Book Review: We Are 100 by Nathan Timmel

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

It’s the last day of June!
And it’s hump day!
And in celebration to the last book I squeezed into the first half of 2021, today’s post is a review that follows up on Monday’s spotlight for “We Are 100” by Nathan Timmel! A comedian, with some other previous books, this is his first fiction and I truly loved reading it! I mean, I was squealing when it ended.

And in true Esther fashion, I have a lot to say when I finish with books that dumps adrenaline and joy in my system. 

Book DescriptionCharacters
SummaryWriting and Writing Style
Overall FeelingFinal Thoughts
PacingQuotes
Chapter Length & ContentReview To-Go (Mini Review)
Writing NoteRating

Book Description

Title: We Are 100
Author: Nathan Timmel
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 247
Publisher: Red Oak Press
Genre: Fiction, Thriller > Mystery, Police Procedural
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. This does not influence my review and all opinions are fully my own.

Links:
Amazon
Goodreads
Author’s Website

CW/TW: Illness, death due to illness, sexism, death, murder, mentions of sexual abuse against children, mentions of rape, swear words, gun violence, mentions of racism

Blurb

After losing his wife, Evan Francart is depressed. He has an axe to grind with the pharmaceutical company that jacked up the price of her medications, but feels powerless against a billion-dollar corporation.Then he meets Cassandra.She shows Evan a way to both end his life and become a hero. With her guidance, Evan interrupts a company board meeting and blows the building sky-high.As FBI agents Susan Chamberlain and Michael Godwin discover, Evan is the first of many. Ninety-nine more like him wait anonymously in the wings, their targets just as personal as Evan’s: the prosecutor who lets rapists walk free, the inept surgeon who maims patients yet keeps operating, the phony evangelist preying on those seeking solace… and that’s just the beginning.Will the FBI unearth Cassandra’s identity before all 100 have carried out their plans?

“‘In life, you’re either the fucker, or the fuckee. Which one do you want to be?’ Susan decided she did want to be either. She wanted to be a protector; she wanted to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. Which made this case all the more interesting. Here, the wolves were being attacked by the sheep. Fuckees had decided enough was enough, and they were pushing back against the fuckers.”

Overall Feeling

The main story and plot of “We Are 100” revolves around revenge that centers on grief. We’re not talking about bullied kid setting up the ultimate middle school, teen Hollywood-movie-worthy, humiliation revenge against the school queen bee. Here we’re talking much bigger. People like those in high bank positions, big pharma, corrupt cops, lawyers, and doctors who are doing or have done things that ought to get them at least some time in jail, but they’re rich. And we know rich people hardly ever actually end up in jail.

So now, the 100 are taking action. 100 strangers, lured in, their grief weaponized, to perform one big final act; murder-suicide actions that will use the targets as examples to the world; You’ve gotten away from the law, you boast, and now justice is here. They’re here to set an example to all the other corrupt and greedy individuals of high society. They can no longer hide behind connections and money. Anyone can be a target and the lesson from each death is that only you can paint that target board on your own back.

This book was a crazy from the beginning. I finished the first chapter, nearly throwing down the book and running off. It was sheer adrenaline. I read it once, gasped, processed blankly at the wall, and then went back and read the entire first chapter again just to feel that same bundle of emotions because holy shit what a way to GO OUT

“The 1% were animals. Or, if not animals, maybe their wealth allowed them to act without care. They knew someone like Evan would tidy up after them.”

And it doesn’t stop there. We’ve got a website filled with photos that are blank, set to turn into videos per profile, within the hour of their deaths, explaining and confessing each of the 100’s deeds along with why they did it. Sure, there were a few deaths that were skimmed over, but towards the beginning, it was just death after death. Some of the murders were generic shootings and while others may be a tad bit more creative (very tall tower kind of creative). There was always something happening that left the team running around.

Now…two wrongs don’t make a right and honestly, the book addresses this. Sure, all of the victims pretty much deserved it (judges letting rapists go despite solid SOLID evidence, big pharma’s jacking up prices to unsurvivable amounts, pedophiles…) but like one of the characters mentioned, eventually even those who get away with the act (or played a part in why others got away with their acts) were going to be caught, it was just down to “matter of time.” However…for the entirety of the book, despite how much I loved the protagonist duo team (and the supporting team) I found myself cheering on the big bad hoping he could complete what he needed to do. 

Gotta say. I was very satisfied by the end.

Pacing

The pacing was pretty good. The start of this book came in and I was left in so much shock that I read the chapter twice and it’s not the only chapter I did so with. Things pick up and we’re left with the agents running around trying to gather clues because at this point, we don’t just have one serial killer, we have a highly intelligent leader (with the wherewithal to fund this operation) heading a bunch of common folks, under him, and with them all being strangers to one another, there’s no connection between them other than their collective grief stemming from being wronged by the high, rich and mighty people that were previously untouchable. 

And then it all tapers off towards the middle where I was starting to get a little bored.

Heck, this gets noted in the book too. Agent Susan asks the rookie, Agent Michael, if this is what he thought it’d [FBI work] be like and he answers that he knew it wasn’t going to be like how Hollywood makes cops and FBI out to be. There’s no constant door busting, fighting, high speed chases, and fire fights. A lot of the work? It’s interviews, investigations, chatting with others, interrogating whose already been caught (with perhaps a bit of negotiation skills sprinkled on top), and the such. So to go from a high rush to a “Time to interview and investigate anonymous hotlines” was a nice way to break up the sections and pacing. I mean, if there was adrenaline in every chapter, there’d be a mountain of dead bodies! So, with a handful of cool down chapters in between, it really helps.

When you’re going through it, reading it at that moment, it can get a bit slow; a little bit like when the rollercoaster suddenly stalls with a hisssss either at the bottom or peak of the ride. But when you’re all done, you appreciate that it gets a little boring in the middle, because it gives Susan and Michael a breather and that means it gives you, the reader, a breather. It spaces things out nicely and I liked it like that.

Chapter Length & Content

Not usually something I comment on, but I will say…with the average chapters (that I read) anywhere from 20-50 pages, these chapters fall a short on that mark and oh my god am I relieved. Sure, some chapters are like 5 pages but do you know how accomplishing it feels to say “I hammered through like 10 chapters today 😎”? It’s also easy to digest each chapter so that you’re summarized and processed by the time you hit the first line of the next one.

And they had TITLES!

Oh, how I’ve missed chapter titles…

I haven’t seen chapter titles in a while because I tend to read relatively the same books by the same authors who don’t use them and sure, a lot of the titles are short or very to-the-point like “Michael’s Moment”, but I love chapter titles because it gives you that 2 micro-seconds of a glimpse into the chapter.

The only single thing I was kind of disappointed in was that all the individual baddies and villains had their little chapters. There are chapters that explains their history and reason why they’re out to kill their specified victim and the maybe a few pages of them actually confronting the victims while they sit in shock (well probably confusing and paralyzing fear) but the big bad guy? The main bad guy? The main antagonist? His history is spread across multiple chapters so, I didn’t miss much there. But…I was really looking forward to really reading how he lured in his prey and wanted to see their reactions of “Oh shit, I’m one of the targets the news has been talking about.” 

However, I’m not too disappointed. While shorter than I had hoped (I expected his chapter to be far longer than the others’ because he’s the main antagonist) it’s not like Nathan glossed over the villain’s personalized chapter either. Therefore, my disappointment is kept to a minimum and I was still satisfied because I got the ending that I wanted and the main antagonists’ victims got what they deserved AND were awake and conscious to feel all of it.

Writing Side Note

I’m not a fan of info dumps. I try to tolerate them, whether they are traditional info dumps or dialogue dumps (I’ve read books where a character practically speaks for 7+ pages straight in order to explain history to another character [thus the audience and readers]), but generally, I don’t particularly care for it.

And there’s info dumps here and there in this book.
Strangely? I didn’t mind.
I called them “personalized chapters.” There was literally a whole chapter just dedicated to introducing Agent Susan Chamberlain to the readers (her history, why she chose FBI, etc.) and then another chapter doing the same for Agent Godwin (Michael). But, everything was short and I kind of enjoyed the writing so it didn’t really matter. They were info dumps…that didn’t feel like an info dump. I can’t explain it further than that.

And by the time I caught on that nearly all of the main pawns/villains were getting their OWN little background chapters, I was starting to enjoy it. It was part of how this book was going to go, because, for a lot of these 100’ers, you’ll only get to hear their tale in that one chapter and never again. It’s their story squished into a single chapter, a chance to hear their reasonings. A chance to make the world look at them like the heroes they believe themselves to be. 

So yeah, somehow, I didn’t mind the info dumps because it added to the charm of the story. It just fit into this particular book very nicely and the writing really patterns around those chapters. Strangely nicely done.

Characters

The characters were likeable, especially the main protagonists, Agent Chamberlain and Agent Michael, but I was kind of rooting for the villain and his 100’ers. I read a lot of mystery thrillers and crime books. I’m usually on the cop’s side because the bad guys are REALLY BAD GUYS, but all of the villains here are grieving and have been terribly wronged. All of their victims deserved some form of karma and I found myself unable to hate them for their actions.

I’m not condoning their actions nor their violence and definitely not condoning how the main antagonist was weaponizing grief (that’s how it’s stated) even if all of the entire operation was done for the better good and to teach a lesson to those who take advantage of people below them. However, I still rooted for them, the bad guys here, in a sorrowful way.

The protagonists? I liked Susan. She had her flaws and like any good human had her oversights. Sometimes, Michael had better ideas than her, despite being the senior office and Michael’s mentor. There was a scene where a cop was disrespecting her because of her gender and she practically flattens him with words. I don’t think that guy is ever going to recover from that…(I cheered though). 

Michael is a very smart fellow and his catchphrase is “Fair enough.” It’s his first major on-field case and damn, talk about first case man! It must be such an adrenaline rush as he makes his way in proving his worth to his team. He makes for a good teammate because, sure he’s a rookie, but he had his fair share of contribution and breakthroughs that helped catapult the case forward. He thinks outside the box and questions things that Susan or Sumner may have missed. There was a major moment where his lightning fast reflexes essentially saved the case from blowing up in their face, taking their only lead to the grave AND became a major turning point in the story too!

“Working with a new agent was like a first date, only with potential life-or-death consequences while in the field.”

The main villain is there to lead the other “We Are 100” members and he’s got the means to pull everything off too. He can be manipulative and even he acknowledges that there are moments where he pulled certain stunts that might’ve met the requirement of putting him on the chopping block in the same lanes as the victims. Still, he’s cunning and his entire plan is so thoroughly thought through that it makes my head spin. However, he’s got an ego and he enjoys toying with the agents even if he knows of the risks behind it all. 

Writing

Nathan’s a comedian and his quips, sarcasm, and little remarks show in the writing. One of the reasons I really enjoyed this book was because I enjoyed Nathan’s writing. He’s got good things to say about many things, especially those in high power or high wealth, that makes its way into the book because they’re relevant to the plot. His dialogues are pretty nice and I enjoy the little interactions between everyone. One of the things I really enjoyed was how he wrote all of his characters, especially the women in this book.

Emotions wise, I got my fair share of light tears, chills and handful of shocks (of course). There was the moment that the agents discovered the website with the blank profile pictures and a cold feeling ran down my spine (for the agents, because the blurb already gives away that there’s plenty of others out there). Think about it. You come to investigate one man’s crimes, perhaps he’s got about 1-5 accomplices tops, only to discover that there’s a potential of up to 100 total related cases, blank profiles staring like ticking time bombs…Can you image the sheer fear and horror of this discovery? 

Final Thoughts

I don’t think you need a final thoughts section to know that I really loved this book. I took it on because I gave the blurb a single look over and thought, “Oh hell no, I’m not missing this one.” The writing was entertaining and kept me going even when the plot slowed down during the investigation. The characters were well written with some decent interactions between themselves. Info dumbs didn’t feel like info dumps and lastly, I’m over here rooting for the wrong damn side. I had a great time these last few days with “We Are 100” so Nathan, don’t stop writing fiction! I hope you continue and come out with more because I’ll be right there to read your next one!

Quotes

“The internet was supposed to break down all the walls between people, and information. We were all supposed to get smarter, and this would usher in a new age of enlightenment. In reality, all the internet did was make it a thousand times easier for crazy people to meet and befriend one another.”

“People shared things online they would never share in person. There was a comfort in being alone with your computer in the middle of the night; the cold screen in front of you allowed you to type out thoughts you’d never verbalize. It was a better confessional than the Catholics had in their churches.”

Review To-Go

I really enjoyed this book. Right into the first chapter, we go from 0 to 100 really quick and it ends off in such a way that I had to stop and process what just happened. The adrenaline was dripping off me and I turned right back and ended up reading that chapter one more time just to experience it again. In Nathan Timmel’s first fiction novel, we follow the story of the sheep that fight back against the wolves that have set their paws on top of the common folk for long enough. Powerful people in powerful positions are falling one by one and their deaths are there to make an example to the world. You only paint your own targets is the theme that those in the “We Are 100” follow.

The writing is really good, even during moments that starts to slow down in between all the drama and adrenaline. The characters are likeable; both the good and all of the villains, and you find yourself sympathizing with the bad guys. With a good pace, short chapters, and well written storyline and characters, this book was a great read that was easy to digest. Emotions are strong from the beginning to the end and the book finishes off satisfyingly.

  • Pacing: The pacing was done nicely. It’s fast paced only slowed down, slightly, towards the middle as the investigation and “boring leg work” part of the job finally begins. When discoveries are made, the pace quickens again and you’re once again flying through.
  • Chapter Length & Content: With short chapters that have chapter titles, the length is really nice. It helps in processing each chapter when some are only 5-7 pages long.
  • Info Dumps: While there are info dumps, mostly background stories, it fits in nicely to this book. There’s a pattern to the format of how this story goes and eventually the individual “personalized chapters” feel like it’s simply part of the charm of the book.
  • Characters: Likeable characters on both the good and bad side. Dialogue is nice and I enjoy the interaction between the team members and the duo.
  • Writing: The writing is easy to process and digest and you can see pieces of Nathan’s comedy background sneak its way into his writing style. It’s quite unique and helped me through some of the slow parts. Funny note: Characters raise/furrow/wrinkle/etc. their eyebrows quite a lot. I counted 6 before I stopped 😂
5 Stars

Ultimate Blog Tour Book Review: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Title: Shards of Earth
Authors: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Length: 592
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Publisher: Tor ((Publishing May 27th, 2021))
Obtained: Ultimate Blog Tour > NetGalley
Disclaimer: A copy of this ebook was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Amazon: amazon.com/dp/B08HLPZY6X
Goodreads: goodreads.com/book/show/55437088-shards-of-earth

This read was part of the Ultimate Blog Tour for Shards of Earth hosted by Dave over at TheWriteReads. A major thank you to the publisher, Tor, and author for allowing me to participate in this tour and for providing me with a copy!


Praise for Adrian Tchaikovsky:

‘Brilliant science fiction’ – James McAvoy on Children of Time 
 
‘Full of sparkling, speculative invention’ – Stephen Baxter on The Doors of Eden 
 
Shards of Earth is the first thrilling instalment in the Final Architecture trilogy – by the Arthur C. Clarke award-winning novelist Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Blurb:

This high-stakes space-based adventure will be perfect for those who loved Children of Time, also by Adrian Tchaikovsky. 
 
The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . . 
 
Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers. 
 
Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete. 
 
Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it. 

Review Summary:

A fantastic and exhilarating space opera. The first book and the entry to the The Final Architecture trilogy, this book grabbed my attention quick and its claws didn’t let me go until the very last page where I sorrowfully craved for more. With a very deep and impressive layout of world and lore, there is so much to explore in Shards of Earth. Multiple different species, factions, religions and extremist groups within those factions, different worlds, different nations, armies and governing bodies, and so much more. The characters are fantastic; a galaxy left to throw different forms of small “found family” groups together; blood families a thing hard to hold down. This book was a book of nonstop adventure and trouble. While there’s the ever looming danger of the original destructive Architect, to add to the mix during present time, there are gangs, extremists and radical parties, cults, governing bodies, you name it. Idris and the rest of the Vulture God never get a chance to breath and thus, ensuring that the reader will not either.

You’ll pick this book up.

And you won’t put it back down.

Main Review:

Shards of Earth is the first book in the The Final Architecture trilogy. An exhilarating space opera, sci-fi, this first book did not fail me with its impressive lore, world, and nonstop action. There are so many different worlds, civilizations, species, and even different factions and religions amongst those said species. There’s different nations and armies. There’s species that barely manage to live together, their relationships held together by the threat of the Architects potential return or others that live and work together through lease contracts. The concept of blood families are few to find and rag tag groups like our main cast isn’t so uncommon. This book is everything and has everything; like a giant mega sundae with all the possible toppings and then some. Gummy bears, anyone?

The book starts out with a prologue, a bit of history introducing you to two of the main characters, Solace and Idris, a soldier and a navigator as they are set to confront the Architect before it destroys another planet, “beautifying” it, and others, by its own standard, reconstructing it to be the titular illustration’s signature bloom.

1 prologue and a few chapters in, I was already quickly drawn into the world. It’s immense and right off the bat, it feels like there’s already a million things thrown at you. I was overwhelmed, at first, with all the names of different species (and some species, the fragments of mankind, even had factions), different worlds, ship names and station names, nations and armies. To my joy, there’s a glossary towards the back along with a timeline of the events that take place before and after the first Architect attacks! I flipped to that part of the book a good deal during the first half of reading.

The cast was probably one of my favorite parts of the book; my favorite starting with Idris and then Solace following close by. Idris because I feel like he’s a cinnamon roll in need of protection and Solace because she’s like 10 levels of badassery (not to say the rest of the Vulture God were even remotely any less badass) There’s a small family kind of bond between the Vulture God crew. Everyone’s got their jobs to do and everyone plays a role on the ship. There’s a mixture of humans and nonhumans onboard from hivers to crab-like creatures. There’s no end to the diversity of the characters, main group or otherwise. 

And there’s no end to adventure, action, and trouble.

Because then there’s the antagonists of the story and it’s not just limited to the Architects; the moon sized behemoth of an entity that can restructure a planet. There’s different factions of men, radical and extremist groups, unwelcoming worlds, scary wildlife, and religious cults involved [and heck, throw in multiple different governments as well]; as if an end-of-the-world creature isn’t enough to worry about. The enemies here are just as well put together as the characters are. They’re relentless and terrifying and they’re strong. 

This book is action packed (and even then, it’s a bit of an understatement). There’s plenty of things happening and I feel like the crew (and thus the readers) just never get a chance to breath. The plot is never too slow or too quick. If there’s a fight, you will really be looking at a fight! There’s pages and pages of action and even running. At the end of the day, it’s not even about who wins anymore. It’s about who survives.

The beginning of the book is a bit slower than the latter half because it’s mostly setting up the stage. We get to know the history of Idris, we get to see how the crew goes about their lives on their usual jobs doing what spacers do in space, and then towards the middle things start to happen and everything picks up. By the time the last few scenes hit, my jaws have already dropped and I didn’t close them or the book until I reached the last page. 

By the time the beginning slowly reeled you in and captivated you, grabbing at your attention bit by bit, you’re stuck and it’s only a tall roller coaster drop from there and on. The action and the events Just. Don’t. Stop. It keeps going and going until you’re frantically flipping through. There’s no break for Idris and his gang so there’s no break for you. Might as well grab another cup of tea and keep reading. Who cares if you have to wake up early for work tomorrow? 

It’s the first time I’ve ever read any Tchaikovsky books and as someone who grew up not particularly enjoying space opera (in films/movies) I wasn’t expecting to love this book. I only went in because I was starting to become buddy buddy with one of my new favorite genres, sci-fi. As it turns out, it’s an adventure like none other. I’ll definitely be checking out his other works as I eagerly await the next part of this tale because as soon as that comes, I’m jumping into that ship. 

If you love sci-fi with multiple species, behemoth entities that humans have no possible chance against, intergalactic life, space battles (and cool space guns) and ships going through another dimension/space to fast travel, and a little lot bit of politics thrown in, you’ll absolutely eat through this book. 

A great first space opera for me! 5 cups of Joe from me!

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

5 Stars

About the Author

((from http://shadowsoftheapt.com/about-the-author ))

Adrian Tchaikovsky is the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, from the first volume, Empire In Black and Gold in 2008 to the final book, Seal of the Worm, in 2014, with a new series and a standalone science fiction novel scheduled for 2015. He has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and a British Fantasy Society Award. In civilian life he is a lawyer, gamer and amateur entomologist. 

Dragma’s Keep [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

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It’s been a year (and then some) since my last fantasy book (looking at my 2020 Goodreads challenge, the closest I came to fantasy were probably a sci-fi and a steampunk book).

And then Booktasters contacted and connected me with Vance Pumphrey and so…let’s raise a mug to the first fantasy book I’ve read (let alone reviewed) in over a year! HOOHAA!

Thank you to Booktasters and Vance Pumphrey for letting me read a free copy of this book. All opinions are fair, honest, and are my own.

Book Name: Dragma’s Keep
Author: Vance Pumphrey
Series: Valdaar’s Fist Book: 1
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (EPUB converted to MOBI)
Pages: 348 (Kindle), 276 (Paperback)
Genre: Fantasy > Dungeons & Dragon

Goodreads Blurb:

Valdaar’s Fist. Forged by mortals. Enchanted by Drow. Wielded by a god. Lost by man. Or was it?
A band of unlikely adventurers embark upon an epic quest in this first book in a four-part series, battling minotaurs, demons, orcs, and wraiths—and occasionally themselves.
Surely they must prevail…because the very balance of power in the land requires it.
In Dragma’s Keep, Vance Pumphrey weaves a lyrical and magical tapestry that sets the stage and whets the appetite for the next adventurous fantasies that comprise his Valdaar’s Fist series.
Vance Pumphrey traces the evolution of his high fantasy novels from his Nuclear Engineering career in the U.S. Navy—not an obvious leap. He started playing Dungeons and Dragons in the Navy, though, and the inspiration for Dragma’s Keep was born.
Dragma’s Keep is the first in the Valdaar’s Fist quartet. A second series follows soon.
Retired from the Navy, Pumphrey lives in Seattle with his wife of thirty-plus years.
To find out when the next Valdaar’s Fist book will be released, check out VancePumphrey.com.

Thoughts and Opinions:

At the time I picked this book, I was (still am) obsessed with Vindictus, a MMORPG. I spent the last two-ish years on Dragon’s Dogma, and most of my life playing and following the Fire Emblem series. Fantasy games are still very fresh in my mind and thus, of course, along with the craving for books emulating the feelings I get from playing them. To be able to get all of that on paper had me over the moon.

The inspiration for Dragma’s Keep came from Dungeons and Dragons and while I’ve never participated in a session, some of my friends do and so it’s not too foreign to me. Nevertheless, any references I make in this review will end up referencing fantasy games because that’s what I’m more familiar with.

Writing Style

As the book version of the annoying movie watching commentator, there were a handful of things that came to mind when reading the book, starting with the language and writing style. There’s nothing that’s grammatically incorrect or misspelled (not that I see) and the language is a lot like some of the other fantasies I’ve read (a bit leaning towards Middle Age/Medieval rather than modern English in maybe something like an urban fantasy).

Phrases like “fly true” and “yet live” more than peppers the book. However, I had no issues digesting what I was reading. Which is pretty swell considering how often I tend to scrunch my brows and reread (over and over) pages in fantasies because I’m trying to figure out what the sentence is trying to say! Here, there was no need for my brain to dance around the same paragraph. Everything was easy to read and easy to follow.

The dialogue is golden. I could complain all I want about how I was starting to get annoyed with all the bickering over pointless things, but if a parent can handle their kids screaming at each other, I can handle these characters. There’s humor everywhere, mostly in the dialogues, and the interaction between characters was eye rollingly annoying sometimes… but it grows on you and their little fights becomes part of the group’s charm.

Characters

The team is a pretty diverse party in terms of age (?), gender and race (with the exception that there’s only 1 female and she’s a healer. I play a female axe wielder in games and look forward to the day I see that on paper😉). It’s fun to acknowledge the group as a party versus a “team” because we’re talking about a DnD styled setting and world here! I enjoy all of the characters, some more than others. 

There is Sordaak, a slight framed mage hidden under his voluminous robe who has the temper of a dragon woken up too early from his slumber. He’s snappy. I’m talking about “Don’t talk to me unless my coffee is in” snappy. But that’s not to say the rest of the group isn’t a bit snappish themselves! There are times where I rolled my eyes because “Oh boy, another petty argument”.

But…I guess being a little overly snappish isn’t the worst thing that could happen amongst a band of strangers that just met like a day or week ago. And in their dungeon situation where you’re walking into battle after battle with minimal rest in between, I guess it’s excused. Team dynamics of “siblings fight but still protect each other’s back (with their own lives)” ya know?

Sordaak meets a thief named Savinhands (Savin or “Thumbs”) who insists he’s a rogue and not just a mere thief. He’s also a cinnamon roll who needs to be protected because he’s precious. Handy with his lockpicking skills, he’s more resilient than any thief I’ve ever played.

There is also Thrinndor (occasionally “Thrinn”) who is a fighter (Paladin) and his buddy, a dwarf named Vorgath Shieldsunder, “son of Morroth of the Dragaar Clan of the Silver Hill” (say that fast 5 times). And then lastly, in comes Cyrillis, a cleric who isn’t afraid to dish out a few blows, herself. Anyone playing Fire Emblem knows that clerics don’t generally enter the fight meaning she’s like gold to the team. A cleric that doesn’t need a body guard 24/7? I’ll take it! Her tongue and glares work just as well as her staff towards enemy and friends alike.

Party Dynamics

The party dynamic is interesting.

These people are total strangers to one another (save for Thrinn and Vorgath who do have a bit of history).

(*Inhale*) Sordaak meets Savin when the latter was gambling at a local tavern and through some circumstances stemming from Sordaak’s part, the two end up high tailing out of town together and eventually manage to convince a hell-bent-on-killing-them paladin to join them on a little adventure (in exchange for their lives) so our little paly agrees, roping in his dwarf buddy to join in on the fun and the four merrily go off, bumping into and aiding a sister in need of help who becomes the team’s healer. (*Exhale*)

Sounds DnD and game-like enough to have such a diverse party of people just thrown together for the sake of treasure and adventuring, right? The team’s faith is different in the beginning too (faith here plays a HUUGE role) There’s borderline atheism, there are people who follow Praxaar and then those that follow Valdaar. Yet, merely a few pages in, they go from strangers to I will protect my party members’ life with my own if it needs be. While sure, the party’s health is a necessity for your own survival, the end goal was treasure and deep friendship wasn’t something I really expected (not complaining). There’s tension. There’s bickering. There’s poking fun. But it’s all in a merry way and nobody holds grudges against one another. Again. They met like a week or two ago by the time they started their adventure. They’re now stuck with each other, like it or not. Might as well make the best of it, yeah?

The lore is pretty nice too. It’s consistent, it’s everywhere, and plays a massive part in the plot. (IIRC) Praxaar and his twin brother Valdaar are (were) Dwarves before they became Gods. The introduction chapter gives you a quick background to the lore and is written as if it was an old historical tome. The impressions from that chapter are a bit warped because history is written by the victor, which is honestly really neat. You’ll find out why later. 

Pacing

The pace of the book is quick. It’s so fast you could hear the NASCAR vehicles slowing down next to you. We have a mage who bumps into a thief who runs away together and bumps into a paladin, who has a buddy who’s a dwarf, and the four go adventuring for a secret (and rumored to be long gone) keep in the middle of bloody nowhere that holds treasure. They bump into a cleric and they do a whhhollee lot of fighting and reach the big bad boss. It’s a single dungeon run with multiple mini bosses, individual area skirmishes, that leads up to the final boss that ends the one dungeon run. Pumphrey loves his action. It’s no DnD and RPG game without the constant swinging of swords. There’s so much fighting that even the cleric and mage runs out of spell “juice” and need a bit of recharge before moving on.

Action? No shortage of it. Promise!

And no one is invincible! I fear for this party’s brain cells for the amount of times someone has been knocked unconscious. The meat-shields (as Sordaak affectionately calls the Paladin and Berserker) can dish out a beating and can take it too, but it doesn’t prevent them from being overwhelmed. Mages can friendly fire themselves and their teammates with area of effect (AoE) spells (I never thought I’d see those words outside a game).

There are occasionally info dumps. I’m not usually a fan of info dumps and there was literally an entire chapter where everyone just dumped their backstories with each other “let’s sit in a circle and share something about yourself, first day of school” style. Not my thing but I was pretty amused by it since even Vorgath himself 4th walled the situation (just a bit) by calling Sordaak a “wordy sumbitch.”

Overall Thoughts:

I’ll be thinking about this one for days. It just tickled me in all the right places. Sure, I’ve never played DnD myself, but the writing style and plot was close enough to all the fantasy games I play that most of everything was relatable anyways. There are certain creatures I had to look up like Sordaak’s familiar (a quasit), but being that it was based on and inspired by what already exists, it was really nice to know a visual is only a Google search away!

I quite enjoyed the pace. It’s a dungeon crawl, albeit a longer dungeon with multiple battles. Yet, at the end of the day, it was a single dungeon so the adventure was sadly quickly over. Fear not! It’s only book one and the group intends to continue to travel together because that’s what a good party does. I was elated every single time I came across any gaming term. I loved the group dynamic and humor. I slightly anticipated the ending, but it was written well enough to incite strong emotions in me (a knotted stomach twisty kind of uncertainty…but not fear!)

I loved this book and when I set aside a little more time in my schedule, I truly can’t wait to continue adventuring with this gang of random people thrown together by fate. If you like fantasy gaming or Dungeons and Dragons (the latter especially as it inspired the book), I definitely recommend giving this book and series a try. 

Language & Writing Style: Fantasy and Medieval style of language though it is easy to digest and easy to read. You don’t know how much relief that brings me. I tend to get stuck rereading and not understanding when text is too flowery. Occasional info dump. Terms like AoE (area of effect) and meat-shield tickled me because I never thought I’d ever see those words outside of gaming let alone in a book!

Dialogue is golden and a huge part of why I enjoyed the book.

The Characters & Party Dynamic: The characters are likeable but occasionally got on my nerves how much they bickered over very petty and pointless things. Just minor things that kick up upon traveling and constantly nearly dying together. I think it’s this mix of love-hate feeling that I have towards their fighting that makes it fun and impressionable. There’s a paladin, mage, thief, and healer (all humans) and a berserker (dwarf). Diverse in gender (though there’s only 1 female), fighting class, age, and race/species, they make for an odd but very fantasy RPG fitting group.

Everyone’s spirit animal here is a snapping turtle.

Pace: Fast. It’s a single dungeon crawl with multiple skirmishes and mini bosses that leads to a final boss. There’s plenty (I mean PLENTY) of fight scenes to enjoy. 

There’s no shortage of action scenes.

Quotes:

“Yeah, well,” began the mage. “Occasionally those of us of superior intellect—”
“But—” interrupted Vorgath.
“Zip it, meat shield!” snapped the caster.

“That staff,” explained the dwarf. “If she were to smack me in the nuts like that with that thing, they’d rattle around down there for a week!”

“Thieves do not trust thieves,” he said. “Especially those within our own guild.”

5 Stars

The Hands We’re Given [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: The Hands We’re Given
Author: O.E. Tearmann
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle
Pages: 428
Genre: Science Fiction > Cyberpunk, LGBT, Romance > MM Romance, Dystopia, Fiction, Military Fiction

There’s graphic sex scenes in this book. (The author even provided a warning at the beginning of the book and I’m happily surprised. Kind of wish more authors did this and more books came with warnings.)

Cover from GR. Find the book’s page >HERE<

I came across the book during my search for some cyberpunk reads (right around the time Cyberpunk 2077 was released). It sounded interesting and dystopian enough and with a ragtag team trope, the “Holy shit I sorta kinda don’t know how I landed myself into a commander position” main character, the themes around LGBTQA+, and the joker/ace/cards vibe, I was ready for a good time; sort of like…the many cherries on top.

Summary

It’s 2155 and America has completely changed. Gone are the days where we had political parties; Corporate America (named the United Corporations of America) runs the show now. 

Our team is a base for a group called the Democratic State Force, whose mission is to fight back against the Corporation and the dystopic hell they’ve given birth to. Base 1407 is unlike any of the other bases. They stand out and have quite the reputation that sets them apart. Named the Wildcards, their records are peppered with disciplinary write-ups. But it’s not just this behavior and attitude of theirs that leads to them having as insane of a reputation as they do. They had, in the past two years, 198 successful mission whereas the average per base was around 75 successful missions in that same given period. They were effective. They were good at their job. VERY good.

But after Commander Taylor passes away, they haven’t been on their game and have already run out two seasoned commanders off their base. It’s Aidan’s job to get them back on the mission. With their increase in disciplinary write-ups lately, the sector is threatening to disband them if Aidan fails to get them back into shape. One last commander, one last chance for the Wildcards. 

According to rumor, the Wildcards had been unstoppable. The stories about missions they’d pulled off, executives they’d disgraced by outing information to the Net, and things they’d invented were legendary. The base had been insane in their success record until the commander who had led them had developed bone cancer. No one had been able to supply the base with the right treatments. In the six months before the man’s death, everything in the unit’s record had gone to shit.

Tearmann, O. E.. The Hands We’re Given (Aces High, Jokers Wild Book 1) (pp. 15-16). Amphibian Press. Kindle Edition. 

The last two commanders to replace Taylor had been complete assholes who nearly worked the team to death. When Aidan first joins, the Wildcards are not pleased. Some are already planning on how to get this one to high tail out of their base; pranks and snippy greetings included. They don’t trust him in the slightest and Aidan? He doesn’t want to be there. They have enough of a reputation to scare him even before his first day at work and it truly is his FIRST day at work. He’s straight out of commander training and he would rather be anywhere but at the head of a terrifying base that two other “seasoned” commanders couldn’t even handle.

Review

The characters are very interesting and each have their unique personalities and roles to the team. Every team member is a tailor fit to what the base needs and losing any of the Wildcards would be a devastating blow to the base. Aidan is our commander who is struggling with his transition from female to male (physically: his lack of resources to acquire the surgeries he needs and mentally: his previous confidant had let his secret slip and it ended up horribly). He’s got horrible anxiety and occasionally questions himself on his role and competence as a leader. But honestly, this makes sense. He’s fresh out of training and has never commanded any other bases before. The Wildcard is a wild place to start your commanding and leadership career so naturally Aidan has his fear.

Worldbuilding is done nicely here too. You get small glimpses of a future run by corporations that fall together to form the portrait of the “What Could Be” of America being run by megacorps rather than political parties. In this future, genetic manipulation is the norm. You either come perfect and on the Corps’ side, or you’re not, and good as dead or worse, be an enemy of the Corps. 

The bases are located just outside the Corp zones; close enough for them to act on their missions and for supply stock ups but far away enough to stay hidden from the watchful eyes of the Corporation. Life on the outside is tough but when it comes to fighting, there isn’t much of it.

I love the characters. I love Aidan because I could relate to his work anxieties. I loved Kevin for collections of things considered antiques in this future (including old films, movies, music and even outdated WORDS.) In this time and period, certain words are so outdated, they’re considered antiques and people might give you a weird or confused look for using them like. Quixotic? Sovereignty? What the heck are those?? I think one of my favorite things about this book were all the words that people didn’t know because they were “antiquated words.” I wish I took better notes on this book for every word Kevin used that he got blank faces in return for. It really shows the passage of time when certain words we might use today falls out of use by 2155.

And then you have the other smaller things that sets that world apart from ours. Corrective eye surgery is normal. You don’t even have to be a rich Corp to fix your vision problems. Even as a Duster, you get weird looks for having glasses. Why risk being a liability when glasses get blown off your face, while running and hiding, when you can permanently fix vision issues? Aidan has a holograph of his sister on a tablet that he consults for his anxiety or for personal advice. Sure it feels a bit more like the colder and more soulless version of your deceased friends and family…but they’re programmed to be as close to their original personalities as possible (I would like one please). This world is rich with new things and the differences between what you can access on and off the grid is very notifiable. What you might be able to easily get on grid could potentially cost you your life out in the Dust.

This book did not disappoint me. The characters are complex and the relationships are complicated. Characters can be flawed. People get angry and they might stop talking to each other (to a given extent; cold shouldering isn’t exactly a safe way to go about when teamwork and cooperation is a 110% necessity for survival sake). They make up and sit through problems together. They grow with each other. New friendships are made as characters, who hated each other in the beginning, learn to understand the other. This book taught me that not every military fiction needs to run on guns and combat. Sometimes, stealth and running away is how you win a fight. It’s not about engaging with the enemy, it’s about living another day for the sake of your base! Actions, even if done in the interest of others, can result in an entire base’s collapse.. You have to think for yourself and your base for every action you decide upon.

Tearmann paints a rich world, even if it’s no longer so bright. I just kind of wish there was a glossary for all the new terms in this book. They insult each other with the word Gamma! Like… “You gamma dipshit”, “You gamma bastard”, “That gamma piece of garbage” 110% amusing. Love it.

I savored the little pieces scattered everywhere through the book. There were so many small moments that really made this an enjoyable read (such as the “old” words or “pre-dissolution aged music”). I loved the depth of the characters and their growths. I loved the descriptions of the Corporate world and the Dusters. O.E. Tearmann did a great job with this book and a fantastic job tackling many different topics. This is only a glimpse of the major antagonist. Book 1 sets the premise and introduces the reader to what’s to come. An exciting start to the Aces High, Jokers Wild series.

“NatBank buys us and ZonCom sells. 
ArgusCo tells us where we dwell. 
TechCo owns what we read and play. 
AgCo decides what we eat today. 
EagleCorp tells us to obey. 
Cavanaugh drugs us to make us well. 
But one day we’ll ring the Liberty Bell. 
And then all the Corps will go to Hell.”

Tearmann, O. E.. The Hands We’re Given (Aces High, Jokers Wild Book 1) (p. 79). Amphibian Press. Kindle Edition. 

Mordecai’s Ashes [Book Review]

2021, Book Reviews, By Year


Book Name: Mordecai’s Ashes
Series: Larsson Investigations Book: 1
Author: Arlana Crane
Book Type: Physical > Paperback
Pages: 350
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Suspense

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me, by the author, in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions in this review are of my own.

A big thank you to Arlana for sending me a copy!

Trigger Warnings and Content Warnings: Drugs, mention of drug related death, death, blood and gore, violence, guns

When I received it, I was obsessed over the cover. The combination of the raindrops and color choices made for a beautiful cover! It wraps around to the back of the book too!
The PI field is worlds away from his old job!

His wife has left him and he’s out of a job, luck isn’t on Karl Larsson’s side and it doesn’t look like it’s picking up anytime soon either. He’s distant from his family aside from his sister who, while being a bit naggy, is halfway across the globe and still makes sure to check in on him from time to time. Even if her calls can occasionally be a little bit condescending, Karl still favors her as his favorite sibling, because after all, it’s either Tilly (Matilda) or his two brothers and he much rather a call from her than a call from either Jakob or Liam.

Having his life rolled downhill and currently living in the valley of it all, his future didn’t seem promising…at least until he suddenly inherits his grandfather’s detective agency from his aunt Matilda’s will. He’s shocked, because he doesn’t even know his grandfather! 

But it was either this agency or working in Liam’s trucking business and Karl would rather eat a hornet’s nest than do that! Besides, it seemed interesting enough, even if he has no experience as a PI. With his previous job as an oil worker at the rigs, the detective world is a brand new world to him. His only resources are the file cabinets of records, invoices, procedures and processes, clients and contacts left over from the business’s previous owner. Now, at 27, Karl Larsson is the new owner of Abrams Investigations.

Taking on small cases initially (tracking down ex-partners gone poof with delinquent child-support payments and background checks), he later on hires his cousin, Kelsey, to help with the business. It’s just the two of them taking on small case after small case until he is hired by an old acquaintance and client of his grandfather to take a look at a drug smuggling case. With the matter being quite personal to his new client, Karl is both intrigued and excited, his first big job!

It’s not until shit hits the fan does Karl learn that he’s in way over his head, but at that point, he’s in too deep! With no options in backing out of this, it’s either forward or die!

Review

Engaging with solid characters, I found myself flying through the book. This book takes off right away. There’s no dilly-dalling on how Karl inherits Abrams Investigations. He’s on a call with Tilly to accompany his mother to the lawyer to discuss Matilda’s will and bam, our MC goes from broke, jobless, and living in his sister’s apartment to the owner of a business.

The family in the book consists of Karl’s mother, who comes off as kind of cold to me(?), Karl’s sister Matilda (or Tilly), and his brothers Liam and Jakob. There’s also Aunt Matilda (Tilly’s namesake) who has recently passed and then there’s Mordecai, Karl’s grandfather who he’s never met, the previous owner of Abrams Investigations. With all of Karl’s siblings being pretty successful people (Jakob being a commercial real estate broker, Liam with his trucking business, and Tilly halfway through her 2-year teaching contract (teaching English in Beijing), Karl’s the odd duckling out after losing his job and wife. He’s pretty estranged with his family with the sole exception of Tilly and even she’s barely making it. 

There’s always some form of obligatory love interest in these kind of books and when Karl’s cousin, Kelsey, is introduced as the main supporting female character, let me tell you the joy I felt…! Sure, nothing’s wrong with romance, but sometimes books that don’t need romance just always has that one love interest that always leads to that (minimum) one kiss scene. It’s refreshing. And speaking of Kelsey…

Smart as a whip, she is Karl’s younger cousin. While they haven’t really spoken in the last few years (her introduction scene is a whole “dang you grew!” “Well yeah I not 12 anymore, cuz 😒 ” moment), she is also one of the few that he’s always enjoyed being around besides Tilly. She helps him tend the office and hold down the fort when he’s away on jobs and is Karl’s brain to his drug-ring busting case. Her help was crucial early and Karl wouldn’t have made it as far without her. I really enjoyed her character.

Karl’s character is also written very well and you can see the pasture in him when trying to picture how green he is at this new job. He’s an ex-oiler worker and everyone in the family expects him to sell the business right away so that he can make enough profit to sustain him in his current down-on-luck situation. When he takes interest in Abrams, everyone, including Tilly, doesn’t expect him to make it far. The phrase “playing detective” is thrown around a lot as Karl not only struggles to understand PI work and keep the business going, but now he has to prove to his family that he means it when he said he was taking over. There are moments where I argued out loud with Karl because of something he did that was incredibly risky…but he doesn’t know better. He doesn’t have the mindset or caution of a man with years of detective experience. How could I be mad?

The other minor characters all have quite a bit life to them as well, even if some only get a flash moment in the book. You sort of get to know about Mordecai as Karl goes through past clients and cases (as well as from friends and family). You get to know Karl’s brothers who come off as very “All business, no need for friends” people. You meet Mordecai’s old friends, the downstairs bookshop owner, Percy, and his old client (and also friend) the reporter John Fullerton who is responsible for Karl’s first big case. John’s interest in this case is so passionate and this case is so personal to him, you just want to keep reading to see the reason behind the hatred.. There are plenty of other characters and some are a bit shady; you can easily tell who seems to be the bad guy in this book. Even as sketchy as they are, they’re written in a way that makes you feel almost sorry for them (ALMOST). 

Besides the characters, the writing itself is also done nicely. Engaging, engrossing and captivating, the writing in this book is smooth. The words flow well and it’s easy to read. The plot is great as well. We waste no time in how Karl receives the business and it goes straight to business as he learns to run Abrams. While it does slow down (just a little bit) after he takes over, it’s mostly because he’s taking on mostly only small cases as he learns the rope of the detective role. It’s not long before we get to the big-juicy steak of the story. Even the slow moments are filled with getting to know characters. After all, you have to show the readers that Karl is new and it’s a pretty big leap from small delinquent payors and background checks to a major high-risk drug smuggling case (with, mind you, no supervisor to seek tips and help from…only…only cabinets of old files, his cousin and his wits to guide him).

After Karl takes on the drug case, the plot gets intense. It’s truly a “hold your breath” moment then because Karl is really in it and there’s no turning back from it.

My last few mystery thrillers have all been police procedural and the MCs are generally part of the state or government. It’s been a while since I read a PI book and the dangers of the job really shows (not that being a cop is any more or less dangerous). However, as a PI and with Karl not fully knowing the law, he takes major risks and he goes in alone with only his cousin knowing where he might be. There’s no reporting to an upper supervisor. There’s no “I need back up!” It’s Karl alone out there and Kelsey alone to direct him. Both are untrained and new to the profession and it adds to the thrill and danger factor. 

A great book that is full of thrilling moments, you sit there in fear with Karl as he investigates this case. There are bar scenes and stealth scenes, there are scary moments and then there are head-thrown-back laughing moments. An enjoyable and smooth read, this book has well written characters and an engaging plot full of tension and breath holding moments. There’s a major twist in the end that I absolutely got a kick out of.

A great read, I give this book 5 cozy cups of coffee!

The Milan Job by Krista Cagg Blog Tour – Excerpt and Review

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Happy Sunday!! Today is my stop for the Milan Job Blog Tour by Psst Promotions! Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in my very first blog tour. I had a blast of a time reading this and putting together this post.

For this tour, I’ll be sharing an excerpt and my review of the book!


Meet Captain Alexandria de Sade, the proud and once loyal captain of Naviwerks chrono-ship #25.
When she learned the truth about how the company was fleecing their customers she turned her back on the promotion they offered her, left the man she loved without a word, and disappeared with her ship.

With a plan in mind to undermine Naviwerks’ business of artifact and heirloom retrieval, Captain Alex hired on several like-minded misfits to crew her chrono-ship which she re-christened The William’s Hunt. They are: An awkward but genius Horotech, an irascible ex-marine, a flamboyant playboy, a churlish physician, and a hot-shot pilot.

Their first venture: go to Milan, Italy 1490 and retrieve the working model of Leonardo da Vinci’s Gran Cavallo before Naviwerks does. What should have been a simple snatch and run mission for the newly formed band of pirates goes south nearly immediately. In their struggle to recover, they learn that there is much more behind Naviwerks’ actions. Captain Alex and the crew of The William’s Hunt are the only ones that stand a chance of putting things right, and it seems as if her crew’s every step takes them deeper and deeper into discovering just how nefarious Naviwerks truly is.


Print Length: 203 pages
Publisher: Corrugated Sky Publishing, LLC (January 18, 2020)
Publication Date: January 18, 2020
Language: English
ASIN: B083VQV8SR
ISBN10: 1950903141
ISBN13: 978-1950903146
Buy it now on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ybh2xekw

Excerpt:

Agent Nash was crouched amongst some scrub on the side of a hill that overlooked the walls of Milan. It was mid-morning when they arrived. He had watched them come down the road in the cart then had shifted his position to one knee. With well-practiced movements, he removed from the sack beside him pieces of a rifle to assemble. All the while he kept his eyes on the target. Line of sight was perfect, but from this distance his point of interest was unclear. With steady motions the rifle clicked together piece by piece as the cart drew closer to his position. 

The final piece to fit into place was the tubular sighting apparatus. He polished the magnifying glass on the end with a soft piece of chamois, and then put the rifle butt to his shoulder so he could peer through the sight. Some might find the motion of the world through the lens nauseating, but it didn’t affect Nash as he swung the rifle from side to side until the passengers of the cart came into view.

He observed them for a few moments. Anger welled up within him to see them, the traitors. Other similar emotions tried to join that sentiment, but the neural therapy worked within his brain and suppressed them, as it was designed to do. Nash hadn’t even noticed the adjustments. He simply made use of the focus that remained to load a plasma cartridge into the rifle. He would need only one.

He returned the rifle to his shoulder as he shifted his crouch to allow for recoil, and then he brought his target into view through the lens. He took a moment to admire her. Even Naviwerks and their nanotechnology couldn’t eliminate basic human behavior, and she was certainly worth a second look. But that didn’t change the fact that she was a renegade, a thief, and would-be pirate. His orders were clear.

His finger slid through the trigger guard and curled around the small metal arm as he took aim. “Hello, Alex.”

BLAM!

Review:

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

For a while now, I’ve been searching for a good Steampunk book. There’s probably a couple in my TBR list, but I never actually got around to reading any of them. So, when I was sent an email about a blog tour featuring Steampunk, floating ships, strong female characters, time travel, and pirates that have a better moral compass than the antagonists (the “good guys” of the world)…yeah! I was picking it up!

What really caught my attention was Captain Alexandria de Sade. She sounded like a badass Captain, leaving her old employment and stealing an entire ship on her way out! She sounded cool and I’m all for a cool female protagonist especially one that’s now a pirate!

The great monopoly of a company, Naviwerk, is known to make generous contribution to mankind and history by using time travel to retrieve long lost artifacts, antiques, and family heirlooms for their clients; families and museums. They are quite successful in their business…a product of charging these families and museums insane prices for turning over those artifacts that they retrieved from history. Big corrupted businesses do not fly well with Alex and she refuses a promotion before leaving the company, stealing one of Naviwerk’s chrono-ships on her way out!

The book, The Milan Job, is a compilation of five shorts, episodes, written by Krista Cagg and starts off with the introduction of the former hopelessly unemployed Laurence Kane on the first day of his job. He’s quickly picked up by Nigel Wellington III (the historian) to board the chrono-ship. Laurence eventually meets the rest of the crew: the scary and quick to anger ex-marine turned security officer, Gerald (Geri) Reynolds, the crew’s not quite friendly doctor, Abraham Hennessey, the Pilot, Angelica (Angel) Flynn, and of course Captain Alexandria de Sade.

Third person is my favorite POV and, naturally, I come across a good deal of them, but this is probably my first experience with an omniscient third person POV (and I had to look it up) where there’s more of an overseer to the story and not just to a limited single character’s thoughts or actions. The first time I caught on to this was when, during his tour of the ship, Laurence noticed the lack of luxurious seating that he might have expected to find in the ship’s dining hall, which was decorated to be suitable for even nobility. This comes up again when the reader spends a little time, in the following chapter, with Angel and Alex having a private conversation and this line pops up as the narrator goes to describe Alex’s chair:

“Here were the plush accommodations Mr. Kane had expected in the mess hall.”

It was just something interesting to note upon (at least…it is for someone, like me, whose has never read anything but limited perspective 3rd POVs).

Overall, I enjoyed the book! It was a pleasant and a quick read and while you might have tons of questions by the end of the book, you’re never left stranded without a life jacket here. World building and technical terms of horotechnology, chronotechnology, and time travel is well explained in this book. There is a lot of detail and I really mean…there’s a lot of detail. On one hand, I loved the details because…guess whose never lost?? On the other hand, there are readers that may find this as a turn off.

Not only is the technology well described here, but it includes every single little detail you would need to completely picture the scene, from the details of Alex’s chair (the finishes, the type of wood, the pattern of the etchings) down to Nigel’s fingernails (which Laurence noted to be well-manicured). It’s amazing the level of detail being placed here. For me, I didn’t mind it but it’s something to note on. This was my first steampunk and while I have a good grasp on what cyberpunk might look like, I struggled to picture the chrono-ship because it’s just…so out of my imagination’s grasp.

The crew is a ragtag bunch with only the best of the best (and did I mention ragtag groups are one of my favorite troupes?). We have a comical playboy of a historian and a grumbling retired (but caring) physician. Laurence, I especially liked. I have a soft spot for the poor socially awkward lad. He reminds me so much of myself on my first day on any new job, bumbling, anxious and awkward, and tripping over his own clumsy thoughts. An unrecognized genius, who previously couldn’t find any employment, Laurence is the newbie to the crew and he’s trying his best to see where he fits his personality and talents into this group of people who seem to all already know each other (anyone new to a previously established friend group can relate). Angel knows her stuff as a pilot (a “hot shot pilot” even better at flying ships than Alex) and when I first met Alex, I fell in love. She was calm and cold; she was so cool (I literally said that out loud to myself). She just exuded a commanding vibe.

The pros and cons:

What I loved about this book was the storyline. We’re talking about time travel via a ship that runs off steam, electricity and stimulated atoms. We’re talking about pirates who have a moral compass better than the “big generous corporation that provides historical contributions to museums and retrieve lost antiques and heirlooms to families.” We’re talking about a cool captain with her handpicked and talented ragtag bunch of crew-members. We’re talking about big corrupt corporations. We’re talking about steampunk…all in one book.

I loved that the gang is small. This book gives off Fire Emblem vibes; a small group of six people against a monopoly of a corporation (and thus it’s “we got what we got” versus a corporation with what seems like endless funds to expend on their goals and evil plans). Yet, even with only six people, they manage to do well because each member is brilliant in their own roles. Even our bumbling bundle of nerves, Mr. Laurence Kane, the horotechnologist, is a confident and a capable man of genius ideas and great inventions. When he’s placed in the right environment (say in front of a chrono-engine), Laurence will forget his nerves and notices only the oh so beautiful engine, forgetting about his surroundings.

The concept behind horotechnology and chronotechnology is mind blowing in the fact that…the idea behind time travel, this that world, is so…simple and yet so complicated and complex. With a bit of electricity, steam, and stimulated atoms you could punch through time! I had tons of questions by the end on time travel, of which I’m sure would be answered in the following books.

There was one thing that I did not like and it was pretty disappointing. One of the main reasons that I was so interested in this book was because of the strong and proud, Alex . However, she and Angel did not get much of “screen time” or scene time. She comes in with a sword and plasma pistol but both weapons are unused because…well…she never got to be part of the action. She’s still the mentally strong and ready to kill you with a glare woman I expected out of her, but I had expected something a tad bit more.

However, this is the first volume and it’s mentioned that there’s more to come. This volume gives you a taste of the world, setting, conflict, and the characters as they begin their involvement with something far bigger than previously imagined. The pacing isn’t too slow. There isn’t a lot of character development yet as The Milan Job helps to give you a peek of everyone’s personalities, quirks, talent/abilities, and where they fit into this crew. A small team, everyone has their own place to belong. So, despite the lack of attention to a couple characters, I am sure they will be further fleshed in the future as everyone gets their fair share of adventures. A great and quick read!

About the Author:

According to her mother, Krista has lived in her own imagination since birth. The real world let her down. It was, frankly, boring beyond belief. After she discovered fantasy novels and comics there was no going back. This didn’t win her any popularity contests (or dates) until after high school. Art school introduced her to other geeks and the wonderful world of AD&D. A love for RP eventually led to LARP (the goth/vampire era of her life). Finally, sci-fi/fantasy/fandom conventions introduced her to the beautiful world of Steampunk. Music. Clothing. And books. She dove into the books she took a shine to and absorbed them. But something was missing. She wasn’t satisfied. During her recovery from neck surgery something she’d heard somewhere stuck out in her mind: “If you can’t find the stories you want to read then write them yourself.” On a couch in Savannah, GA. with Sons of Anarchy playing in the background, The William’s Hunt began.
Currently, Krista lives in her home town in Pennsylvania with five cats, a husband, and a weiner dog, Pete, who watches from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.
Check out her website: https://www.kristacaggauthor.com/ and follow her on social media.

The Adventures of an Air Force Medic [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: The Adventures of an Air Force Medic
Series: [Standalone] Book # N/A
Author: Dave Ives
Book Type: Ebook > PDF (Netgalley)
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 486 (PDF)
Genre: Fiction > Historical Fiction, Romance
Start Date: 07.22.2020
End Date: 07.31.2020
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Disclaimer: An e-book copy of this book was provided to me for free in exchange for a fair and honest review. A big thank you to Netgalley, the author and publishing company; all opinions are of my own.

Cheers to my third NetGalley read! I picked this one because I knew there was no way I was going to finish the first book of WoT by the end of July and I wanted to squeeze in at least one extra book in there (somewhere). This book had an amusing cover and summary so it was a quick pick with no regrets.

Link to the Goodreads Page: >HERE<

Netgalley Summary:

Imagine ‘The Shaw Shank Redemption’ meets ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ in a crazy, fast paced, action, drama, comedy, romance.
Sean Mitchell finds out, ‘The needs of the air force come first, and the air force needs you to become a medic.’ 
Sean’s visions of high flying aircraft, exciting missions and flight line glamour are shot down. Instead, after six short weeks training in north Texas, he’s assigned to Mather Air Force Base Hospital, near Sacramento California, as a medical service specialist; commonly known as medic; derisively known as ‘bedpan commando.’ 
Sean’s situation turns hopeful when he discovers the air force ‘needs’ engineers more than medics. He locks on to the dream of building an ‘escape route’ from medic to engineer. The dream supercharges him into action causing fellow medics to wonder, ‘What’s wrong with him? Does he work for the CIA? Is he a spy?’ 
In his bid to ‘escape’ the air force medic world, Sean discovers something amazing – his life as a medic is more adventurous than he ever imagined. 
The Adventures of an Air Force Medic is based on Dave Ives’ personal experience as an air force medic in the early 1980s. He brings to life the crazy military hospital world; a world full of exotic characters; a world of mixed up romance; a world of tragedy and pain; a world of offside humor; a world unknown to the outside world.

Review:

I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. I needed a book and, with a brief glance at a few covers and summaries, this was the one that peeked my interest the most and I just grabbed and went with it. No regrets there.

The Adventures of an Air Force Medic is a story based on Dave Ives’ (author) time as an air force medic. Thus, while this book has an overall plot and goal that the main character is working towards, most of the chapters and stories are told in a chronological and anecdotal manner with a focus on “a day in the life of” an air force medic. The book is told in the first person point of view of Sean Mitchell. Having dropped out of college and working at an electronics firm as a “no skill” laborer, he was having trouble making ends meet financially. He ended up at the armed forces recruiters office where he was talked into joining the air force on two choices; guaranteed job (your pick of jobs but could take anywhere from six months to a year) or open general (three months with the down side of not getting a guaranteed job; you do what they assign you). Desperate for a job and a way out of his troubles, Sean sees open general as his quickest way in landing a gig and ends up as a medic.

I had a great time with this book. I got some laughs in, some tears, some cringe, and lots of other in between emotions. A very humorous book, we join Sean through his adventures of joining the air force medics and quickly doing everything in his power to get right back out; in his case studying like a madman to get into the AECP (Airman Education and Commissioning Program). A highly competitive program, you would have to study rigorously to be selected, sent off to a major civilian university (tuition and books included) and have three years to graduate. After graduation, you’d be sent to Officer Training School and eventually you’ll be a commissioned second lieutenant. It’s an awesome deal and all he’s got to do is study hard and make it in!

The majority of the book’s main plot would revolve around Sean studying to get his pre-req classes out of the way, take the AFOQT (Air Force Officer Qualifying Test), his SATs, and send in an application. The rest of the book revolves around his time as an Air Force medic. As someone who initially went into the military, sold on the fame and glory of it all, he’s disappointed to be placed as an air force medic. However, he knows it’s his own doing. Multiple times through the story he reminds himself that he’s there because that was the deal. Sean had chosen to get a job as soon as possible with the trade off being that he wasn’t going to get to choose what job he was going to get (open general) and that means he was going to take whatever was thrown his way; no complaints…seriously…Sean never seems to complain.

The book doesn’t go too in depth with characters and sometimes my memory of individuals meld together. It’s a story to recount his days in the air force as a medic and thus is written like so. Occasionally you might see sentences like “To this day, I won’t go to San Francisco unless I’m packing…packing heat…in the form of warm clothes” (Page 291). His friends are more like acquittances during his stay. It’s an interesting read, however, because despite that, everyone is still so vibrant. Sean’s interactions with his co-workers, friends, lovers, and patients is the main theme in a lot of the chapters. Each story is a retelling of something in the past or stories of his daily life as a medic. He listens as his friends and patients recount their own stories to him; how they are doing, what they’d experienced in life and the diversity here is vast! Every chapter reads like it’s own short story, with some minor details popping up again throughout the later chapters like recurring characters or when you read a sentence like, “And, I heard one of the guys killed, one of the trainees, has a wife here in the hospital, wonder who that is?” (Page 326) and immediately it clicks and you go “Ohh…shit…😢…oh no…I know who he’s gossiping about…”

My favorite thing about Sean is that he’s down to do anything. You give him orders and he will do his best to get it done. In fact, he didn’t even know that refusing to do a task was a possibility. You scold him for a wrong doing that he couldn’t have possibly known about (missing a meeting because he wasn’t told there was one) and he’ll apologize with an “I’ll accept any punishment.” Too nice and too honest, chill on the outside even when getting yelled at (I suppose they train you to toughen up?) I sometimes read and admire Sean. Trouble now, deal with it now. Trouble over, no point pondering on it.

I especially enjoyed the formatting of this book. (Mostly) short and written in an easy to digest language (as opposed to some flowery and lyrical/poetic writing styles [which I love too]) I was able to fly through the book without going, “Wait, wait, wait…read that again? And again? One more time…I still can’t understand that sentence” and it’s pretty refreshing.

The chapters start off with a main chapter title in bold. I read a lot of books, nowadays, where most of the chapters are either not titled (blank) or just numbers and reading titled chapters gave me a special kind of joy I can’t explain… With each chapter title, you get a chapter excerpt; literally a sentence ripped off from somewhere in the chapter and plastered underneath the bolded title and then italicized. It became a game for me to read the sentence and go hunting for it in the chapter. Sometimes I would come across a particularly interesting excerpt and try and guess what the chapter would be about just based off the one measly sentence I get for a clue. Already a fun and humorous book (there are tearful scenes too), the excerpt hunts made it an even more entertaining read. I’d love to see more of that in other books!

If there was anything negative I found about the book it would be the handful of typos and minor proofreading errors. I didn’t know if it was alright to mention them because I don’t know if it’s an ARC thing (as it’s already released on Amazon with the Kindle preview edition retaining the same errors, so I don’t know). I figured to at least mention it. A lot of times, they are hardly noticeable, but it’s enough to go, “Oh, another one.”

The errors aren’t glaringly distracting and most of the time they’re easy to brush aside. After all, they didn’t take away anything from the story. The biggest distraction came in the first chapter and I couldn’t figure out if it was a play on words and meant to be written as “Wecome to California” or it was actually “welcome” spelled wrong…I think that one simply stuck out the MOST because it was smack on the title page of chapter one and it just bugged me the entire way through the book.

Overall? Yes, I loved this book! I loved the humor, I loved the interaction between Sean and the other characters (and the other characters interacting with others as well), minor annoyances with dorm life, the ups and downs of medic life, coping mechanisms, seeing repeated patients, Sean’s inability to find a partner, and him studying like hell to get into uni. Sean is a competent worker who is honest and quite a humble person whom people love to work with. I held my breath, with him, when he finally gets his results and his letter back from a college.

An engaging read with each chapter, a story of its own, this book is captivating and filled with laughs, tears, struggles, successes, and camaraderie; medics watch each others backs. The quote that stuck out to me the most was “We can fix broken, but we can’t fix death.” Sometimes, you have to push past the fear of giving someone broken bones if it means that you can ultimately save them. A longer read than I had expected (almost 500), I still flew through the book because it was written in an easy-to-read and easy-to-digest way, no fancy flowery language, just what’s happening as it is. It flowed well and if there was ANY medical or military tech/terminology that I didn’t get, no worries Sean/Dave would never leave the reader to guess what the word or acronym means; it’s almost always quickly followed up with an explanation. Some of the times, I hop on Google to look up a term only to feel mighty silly with the definition right there…a few sentences later. Never once did I feel lost because I didn’t understand hospital talk.

A great way to past the last few days of my July wrap up, thank you for a wonderful time, Dave Ives. I had an amazing read and would recommend this to anyone that enjoys a book that has a larger theme and plot but with chapters that are written in an individual short story-like manner.

An Invisible Client: Review

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

When I first got Prime, I went on a little spree to look for whichever books were “Read Now for Free” and came out with two Kindle books, one of them being “An Invisible Client.” Like the other book, “The Family Journal,” I was in a bit of a rush (it was the morning before my shift began) as I had “run out” (the fancy way of saying I’m ‘not in the mood for my current TBR’) of Kindle books and needed something to keep me company during lunch break and the commute to and from work. I normally would have pulled out Goodreads or Amazon and read a few reviews to see if a book suited my tastes or was a good enough match for me so that I wouldn’t end up DNFing, but this time I had about 20 minutes before my alarm went off again and I went with whatever looked decent.

And so…

My very first legal thriller book 😎 (I’ve watched legal dramas before, namely Suits).

Sections

Book Details

Title: An Invisible Client
Series: [Standalone] Book # N/A
Author: Victor Methos
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Comes with audio)
Obtained: Purchased
Pages: 240
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Legal Thriller
Start Date: 07.02.2020
End Date: 07.12.2020

Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


Trigger Warning: Death of a child, death, mentions of rape, childhood abuse (alcoholic parent).

Goodreads Summary

Link to Book’s Goodreads Page: >HERE<

For high-powered personal injury attorney Noah Byron, the good things in life come with a price tag—cars, houses, women. That’s why he represents only cases that come with the possibility of a nice cut of the action. But as a favor to his ex-wife, he meets with the mother of twelve-year-old Joel, a boy poisoned by tainted children’s medicine. While the official story is that a psycho tampered with bottles, the boy’s mother believes something much more sinister is at work…and the trail leads right back to the pharmaceutical company.

As Noah digs deeper into the case, he quickly finds himself up against a powerful corporation that will protect itself at any cost. He also befriends young Joel and breaks the number one rule of personal injury law: don’t make it personal. Faced with the most menacing of opponents and the most vulnerable of clients, Noah is determined to discover the truth and win justice for Joel—even if it means losing everything else.

Review Summary

When personal injury attorney, Noah Byron, gets a phone call from his ex-wife, he finds himself taking on a case that already looks like a lost cause. 12 year old Joel had taken a dose of children’s cough medicine that caused him to become horribly ill; his prognosis: poor at best. With two other children who previously came up with the same symptoms after taking the medicine, there’s no surprise a lawsuit comes up. However, Pharma-K is locked up behind doors of secrecy with the gates heavily guarded by their very own attorneys, powerful lawyers that even Noah finds hard to win against.

I loved this book and had a fantastic time with it. As my first legal thriller book, it’s worlds away from the other thrillers I have read where people are being gunned down or where the police are chasing a serial mad man. Here, the only bullets fired are the words out of attorney mouths and justice is never a guarantee. The side that wins is the side that makes the least mistakes and the side that wins the hearts of the jury. Anything can happen and solid evidence and witnesses can become trash in seconds as lawyers easily claw through people during cross-examination. This book talks a lot about how unfair the world is and just how powerful corporations can be. With the right amount of money, things can go hush hush really quickly! But as Noah slowly warms up and becomes dangerously attached to the case, things become personal and he’s not about to just let Pharma-K get away with this. Sure, there’s no solid evidence that Pharma-K has done any crimes, hiding behind the guise of “an external mad-man has tampered with our goods”, but something shady is going on behind those guarded closed doors, and Noah is going to get to the bottom of this. It’s a huge gamble with wildly unfavorable outcomes…but Noah is willing to take the case, willing to take the risk, and willing to bet his entire firm and everything else on winning.

Thoughts and Review

When 12 year old Joel takes an innocent looking enough cough medicine and ends up in the hospital, his mother, Rebecca, does everything in her power to get the corporation to answer her questions. Each time she tries to get ahold of someone from the company, there’s barely a response, but when Pharma-K finally shuts her out and begins to just direct her to their attorneys (who won’t say anything either), Rebecca has no choice and tries to get ahold of her cousin, Tia’s, ex-husband, a personal injury attorney, Noah Byron.

Initially turning down the case, after a quick calculation of just how much money this case would cost them considering how little evidence, information, and chance they have against Pharma-K, Noah slowly changes his mind after meeting Joel in his hospital room. While it’s mostly just to appease Rebecca at first, he does keep his promise and goes over to at least talk to Pharma-K. When an ambush awaits him at his meeting, Noah begins to see how sketchy and shady this company is acting. Pharma-K is scared, terrified even, and Noah knows this isn’t just a crazy man tampering with grocery store medications. It’s something internal, and it’s something bad.

“An Invisible Client” is my first audio book and first legal thriller book. I’ve passed by a good few legal fictions before, but they had mostly meh summaries and it was a genre that I didn’t particularly have a taste for. Legal dramas were okay enough, but courts were always pretty boring places (to me). So, when I was came up a little bored for the first half of the book, I wasn’t particularly surprised. I did raise a brow over how much the word “bullshit” is used in both Suits and this book and am starting to wonder if that’s just a legal drama thing…or if lawyers really throw that word out like Halloween candy.

The real heart pumping thrill comes during the final trial, as is expected. Most of the beginning of the book was just a lot of pushing between the plaintiff and the defendant. Plaintiff tries to bring the case to trial for the [internal] contamination of the drugs produced by Pharma-K and Pharma-K tries to make the case disappear from the media, and hopefully people’s memories, by trying to settle out of court. They try to push money onto the table along with a gag order, and pray that the plaintiff will take the money and go away.

For me, the first half of the book was a bit boring, seeing as the case just felt like it was going nowhere, with how strong the opposing lawyers were, but the story still kept me engaged. After the first visit, Noah begins to get attached to the case and its clients Rebecca and 12 year old Joel. Joel was already pretty bad off during Noah first visit, but as time goes on and his prognosis seeming to spell out a death sentence, the case becomes very personal to Noah and he officially takes the case on (previously mostly just investigating). Joel’s role in the book contributes as a huge factor to Noah’s growth.

Mini-Character Analysis

Noah Byron

Noah is an interesting character. In the beginning of the book, I had pegged the lawyer to be cold; in it for the money and without care or emotions. Of course, from a liability and risk standpoint, his logic on not taking a case is pretty sound; a losing case could be costly and becoming too attached to a case or client could bankrupt a company!

“I know, and I’m sorry, but the value of this case is just not very high. The loss of your income isn’t as high as I would need to take the case when liability isn’t clear. It’s true that pain and suffering and your medical bills are important, but those numbers don’t add up to much. I’m sorry—you just don’t earn enough.”

Methos, Victor. An Invisible Client (p. 18). Kindle Edition.

Noah is a man who puts a price tag on everything and understands that the world truly runs on that: money. The government, the White House and Congress, is a symbol of freedom and leadership, but the true rulers are the rich and mighty corporations, an oligarchy. When the world is a greed factory, it’s no wonder that Noah knows the limits of taking cases; he would only take a case that has a favorable outcome.

Under the law, a person was valued at exactly how much money that person could earn. Anyone who hadn’t gone to an Ivy League school, pulled in at least six figures, or had a family business waiting for them was what PI lawyers called “an invisible client”—one who lived and breathed but didn’t officially exist.

Methos, Victor. An Invisible Client (p. 17). Kindle Edition.

That’s why I felt like Noah was an interesting character; he was written in a way so that he had lots of room to grow; character development. And change he does! Noah begins to warm up and gets attached to this invisible client’s case and Joel grows on him. He see this very sick child and he sees a company doing everything in its power to hide something and he swears to get to the bottom of it.

As he begins to watch the case go downhill, almost in a losing position, Noah is risking a lot more than just a case gone wrong. Money ties to everything and so would a loss; his partners would lose everything, the firm could go bankrupt, and his employees would become displaced. So, seeing Noah pretty much gambling his all into an unfavorable case, end Noah is a quite a ways away from beginning of the book Noah.

Likes/Dislikes

Likes:

I think this book would be the third type of thriller I’ve come across. I’ve made a tiny comparison between military thrillers and mystery thrillers before, so I’m adding a new thriller to the list: legal thrillers. It’s different than the previous two in the fact that no blood is shed (sort of I guess…people are still hurt in personal injury cases afterall). The excitement of a legal thriller is in that last fight, the last trial, the “lose this and lose it all moment”. It’s watching the back and forth in that courtroom. Watching both sides go from being confident to desperate, you watch as every word is chosen slowly for fear of turning the jurynotn away from them, driving them to their opposing side and this applies to both sides.

The thrill is in watching one moment where everything seems to go your way until something is cross-examined or someone is thrown off and it’s a battle of words, no fists thrown, and the one who makes the least mistake wins. In the courtroom, nobody is spared; not the witnesses, not the lawyers, not their clients…

Olivia is brilliant and I’m pretty sure she has hyperthymesia to some extent. When questioning a witness who mentioned a date, she was able to come up with what day it was and what the weather was like that day. With an extraordinary memory and seemingly the ability to read through files in record speed, she’s whip smart and when others thought of law school as hellish, she aced through law school and treated it like it was finally time to relax and get to know her fellow students. If there’s anything I know about law school, it’s that everyone comes out looking like they are ready to drown themselves in a tub of Redbull.

While reading a book with a nearly superhuman genius is a bit cliche, I found myself kind of enjoying reading about Olivia as it’s with her crazy abilities that the case goes on well. Though a bit shy, she knows to challenge others on their views and beliefs and while she casts away her gaze at the beginning, she holds it firm as her confidence grows and it’s nice to read a little side character growth as well.

Dislikes (None really):

I didn’t have much of a dislike for this book as, for me, it’s a solid 5 star book. Relationships ran through too quickly for me, but what can I do? It’s a standalone and you don’t get to drag relationships across multiple books. I could complain that the beginning was slow, but it’s a lawsuit! Gathering evidence that’s being tightly sealed behind a sketchy company’s door is going to be painstakingly impossible to get ahold of and if I had a problem with that, well at that point I would just be nitpicking 😅 So for me, it’s a pretty solid and fantastic read that I throughly enjoyed.

5 ⭐️