The Brief

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Author: Simon Michael

Series: Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Sapere Books

Charles Holborne is a Jewish Barrister from the East End who is ostracized by his classist colleagues who don’t want him to be a part of their profession. Welcome to the 60’s! All of his feelings and anger are taking a toll on his relationships, especially with his wife whose family family believes that she married beneath her. He’s hopeful that the case that he just landed will turn things around for him, but a crime is committed that may may just make things even worse. 

I am a big fan of British mysteries and thrillers, and this was no exception. The author obviously  has knowledge of the legal system, as he did a wonderful job of detailing the system without making it sound bogged down like an essay. I really enjoyed the 1960’s setting. It made for a most interesting setting and set up for this story. The plot moved along at a really nice pace with very few slow areas. The characters were all very well developed. The main character was complex and one that I could really root for, even when I might have questioned his actions a bit. He was a bit of an anti-hero, which I love in any story. The story had enough twists and turns to keep me intrigued. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel to see what happens next in Charles’ story! 

From Breath and Ruin (Elements of Five, Book 1)

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Author: Carrie Ann Ryan

Series: Elements of Five

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Indie

Pages: 351

Lyric is a typical eighteen-year-old girl, who has no idea what direction her life is going to take. She hasn’t really thought tings out much, aside from attending college in the fall. For as long as she can remember, she has had nightmares about monsters and these two central figures that feel very real to her. She knows that they can’t be real, though, right? 

The Maison Realm was torn apart hundreds of years ago in to warring factions of Elemental Wielders. Now factions of both light and dark have been sent to the Earth realm in an effort to find the Spirit Priestess who is prophesied to wield the Elements of Five that will bring the fractured kingdoms together. Rhodes and his sister, Rosamund, were sent from the light realm  on this mission. 

When an incident occurs while out on a hike, Lyric’s whole world is turned upside down. Everything that she thought couldn’t be true suddenly seems incredibly real and very dangerous. She is suddenly in a battle for her, and others’, survival. 

This is the first book in a new YA Fantasy series out from author Carrie Ann Ryan. She is multiple best selling author of many series in the adult arena, but this is her first foray in to the YA world. Let’s dive in! Ok, the premise: Honestly, it can be very difficult to come up with something in the YA Fantasy world that isn’t tropey or hasn’t been done and re-hashed before. Guess what- she found it! This felt fresh and not overdone. This didn’t feel like something that I have read over and over again, and I really enjoyed it. The pacing was great. It slowed a little in a couple of parts, but that happens in the first books of multiple book fantasy series when building the foundation, and it picked right back up. The characters were engaging and fleshed out well. I enjoyed learning their stories and she gave me someone to root for. The world building was wonderful! Now, this is not something new for this author. She writes PNR in the adult arena (also, if you read PNR check hers out), but this is much more detailed world building and she did a lovely job of it. I’m hoping that it keeps building even more in the books to come. Overall, I would say that Ryan’s venture in to the YA Fantasy world is a success, so far! 

The Next book in the series, From Ash and Flame, is due out in mid November & I can’t wait! 

 

Here There Are Monsters

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Author: Amelinda Berube

Genre: YA Fantasy/Thriller

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 352

Skye has grown up being the protector to her younger sister, Deirdre. Deirdre was always caught up in her games of queens, castles, and knights, and drug Skye in to them with her. She named Skye the Queen of Swords, the one that would protect her against everything, and that’s what she became. She also became an outcast because of it, the weird girl’s weird sister. When they moved to their new home, far away from their previous residence, Skye felt it was time for a new start. When they arrive, Deirdre is delighted that their new home is surrounded by woods and swamps to explore and create new kingdoms in. Skye, however, is done playing Deirdre’s games and makes a new circle of friends to call her own. Left to care for Deirdre while their parents are out one evening, Skye falls asleep and is awoken by her mother frantically looking for Deirdre. Deirdre is gone. Rescue crews continue searching to no avail, until Skye knows that she is the one who must go and find her. She must become her sister’s protector and play the games once again. 

Let’s start with the cover of this book. How creepy and beautiful is that?! It’s very fitting with the tone and story, and I just love it. Now that I got that out of the way, on to the book itself. It started out a bit slow for me, so I was a bit anxious that I wasn’t going to like it and I was not happy about that, as I went in to this very hopeful (this is definitely my kind of read!). Fortunately, it did pick up after a bit and I got in to it. The story is told in alternating time periods, as it flashes back between earlier in the girls’ childhood and present day. I did enjoy that as it gives a clearer picture as to what may have led up to the present day situation. The characters, especially the main characters, were well developed. The two main characters, Deirdre and Skye, however, were not particularly likeable characters in my opinion. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the main characters do not have to be likable for a book to read well. I do know that some readers are put off by this, so I wanted to throw it in in case this is a sticking point for you. There are some supernatural elements that come in to play as the book moves on, and this was a fun element. It is a very atmospheric book, which I believe may have been my favorite thing about the writing of this book. The author did a wonderful job of building the world/atmosphere and making it fit the story well. Where the beginning of the book suffered from a bit of a slow start, the end could have used a bit of a slow down. It felt a bit rushed to tie everything up, and left me feeling like a may have missed something. Overall, though, it was a solid read and if the author were to write something else in the same genre, I’d pick it up. 

This book will be released on August 1.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to review this.

Black Wolf (Natalya Ivanova, Book 2)

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Author: G.D. Abson

Genre: Crime Fiction/Thriller/Noir

Publisher: Mirror Books

Pages: 336

A woman is found dead outside of St. Petersburg. After investigating, Captain Natalya Ivanova links her to an anti-Putin activist group. A government group that has been looking in to this group steps in and shuts down her investigation before it gets anywhere. After another activist disappears, Natalya is forced to go undercover in an attempt to discover what is really going on and find the murderer. This decision could put not only her career, but her family and personal life at risk. 

I was hoping for something a bit different than my “normal” thriller when I received this copy of Black Wolf, and boy did I get it with this wonderfully written crime fiction noir. This novel grabbed me and pulled me in to the story from the very beginning, and I did not want to put it down. The writing is beautifully atmospheric, and although I’ve never been to Russia, I could picture everything vividly. The story is very much character driven, so thankfully the author does a wonderful job of writing complex and multifaceted characters. I enjoyed getting to know each of them and their stories, especially Natalya, who presented a wonderful strong female lead. This was exactly the gritty crime drama that I was looking for, and I enjoyed it immensely! This is the first of Abson’s books that I have read, but it is the second in this series. The first is Motherland, and you can bet that I will be picking that one up! 

This title releases on May 16. 

Many thanks to Mirror Books for the ARC! 

Small Kingdoms and Other Stories

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Author: Charlaine Harris

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Publisher: JABerwocky

Pages: 176

Anne DeWitt is not the kind of principal that one wants to cross. Before coming to Travis High she had quite a different job at a very different type of school, and a different name. That was before the incident, of course. She now has her new name, new job, new town, and new life- unless her old one catches up with her. Anne likes her new life, a lot in fact, and she’s willing to do anything to protect it… anything. She may have to put that resolve to the test when her past makes an appearance in her present. 

As a long time fan of Charlaine Harris’ work, I was very excited to receive her latest work for review, and I was not disappointed! This is a book of four short stories centered around Anne and another character (introduced in the first story) Holt, and their exploits under new identities and new lives. Both of the main characters are well developed the first story and continue to become more fleshed out as the stories continue on. The secondary characters that are introduced in each story are also interesting and well developed. These stories were very different from my favorite series’ of Harris’ (Midnight, Texas is one of my favorite trilogies!), but it is definitely written with her voice and style. While I certainly wouldn’t say that it is laugh out loud funny, there is some great snark and sass combined with a bit of dark humor from these characters that I found quite enjoyable. I truly didn’t want these stories to end, and hope that there are more to come from this world! 

Many thanks to JABerwocky for the ARC! 

This is out May 28! 

 

Here With You (Well Paired, Book 4)

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Author: Marianne Rice

Series: Well Paired

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Indie

Pages: 350

Grace has always been the wild one in the LeBlanc family. She lived in Europe, but has returned to Crystal Cove to try and escape the scandal she created there. She and her sister have not had the best relationship, but Grace is hoping that she can keep her mistakes and string of poor decisions from her. Brady has lived his life on his family’s blueberry farm, and took over running it when his father passed away. He never thought much of Grace LeBlanc and her wild ways, until his mother becomes ill and she comes to help. Will he still think that she is worth falling for when he discovers her secrets? 

This is the fourth installment in the Well Paired series by Marianne Rice, and I think that this may be my favorite on in this series so far. I love these two characters so much! Grace is beautifully flawed in a way that I think that most of us can understand and relate to, at least on some level. She’s trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. Brady is the stable, steady guy, who is trying to do all of the things that he needs to do in order to keep his family and his family’s business running. As they have been in all of Rice’s books that I have read thus far, the characters are well rounded and full. I went through the full range of emotions while reading this book, but in the end I was left feeling full and happy. I can’t wait to read what comes next from this author! 

Angry Betty (Kate Darby, Book 1)

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Author: Jamie Lee Scott

Series: Kate Darby

Genre: Mystery/Crime

Publisher: Indie

Pages: 270

Kate Darby grew up in foster care, as her mother was a drug addict and alcoholic. Although she grew up not trusting the police, she is now an officer in the small town of Peculiar, TX doing her best to keep her town safe. As she’s heading in to the end of what has, up until this point, been an uneventful shift, Kate attempts to stop a care for a minor traffic violation. Instead of stopping, the Mercedes takes off on her, leads her on a chase, flips, and the driver runs for it. If that weren’t bad enough, there’s a dead body in the trunk. Now Kate has to go to the reading of the will of a grandfather that she never knew existed before working this case with her rookie partner and her ex-husband (who’s also her Sergeant). No big deal, right? 

This is the first in a new series from Jamie Lee Scott, author of the Gotcha Detective Agency Mystery and Willa Friday Food & Wine Mystery series’. I always enjoy Jamie’s books, but this one was very different from her other works in a wonderful way. It was much darker and grittier, but definitely still has her voice. The characters are all incredibly well developed and fleshed out, including all of the secondary characters. They all had a great foundational story built in this first book, and the ending just left me wanting more! I can’t wait for the second book in the series, Bang Switch, which is coming this month!