Review of ‘Velocity’ by Gun Brooke

I love it when I find a new series to obsess about. ‘Velocity’ is the second book in Gun Brooke’s Dennamore Scrolls series, but it can be read as a standalone too. I haven’t read the first book, ‘Yearning’,  but I definitely need to now. ‘Velocity’ is the story of a town and its discovery of an alien background they didn’t know existed. Holly Crowe is astounded to find alien artefacts whilst out taking photographs one day and is determined to find out more. Claire Gordon, a local mechanic with a love of science fiction finally finds some meaning and purpose when she too is let in on the secret. As they join others everything begins to make sense. But will it lead them into danger and peril? 

This was an intriguing story, with superb world-building and imagination. I love sci-fi and this hit all the right buttons for me. There was love, romance and family too. The group were trying to solve a puzzle and I was completely engrossed in their journey towards discovery. The blend of different characters worked extremely well. We had some sapphic characters and their relationships, but we also had tight family bonds and friendship. I want to find out what happens next to them and can’t wait for the next instalment. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Front Page Murder’ by Joyce St. Anthony

Irene Ingram is now editor in chief of the Progress Herald. Her father has left to report on the war in the pacific, and her fiancé is in training somewhere, preparing to join the battles in Europe. She may be a great reporter and ready to take on the role, but it’s the early 1940s. Many of the residents in her small town don’t agree. A woman in a position of power is extremely unusual and not always welcomed. Irene is determined to prove them wrong and gets the chance to show her skills, when a sudden and unexplained death hits close to her. With anti-Semitic attacks springing up in the previously quiet and welcoming town, Irene and her friend Peggy begin to investigate. 

I liked the historical World War 2 time-frame. It was very well described and it felt so contemporary even though it was set in the 1940s. These characters felt real.  She managed to make the reader feel a part of the time too. It was a fantastic story and so believable. I really liked Irene . She was strong, daring and clever, and I want to read more of her stories.

This book gave a very different perspective. We found out about the women who stepped up and took on responsibilities outside the home. Through Irene’s eyes we saw the barriers they came up against. 

The mystery was well told and kept me gripped throughout. I loved it.

I was given this ARC to review .

Review of ‘A Fatal Night’ by Faith Martin

‘A Fatal Night’ by Faith Martin is the second book I’ve read in this series, and I’m growing very fond of WPC Trudy Loveday and Coroner Dr Clement Ryder. The young police officer and elderly county coroner make an interesting pair, and their methods and investigations make for fascinating reading. This story is set over Christmas and New Year of 1962, when a ‘big freeze’ stopped Britain in its tracks. Snow and ice blocked the roads and many died. And it is one of these deaths that Trudy and Clement seek to investigate. As with any investigation, lies abound, and it is up to them to get to the truth and find the killer. 

I really like the dynamic between the two characters. The blend of youthful enthusiasm and a determination to learn, with the experience and wisdom of someone who has seen it all, really works. The setting of 1960s Oxford is also very appealing, as it gives an insight into the time, as well as the problems faced by a young woman in the police force back then. I enjoyed the story immensely, and it is exactly the kind of cosy mystery I want to read in these times. However unsettled it may seem for us in real life,  you can always count on a cosy mystery. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Fog of War’ by A.L. Lester

‘The Fog of War’ by A.L. Lester is a historical paranormal romance set in England after the First World War. As Dr Silvia Marks settles back  into life in the small English village where she grew up, she tries to forget the grief tearing at her heart. The disappearance of her lover during the war has left her scarred. With the help of army nurse Walter, she becomes the local G.P. and runs her own practice. When a friend from the battlefield hospital comes to stay, she begins to see some purpose again. But a strange mystery with one of her patients throws everything up in the air. She must decide if she had the courage to find out what’s going on. Because doing so has far-reaching complications. 

This was an imaginative story, with an interesting premise. I liked the time period, as it was a time when women began to venture out into the workplace due to the lack of male labour available. Sylvia was strong and capable, but was still struggling with heartbreak. Lucy came into her life at just the right time, and she had a positive influence on her. The paranormal element was intriguing and there is so much scope to develop it further in the next books in the series. I was certainly very curious as to where it would lead. I enjoyed the book and eagerly await more.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Others’ by Annette Mori

‘The Others’ is a thought-provoking dystopian story, full of tension and adventure. Em is a scientist, and along with her wife Lise, has been hiding in a bomb shelter for ten months. The world, and specifically the United States, went crazy after the last election, and the other superpowers took advantage. Now that the cities are presumably destroyed, groups of survivors try their best to live with what is left. Once on the outside again Em and Lise become aware of other people who managed to keep going. But who can they trust? And what will life mean after the war?

Annette Mori uses truth and imagination and mixes them to make a compelling story that kept me up into the wee hours reading. There are some tense and disturbing moments – some of them not too far off the mark from our reality. And that makes the story all the more powerful. The main characters were appealing, strong women, and it is through their interactions with the people they meet, that we see just what it takes to survive. I was hooked from page one and couldn’t put it down.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘In Our Words’ edited by Victoria Villasenor

‘In Our Words’ is a wonderful anthology of queer stories from black, indigenous and people of colour writers. The selection by Anne Shade is inspired and I loved reading such a variety of well-written stories. I now have some authors, new to me, that I feel compelled to seek out for my next book purchases. Although I enjoyed them all, there are a few stories that took my breath away.

My favourite was ‘Granddaughter of the Dragon’ by Brey Willows. It was a beautiful story of family, love and freedom. Freedom to be who you are and embrace it. Willows is a masterful storyteller, and manages to take the reader to places where anything is possible.

I also loved ‘Sweet Potato’ by Briana Lawrence. The author used imagery and language with such skill that I could see, touch and taste everything her characters did. I certainly want to read more from this particular author in the future.

‘Art Appreciation’ by La Toya Hankins was an empowering story, with a message of hope. I enjoyed the interaction between the two main characters and appreciated how the author developed the characters over the course of a short story.

‘The Depth of Love’ by Anne Shade was an emotional story, with a twist of mythology thrown in. It was a feel-good tale with romance and left me smiling. I would love to know more about the particular mythology she explored in a novel.

This is an excellent anthology, with something for everyone.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Woman To Treasure’ by Ali Vali

‘A Woman to Treasure’ is a cracker of a story. It’s an adventure, a mystery and a love story all rolled into one. Levi Montbard has loved history her whole life, and goes all over the world in search of antiquities. Her fascination with the Templars is particularly important, and when some writings come into her possession, the adventure really begins. Yasmine Hassani is a university professor, with a special interest in women’s studies. She’s an unusual woman in her culture, as she has so far resisted the expected marriage and children route. When she becomes aware of Levi’s quest she has to decide to take a leap, in more ways than one. 

Ali Vali has written a wonderful mystery, with well-researched historical detail and a heart-warming romance at its core. It has beautiful settings  in various parts of the world, with a fantastic group of characters. I particularly loved Louisiana and Morocco, and getting to know Levi and Yasmine’s families there. The story was brilliantly plotted, with stories and revelations that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. The romance was sweet and endearing and gave me such feelings of joy when they as much as held hands. It was lovely to see the characters grow and change as they got to know each other, becoming who they were meant to be. An excellent book and one I can highly recommend. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Rose Code’ by Kate Quinn

‘The Rose Code’ is a stunning book. A mixture of historical fiction, suspense, mystery and passion. It’s the story of three young women who find themselves working at Bletchley Park, doing top-secret codebreaking – work they will never be allowed to divulge for decades. Osla, the well-connected deb, Mab, an East End girl determined to make something of her life, and Beth, a downtrodden twenty-something with a sharp and amazing mind. We follow their lives as they become vital cogs in the wheel during WW11, saving the Allies in secret, and trying to find some sort of happiness amongst the chaos of war.

The story jumped back and forward between the war years and post-war Britain. Tying it in with real events and with more than a spattering of real-life figures added to the excitement and intensity. I loved finding out about Bletchley Park when it was the secret hub of those trying to crack the Enigma codes. I’ve visited it and found it utterly fascinating – but this book brought it to life for me, with wonderful characters and a top-notch story. It was tense and full of suspense, with a fantastic mystery at its heart. The best book of the year for me.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Golden Trinity’ by Robyn Nyx

Chase Stinsen is a principled archaeologist who ends up in some yucky, mucky situations, always hoping to discover and save treasures for the benefit of all humanity. Rayne Marcellus tends towards the less lawful path. She keeps beating Chase to finds that she sells to unscrupulous rich men, instead of giving to the museums Chase favours. The women worked together in the past and have a difficult relationship due to Rayne screwing Chase over. When Rayne asks her to help find the fabled Golden Trinity, to prevent it from falling into the hands of a man who would stop at nothing to possess it, can Chase trust her?

The story has an exciting and atmospheric start and the the adventure continues in the same vein. The archaeological and historical details are fascinating and give another layer of interest that hooked me from the beginning. Add to that the interpersonal dynamics between the two main characters and Robyn Nyx has a winner on her hands. But it was about so much more than adventure and mystery, although those were expertly done. The personal discoveries for Chase and Rayne and the realisations they came to – those were definitely stand out elements for me. There were powerful emotions, not just about the growing feelings the women had for each other, but for the peoples of the Amazon. The danger from incursions by treasure hunters and loggers made me want to weep for them. The setting was exquisitely described, so much so that I could almost feel the heat and humidity as I read. The creepy fear that could never leave them as they traversed through thick, lush jungle, with snakes and worse just ready to pounce. The denouement was thrilling, heart-stopping and full of wonder. I wait in eager anticipation for the next great adventure from this pair.

And for lovers of lesfic, there are a few wonderful Easter Eggs in this book. I almost cried out in delight at the mention of some names and places from another favourite author of mine. I’ll leave you to find them for yourself – but suffice to say, the three I found made me a very happy reader.

I loved this story and highly recommend it.

Review of ‘Royal Family’ by Jenny Frame

‘Royal Family’ by Jenny Frame is book four in her Royal Series. I’ve enjoyed them all, and it was lovely to be back with some of my favourite characters. This time we follow the romance of Clay, a royal protection officer, and Katya, the new nanny. Clay has reached her position despite a rocky start in life, and is now dealing with grief after the death of her mother. She’s not ready to trust the new nanny, but can’t quite put her finger on why. Katya left her native home as a child refugee and is determined to pay her adopted country back for the good life she has now. She finds Clay attractive, but is not ready for any kind of relationship. Guarding her privacy and her heart is too important to her. 

Katya and Clay’s story was a slow burner. Their backgrounds made them wary and they needed time to open up. I really warmed to Katya as I got to know more about her. Her backstory was fascinating and I enjoyed finding out about her. Clay’s story was worlds away from that of Katya, but they found in each other something that was missing. Something that made them whole. Jenny Frame ties the threads from previous books in the series beautifully, and the family element really came through. It felt welcoming and inclusive. I love Queen George and Queen Bea and their growing family. The fact that they make their friends and close staff part of that family enhances the series. There’s a warmth and affection woven throughout the story and I hope there will be more tales of this particular Royal Family and their entourage.

I was given this ARC for review.