[Review] FORGIVEN by Geoff Lawson, 4/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Forgiven by Geoff Lawson introduces us to a brave young man named Richard Wilson, as he fights in the Second Boer War and for the love of his life. Rachel Purdue is the beautiful and equally brave socialite who has captured our protagonist’s heart. They meet once when they were still kids. They see each other again coincidentally around one and a half decades later, and fall in love. The difference in their economic status is already a hurdle in their relationship, given that the setting was in the Victorian era where social standing is very prominent. But then, a lot more things emerge to make their love story even more complicated.

The first half of the book juxtaposes the past and the present, and one must be careful to read the year at the start of every chapter to not be confused. I liked that the story features a handful of strong female characters such as Rachel, Mary, and Lady Sarah. In an outdated social setting where women were only expected to get married at a certain age and make a happy home, they definitely exceeded expectations and have shown strength both inside and out.

Rachel was stubborn. And although that may be seen more as a negative than a positive trait, it helped her grow as a person. That same stubbornness helped her survive and stand out in some scenes. Mary is Richard’s wise and loving mother, and I’m pretty sure Richard won’t be half the great man that he is if not for this heroine. Lady Sarah was one of the royalties that Richard had to escort as a soldier. She seems to be a stuck-up and spoiled bride, but there were scenes in the book that will show you that she is capable of a whole lot of admirable things.

The story’s pace was kind of slow for me, but it was not boring either. I would honestly say that most of the chapters did not move me, and only the last ones had a real impact. I was expecting a different kind of surprise, but the book’s ending is still surprising and dramatic in its own way.

I cannot pinpoint anything that I particularly disliked, so I would say that this is a good book worth recommending. It was well-written, and the author did a good job in his research and in building such great imagery. This book will surely appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance. Trigger warnings include a few mentions of violent acts, gore, and some hints of cheating.

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[Review] ARSENIC AND OLD MEN by Glenn Ickler, 4/5

This review first appeared on and was written for OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Arsenic and Old Men by Glenn Ickler is about the adventures of three gentlemen who, in the middle of vacationing with their lovely wives in Martha’s Vineyard, suddenly find themselves in the middle of not just one, but two cases of murder by arsenic poisoning.

Warren ‘Mitch’ Mitchell is our main man here. He is an investigative journalist who writes for the St. Paul Daily Dispatch. Alan ‘Al’ Jeffrey is a photographer for the same paper, and is Mitch’s so-called “twin” or partner in crime. Dave Jerome, a good friend of the two, is now a freelance cartoonist but once worked for the Daily Dispatch as well. The book starts when Dave’s uncle, Walter ‘Walt’ Jerome, dies. Good old Walt has made a good fortune for himself by being the chief newspaper editor for so many years, and because he has no children, the closest living relative eligible for the inheritance is Dave. At first, everyone was sure it was heart attack that killed Walt, until the results of the required autopsy revealed something else.

The three gentlemen worked hand-in-hand with the police, but the ending called for a different and a riskier approach. This book is best suited for lovers of crime thrillers and stories about family and solid friendship.

One of the things I liked was the author’s sense of humor. Almost each and every dialogue was filled with funny and appropriate sarcasm, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I also liked how the story went from start to finish. There were no down times nor forced elements. The ending wasn’t as surprising as I thought it would be, but it was far from boring also.

What I liked the most in this book was the depiction of loyalty to one’s spouse, in spite of being right in the middle of a compromising situation. I loved how Mitch acted in one particular scene where he chose to keep his marriage vows intact even when it was so easy for him to fall into temptation.

The only thing I did not like was the typos. I’d be willing to let go most of them, but there were a few major errors. One of which is the name confusion between Al and Dave’s wives, Carol and Cindy, respectively. There were dialogues and descriptions that I was sure were meant for Cindy, but were indicated as Carol’s. Nevertheless, I’d still say that the book looks like it was professionally edited.

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[Review] SMALL CHANGE by Keddie Hughes, 4/5

This review first appeared on and was written forΒ OnlineBookClub.org. It has been slightly edited here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Small Change by Keddie Hughes gives us a view of Izzy Campbell’s interesting life. She has been married to Jim, a huge Rangers Football Club fan and the Managing Director of Verisafe, for quite a long time now. However, their marriage has been on the rocks lately mainly because of Jim’s stuck-up personality and alcohol problems.

One day, Izzy meets Sean Docherty, an investigative journalist and the brother of one of her clients in the Citizens Advice Bureau. She volunteers there during some of her free time from college. Sean gives her an inside scoop about the Rangers and brings spark to Izzy’s plain personality. He taught her how to be bolder and how to be a risk-taker. Later on, she learns that Sean’s nephew has been murdered and that her husband might be somewhat responsible for it. Together, they work to find some evidence about the fishy Rangers business and her husband’s involvement in the murder case.

I liked the fact that the story was fast-paced. It had been enticing from start to finish; it draws you in as soon as you begin reading it and you’d never want to put it down. The story was not that impressive, but it’s great enough to move you.

I also liked the therapist episodes at the end of every chapter. They added drama and mystery to the entire story, and I believe it was also a good technique to have them written in a dialogue format. They also made the book mental health-friendly. They’d be a great encouragement to people to go and see a therapist when they’re having troubles and to not be ashamed of it.

The main thing that I didn’t like was Izzy being passive-aggressive about her relationship with Jim. Consequently, she ended up making bad decisions. However, in the end, with the help of Sean and her friend, Bridget, she managed to do what’s best for everyone, and moved on living a life without regrets and guilt.

Overall, this was a wonderful book. There were only a few typos and I believe it was professionally edited. However, dialogues said by the same speaker but were separated into two paragraphs seemed bizarre and made some parts confusing for me. Usually, a paragraph break would mean a change in the speaker, but in this book, I found several instances of paragraph breaks while the same speaker was still speaking and there had not been not a significant change in topic. For example, see excerpt below:

‘They love his banter and jokes. Plus, he’s very generous.

Always gets a round in at lunchtime.’

This part can be found on Location 271 and was spoken by Moira. I just don’t understand why this had to be broken. There were at least two or three more instances like this in the book.

Trigger warnings include alcoholism, adultery, and death.

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[Review] THE ORB by Tara Basi, 2/5

This review first appeared on and was written forΒ OnlineBookClub.org. It has been trimmed here and the rating has been adjusted for a 5-star system, which is more common.

Tara Basi’s The Orb is a sci-fi novel that talks about the clash of The Church and The Orb Industries. The book brings us to a world who views an alien blue orb as its god. Early on in the story, we meet the Pilgrims who are devoted believers, the Ungodly who do not believe, and then the Pilgrimists who aim to hurt and bring terror all around. This book is guised as a science fiction but I seriously believe that it’s actually a satire, dropping social and moral takes here and there.

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