Audiobook Review: ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ by Kerri Maniscalco

The sequel to ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’, this is equally gripping and dramatic historical fiction set in Romania, with the majority of the story taking place at the school of forensic medicine that is housed in the castle that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler. 

The book blends history, folklore, horror and forensic mystery genres in a uniquely twisting tale in which Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell once again seek to solve a series of mysterious deaths.

The action is well paced, heightened by plenty of suspense and intrigue. There are plenty of mysterious characters and viable suspects, and the story is so well constructed that the truth almost imperceptible until it is revealed. 

The narration by Nicola Barber is excellent, and gives a great deal of listening pleasure. 

‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of the audiobook or novel here

Audiobook Review: ‘The Book Of Abisan’ by CH Clepitt

Anyone who has read a book or two by CH Clepitt will understand that it is perfectly reasonable to expect that everything she writes is a ripping good yarn. ‘The Book Of Abisan’, in which contemporary fiction blends seamlessly with magical fantasy, is the kind of book that only reinforces that sort of assumption. It’s brilliant. 

The storytelling is well paced and infused with moments of humour that balance the action and intrigue of the plot. The storyline is original and interesting, and the suspense and tension are palpable as the mysteries and quests of the story emerge and interweave. 

The various settings contrast well with one another and serve to highlight the sense of strangeness the characters experience when they find themselves in a juxtaposed world. This also keeps the reader fully engaged in the story because there is nothing predictable about where the story might take them next… which is, of course, half the fun. 

The characters are varied and complex, each with personal motivations that drive their actions and decision making. There are some really wonderful characters who keep the reader invested in their personal stories as well as the tale overall, and others who are designed to be hateful and play that part very well. 

The Audible narration is very good, with excellent vocal control and variations in tone and voice that help to develop both plot and characterisation. The narrator’s voice is pleasant and her diction clear, although she does say “somethink” instead of “something”, which is the one minor thing that bothered me during this audiobook experience. Apart from that, Alicia Rose is pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. 

This highly engaging and absorbing story has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

‘The Book Of Abisan’ is available as either an audiobook or a novel

Audiobook Review: ‘The King’s Hounds’ by Martin Jensen

‘The King’s Hounds’ is a murder mystery set in Oxford during the reign of King Cnut. An unlikely duo, Winston and Halfdan form a friendship that is still in its early stages when they find themselves assigned the job of investigating the murder and reporting their findings to the king, a task complicated by an abundance of suspects and plenty of obstructions along the way. 

The reader is immersed in the sights and sounds of medieval England, culturally divided between those of Anglo-Saxon and Danish/Viking origins just as Cnut has come to the throne, which places the events of the story in the year of 1016. The resulting climate of distrust and resentment adds further difficulty and intrigue to the case: the king himself is not above suspicion in the death of a prominent Anglo-Saxon thane. 

The characters are very well developed, and are characterised effectively by the narrator. The contrast between the conservative Winston and the rogueish Halfdan creates some entertaining moments, but also enables each of them to play to his strengths when challenged by the various situations and problems they encounter. 

The story is interesting and entertaining, and quite well told. The dialogue is a little stilted at times and not quite consistent with the way people spoke during that period of history, but this may be accounted for by the fact that the book was translated from Danish into English. 

The narration by Napoleon Ryan is noticeably slow, but before I was far into the book, I began to feel that this was something of an advantage, because it gave me time to take in all the detail of the story. 

An enjoyable and interesting book, ‘The King’s Hounds’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy of the audiobook or the novel

Audiobook Review: ‘The White Russian Caper’ by Phyllis Entis


Damien and Millie return in the second instalment of the Damien Dickens mystery series, ‘The White Russian Caper‘ is a mystery adventure that takes the reader from Atlantic City to Hollywood— erm… Florida, in pursuit of the answers they are commissioned to find.

As in all good mysteries, there are plenty of viable suspects and some most intriguing complications and twists.

Tom Lennon delivers another excellent detective-noir style narration with clarity, easy pace, and very good characterisations of the various roles in the story.

Like the first in the series, this audiobook comes highly recommended, and has received a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy of the novel or the audiobook

Audiobook Review: ‘Bound by a Dragon’ by Linda K Hopkins

I love a great story as much as anyone, but I also really enjoy it when a story makes me thing about important ideas that relate to life beyond the book, too.

‘Bound By a Dragon’ is a powerful story that tells of the dangers of prejudice and wilful ignorance, and of the difference that is made by accepting someone for what they are. This book demonstrates that prejudices are learned behaviours, incredibly hard to break once formed and bringing about significant consequences not just for the individual who holds them, but also for those on the receiving end.

In fact, it is fair to say that as the story progresses, the central character Keira is challenged to rethink many of her assumptions about people and the rules her society holds to so strongly. It is hard to learn to trust one’s instincts over what one has always been taught, and even more difficult to change others’ perceptions and understandings of the way things are in life. Through Keira’s challenges and discoveries, the reader is led to thinking about the assumptions we make and the misunderstandings we carry, and how they impact on our own lives and relationships.

Through Aaron’s experiences the reader is given lessons about individuality and self-acceptance, but also about accepting the things that happen in life and dealing with them in healthy ways.

These important themes and ideas are intricately woven together to create a book that is complex and thought-provoking at the same time as immersing the reader in a distant fantasy land and being wonderfully entertaining.

The plot and premise of this book are interesting and quite original, building intrigue and suspense with some well-constructed complications and twists to keep the reader engaged in the story.

The audiobook narration is expressive and fluent, and I really enjoyed the change of accent. I found it easy to understand every word, and appreciated the easy pace and rhythm of the narrative.

‘Bound by a Dragon’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy of the audiobook or the novel

Audiobook Review: ‘The Green Pearl Caper: A Damien Dickens Mystery’ by Phyllis Entis

‘The Green Pearl Caper’ is a very enjoyable detective-noir style whodunnit story that keeps the audience guessing right to the end. The narration by Tom Lennon really suits the style of the story, very reminiscent of the black and white private eye movies that used to play on Saturday afternoon TV.

The story is well constructed, developing at a good pace while keeping the reader guessing until the end. There are plenty of characters, both major and minor, who could  be suspects, and the first person perspective of Damien Dickens invites the audience to develop theories and speculate on the evidence as more than an onlooker. 

This was a really engaging audiobook, and I am glad to know there are more in the series. 

‘The Great Pearl Caper’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘Chalk Outline’ by Veronica L Smith

A suspenseful and dramatic detective story.

Children are disappearing and being found dead in alleys. Jake and Darius  are the detectives whose job it is to find out who is responsible. 

The trail is not without complications, and the investigation gets personal  for both officers before they can solve the case. 

‘Chalk Outline’ is a compelling and suspenseful story, narrated very effectively by Todd Waites in a style that at times sounds as much like a reporter as it does a storyteller, which adds to the sense of urgency and gives an air of reality to the narration. The narrator also makes very good use of voice and tone to denote the various characters, 

The story rises to a dramatic climax that keeps the reader’s heart well and truly in their throat as they listen, unable to do anything to change the outcome and having to look on as the action unfolds. 

An excellent audiobook experience, ‘Chalk Outline’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’

Absolutely brilliant entertainment.

A rollicking saga full of pirates, rogues, strumpets, sassy parrots and adventure, this story carried me back in time to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the 17th century. The narration brought the story to life very effectively, and I was hooked in no time flat. 

The characters are richly drawn, complex and conflicted, each with secrets and passions that drive them and direct the choices and alliances they make. The central characters each have a mission that they seek to achieve, and the reader is kept in eager suspense about how those things may, or indeed may not, come to pass as the story unfolds. Each of them experiences significant moments of revelation and others of relief but, as often happens in life, even these tend to lead to further complications. 

The settings, too, are brought to life in vivid color and textures that enrich the story and add another level of depth and engagement in the story. For someone who has never been to Jamaica, the places depicted in the story all seemed very real and clear in my mind. 

There is some very amusing innuendo, adult content and violence throughout the book, so it’s not for younger audiences, but it is a story that can be enjoyed by a very broad adult audience because it blends elements of adventure, action, tragedy, romance and mystery with historical fiction, so that the story lines of individual characters are interwoven and tangled in most interesting and diverting ways.  

A most enjoyable and entertaining audiobook, ‘No Quarter: Dominium: The Complete Series’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy hereh.



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Audiobook Review: ‘A Blessing In Disguise’ by C H Clepitt

A delightful short story audiobook that can be enjoyed in one sitting.

CH Clepitt A Blessing In Disguise AudiobookI’ve enjoyed every book by C.H. Clepitt that I’ve read, so I was keen to see how this book worked as an audiobook.

The story is read by Margaret Ashley. Her voice is very expressive and easy to understand, with a lovely British accent that makes listening a pleasure. The reading of the story is well paced and articulate, so it’s easy to follow.

The story itself is lighthearted and whimsical, the sort of thing you’d find on a lovely British TV sitcom. With the subtitle “Life Begins at 48”, this story uses warmth and humour to draw the audience into the all-too-familiar-these-days scenario of a middle-aged woman’s life taking unexpected turns one after the other. The main character Linda is likeable and, although somewhat cynical, takes the surprises and twists of life in her stride. ‘A Blessing in Disguise’ reminds the audience that problems and complications do sometimes bring their own rewards, and that life really is what we make of it in choosing how we will respond and resolve the situations we find ourselves in.

A fairly short story of 26 minutes’ duration, it’s easily enjoyed in one sitting.

Acorn Award I GoldenThis excellent audiobook has been awarded a Gold Acorn, and is also available as an ebook.

Find your copy here.