2 out of 5 stars.
I would like to thank Kensington Books for providing me with a free eBook ARC, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.
Okay, now as there is going to be a LOT of constructive criticism in this review, which is MEANT to be helpful, not harmful… I really want to start with the good stuff.
Despite the score and despite the following constructive criticisms, I really loved this story. I was addicted to it within pages, read it every chance I got and was up late most nights with my ‘one more chapter’ mantra. The writing style drew me in, was (mostly) engaging and there was just something about the whole story idea, location and people I just clicked with. My dream home would be a craft retreat like that! In all honesty, I feel my constructive criticism is BECAUSE I loved the story so much that these issues really jarred me.
So, please, take these constructive criticisms as me trying to be helpful – this is a great story, would make an excellent series I can see myself coming back to again and again… but it really just needs a little help.
Firstly… the title had my grammar alarm bells going every time I looked at it. Maybe it is a language thing where American English and Australian English do not meet… but, to me, the title should be ‘Death AMONGST the doilies’. Or, if ‘among’ is to be used… leave off the ‘the’. ‘Death among doilies’. Sorry, but it just got to me and it what made my score so low.
Then there was the Waters family… Waters, Waters’ – correct English. Waterses’… NO!!!!! Every time I saw that I cringed. Please tell me the final edit has that all sorted out with the other editing and spelling issues I stumbled across in there. It was an ARC after all so I never expect perfection. It’s not as if I can write a blog without leaving a clanger or two myself! 😉
I also got the feeling that it was like two people writing this book, one per chapter. One being Jane and one being Cora. The writing styles were similar… but there was just something that didn’t sit well and it felt more like I was reading a fan fiction blog of multiple authors writing the one story, rather than just the one author. I have no idea if this is the case (I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time two authors wrote as one) but it’s just a feeling I got.
Part of that feeling comes from the way the characters kept changing. One moment Cora was against starting a relationship and in no way interested in men… to her being someone on heat as all the men were ‘hot’. Hell, I like a book full of ‘hot’ men… but make up your mind please!
Sometimes the sentences were short and quick, other times they were run on sentences that just seemed to be padding. I also felt it suffered from first book jitters where so much had to be fitted in to set the storyline up… it became very cluttered and over stuffed and so dragged at some points. Don’t get me wrong, one of the main reason I LOVED the whole story idea is probably from the backstory… but it just seemed to be too much too soon… and I just don’t know how you would get around it.
I also still don’t understand the whole point of the jewelled gun and how it went off… that was never followed up and came from one of the many spots of inconsistency within the story… There is a different between loose threads being left to hopefully lead into the next story, and a gun going off and leaving a hole in the kitchen cupboard the Detective doesn’t even notice.
Okay, okay, I am sure this review will be filled with unlikes and hissed and booed at enough without me going on… but I really did feel a need to explain why a story I loved so much got such a low score. Ms Cox Bryan… I loved the whole idea, concept, surrounds and people of this book. And I do hope you can forgive my constructive criticism… but there was just something not quite right with this book for me.
All in all, please realise I read an ARC of this book. So a lot of the issues I came across may have been fixed in the final edit. It is a good story, has amazingly awesome potential at being one of my next ‘must own’ series and all in all I just can’t explain my love and dislike (not hate, too strong a word) of this book.
Would I recommend this book to others?
Actually I would. As I would love to see the feedback of other crafty cosy crime loving fans. They may just look at me and tell me to pull my head in as it was great… they may see the same minor flaws that I did. I don’t know… but I found it addictive, I see great potential in it as a series and I would recommend people into crafty cosy crimes to check it out – despite the title.
Would I buy this book for myself?
You know what? Yes, yes I would! I’ve marked Ms Cox Bryan as a favourite on Amazon so I can keep up to date and I am keen to see what happens in this series and to see whether it was just a severe case of first book jitters. See, despite the constructive criticism (which I do feel I should hand over with a box of apology chocolates for) I did like this book and would buy it… and wait for the next in the series too.
In summary: A book and series that holds a lot of potential. An excellent concept for a good crafty cosy crime… it just needed a few more finishing touches before being let out to play. 🙂
Until next time,