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. 


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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.

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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.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Gillian McAllister: Wrong Place Wrong Time

Gillian McAllister questions if you could prevent a murder before it happens. would you?

Jen, a protective mother of her only child still hasn't gotten over waiting up for her son to come home after a night out, even though he is now 18. While Jen is watching her son walk down the street and then another man appears and starts to approach him. It is late at night and this cannot be a coincidence. the next thing you know there is a knife in your son's hand and he has stabbed the stranger, to death and arrested by the police. She goes to bed that night believing all is lost, only to wake up and discover it is Yesterday, the murder has not yet taken place. This is the beginning of Jen's journey, to find out why her son murdered a Man and what she can do to stop it.

This is the first book that I have read by McAllister and overall, I am impressed with how McAllister decided to execute this book. I liked that aspect of going back in time and the amount that she goes back varies and seem to represent significant events, even if Jen (and the reader) cannot figure out what the even it. However, I will say that this book is a pretty slow burn till around the 75% mark as this is where a lot of questions are answered and we finally get to start to find out the BIG pieces that have set Jen and her family on this path that has led to a murder, but you do need to get there.

The book really does take a turn, and not for the better in the middle of the book. The main theme really became not about the murder her son is about to commit but how bad of a mom Jen was and sees herself now as and that She is the reason for the murder occurring. There are many points of time where this is pointed out and it made me mad at times. Basically, a slam toward working moms and while Yes, I feel like it was natural for Jen to feel this way at some point in the path backwards, I think that it was drawn out too long.

I really enjoyed trying to put all the parts together and trying to suss out the important events from each period of time that Jen enters, especially when she was going farther and farther back. I'm glad that we also had a dual POV with that of Ryan to break up points in the book and give a more police perspective. I can really say that I did not have it all figured out as to the big twists and turns along the way, but I really enjoyed how McAllister (eventually) had everything play out.

I enjoyed this book especially the beginning and end but felt like I really had to push in the middle of the book. I enjoyed the creativity of the book and I think this is the first book that I have read that has dealt in time travel in this way. I look forward to picking up other books by McAllister.


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