Book Review: ‘Azalea Wang Mysteries’ Books 1-3 by Lucy Ai

Amateur detective stories are abundant, and readers are generally spoiled for choice. While readers will always choose books that appeal to them for their own reasons, it’s always exciting to find a series that not only presents a succession of very interesting mystery stories, but also addresses bigger ideas such as prejudice, jealousy and the assumptions people make about one another.  

Azalea Wang Mysteries is one such series, and is well worth reading for more than just well-developed mystery stories that will keep you guessing right to the end. 

These stories are set largely in and around the senior citizens community of Evening Glory. Azalea Wang is, like many of the residents, of Chinese heritage, and the Chinese culture adds a refreshing and interesting perspective in these mystery stories. The stories draw on particular Chinese cultural elements in such a way that they become part of the story and become more familiar to non-Chinese readers, providing a new sense of familiarity and understanding that builds both knowledge and acceptance.

The stories very subtly address not only the assumptions non-Chinese people make, but also the biases that different groups of Chinese people hold about one another. Because those stereotypes are challenged, the characters and the reader begin to see the people in these stories as individuals, each with a story and a past and reasons why they behave the way they do, rather than simply as a member of one group or another. This adds a positive tone to the stories that is actually very hard to resist, drawing the reader in and making them feel as though they too are part of the community. 

The three mysteries contained in this book are varied and unique, while Azalea’s own story continues throughout. The three cases are well crafted and there are some great surprises and twists along the way, making the stories unpredictable and entertaining.

Azalea is a delightful character. Kind, thoughtful, intelligent and lively, the reader gets to know her as a friend and a mother as well as an amateur sleuth. The people with whom she shares her life are a diverse group, so the cast of characters and suspects is realistic and relatable. 

There is a little bit of not-really-for-younger-readers content in one of the stories, but it is not graphic or explicit.

A most captivating and enjoyable mystery story collection, the Azalea Wang Mysteries collection has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘June Green Leaves Of Deceit: A Cat Collier Mystery’ by Carol Ann Kauffman

The sixth instalment in the Cat Collier mystery novella series continues the story of Cat, Carter, and their friends and family. As they say, the course of true love never runs smooth, and this phase of Cat’s life is no exception. 

Cat explores issues of integrity and honesty at a very personal level in this story, which encourages the reader to consider similar questions from their own perspective. 

Like all the others thus far in this series, this is a really enjoyable story.  While the tension and drama take a different direction than they have done previously, the integration of this story into the overall narrative is still fluent and seamless. 

In keeping with the rest of the series, this is a short read, comfortably finished in a little over an hour.  These stories all fit comfortably into an evening or a break in a busy day, providing an interesting and enjoyable distraction.

‘June Green Leaves Of Deceit’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Blood Relic’ by Lucretia Stanhope

The third in Stanhope’s Paranormal Peacekeepers fantasy series, ‘Blood Relic’ continues the story of Alice’s journey of discovery of her nature and the powers she possesses. 

Conflicted and more sure if what she does not want than what she does, Alice finds herself assigned to a mission that threatens her with her deepest fears. The challenges she faces and the fears she is forced to confront test her character and push her limits more than ever before. 

This story is well developed and effectively paced, keeping the reader engaged with the action and intrigued by the twists and turns. With a master stroke of plot development, the reader is a left wondering how the story will be resolved until the very last page.

‘Blood Relic’ is an excellent paranormal romance read, and has been awarded a Good Acorn.

Find your copy here.

See my reviews of the first two books in the series, Tainted Waters and Feral

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: ‘Bitter Beauty’ by Aliya DalRae

Another excellent addition to the Fallen Cross Pack paranormal series by Aliya DalRae.

We all know that life can change in an instant, and that those changes can be hard to reconcile while we’re getting used to them.  This is the situation that Butch Montgomery, second in command in the Fallen Cross Pack, finds himself dealing with in ‘Bitter Beauty’. 

A chance encounter with a  new and different wolf triggers a whole lot of changes in the way Butch sees the world, and a shift of perspective for both himself and the stranger as the story unfolds. 

Part of Aliya DalRae’s excellent Fallen Cross Pack series, this novella was first published in the brilliant fantasy/fairy tale anthology  titled Once Upon A Fabulous Time, and is now available as a standalone story. 
As an aside, if you’re a fan of reimagined fairy tales and fantasy stories, this anthology is well worth reading.

The story is well written, populated with likeable characters and filled with well-constructed moments of tension that really drive the momentum of the story. If werewolves and paranormal romance are your “thing”, you’ll love this book. 

‘Bitter Beauty’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Christmas Miracle on the 4th of July’ by R.M. Gauthier

An enjoyable and lighthearted read.

This fifth book in Gauthier’s lighthearted mystery/romance novella series is set around the July 4th holiday, giving much of the story a celebratory tone that readers will enjoy. Those less inclined to decorate and celebrate every event will identify with Jack, less curmudgeonly than he was at the beginning of the series, but still bemused by Charlotte’s love for holidays and decoration. 

The mystery in this story develops slowly while the reader is immersed in the lives of Jack and Charlotte, and the other residents of Christmas Town, and sets the scene for the next novella in the series. 

It’s an enjoyable and lighthearted read, yet with sufficient momentum to keep the reader keen for the next book in the series. 

‘Christmas Miracle on the 4th of July’ Has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

Get your copy here

Book Review: ‘Thorns‘ by Lucretia Stanhope

Another great read in an excellent paranormal series.

This seventh book in the Elemental Witch Trials series focuses on Rose, Brac’s daughter, take over as the main character, Brac still features prominently in the story, while Gwen and other family members continue to take supporting roles. Once again, the author achieves a natural and smooth progression that enriches the series without losing continuity or cutting off the stories of other family members.

Rose is a formidable character, not afraid to use both her physical and inner strengths to achieve her goals. She is complex and conflicted, which adds a very relatable layer of depth to her story.

As with every other instalment of this excellent series, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Thorns has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.