Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Travis Baldree: Legends & Lattes

Travis Baldree takes readers to the city of Thune, where one Orc is looking to change her fortune:

Viv is the first one to admit that she has blood on her hands. She has served decades as a mercenary, but she knows that it is time for a change, she does not want her next mission to be her last one. Her next venture is one that no expects, to open the very first coffee shop in a city called Thune. Here she will remake her life, and one that will hopefully have a lot less bloodshed to it. But who knew that opening a coffee shop in a city would bring it's own form of troubles and a person from her past she would rather forget.

I was looking for something a bit different and an easy read when I picked this book up and I would say that my expectations were met. This is a cute quick read about an Orc trying to make something more of herself than a killing machine and you have to respect Viv for wanting more in life. I think that in a short period of time in this book (it's just under 300 pages) Baldree was able to set up a fantasy/medieval based world and a set of character that many readers will find enjoying. This is pretty remarkable as it can take some authors several books in a series to achieve this. Baldree also does not take the easy route with his characters either (making them all the same, but I will concede they are all looking for the same thing, a place to belong), they are unique in the own rights and different kinds of creatures come in and out of Viv's cafe.

This really plays up how addictive coffee can be or more so the routine that comes along with getting a coffee at a cafe, either with friends or by oneself. I know many people who would baulk at not being able to get their coffee at a specific cafe (I'm a tea drinker, so can get tea anywhere but there are also levels of good to bad tea places).

At it's core this is a heartwarming story about becoming more than people think you should be and I think that there are more interesting tales that Baldree could create with this world and characters, either before of after Viv opens her coffee shop. I know that I would pick them up. If you’re looking for a fun, easy, fantasy read then pick this one up.


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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.


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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


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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.