Book Review: ‘Out of the Shadows’ by Dana Fraedrich

I have incredibly strong, yet mixed, feelings about this book. 

The story is excellent and very well told. Tthe characters are wonderful, and the world building is great. The central character is vivacious and intelligent, and her position as someone who is highly individual in a world where conformity is prized is highly relatable for many in this day and age. Through the characters and events of the story, the reader is challenged to consider the complexities of life, loyalty, overcoming prejudice and being true to ones own identity and values. 

There is nothing not to love about this book, except the ending. There is no resolution to the questions and complications of the story. It’s not a well-executed cliffhanger. 

It .
Just.
Stops. 

To be reading a brilliant story and then just have it stop dead in its tracks is most disappointing, to say the least.  It’s fair to say that my disappointment at the end of the book overwhelmed and outweighed all the enjoyment I had derived from it, and left me feeling quite resentful and angry. 

It was clearly designed for readers to progress straight to the next book, as one sometimes does with a series, and if readers chose to do so, then the nature of the ending probably doesn’t matter so much. The story is certainly interesting and engaging enough that readers might want to do that. 

The problem is that many readers don’t read a series sequentially like that. I prefer to vary my reading across genres and styles, and I know I am not by any means the only one who does so. 

When I buy a book, it’s with the understanding that I’m going to get a complete story with some closure and a proper ending. It’s actually enough to put me off buying the next book, even though I really want to know what happens, simply because I  believe the same thing will happen again. 

If you are a reader who is willing to move straight into the sequel, then by all means consider this to be a Gold Acorn review. Read this book and make sure you’ve got the next one ready to go at the end of it.

If you are a reader who will be frustrated by the absence of any decent ending or resolution, then no matter how good the story is, this is not the book for you. 

There have been one or two occasions on which I have contemplated creating a Black Acorn. Today, I have actually done it.

Related post: Well, That Ended Badly…

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

This short book is a very fitting end to Gauthier’s ‘Christmas Miracle’ romantic novella series.

It is an enjoyable and heartwarming story that draws together the loose threads of the story of Jack and Charlotte, although not without Jack still managing to endanger their relationship even as everything appears to be pointing toward a happy future together. 

In keeping with the rest of the series, the overall tone is lighthearted and positive.

It is easily read in under an hour, so it fits well into the reading schedule of busy people. 

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. 

Book Review: ‘Not Your Abuelita’s Folktales’ by Maria J Estrada

This book contains four unique young adult short stories that are full of the colours and textures of Southwestern America.  

These are very entertaining and interesting stories, populated by a variety of diverse characters who all face various challenges common to youth, from issues of cultural acceptance to boys manipulating girls to get what they want. The challenges faced by the characters are often complicated by differences of culture or understanding that set them apart from those around them. 

All four stories have quite thought-provoking elements that pique the reader’s curiosity and invite them to engage in the story at a deeper level. By making the reader intimately familiar with each main characters’ thoughts and responses, the author cleverly immerses the reader in each story and leads them to feel as though they are watching over the characters’ shoulders as a silent eyewitness to the events that unfold. 

Magical realism and paranormal elements create additional layers of mystery and intrigue within each narrative. Because some of the protagonists are not human, the stories are highly original and their outcomes are not predictable. 

This is a most enjoyable and diverting book with a fresh perspective on YA literature. 

‘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’.

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: ‘July Fireworks Sky: A Cat Collier Mystery’ by Carol Ann Kauffman

In this seventh novella in Carol Ann Kauffman’s Cat Collier Mysteries series, life takes some surprising turns for Cat, Carter, and their families and friends.

Rather than investigating a particular case, Cat is confronted by questions and dilemmas of her own that she must solve. 

This instalment of the story keeps the reader engaged with some great heart-in-the-throat and “oh no!” moments, and keeps them guessing as to how Cat will resolve her issues and what she will do next. 

Like the others in the series, this book is written with warmth and familiarity, and demonstrates the author’s flair for great storytelling. 

‘July Fireworks Sky’ has received a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here