Book Review: ‘An Unexpected Brew’ by JE Mueller

The concept of coffee being magical is not a new one by any means, but how good would it be if a barista could brew a bit of luck or confidence into your next cup? Similarly, the tale of Cinderella is not new, but this adaptation of the story has qualities that are original and different. It is an unexpected and delightful brew indeed. 

The author has given the old story a new setting and context, and provided some interesting twists to keep readers guessing. 

The characters have been reinvented so that they are quite original, yet recognisable and true to the conventions of the much-loved fairy tale. The central characters are likeable and relatable, and their interactions are natural and engaging. 

The target audience is YA, but it is a story that will be appealing for a much broader readership. This is a really fun and engaging read.

Book Review: ‘Presenting the Marriage of Kelli Anne and Gerri Denemer: Beyond the Chamber Door Book 2’ by Paul Alleva

This is a dark, horrifying tale that grasps the reader in its talons and holds them captive, right to the end. 

The different parts of the narrative seem disjointed, and to not make sense at first, but that is the intended effect: this is a nightmare, a living hell, flashes of lucidity and terror that draw the reader into the different kinds of horror that the central characters each find themselves in. 

The story lurches and rolls, disorienting and impossible to predict, reflecting the turmoil of the main characters’ deepest thoughts and feelings. As the story plays out, the strands of the narrative pull together to create structure and resolution from the mayhem.

The one thing that really annoyed me was the failure of the author to differentiate between ‘slither’ and ‘sliver’,  using the one word for both meanings as though the second does not exist on more than one occasion. This may seem like nit-picking, but it demonstrates yet again that there is no substitute for a good editor if an author wishes to avoid frustrating their readers.

This is not a book for the faint of heart, but it is certainly a gripping read. 

Audiobook Review: ‘The Asylum’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

This novella-length story serves as a prequel to Goodwin’s The Forensic Genealogist historical mystery series featuring Morton Farrier, using an intriguing research case to frame the beginning of Morton’s relationship with Juliet. 

Morton’s investigation takes him back to 1924 and the death of a young woman in an asylum. The results of his research are completely unexpected, in more ways than one. 

The story is well-constructed and highly  engaging, with some really nicely crafted creepy moments and great twists to keep the reader guessing. 

The narration is clear, well-paced and most enjoyable to listen to. The audiobook runs for a little over 2 hours, a great length to for well into a quiet afternoon, a drive or a longer commute. 

Book Review: ‘The Orange Lilies: A Morton Farrier Novella’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

The third book in Goodwin’s The Forensic Genealogist series, ‘The Orange Lilies’ is a shorter story that focuses on Morton’s own history and the family secrets that have obscured it for so long. 

Equally interesting and intriguing as the first two books in the series, this story is different in that it is far more intensely personal for Morton, and does not involve an exterior case that Morton is called upon to investigate. This story brings some well-crafted resolution to the questions Morton has harboured as a sub-plot that runs throughout books one and two, and returns him to a position of strength and resolve, from which he can approach the future and future investigations more confidently. 

Morton’s exploration of his family history takes the story back to the opening months of World War I and his great-grandfather’s service as a soldier. While the discoveries he makes are fascinating, some questions regarding his great-grandfather and extended family still remain, giving a satisfying sense of continuity to the overall narrative of the series, and providing healthy anticipation for the next book. 

This is an excellent read, and the series as a whole is brilliant. If you enjoy historical fiction and mystery, do not overlook this book and its companions in The Forensic Genealogist series. 

Book Review: ‘Crystal Bones and Gossamer Wings’ by Dona Fox

A dark and horrifying tale of lives scarred by grief, pain, and abuse, this is not a story for the faint of heart.

Scenes of horror merge with images that arouse both deep pity and righteous anger in the individual narratives of Crystal and Dee. Having positioned the reader to feel deep empathy and sadness for the two very different central characters, the author then before weaves the different strands of the story together into an even darker, bleaker tapestry. 

The writing is strong and the story is well crafted. As the tale progresses, the author evokes a sense of dread that grows proportionally to the building suspense, yet the reader is still completely blindsided by the twists when they come.

This is a compelling and unsettling work of dark short fiction. 

Book Review: ‘The Sorceress’ Vengeance: The Dragon’s Heir Trilogy Book 2′ by JB Richards

‘The Sorceress’ Vengeance’ is the second instalment in The Dragon’s Heir trilogy, a fascinating and original blend of fantasy, paranormal romance and fairy tale that makes for a most diverting and intriguing read.

This sequel to ‘The Curse of the Dragon Stone‘ continues the story of Kirin, the dragon’s heir, and his family’s quest to overcome the curse that has befallen them. 

Themes of loyalty and enmity are explored as Kirin, Tyriel and the Fabiosa sisters are set against a darker, angrier power that seeks to undo them. The inner conflict that plagues Kirin reminds the reader that each of us has choices to make about which side of our own nature we allow to control us, while the plight of his family serves as a sobering cautionary tale about the unintended consequences that one’s actions and decisions can have in the lives of others. 

The events of the story create a balance of anticipation and tension that is both tantalising and compelling, keeping the reader fully engaged throughout the book. Even as this part of the story closes, the remainder of the tale beckons, leaving the reader longing for more. 

Comfortably read in a little over two hours, this novella is an ideal fantasy escape for a quiet afternoon or evening. 

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.