Just Before Dawn by Jessica Marie Holt

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Just Before Dawn: A Short Story by Jessica Marie Holt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Jesse and Grace’s happy marriage shifted when tragedy struck, and positive news might not bring an easy fix for the couple in Just Before Dawn by author Jessica Marie Holt.

This makes the sixth work of short fiction I’ve enjoyed by this author so far. While I found this one labeled as a short story, I’d say it’s a novelette at least.

And it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, given that I didn’t read the blurb beforehand. Although Grace graces the book cover of the edition I got, the story comes from Jesse’s point of view, and it takes a real, pretty nuanced look at depression without being too dismal a read. It has a smidgen of humor and some sweet moments, but it isn’t sugary, and I must say I even found it slightly disturbing at times, which works in favor of the plot.

Now, there’s one character I never fully made heads or tails of, and I think some rushed development in a key area didn’t serve that character well. Also, a few punctuation errors were a bit distracting here and there, particularly some extra quotation marks popping up in the wrong spots.

Nevertheless, this was a satisfying read overall, and it’ll be nice to see what happens in the sequel. (I won’t be reading that blurb beforehand either.)

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The Unsung Legacies Series

 

Enthroned by K.M. Shea

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Enthroned by K.M. Shea

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The young man who would have been King Arthur runs off with a shepherdess before Britt Arthurs is yanked from the 21st century and lands back in medieval times, where she easily pulls a sword from a stone and is informed by the wizard Merlin that she will be crowned the new King of Britain in Enthroned by author K.M. Shea.

Though I didn’t read the book blurb thoroughly beforehand, I was intrigued by this YA fantasy series the minute I realized it’s called King Arthur and Her Knights. A nice twist from the get-go! There’s some comedy and also some medieval violence woven into this magical adventure, and I was interested enough to read the novella through.

However, I would have needed more character development to truly care about the story’s people, and I didn’t find a compelling “why” behind it all to make the plot impactful. I didn’t feel that much after finishing the book, and although it is in no way unreadable, it could have used another round of editing, particularly to catch the recurring errors in dialogue and punctuation.

While I may not continue this series, I do think I’ll try something newer by this author sometime.

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King Arthur and Her Knights Series

 

Hamburger Heist by Celia Kinsey

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Hamburger Heist by Celia Kinsey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

When a masked robber holds up Felicia’s cook at her food truck, Felicia is determined to find out who the culprit is—and to keep the wrong suspect from doing the time for it in Hamburger Heist by author Celia Kinsey.

After enjoying the first of Felicia’s Food Truck Mysteries, I had no doubts about reading this second one. It’s an upbeat, one-sitting kind of cozy with a good number of twists for its length, splashes of humor, and even a bit of (unrequited?) love in the air.

Now, unless I missed something, the mystery does rely on too-convenient coincidence at one point. Perhaps there’s a name for it: when it seems like late pieces of new information could have been made-up on the spot to easily tie up a part of the plot, as there wasn’t some hint or glimpse of that information earlier in the story. But that’s only a minor issue overall.

And, as I’m fond of repeating, I do appreciate finding mysteries sometimes that don’t revolve around somebody being murdered. There are more kinds of cases to investigate in life! I’m looking forward to going on to the third book in this series.

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Here’s my review of the first of Felicia’s Food Truck Mysteries, Fit to Be French Fried.

 

When Hope Calls by David Lui

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

When Hope Calls: Based on a True Human Trafficking Story by David Lui

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Morris, a humanitarian worker, and the staff of a human rights organization receive a desperate phone call from a girl named Mya, saying she’s been kidnapped. She doesn’t know where she is, but Morris and his team are determined to find and rescue Mya as part of their fight against human trafficking in When Hope Calls by author David Lui.

Although I found this novella (based on a true story) categorized as a kidnapping thriller, the subject didn’t have me expecting thrills, and all things considered, I indeed wouldn’t call this a thrilling read.

It’s suspenseful, but for much of the time, the characters are waiting in dismal silence. Fiction-wise, the plot development suffers from emotional lows that are overwritten and redundant, with the characters sitting in abject despair for hours and spending a good amount of time feeling sorry for themselves and this place in their careers or lives. On a more technical note, there are some missing words and recurring errors in punctuation.

However, sometimes a story’s message and purpose are bigger than the story, and that’s okay. This quick and relevant read serves to raise awareness of a widespread, urgent real-life issue, without sugarcoating it but also without resorting to unnecessary vulgarity. It’s a call to remind humanity that we have to fight against modern-day slavery.