy ways. Of course, the story is so entertaining that the reader doesn’t even realise they are being schooled in conflict resolution until they stop to reflect on what they have read.

The seventh of eight novellas in this endearing mystery/romance series, this has been the most thought-provoking thus far. ‘Christmas Miracle on Thanksgiving’ has been awarded a Gold 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.