Friday, June 22, 2018

REVIEW: The Trust by Ronald H. Balson

The Trust
by Ronald H. Balson

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page Count: 368
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Format: E-Book ARC Via NetGalley

How got: ARC from publisher via NetGalley

First attention getter: dealing with N Ireland drama

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. 

Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

When I found out this book was the fourth in a series I’d previously had bad luck with, I was regretting my agreement to read/review. That previous encounter had to be dropped due to a massive info dump in the beginning that made continuing further impossible for me. Once my discovery was made, I braced myself for a similar experience. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. This particular work was written organically and well, giving us a fleshing out of one of our leads and some fascinating modern history of the Northern Ireland dilemma.

I think the problem with my first try with this series was the info dump plus being thrust into the story with characters I didn’t know. A common problem with trying to start a series mid-point, this volume, however, didn’t suffer from that. The central mystery has to do with Liam’s family history in Ireland so serves as an “introduction” to him as a character.

I felt like I got to know Liam very well. His loyalty to family, iron sense of right vs wrong, and dedication to his crime-solving craft shine through strongly. He’s a main character I could get behind and believe in. And though Catherine only played a peripheral part in this volume, being an ocean away for most of it, I still got a sense for her practical approach to problems and perfect common sense. She was a great foil to Liam’s passion for family, crime-solving, and protecting others.

I felt the crime-solving aspects were pretty well done. The story is chock full of red herrings and twisty turns that make any mystery a joy to read. The final whodunit was a surprise to me with a nail-biting journey to that final reveal. I liked that the author didn’t shy away from giving us some tragedy and emotion as well along the way. They gave the voyage to justice a perfect weight to the dry aspects of crime-solving.

There were times where the author felt repetitive in various aspects of storytelling. The constant amount of times that Liam went jogging, I’m surprised he’s not built like a quarterback on steroids. It also felt like some characters kept falling back to the same character traits again and again, Connor and his repetitive tries to oust Liam come to mind. Maybe the author was just making a point that Connor was a douche and putting him forward as a likely suspect, making his attempts as proof of his trying to kill Liam and company. However, it felt to me like he was just pounding this point too much with the proverbial two by four.

Despite that one flaw, and admittedly that one is a very personal quibble, I felt this was a solid book. Great character work and a mystery plot that wasn’t predictable nor stale make this a very enjoyable read. It even served as a great introduction to Liam and Catherine, in lieu of book one. I think I might need to look into books 1 and 3 now as well as re-thinking book 2. Highly recommended for mystery lovers everywhere.

Note: Book received for free from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

REVIEW: The Philosopher's Flight by Tom Miller

The Philosopher's Flight
by Tom Miller

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Page Count: 422
Release Date: Feb 13, 2018
Format: ARC Trade Paperback

How got: GoodReads giveaway

First attention getter: historical fantasy genre

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

We’re only half way through the year, but hands down, best book so far! Miller has created a truly unique world of magic, war, alternate history, and struggle that I couldn’t help but be absorbed by. I enjoyed all his characters, the politicking of the Philosopher/Trencher movements, and his magical system. And oh the alternate history! He’s created a seamless blend of historical change and relevant themes, a perfect mixture for anyone’s reading pleasure.

One of the ideas that drew me to this title was the idea of the role reversal. A man trying to make his way in a woman’s world/field is a great mirror for how women have struggled in school and work during the same time frame, WWI. It could also be used as a foil to explore discrimination of any sort. The struggles and obstacles Robert faces in his chosen profession/career path are the same, I felt, that any victim of discrimination would face and so relate to.

Philosophy is thought of as mainly a woman’s art in this series. Yet, there’s still a strong misogynistic movement in the Trenchers, whom feel that all sigilry is anathema and that women should be subjugated to men. The Trencher movement reminded me of the KKK, and scarily enough, certain Christian fundamentalist movements around today. Some of the ideas explored by Miller gave me pause while reading and made me shiver at the implications.

Like the cover states, the magic system is really half magic, half science. The power of sigilry seems to grow more powerful with study and practice; both Danielle and Robert have been doing their respective aspects since childhood. Yet, there are also cases like Unger whom practice and study until their eyes fall out and still can’t achieve all that they want in the field. Either way, Miller has created a truly unique magical system with its various sigils, their uses, and how they impact the world in which they’re used.

I adore how the author used his magical system to change the course of history. With different events during the Civil War, especially the Battle of Petersburg, the author shows how women started to balance the struggle of power, winning the vote in 1864 and gaining many milestones in the later 19th century and beyond. I loved exploring how the flow of history changed given this new course. Given the implications hinted at in the prologue, that flow of history could take a tragic and unexpected turn. I look forward to exploring that in future volumes.

This next aspect might be due to the author’s profession as an ER provider, but I appreciated his minute attention to detail and all the little tidbits he added to his world. The readings at the beginning of each chapter was one such lovely detail. Each added something to his world, be it some history, build-up to the current tension, visions of what was to come, or characterizations for our current characters. Being a Montana gal, I also appreciate the time spent in getting locales and distances right. He even got the small hospital’s name in Helena right. I loved that attention to detail.

Then of course there is our lead, Robert. I don’t think Miller could have done a better job in creating a young man trying to find a path to his dream, being a part of the Rescue & Evac division of the military philosophers. Despite being told again and again to be practical and give up his dream, he never does. He faces extreme versions of bullying and societal pressure from all sides to reach his dreams. He also has an incredible empathic side that lets him feel for others, even men with contacts out on his girlfriend and family members. This great blend of empathic vulnerability and strong will in the face of overwhelming odds makes for a fantastic lead to tell the story through.

I know this review comes off as gushing, but I seriously cannot find one thing to criticize. The author has created an amazing read filled with adventure, emotion, and a fight against all odds to reach a dream. When you mix in alternate history and magic, I just can’t find any faults. I eagerly awaited this release and my expectations were not let down. I’ll be first in line for book two; keep ‘em coming, Mr. Miller!!!

Note: Book received for free via GoodReads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

REVIEW: The Marquis And I by Ella Quinn

The Marquis And I
by Ella Quinn

Publisher: Zebra
Page Count: 320
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Format: ARC Mass Market Paperback

How got: ARC copy via GoodReads giveaway

Attention Getter: pretty cover

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

Trouble is no match for a lady of the extended Worthington family—except when it comes in the form of a most irresistible gentleman...


Lady Charlotte Carpenter’s brother-in-law has put an infamous brothel owner out of business—yet it is Charlotte who suffers the consequences. Abducted by thugs and held at an inn, she is plotting her escape when she’s suddenly rescued by a dashing gentleman. Only afterward does she realize she’s seen him before—with two courtesans! Unwilling to tarry with such a man, Charlotte makes her second escape. But it is too late to repair her reputation.

A known gossip has spied Charlotte’s movements, and his report is speeding through the rumor mill. Soon, everyone knows that Charlotte spent the night with Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth. And everyone agrees the only answer is marriage—including Constantine himself, his overjoyed mother—and his mistress! But Charlotte’s abductors aren’t finished with her yet. Now Constantine will do anything to protect the spirited woman he loves and win her heart

My Thoughts.

Star Rating - 3

This romance didn’t stand out. Pretty middle of the road, I never felt a special connection to our leads and their relationship. While an enjoyable read at the time, this one is going to be just as easily forgettable. There are attempts for originality and uniqueness that I have to hand to the author. However, at the end of the day, this romance still falls a bit flat and is easily moved on from to another.

The author strives for uniqueness by using a secondary human trafficking plot thread. Not something I’ve seen done in romantic fiction before, I liked how the author tried to give the subject matter the gravitas it deserves. It adds a certain weight to the story that I don’t think it would have had otherwise. It adds to Charlotte’s character in her determination to bring justice to the lives of the female and child victims of the ring.

Our two leads were at least enjoyable. I liked Charlotte’s strength of character and will, as mentioned above. She doesn’t let things bowl her over; she takes the initiative and acts of her own accord. I also enjoyed Constantine. He shows recognizable character growth throughout the story, both in his maturity level and his views of society and women within it.

Yet, together, I just don’t see them working. At least for this reader, there wasn’t any chemistry. I felt like their scenes together were just blah. The personalities should work together; they’ve both got strong ones, but they seem to gel well. Yet, whenever they were having romantic moments together, I just found myself getting bored. So sad to say, the element that should be strongest in a historical romance is the weakest this time round.

So the reason I give this a three is because it falls flat in the most important area for a historical romance, in my opinion, the relationship. I enjoyed the characters separately and the author’s attempts at making her novel stand out from the Regency crowd. However, Charlotte and Constantine just don’t gel well for me. So solid three stars from this gal. It might resonate better with another so keep that in mind when contemplating this work.

Note: Book received for free from publisher via GoodReads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

REVIEW: A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

A Secret History of Witches
by Louisa Morgan

Publisher: Orbit Books - Redhook
Page Count: 496
Publish Date: September 5, 2017
Format: E-Book ARC

How Got: free copy from NetGalley

First Attention Getter: subject matter

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

An ancient and dangerous power is being handed down from mother to daughter through some of the most consequential historic events of the last two centuries.
After Grandmére Ursule gives her life to save her tribe, her magic seems to die with her. Even so, her family keeps the Old Faith, practicing the spells and rites that have been handed from mother to daughter for generations. Until one day, Ursule’s young granddaughter steps into the circle, and magic flows anew.

From early 19th century Brittany to London during the Second World War, five generations of witches fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, all of our futures.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 3.5

Exploration of multiple family generations and witch-craft is what drew my attention to this book. I adore a good family exploration and after a couple years ago, I’ve been fascinated by witch history and the persecution thereof. Given some of the lukewarm reviews I’ve read for this work, my expectations weren’t as high as they might have been. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised. So despite a few glitches, the mixture of fantastic characterization and suspenseful storytelling kept me spellbound.

I adore what the author did with her characters. She made each woman stand out so well, from personality quirks to how they utilized their magic to how that same magic influenced them. Some used their power for personal gain with personalities to match that outlook. Others were the true definition of self sacrifice to carry on the family line. Each woman stood out as distinct in each decade as we explore the Orchiere line.

I loved how the author handled the witchcraft throughout history, though this was one of the areas that felt a bit off for me as well. Starting in the beginning of the 19th century through to WWII, the author explores this family of witches facing the various dangers of their calling. Literal witch hunts to the danger of losing hearth & home or marriages all make an appearance. And how these ladies face these dangers further illustrate their different personalities and life outlooks.

The one area I felt where things got a bit unrealistic was the fervor of those literal witch hunts in the early 19th century. Now I’ve never experienced back water small country town life, especially in an era such as the early 1800s, so I can’t speak on how realistic these reactions to witchcraft were. However, I felt like the pastor led mobs in Parts 1 and 3 came off as hard to believe in the day and age of scientific thought and reasoning. They felt like they should have been in the witch crazy times of the 1500s or 1600s.

The story flowed pretty well, keeping the audience engaged from one gal to another. I enjoyed each woman’s life journey as she dealt with the issue of continuing her line for herself, and building her power. Alternately with murdered companions or cliff edge dangers, the exciting parts gelled well with the slower story aspects.

Yet, there were times when the story felt rushed in places, too. This was especially evident to me in the last part, Veronica’s story. Her involvement in the war effort with her coven felt rushed, one moment the war was just starting and the next we’re at D-Day. The focus on her discovering her powers/heritage and seeing how that impacted her life was interesting. Yet, I felt like something was missing with the glossing over of other areas. The other parts didn’t seem to have this so much as Veronica’s story, but it stood out hard here.

Overall, this was a well done work of generational historical fiction, exploring the lives of women through the last two centuries, their families, and how witchcraft affects all. Despite some flaws on story rushing or a few examples of unrealistic story aspects, this is still highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a side of fantasy to their historical fiction, the study of witches/witchcraft through the ages, or the story of women in history and their struggles.

Note: Book received for free from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

REVIEW: A Second Daniel by Neal Roberts

A Second Daniel 
by Neal Roberts

Publisher: BookTrope
Page Count: 445
Release Date: September 28, 2015
Format: E-Book

How got: gotten from author representative free

First attention getter: description

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

London 1558. An orphan from a far-off land is renamed “Noah Ames,” and given every advantage the English Crown can bestow.

London 1592. Now an experienced barrister, Noah witnesses what appears to be a botched robbery outside the Rose Theater, a crime he soon suspects to be part of a plot against Queen Elizabeth herself. Steadfast in his loyalty to the Queen, Noah must use every bit of his knowledge and skill to lure her most disloyal subject onto the only battlefield where Noah has the advantage ... a court of law – though in doing so he risks public exposure of his darkest secret, a secret so shocking that its revelation could cost him everything: the love of the only woman who can offer him happiness, his livelihood ... even his life.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

Starting out as your regular Elizabethan murder/mystery, this novel quickly diverged into an examination of Elizabethan intrigues and Jewish identity in the Tudor period. It developed into something so much more than I was expecting, to my infinite pleasure. While I had some issues throughout the work with other aspects, the overall storytelling and themes explored I enjoyed to my fingertips.

I was not expecting the depth of politics Roberts incorporates. The push and pull of ambition with the Earl of Essex and his cronies against the remnants of Walshingham’s spy ring with ambassadors, spies, lawyers, and ordinary folk caught in the middle made for gripping suspense. I loved the intricacies and power plays used to push the different agendas around. Even with all of those details, I never felt lost in whom was loyal to who. The author has a real gift for this aspect of storytelling.

I also didn’t expect how Judaism was examined in an era when to be such was dangerous. While not as bad as being Jewish it Inquisition Spain, it still didn’t pay to be it in Elizabethan England. From small details like lighting a candle in remembrance of those lost to overt displays of anti-Semitism such as actual attacks in the street, Roberts examines what it meant to be Jewish in such dangerous times.

I’ve also got to give props for the author’s depth of research and usage of historical details. He uses real people and events to give his story weight. He’s also got a firm grasp on the atmosphere of Elizabethan England with all its court pageantry, both royal and law, and the details of everyday life for a lawyer or minor nobleman.

He’s got an extensive author’s note which I always appreciate in my historical fiction. At first after going through this, my enjoyment of the historical details wained a bit. It almost felt like some of the historical integrity was compromised needlessly in the pursuit of characterization. Yet, after reflecting, I feel that the license used by the author to build his characters through the court procedures of the day and other details were justified. They accomplish the goal so at the end of the day, it all worked out.

Noah’s character, as a result of the historical detail licenses and the author’s skill, was very well-rounded. I love how we got to explore his intelligence and courage in the face of scary, political odds. Even at the end when his big climactic ending occurred and all the weight of English law could be brought to bear on it, he never faltered in his pursuit of justice for his client or his loyalty to Queen Elizabeth. There were times where he could read is too perfect, but they were few in number.

The only part of this book I had a hard time getting behind was the Noah/Marie relationship. It felt very forced with no chemistry between the partners. It read as love at first sight with no development nor build up to show how the relationship got so deep. Every time they had a scene together I got bored fast. Thankfully, the rest of the book was great so it was a trade-off.

Ultimately, this is a great start off to a series following Noah and his adventures in Elizabethan law and intrigue. The author has a firm grasp on the times and Noah’s character, developing both to a fantastic degree. Even though I couldn’t get behind Noah/Marie thing, I still found this a great start. Sometime in the future when life gets a bit less crazy, I’ll definitely be checking out other books from the series.

Note: Book received for free from author/representative in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 9, 2018

REVIEW: The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

The Lacemaker
by Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell
Page Count: 416
Release Date: Jan 2, 2018
Format: Trade Paperback ARC

How got: ARC via Library Thing giveaway

First attention getter: beautiful cover and time period

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth "Liberty" Lawson is abandoned by her fiance and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

I gotta say I was pleasantly surprised with this one. I’m always a bit hesitant when approaching a new Christian author; yet Frantz is definitely one of the higher rated and reviewed ones. She’s able to balance her Christian elements with a great story and well-rounded characters. While the ending felt a bit rushed and so lacked a certain punch, I’d still say this was a fantastic novel.

The history is why I was interested in the first place. Anything set during the American Revolution will draw my interest, my being fascinated by that specific era from childhood. Frantz does a great job in getting her details right, giving us a window into a rarely explored part of the Revolution, that of early 1770s Virginia. The early rumblings of such individuals as Patrick Henry and his compatriots set a simmering cauldron of resentment and republicanism against which our main story is set.

Liberty and her dilemma are the real meat of the story. An endearing mix of vulnerability and fortitude, she gives us an intimate window at a woman caught in the winds of war and change. She draws strength from her Christian faith and her ability to adapt from gently reared gentleman’s daughter to simple seamstress. I felt she was a relatable character through which to tell the story.

While I didn’t feel as strong a connection to Noble, I still enjoyed his rock solid sense of honor and commitment to his cause, his Welsh estate members, and Liberty. The way these two play off each other was just beautiful, gently flowing through the turbulence of revolutionary America and keeping both steady in its rocky waters.

Story wise, Frantz had a great flow going. With a steady buildup of suspense and coming together relationship wise, I never found myself bored. I continuously wanted to know how Liberty was dealing with her new station in life and how she dealt with the warring factions of pre-revolutionary Virginia.

However, the ending felt extremely rushed to me. I don’t want to give any details away; but within a short time period, we had people in danger, rescue, marriage, and everything‘s resolution. And when I say short timeframe, I’m speaking like a couple of chapters, pages only. With all the detail and build up the author put into the rest of the story, I felt like the ending gave little pay off.

Even so, I still found enjoyment in my introduction to Frantz. She handles her characters well, developing them with hidden depths and wells of strength. The story is strong against a well-developed historical backdrop, sucking me in from page 1. Despite that lackluster ending, I’d still recommend this tale for any lovers of historical fiction and the American Revolution.

Note: Book received for free via Library Thing giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

REVIEW: Alice and the Assassin by R. J. Koreto

Alice and the Assassin
by R. J. Koreto

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Page Count: 280
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Format: E-Book ARC

How got: digital ARC via NetGalley

First attention getter: main character and her historically established personality

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

In 1902 New York, Alice Roosevelt, the bright, passionate, and wildly unconventional daughter of newly sworn-in President Theodore Roosevelt, is placed under the supervision of Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, ex-cowboy and veteran of the Rough Riders. St. Clair quickly learns that half his job is helping Alice roll cigarettes and escorting her to bookies, but matters grow even more difficult when Alice takes it upon herself to investigate a recent political killing--the assassination of former president William McKinley.

Concerned for her father's safety, Alice seeks explanations for the many unanswered questions about the avowed anarchist responsible for McKinley's death. In her quest, Alice drags St. Clair from grim Bowery bars to the elegant parlors of New York's ruling class, from the haunts of the Chinese secret societies to the magnificent new University Club, all while embarking on a tentative romance with a family friend, the son of a prominent local household.

And while Alice, forced to challenge those who would stop at nothing in their greed for money and power, considers her uncertain future, St. Clair must come to terms with his own past.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 2

The concept behind this book looks good in theory. Alice Roosevelt was known as a trend setter, a boundary breaker. Her historically known iron will and disregard for convention make for admirable qualities in a female lead to a historical mystery series. However, I feel like the author made some grievous errors in execution. The resulting work comes out, in the end, as very middle of the road, immediately forgettable after the reading is done. Not the impression you want to leave when starting a mystery series...

I did enjoy St. Clair to a point. His portrayal of a strong western lawman transplanted to urban New York comes across well. He’s a caring older brother and a protective Secret Service operative. Yet, I felt like there was a dearth of characterization for him beyond those few points and stereotypes. Most inner thought tracks we got from him fell into these small categories; so in the end, I never really thought that I knew him that well. At least the scenes where he had action flowed well.

The latter half of the book was far better than the first, though the problems with the book still persisted there. I feel the author did herself a disservice by starting Alice and St. Clair in the settings that she used in the first half.

Being introduced to Alice within a high society setting would have served her character far better. The meal with the van Schuyler family is a prime example. In that setting, Alice’s intelligence and political maneuvering skills really shine. I personally feel she would have been established as a stronger character, a real first daughter with weight behind her name and use of that position.

However, the author introduced Alice by trolling through New York slums talking to anarchists, police chiefs, and lawyers. Yes, she’s the president‘s daughter but good god!! The way everyone opens up to her, falling over themselves to sing like canaries, just because she’s a Roosevelt, felt EXTREMELY unrealistic. I mean, come on, the anarchist alone would’ve had nothing to do with her given that position! In the latter half, at least the folks that Alice and St. Clair end up talking to show some hesitation in breaking laws, showing a bit more realism then just spilling their guts to a teenager because she squeaks, “I’m the President’s daughter”.

The way the author uses Alice in the beginning feels very unrealistic and so highly unreadable. The whole situation at the lawyer’s office was just the icing on the cake. It was at that point where I stopped taking Alice seriously. She’s a 17-year-old teenager who is given the power and personality of an adult; all of which the author expect us to just swallow and relate to. While she gets a bit better in the latter half, by that point in the story, I was already too out of step with her to really care.

The mystery portion itself was a tossup. Like the bits I’ve mentioned already with Alice, the investigation stuff seems like it flowed way to simply. Sources and such seem to fall all over themselves to spill their guts to this paragon of a first daughter. Clues fell into their laps like snow. As such, their power faded just as quickly. By the time we got the big reveal at the end, I just really didn’t care. Whatever power the ending might have had was killed by how easy the steps to it were handled in the narrative.

I felt the author took some serious missteps with this one. I shallow mystery and irrationally-characterized female lead pretty much killed this one in the water for me. Some light at the end of the tunnel was there with St. Claire and some better writing in the second half. Maybe the author will get much better in future volumes, especially as Alice has been firmly established at least by this point. Yet, Koreto has some serious work ahead to pull this mystery series out of the depths. This book seems to have worked for other reviewer’s; with an average of 3.5 stars on GoodReads, somebody liked this. So maybe this book will work for others where it didn’t for me. But for me personally, I don’t recommend reaching for this book, and I won’t be looking for book two.

Note: Book received for free via NetGalley from publisher in exchange for an honest review (and boy was I honest!!).