Review of ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ by John Dickson Carr

Till Death do us part by John Dickson carr

‘Till Death Do Us Part’ is a fiendishly clever locked room mystery by stalwart of the Detection Club, John Dickson Carr.

Dick Markham is a crime writer, about to announce his engagement to the beautiful, but enigmatic Lesley Grant. When she accidentally shoots a fortune-teller at the village fayre, she is distraught. Things go from bad to worse when the man later dies – and Lesley comes under suspicion. Not just for his death, but as a serial poisoner.  Who is Dick to believe? When Dr Gideon Fell and Superintendent Hadley enter the scene clues point in a multitude of directions. And Dick is nowhere nearer to solving the mystery.

This book has a beautiful cover, based on a railway poster of the time, taking the reader on a journey to the past. To an England of picture-perfect rural villages and recognisable characters. Current Detection Club President Martin Edwards provides a fascinating and informative introduction. I relish Edwards’ knowledgeable pieces in the British Library Crime Classics series, as they give an insight into the author and into his inspirations. 

In common with Dick Markham I didn’t know who to believe. Just when I thought I had it worked out, the author turned the story on its head. It was a cleverly constructed story, teasing out the clues, making the reader do a double take more than once. Fell and Hadley, and their significant brain power, tried to see past the lies and subterfuge. Past the construct put before them. But by whom? I adore a good puzzle and this was a superlative one. It was beautifully wrapped up and made for a  highly satisfying mystery. 

I was given this book for review. 

Review of ‘Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes by E.V. Bancroft

‘Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes’  is the wonderful debut novel from E.V. Bancroft. It’s a story told over two time periods, with two couples. Starting in  pre-war 1939, Maud and Bea find love at a time when lesbian relationships were completely taboo. How can they find a way to be together when the world is against them?  In the present day Hannah may be open in some areas of her life, but convincing the woman she loves, Suki, to do the same is not easy. It seems prejudices remain and they can be hard to push back against. Maud and Bea are now old and forced apart in different nursing homes. As the two stories intertwine, the women must fight those who would keep them apart – and fight their own pre-conceived ideas. 

 I was surprised this was a first novel, as the storytelling was so skilful and appeared effortless. The prose flowed beautifully and the characters were believable and brought truth to the story. It was the most compelling story of love, of fighting to be see and heard. I went through so many emotions reading these two love stories, each with problems to be overcome. The writing was powerful, emotional and exceptional. 

I left it feeling happy and joyful. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Footprints’ by Ali Spooner

I must admit to being a huge fan of the Strong Southern Women Series by Ali Spooner. ‘Footprints’ is book 4 and follows the story of Sandy, the youngest of the family. She has looked up to her older sister Cam, and hopes to be as good as her some day in helping run the family businesses. When floods endanger the people of Baton Rouge, Sandy and Cam volunteer with the Cajun Navy and help save those affected. 

I loved reading more about Sandy, and seeing her as a grown woman. The whole family come together to keep their way of life going in the Bayou. I felt a part of their lives for a while, as the writing flows so well. The descriptions are wonderfully vivid and the emotional and romantic lives of the sisters so true. A great story.

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Turbulent Waves’ by Ali Vali

‘Turbulent Waves’ by Ali Vali is a romantic fantasy novel set in Atlantis and New Orleans. Vivien could never forget meeting a girl on the beach years ago. She appeared to dip beneath the waves in the company of sharks – but how could that be? Years later she finds out when Kai Merlin, heir to the Atlantean throne, comes back into her life and they fall in love. As they plan their wedding Vivien finds out about the world beneath the sea and is astounded at the scope of it all. But Atlantis is under threat and the women must fight for their lives and the home they will now share. 

This is the second in the series and I feel reading the first one is important to understanding the whole story. It’s a truly amazing world and the concept is so well thought out. I loved finding out about the history and technology of the Atlantean people. The love story between Kai and Vivien is beautiful and tender and extremely hot. The heat level is scorching, with very descriptive love scenes. But underneath all of the happiness at the impending wedding is an undercurrent of fear and tension as they battle an enemy from the stars. I loved to wallow in fantasy and this let me do that. An enjoyable story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘We Are All Liars’ by Carys Jones

The Fierce Five have been friends since early childhood. Once close, they have drifted apart as adult life takes hold. In an attempt to rekindle the feelings they all had for each other, Gail invites the women to her cabin in the Scottish Highlands for the weekend. Will they find that friendship again, or will they discover that the lies we all tell each other are too big and too serious?

‘We Are All Liars’ is exhilarating, terrifying and very, very, clever. Told from the point of view of Allie, we see the lives the women lead now and how that has affected their friendship group. But the past cannot and will not be forgotten. There are secrets and lies that have remained hidden for twenty years, but once the women are together it becomes increasingly difficult to keep them from surfacing. I was shocked and surprised and could never have guessed where it was all going. Carys Jones took me on a rollercoaster ride, one I could not get off until the brilliantly conceived twist was revealed. What an amazing story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Nero’ by Valden Bush

I love sci-fi, so getting the chance to read a new voice in the genre thrilled me. And I was not disappointed. Valden Bush has imagined a fascinating universe of worlds and peoples, with a brilliant twist, in her debut novel, ‘Nero’. Stele Hosun is an outcast on account of her black eyes. In her culture on Nero those with this characteristic are banished, as are those women who love other women. Stele is angry and volatile, but who can blame her? When Colonel Kian Ray offers her an outlet where her skills may be useful, she has to decide whether to let go of her anger and take a chance. She also has to find a way to live without her love, Ariane. But when pirates invade Nero, Stele has to use everything she’s got to find a way to save the woman she loves and the society than shunned her.

‘Nero’ is a beautifully written story, with exquisite world-building, an intriguing mystery and a passionate love story. The connection between Stele and Ariane was powerful, enduring and intense. The mystery of the coloured shards in Neroan culture made for an engrossing tale, captivating my attention until the very last page. I loved this book and hope there will be more of these characters and their stories in the future. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Elemental Attraction’ by K Aten

‘Elemental Attraction’ by K Aten is the first in her new MythWorld Series. It’s a beautifully crafted tale of shapeshifters, mythical creatures and destiny. Ellys is a half-elven swordsman and a great one at that. She hires out her skills to help keep body and soul together for herself and her companion steed, Roccotari. When dragon shapeshifter, Aderri offers her more than the usual rate to help her get home for an important family ceremony she agrees. But the journey is fraught with danger and the threesome find themselves dealing with more than they bargained for. Add in the beginnings of an attraction that grows hotter as they near Aderri’s homeland. As each grapple with their own and others expectations, life becomes a whole lot more interesting. 

The world-building is superb in ‘Elemental Attraction’ and K Aten has once again hooked me with her imaginative storytelling. The mixture of different creatures is fantastic and seeing how they interact with each other made me laugh and sometimes shed a tear. Ellys is strong and fearless and loyal. She strives to achieve balance in everything she does. Her relationship with Roccotari is funny, sarcastic and joyful. They have an amazing bond and it is the most significant relationship for both of them. As they travel with Aderri we begin to see that love does not have to be static, and change can be embraced. I loved the banter between the three, but also the traditions, mythology and history that made them who they were. A great story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Tell Tale’ by Clare Ashton

‘The Tell Tale’ by Clare Ashton is outstanding. My book of the year by a long way. Lady Sophie Melling is lady of the manor, but the men of the village will not accept it. Her former schoolfriend Beth Harris is back in the village after years away. Like most people she has a secret, and when nasty notes begin appearing it looks like her secret may be revealed to all. Who is leaving the notes? And what does it have to do with unexplained events twenty years ago? As the tension builds, a sense of foreboding clings to the village and its inhabitants. 

This is the best novel Clare Ashton has written. My jaw dropped again and again as the shocking realities were revealed. The exquisite writing, beautiful descriptions, and insight into the welsh language and people had me mesmerised. I could feel the fear of the villagers as they received their vicious notes, and the all-pervading abuse of power by certain men of the village. But I could also feel the growing confidence of the women as they tried to be true to themselves and fight against it all. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. If you only read one book this year, let it be ‘The Tell Tale’. You will not regret it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Meet Me In Another Life’ by Catriona Silvey

‘Meet Me In Another Life’ is the beautifully written story of Thora and Santi who meet again and again, in different situations. It was poignant and heartwarming and thought-provoking. I didn’t know where it was going and it surprised me. The different stages of life and the types of people we all are, were brought to the fore. A book to get lost in.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Lesson in Murder’ by Verity Bright

‘A Lesson in Murder’ by Verity Bright is Part of a series, but there’s no need to have read them in advance as this works as a stand-alone too.

Lady Eleanor Swift is  back at her old school, St Mary’s,  to give a speech. Her memories were not all good by any means, so being back stirs up some difficult feelings.

She’s a very independent woman for the time and not everyone appreciates that. When the death occurs of her favourite old teacher,  Eleanor is  pulled into the mystery, by virtue of being there, and because of her association with Chief Inspector Seldon in previous adventures. When he turns up to deal with the situation he asks her to go undercover as a house mistress.  Will they be able to find out the identity of the killer in time? Eleanor will have to use all of her know-how about the school to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

I liked the references to her time there and to previous mysteries. The book had a comfortable, cosy vibe, and the reader is made to feel part of it all. Being set in the Golden Age of Crime in the 1920s makes it all the more exciting. I also liked the dynamic between Eleanor , Clifford her butler, and Chief Inspector Seldon. They make a great  team. But most of all, I loved the boarding school setting, partly because I read so many books set in them when I was a child. It felt familiar. Verity Bright succeeded in bringing back those memories and adding her own twist with an engrossing mystery. 

I was given this ARC to review.