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: ‘The Pursuit of Trust’ by Sarah B. Meadows

‘The Pursuit of Trust’ is Book 2 in the author’s Discovering Kia paranormal/urban fantasy series. 

Following on directly from where ‘In Pursuit Of Light’ left off, this book continues to explore questions about not only Kia, but also the individual pasts and stories of the men who have become her protectors, Once again, these men share the role of narrator, but it is also significant that Kia has more agency in this book and communicates her thoughts and feelings through more than gesture and action. 

Kia is still a mysterious character, although the reader definitely feels as though they grow to know her better throughout the second book. Answers to the questions about her nature and abilities remain elusive, however, which is also true of her companions.  

It is interesting that this book is titled ’The Pursuit of Trust’ because the lack of trust, and the inability of the central characters to have absolute confidence in one another, are central drivers of the storyline. In fact, the only character who has any implicit trust in anyone is Kia herself, thanks to her innate ability to know the truth and integrity of one’s character.  The different characters’ insights through their narration of parts of the story is a key means of exploring notions of trust and distrust, and the associated experiences of loyalty, jealousy and resentment that either nourish or poison the feelings of each character toward the others. 

This is an intriguing story that moves at a good pace, with a satisfying balance between action, suspense and development.

While the book finishes with the very strong sense that there is more of the story to come, it also provides a brief glimpse into one of the characters’ former lives, of which he has no memory, and which raises as many questions as it provides insights. This adds further mystery and complexity to the story, and increases the reader’s desire to read on and discover the truths that underpin the nature and personality of each of the central characters. 

‘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: ‘Wild Rose’ by Sherrie Hansen

‘Wild Rose’ continues the story of Pastor Ian MacCraig and the community of St Conan’s in Lochawe, Scotland, that began with Thistle Down. 

This is a lighthearted, often humorous and sometimes very poignant story of an unlikely meeting that unleashes an unpredictable series of events full of twists and turns.

While it is a romantic story, it’s also a story of human nature in which judgement and forgiveness feature prominently. It challenges the reader to think about their own perceptions of others, especially those who stand out from the crowd in one way or another.

There is some subtle adult content, so it’s not a book for young readers. That being said, that content is written with sensitivity, and is unlikely to offend adult readers.

‘Wild Rose’ is a most enjoyable read, and has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Book Review: ‘Gates of Golorath’ by R. M. Garino

‘Gates of Golorath’ is book 1 of the ‘Chaos of Souls’ fantasy series by R.M. Garino. It is set in a world somewhere between earth and the realms of heaven and hell, populated by a variety of angelic races – fallen and otherwise – and various other races and monsters.

For the initiates at the Gates of Golorath, there is much to be learned and much to be gained— but there is also much that might be lost if they do not successfully overcome the challenges with which they are presented. In that sense, this is an epic coming of age story, but it is also one of complex relationships fraught with obstacles and difficulties that must be met and endured if friendships and romantic attachments are to survive. 

The characters are varied in terms of heritage, rank and personality, giving the reader a good sense of the social structures of the civilisation in which they live. The main characters, Arielle and Angus, are engaging and likeable, and although I did not always like the things they do, I did become quite invested in their story and the outcomes that awaited them.

This is a gradually-but-steadliy developed and very detailed story that will appeal more to dedicated fans of military fantasy adventure than to those who prefer sword and sorcery or pure magical fantasy, but it is an interesting and enjoyable story.

I enjoyed the action scenes and the banter between different characters, but what I appreciated most was the imagery and energy of the writing. While the world building and orientation at the beginning of the book might be a little slow in terms of story development, it is rich with powerful images and expressive writing that I found to be very appealing. 

‘Gates of Golorath’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here or visit the author’s website.

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