Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Hannah Morrissey: The Widowmaker

Hannah Morrissey takes readers to the small town of Black Harbour that is riddled with secrets, lies and demons. And one woman has returned determined to confront hers there:

It is always more shocking when a rich individual disappears and that can be said when Clive Reynolds disappeared 20 years ago and has not been heard from sense and a body has never been found. It is Black Habour's coldest case and each time a new detective comes into Major crimes they are tasked to solve it. Morgan Mori has returned to Black Harbour lured by a cryptic note and key, that screams from a past that she would prefer to forget, but Black Harbour is not one to take prisoners and Morgan is witness to a murder of a police officer after photographing the living Reynolds family for Christmas. But there is something more to this murder than wrong place, wrong time and Morgan is going to have to face her own demons and what the key will finally unlock.

This was a book that I tried to love from start to finish and there were moments where I was all in, especially in the second half of the book, but I did struggle with the first half of the book. This book has a really slow start to it and question where Morrissey is going to with the character and plot and I will be honest there were times I put it down due to disinterest. However, once I made it to the second half of the book, things really picked up and I was completely engrossed with the characters, town and plot.

Now this is not a run of the mill who done it, no to say there are not aspects of that here, but the mystery stems no one just in the present but the past as well. Everything is connected, you think but you just do not know how. You need to pay attention to all the details and hints that Morrissey give along the way as the plot is more complicated than you think going in. I was able to figure out part of the big twist but not the whole of if which I love in these types of books.

I did not realize that it was part of a series (this is the second book) till I looked it up on goodreads, even though it is part of a series, this one can totally be read as a stand a alone novel, but i know I’ll be picking the first book in this series.

This book is told from two POV Morgan Mori and Ryan Hudson and both are interesting characters, but I never really felt that connection to them and even though we get to know them and a lot of their past, they never really felt fully fleshed out. Morgan is an extremely interesting character, who when you learn about her past and the atrocities that she has suffered that you cannot help but root for her and really who is she harming at her side hustle at The Ruin. And Hudson is equally as interesting as he tries to create his own path on the right side of the law than the bad but he always seems to be pushed back into it one way or another.

This is the first book that I have read by Morrissey and overall, it became an interesting book, you just need to get there. I really like small town books so I am going to check out the other books in this series, Hello Transcriber, which is the first book and When I'm Dead which is the third. I think Morrissey is an author to watch out for and I am looking forward to reading more by her.


If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Kelley Armstrong: Visions

This is the second book in Kelley Armstrong's Cainsville series, so you will need to read the first book Omens before this one. It is an okay read but you really do need to read it before this one, as many happening in the first book shapes this story.

Kelley Armstrong is back with the next book in her Cainsville series where Olivia is trying to uncover secrets but powerful forces have their own plans for her:

Olivia Taylor-Jones is still reeling from discovering that her parents were convicted serial killers and even thought her and her lawyer Gabriel, were able to prove that her parents were not responsible for all the murders there is still lots of work to be done and this time it is elements of Gabriel's past that may hold the light on some information. As Oilivia's omen become more and more frequent and foreboding Olivia's desire to discover the truth puts her in the path of two power forces, both of which have their own plans for not only Olivia but Gabriel as well.

This is the second books in her Cainsville series and to be honest I wasn’t really sure about the first book I thought it was okay at best but i had heard the second book was great so i decided to continue on. One of the things I did not like about the first one is that it seemed muddled at times. This book was much more straightforward in aspects of the plot and what Olivia and Gabriel are trying to achieve and figure out but still held true to the folklore aspects and they are for sure much more in the forefront in this book.

The heart of this book really centered around several mysteries in not only trying to discover all the abilities that Olivia has, but also the two warring sides, who committed the serial murders that her parents have been convicted for and what the town of Cainsville really is. I am happy to say that we get some answers and more information to several of these mystery points, and enough hints that will bring readers back for more.

Well, that got spicy fast as there was none, not even a hint of spice in the first book. If you like books with some spice, then you will like this book but you will need to read the first one before you get there. I'm not one for sex scenes in book unless they add to the story and I think overall the relationship between Olivia and Ricky is essential to the story and the two warring sides, we just haven't fully seen it play out yet. I do hope that this does not lead to a whole love triangle which there are already hints about some extra feelings here and there, but I have not read an Armstrong book where she has taken this troupe, so I hope that she does not start here.

Well, it is not often where the second book is better than the first but for me that was totally true with Visions. This book has made me want to continue on in the series and see where Armstrong takes it and I'm totally here for the paranormal/urban fantasy lite that this book has. Bring on all the Omens and Folklore


If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Taylor Jenkins Reid: Carrie Soto is Back

Taylor Jenkins Reid is back and this time her character is taking no prisoners on the Tennis Court:

When Carrie decides to retire from Tennis she is the best tennis player (man or woman), that the world of Tennis has seen. She has won the most slam out of anyone and has shattered every record and if you were to ask her she would tell you that she was Entitled to every single one. Carrie has always put her training and tennis before anything else in her life. So as she watches from the sidelines to a newer player, Nicki Chan, tying her Slam record, Carrie knows that she cannot have someone beating it. She decided to put herself to the test and come out of retirement for one last season, to prove that she is still the best Tennis player and at 37 years old that is a monumental task. Is the Tennis World ready for Carrie aka The Battle Axe ready to come back from retirement? Probably not but Carrie doesn't care, she has a record to defend.

Alright, lets just jump right into this as I struggled with writing this review. I will admit that I requested this book as an ARC just based up Jenkins Reid's name and not realizing what the book was about / main character the book features as i have enjoyed two previous books by her. While I enjoyed the book and story that TJR has written I wonder if the book would have been different or that much different if TJR had written Carrie as white instead of Latina. 

Why did TJR choose to write the main character Latina instead of white. By Carrie being white does not change the main plot of the book, it would probably shorten it a bit as the Spanish would not have to be translated each time for those of us that do not speak Spanish. And I’m not saying that Carrie could not have been a Latina athlete, I'm more saying that TJR should not be the one to write this story but someone who is Latina. Maybe then there would have been a more real feel to Carrie and probably the racism she would have faced in the 80s and 90s, but really there is not mention of this at all, (though I am unsure if the Battled Axe / Bitch is a reference to her Latina heritage or not, but I do not think so)

There are two times that race is even really mentioned; one is when sponsorship deals or modelling contracts come around and that all the white, blonde hair, blue eyes Tennis players get the modelling contracts and Carrie herself has never been offered one. And two when she points out at one time with her manager Gwen, who is black, that she Carrie would not want to be a black woman as for how hard it is to be a black women. Was she saying it was not hard to be a Latina woman in sport and that she never faced any type of racism? I do not know as it is never developed before or after that, or ever spoken about in the book at all, so it felt very whitewashed to me.

Now for the good part is that this book reads very much like a movie. I could vividly see what TJR was portraying in my head and I enjoyed every second of it. I could see the matches and how hard Carrie was working and her need to still be the best. TJR knows how to write and I will not deny her that. 

I was also happy that the main relationship that this story about is with her father and the highs and lows that they have had as a daughter who is coached by her father. Does this stunt Carrie's character growth throughout her life, yes, she very much reads as a teenager, even when she is in her 30s but I think that this is true to the mark for many child athletes that only know sport and competition growing up especially at a young age., something socially becomes stunted. This also put the romance/relationship aspect on the fringe and latter part of the story as well, which I am okay with as I think that the father/daughter relationship was the more interesting/unexpected and overall better story to tell.

So will I pick up another TJR book? Yes of course I will, that woman can write and sucks me in each time I have read her books. Do I recommend this book? I honestly don't know, I enjoyed the book and the movie affect it had on my brain but I think that TJR doesn't do Carrie any favours but ignoring the fact that she is Latina throughout the book, other than having Spanish throughout and that Carrie would have been better written by an individual who was Latina.


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Jennifer Estep: Kill the Queen

In the start of a new series, Jennifer Estep takes us to a medieval fantasy world where betrayal is never far away:

In a world where one's magical power determines one's worth, Lady Everleigh's lack of any obvious power, she is relegated to the shadows of the court, only called upon when those above her want to make fun of her. She may be 17th in line for the throne but Evie is more than happy to be left alone. But there are dark forces circling the castle and when her cousin Vasillia (second in line to the throne) comes for a visit, massacre occurs and Evie barely escapes and is forced into hiding. All Evie wants to do is hide away, like she has always done, but when Vasilla seems bent on plunging Bellona into war. Evie knows she has to step up and protect the kingdom. She may not be the hero everyone expected but she is all Bellona has.

This book starts out intense with the massacre of an entire family and royal court and I am here for it. I loved that the first betrayal is right at the beginning of the book and we are not waiting for the characters or plot to get there, Estep goes hard right from the beginning. This really set the tone for the rest of the book as Evie does not know who she can trust as there are spies everywhere and there is more than one person that is set upon protecting themself.

I appreciate that Evie comes off as a real character in the fact that she does not feel the need to help protect the kingdom right away. She wants to try to live a “normal” life as a gladiator even if she does not have the training or power to begin with. I think that this is a real thing that lots of people would do, the court never did her nay favours or protected her, why should she care. Evie may not want to be the protector of Bellona, but she does eventually come to understand that there are some things that are just bigger than her and for the greater good.

I like the different powers that were highlighted in the book, from lightening to shapeshifting to anything you can really think of. It was also interesting having gems that could enhance one's power and how some gems can help while others hinder. Now is it kind of the same old same old, that the most powerful rule, yes it is, but that is what fits not only in this story but world Estep built. If it were a democracy government really the outcome of the massacre would have been the same with the most powerful ruling, so I do not mind that Estep did not try to re-invent the wheel here. She puts with what works with the story and does not try to overcomplicate things

This book is set in a medieval fantasy type world and this really fits the plot and what Estep achieves in this book. It is not really a High fantasy book and the world building is on the sparse side, but I am okay with that. Estep was able to lay everything out so you understand the basics of it. Would it be interesting to know more about the magic side of things and which powers are deemed more valuable than others? Sure, but Estep has to balance between the book getting too bogged down in these extra details.

This is a really enjoyable book that I did not want to put down once I started reading it. I found that the book was well written with an intriguing/entertaining plot and was able to really root for the main character. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. 


If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Marcia Clark: The Fall Girl

Marcia Clark is back with her next courtroom procedural book and shows the lengths people will go to, to protect secrets:

Charlie Blair not only left Chicago for Santa Cruz behind but also her old name, Lauren Claybourne, in order to not only have a fresh start but also protect her family as well. Charlie has crossed the floor and is now going to be working in the prosecutions office and she hopes that it will be a slower pace and not get a lot of media attention. That is until the Shelly Hansen murder. Charlie is assigned as second chair to the case, and first chair is the office's hot shot lawyer Erika Lorman, who rules the courtroom there and just finished the prosecution of a Celebrity chef. But as Charlie works on the case with Erika, she notices things that are not quite right, not quite following the rules but not quite breaking them either. Charlie gets a bad feeling and feels like she is being set up for something big and unless she can figure out the secrets that Erika is hiding, that is unless Erika figures out her's first.

I really enjoyed Clark's Rachel Knight series so when I saw that Clark had released a stand alone book I knew that I wanted to check it out. I'm a big fan of Clark and her ability to write courtroom procedurals. This probably has to do with the fact that she is a former prosecutor herself, so she knows her ins and outs of lawyer case work as well as what happens in the courtroom and these scenes were my favourite part of the book. The mystery aspect is also well done and I was completely wrong in the direction that Clark was going to take the book, but I am okay with that, I don’t mind be wrong.

There are two main female protagonists in this book and for the most part they are very similar in personality but you tend to like Charlie better due to the choices that Erika made/makes along the way. But they are very very similar in many ways, which isn’t a bad thing, as they are both strong women, but just it just felt lacking in character development. And I’m kind of bummed about how it ended, it didn’t feel right to me as it ended too nicely and maybe a few things were left unfinished.

I think that Clark tries to do a lot in this book in this book and I am not sure if there was really any benefit to the plot line of Charlie and Roman. The only purpose that it served was giving Charlie a reason to leave Chicago and move to Santa Cruz and I think that this could have been achieved in a more simple way and save the Charlie and Roman plot line for a separate book.

I think that Clark is possible planning to turn this book into a series just with how it ended and I would pick up the next book in the series, especially if there are more courtroom scenes. I think if you like courtroom procedurals this should be a book that you pick up.

And on a complete side note, when I had more time in my life I used to do Author Interviews and I had the pleasure of doing one with Marcia Clark back in 2012, you can find it HERE.

If You Like This,
Check These Out Too:

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Kyla Stone: Edge of Collapse

In the first book in a series Kyla Stone takes readers along on a Woman's will to survive:

 In the dead of Winter and EMP takes out the entire USA power grid, drenching everyone into a world without electricity, phones, and eventually fear and chaos. But for Hannah it is the best day of her life. It starts with the click of the lock, she doesn’t think it is real, she has been trapped in this prison for over 5 years. She needs to take the chance that this isn’t another trick that she can actually escape, can actually go home. But the World is now changing and she is not the same person she was 5 years ago and the man who has kept her captive is now hunting her to make sure that she can not revel who he is and this time he's going to make sure she's permanently gone.

This book is not so much a post-apocalyptic and it is more a Cat and Mouse game with a side of apocalyptic event. This is due to the face that Hannah has been held hostage in a basement for five years and has no idea what is going on outside world and even questions multiple times whither the door to her cell is really unlocked. I loved the cat and mouse aspect of this book, you never knew when he was going to show up, and what he was going to do. I liked that we got his POV as well just to help show how twisted and evil 

I think that Stone did a great job in her characterization of Hannah and how the trauma she has suffered for year and years has worn her down, made her question everything, even her will to live at times. I appreciated that Stone included some flashback events to highlight what she had been through and that she was not always this "weak" individual, that she did fight back that she did want to survive but the beatings and torture and eventually a final major threat which made her comply. 

We get a bit of how society collapses when an EMP takes out the power grid of USA and how society really begins to collapse. I like how Liam gives the statement of (I think it) was one week, where it takes one week before people really start to panic and change and society collapses. But really the EMP is just a tool that is used in the book and not really part of the main events until the latter part of the book. I think it will be used more frequently as the series progresses, but it is not the main aspect of this book.

Give me a loyal dog any day in a story and I'm sold, and Ghost is a very loyal dog who really had no reason to trust people.

This is the first book in the series and by the time I got to the end I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I'm not sure I agree about where Stone decided to end this book, it was a little bit of a strange place if you ask me as the main plot point of the book was not accomplished but it did have the desire affect of me wanting to pick up the next book in the series. If you like a Cat and Mouse game you'll enjoy this book. I look forward to picking up the second book in the series.


If You Like This,
Check These Out Too: