‘The Gold Dragon Caper’ is a the fourth of the Damien Dickens mystery novel/audiobook series.
The story is complex and full of intriguing twists, and progresses at a pace that keeps the reader hooked without feeling rushed. A number of the characters from previous books in the series return in this story, giving a pleasing sense of continuity and connection for those who have read or listened to them, but there are also enough new characters to keep things fresh and interesting.
The book does stand alone for readers who have not read the previous installments, but will deliver spoilers for anyone who might want to read the earlier books.
The narration by Tom Lennon is very easy to listen to, and very much suits the detective noir style and tone of the story.
In ‘The Bone Witch’, there are two narratives which seem at first to be separate, but eventually reveal themselves to be interwoven to create a vast, rich tapestry of storytelling that binds the listener in its magic.
This magical dark fantasy is a spellbinding story in which fate and magic balance one another as Tea discovers her destiny and learns to use her powers and make important choices wisely.
The narrators tell the story fluently and engagingly, with clear diction and good expression. Both are pleasant to listen to, and the two complement each other as effectively as their stories do.
’The Bone Witch’ is a brilliant fantasy coming of age story, whether enjoyed as a novel or an audiobook.
’The Binding’ is a tragic and compelling historical fantasy story of unlikely alliances, forbidden love, and the power of memories. The writing is beautiful and the story is superbly crafted. The narration by Carl Prekopp is a joy to listen to, as he gives life and voice to the characters and enchants the listener into feeling as though they are actually there as the events unfold.
The story explores timeless themes including patriarchy and the abuse of power, particularly in terms of social class but also when it comes to the way society as a whole viewed same-sex relationships in the past. Because all of those prejudices still exist in society today, albeit to a lesser extent, the story is powerfully relevant.
The characters, particularly Emmet and Alta, are developed so fully that the audience feels as though they know them intimately, which creates an emotional investment in their lives. This depth of feeling heightens the tensions of the complications and challenges they face, and makes the twists and revelations of the story more impactful.
‘The Binding’ is available in ebook and novel as well as audio.
Book Squirrel has read and reviewed some fantastic books this year. While not every book can receive an award, Book Squirrel presented the third annual Golden Squirrel Awards to books in twenty different genres across a variety of age ranges, interests and styles on December 31st, 2019.
Just to make it clear, this is not a contest that people can vote on. This is an entirely subjective and preference-driven selection process. Book Squirrel knows what he likes, and that’s what he reads. When he reads, he always leaves a review. And here on the Book Squirrel blog, he awards gold, silver or bronze acorns instead of a star rating system.
At the end of the year, he chooses the best of the books he has read and reviewed, and gives some nice shiny awards to the wonderful authors who entertained and enlightened him in the past twelve months.
You can be sure that the winners of Golden Squirrel Awards are excellent reads, and worthy of recognition.
Click on the awards below to navigate to the Book Squirrel review of each book.
Dark, witty and ironic, ‘Good Omens’ is a brilliant read. This should come as no surprise, given that its authors are both creative geniuses.
This audiobook recording is brilliant. The casting is fabulous and the performances are outstanding, making this an excellent listening experience which is entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time.
’Good Omens’ ticks all the boxes for the perfect dark comic fantasy.
Set in Dublin and framed in the context of a murder case that is about to go to trial, this intriguing story immerses the audience in the lives of two very different sisters and their individual perspectives of the investigation, both of which are complicated by inner conflicts and their family’s own dark backstory.
The murder case at the centre of the story presents a unique set of challenges, and requires the ingenuity and commitment of both sisters to find the answers and see justice delivered.
The story is very well written and the narration by Aoife McMahon is expressive and engaging.
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.
A work of historical fiction, although based on the life story of one of the author’s forebears, this is an interesting story that is probably quite realistic about the prospects of a younger daughter of a prominent family during the early years of the reign of James I.
I confess I almost stopped listening as early as the prologue, in which a man speaking as though he were present when the young Princess Elizabeth was taken into the Tower of London was still alive as its Keeper in 1617. I returned to the beginning and listened again, decided the way in which that section was phrased was ambiguous, and continued with the story.
The main character, Lucy, seems at times to be almost too virtuous to be quite believable, although she does have her moments where her flaws and human nature are revealed, in which she seems more relatable. For some readers, her tale will evoke deep sympathy, while others may feel she spends too much time engaging in self-pity and decrying her lot in life as the victim of the selfishness and vanity of various other people.
The most believable characters are the hateful ones: Lucy’s sister Barbara, Aunt Joan, and Frances Howard. These characters exemplify the worst of human nature, along with a certain young man who is fickle at best and heartless at worst. It is in disliking these characters that the reader feels the most empathy with Lucy.
The narration is most enjoyable, with lively expression and very good use of tone, voice and accent to bring the characters to life.
Overall, it is a fairly good story, expertly narrated.
Elfrida, or Ælfryth, was the first anointed and crowned queen of England, ruling alongside her husband, Edgar, in the 10th century.
‘The First Queen Of England’ Part 2 is the second instalment of Elfrida’s story, and shows just how strong and resilient she was in a world dominated by patriarchy, politics and warfare.
Just like the first book in the series, this book is very well written and is entirely consistent with the historical context of the story, even though it is undoubtedly fiction.
It is a significant achievement on the author’s part to reanimate characters from the long-distant past in such a way that the reader feels as though they know them and can understand their concerns, cares and motivations. It is pleasing to witness the dynamics of the characters as they mature, and intriguing to observe the intricacies of the machinations and politics at court and the personal impact on the queen and king as individuals as well as rulers.
The narration by Sheila Daly Payson is most enjoyable. Her voice is pleasant and her reading is fluent. Her characterisation of the different roles is effective, and really brings the various characters to life.
As richly detailed and intriguing as part 1, ‘The First Queen Of England, Part 2’ is a most enjoyable story. This is in every aspect a very pleasurable audiobook experience, and is also available as an ebook or paperback.
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.